What’s the difference between the blog and the book?
The blog is the place to keep your finger on the pulse of young feminism and activism, and to continue the conversation by posting your own thoughts. The book delves into our story and the 127 other stories we heard while on the road. During our road trip, Emma and I posted a collection of photos and thinking points on our blog, mere sound bites that got our readers thinking about larger issues. We didn’t comment, just showcased. The book unveils the juicy details—it fleshes out the women’s stories and includes diary entries by Emma and me about what we were thinking and doing during the trip. The book also includes hundreds of photos and dozens of women not featured on the blog.
How did you find all those women to interview?
We started with emailing hundreds of people we knew from personal, scholastic, and professional settings, asking not for young feminists but “smart, motivated young women of all kinds, ages 19-28, approximately.” Pretty soon we were contacting people 4 degrees away from our original list. Once we examined our lists of women for each city, we determined gaps in the project and actively sought out others to make sure there was a diversity of voices. When our blog got underway, we were contacted by women all over the country inviting us to come interview them!
What was your route?
We didn’t completely stick to this 100% of the time, but this should give you some idea: Roadtripping Schedule
Why didn’t you go to more rural parts of the country?
This was nothin’ more than a time, money, and efficiency issue. If we had gotten a fatty grant and done nothing but travel the country for 2 years, then we would have been able to scour the country. Unfortunately, with our budget, we needed to get the biggest bang for our buck every time we stopped somewhere. Shame, isn’t it? Feel free to go on a Girldrive Part II that hits up all those rural pockets we missed!
Why didn’t you go to X-Y-X?
Have you given any thought to how your privilege plays into Girldrive?
Let’s be real—I went to super-PC Wesleyan University and took my fill of buzzword-y Problematic Agency classes, too. We realized that we were two white, Jewish, college-educated New Yorkers, but we also knew that we were lucky enough to have the intellectual and cultural capital to propel a movement we believe in. The road trip itself was meant to make us get off our privileged asses and consult with our peers around the country. We used this awareness to start a conversation with others who may never have otherwise been asked, rather than continue to discuss issues in our own niches. (Also this: we worked our asses off at shitty jobs for almost a year in order to hit the road. No book deal, trust fund, or doting parent picked up the tab. Just sayin’.)
Your pool of women is diverse, but lots of them seem to be college-educated. Why is that?
We did our best to speak with women from a variety of class backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, professions, and social groups. Their knowledge of feminism ranged from none at all to being the focus of their lives. But it’s true that we talked with a disproportionate number of college-educated women, regardless of their family’s socioeconomic status. My guess is that our request for “women doing big things, who are reaping the benefits of feminism” often piqued the interest of women (or people who knew women) that had gone to college, often because a degree is increasingly a prerequisite for fulfilling professional, or even activist, goals. Still, many of these college ladies still retain ties and actively work with the (often working-class) communities they grew up in; in this way, we hoped to reach and represent a bigger scope than our pool of interviewees.
You guys interviewed a lot of older and influential white feminists, like Kathleen Hanna and Erica Jong, but only a few older women of color. What’s up with that?
This was an ongoing issue—we were often unsuccessful in scoring interviews with WOC feminist heavy hitters. I think (at least I hope!) that this is more about the dynamics of earlier feminism than the fact that these women were actually not interested. Our moms were products of Second Wave feminism, which was traditionally racially divided. So their friends were mostly white, and were more than obliged to talk to us (“Of course! I’ve always wanted to meet you! I love your mom!” etc.) But the big names that weren’t in our moms’ crowds had never heard of us. In many cases, we didn’t have the “super-in” like a personal email and instead dealt with publicists, who often declined. Some women we tried in vain to get an interview with: Angela Davis, bell hooks, Cherrie Moraga, Faith Ringgold, Alice Walker, Ana Castillo, Margaret Cho, Barbara Smith, Chela Sandoval, etc. etc. Hopefully our generation (who was more than happy to talk to us, regardless of color) will try to break these boundaries down as the years go on.
We did talk to and profile Martha Cotera, Byllye Avery, Michele Wallace, Marcia Gillespie, Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, and Charon Asoteyer, all of whom had choice things to say about the racial divide in feminism.
What’s with using the word “girl”? Isn’t that a little condescending, or even anti-feminist?
We never thought so. Many of our friends and young women around the country use “girl” affectionately to refer to one another. It’s a word that’s closely connected to the Riot Grrrl movement and hip hop culture, as well as the positivity of “You go, girl!”-type phrases. It’s natural for us and, in the context of friendship, we don’t think it’s demeaning. We believe our generation of young women has reclaimed the word to mean something positive. Besides, you try writing a book about this stuff and only using “woman.” It can get pretty redundant.
What kind of tunes did you two listen to on the road trip?
Excellent question! No self-respecting roadtripper would get behind the wheel without a soundtrack. Check out our Feminist Road Trip Mix for some ideas of what to blast on your own cross-country adventure.
How can I get involved in Girldrive?
Send me your stories—I feature them every week on the blog. I would love to know what feminism means to you and what issues are important to you. To learn more about being featured on Girl-drive.com, click here.