Next “Wave” Peace Activists Pour Feminism into the Mix
by Jean Stevens
Rachel Gehringer-Wiar liked the sound of Nebraskans for Peace.
Before arriving on campus of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln nearly two years ago, she’d seen its bumper stickers, she’d heard about its rallies. Peace work made sense to her, she said, as she believed in fighting for equality and human rights. The United States’ wars abroad had upset her as a high school student, although, she admits, she didn’t know much context of the wars then.
So as a freshman, Gehringer-Wiar joined the campus chapter, compelled not only by the anti-war demonstrations and campus educational efforts around peace, but the group’s concurrent focus on national and state-centered social justice projects.
Gehringer-Wiar and other of today’s younger peace activists seem more likely to perceive feminism as a lens, a political analysis in which to view and critique the world and their own activist work.
“I began to see how all of these issues were intertwined, from health care access to our two wars right now, civilians deaths and our foreign policy,” said Gehringer-Wiar, who served as president of the chapter and considers herself feminist.
But her feminist understanding forms a foundation to her peace work, rather than a focal point, Gehringer-Wiar said. Some of today’s young self-identified feminists, she said, might beeline to more explicitly feminist groups, such as those working on reproductive justice. “It’s easier to say, ‘I identify as feminist,’ and ‘oh, Planned Parenthood, sure, that’s feminist,’” Gehringer-Wiar said. “That’s awesome, they need people to work for them. But people need to step back and say, these issues are interrelated.”
Continue reading “Next ‘Wave’ Peace Activists Pour Feminism Into the Mix”
Afghanistan Kabul women’s jail
Featured OTI Photo Essay: Women and Girls in Conflict Zones
For our summer issue on Women, War and Peace, On The Issues has launched a special photo essay of the work of writer and photographer Ann Jones, which features incredibly moving pictures of women and girls in conflict zones, capturing their war and post-war experiences in areas of Africa and Asia.
This is one OTI feature you don’t want to miss. Check it out here.
The Latest From The Café
It’s time to really Support Our Troops. This month, a bill was introduced to the House that would end the military’s ban on coverage of abortion for rape survivors. Marjorie Signer reminds us just how important the MARCH for Military Women Act is:
Women in the military are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted as women in civilian life, according to a pending ACLU lawsuit. Yet, though rape is a problem of deep concern to the U.S. military, its health plan doesn’t cover abortions for rape victims who become pregnant. It’s a callous, unjust policy – especially at a time when rape in the military is at crisis levels. Abortion restrictions are a moral issue; they deny women the ability to act according to the dictates of their conscience.
More from The Café:
Jeannette Rankin, Suffragist and Pacifist: She Speaks For Me
A Lesson From History: WWII and Fighting to Keep Women From Slavery
Don’t forget to contribute in comments! And join our Facebook page and Twitter for daily feminist news and analysis.
Thanks for reading!
Women. War. Peace. Each of these words has such a powerful meaning. But what do they mean to each other?
For our summer issue, “Women, War & Peace,” On The Issues starts a new conversation on an age-old issue: the intersection of feminism and war. The complexities of war in the world we live in today – and our endless struggle for peace – is an issue that tests our values, and challenges our humanity. But tackling issues of war and peace from a feminist lens may be the very thing that could answer many of the questions that we’ve been asking ourselves around this contentious topic. And we’ve got some incredible pieces that bring them to the table.
As the 10-year anniversary of U.S. invasion of Afghanistan approaches this October, we look back at Laura Bush’s words a decade ago when her husband George W. announced the war on terror – she contended that U.S. occupation was also “a fight for the rights and dignity of women.” But according to Debra Sweet, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This pioneering peace activist talks about the devastating impacts that the war has had on Afghan women, and all through the insistence of “liberation,” in her compelling piece, “The Cruel Lie: Bombing to Liberate Women.”
In “Peace is a Human Right: Give Us Women Who Get It,” UN representative of the International Peace Bureau Cora Weiss asks a really good question: Why are we trying to make war “safe” for women? Why aren’t we dismantling the actual culture of war that causes mass rape and violence against women? Weiss calls on women to organize around the issue of peace as a human right, and with real and practical solutions to do it.
As waves of people, most of them men, celebrated wildly in the streets of D.C. over the killing of Osama bin Laden, an important question arises: Do public attitudes towards the war on terror differ by gender? Lori Adelman of Feministing joined OTI to do digging on polling research around this question in her piece, “Fighting to Gratify a Sex Instinct? War Attitudes Vary By Gender” – and the findings are fascinating.
“All Wars Are Intimate Wars.” This is what Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Merle Hoffman reminds us in a sneak peek of her upcoming memoir about the ongoing war that is intimate to all women: the war on reproductive rights. Legislative attacks against abortion, clinic harassment and violence, and the killing of abortion providers is one war that we are justified to fight – Hoffman’s intimate war in her lifelong struggle to protect reproductive freedom serves as a model for all of us to follow.
Lastly, OTI is excited to announce we’ve created a new feature with our friends from Feminist Press called “Books of Note,” that offers compelling book publications that would be of interest to our readers. Don’t miss it!
Also don’t forget to keep up with us on Twitter and Facebook for daily feminist news and analysis, and stop by The Café for engaging conversation On The Issues that matter!
Thanks for reading!