Celebrating success and being constructive

When we think about the “anti-violence movement,” it is predicated on “ending violence.”  On undoing a negative.  On not doing bad.  With this focus, it is easy to ignore rather than actively pursue the good.  To overlook and dismiss rather than recognize and celebrate successes.  This can have a draining effect on activists, and can stall further progress.  It is a competition for our time and energy between

  1. criticizing what’s wrong in the past and present state of affairs on the one hand, and
  2. envisioning, identifying and pursuing the characteristics of a better world on the other hand.

Which is why I’m very happy to see Popular Science, of all magazines, take a lead on celebrating the successes of feminism by highlighting three women geniuses.

Just a few decades ago, women were considered “incapable” of scientific thought (shout out to Rachel Carson).  Thanks to successes in feminism, women now have more opportunities than ever to pursue careers in science.   We have a long way to go yet, for sure.  But Popular Science has given us good reminder that we’ve also come a long way in terms of how we view women in society through the lens of history.  So, too, do publications such as Yes Magazine:  Now men spend a full half as much time as women on child care.  In 1965 it was merely a quarter as much time.

Finally, I think we need to do a better job in the future of being constructive in our criticism and analysis.  In case you missed it the first time around, Courtney E. Martin is providing a great example of how we can be both critical of the state of affairs and forward-looking at the same time.  Her question deserved — and received — a great response.

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