I am a white, lower-to-middle class, heterosexual, male graduate student engaged in the study of history and gender. I use these terms of social location self-consciously because I believe they matter in at least two specific ways: first, because they are terms through which I am socially perceived; second because they offer some clue of where I stand viz. a viz. material, cultural, and symbolic resources in this world. Beyond these generalities, I want to offer a bit of accounting — both for myself, and others — of how I got to where I am.
I write about women’s liberation movements specifically and radical political movements in general. I discovered feminism late in my college years. It was not through an intellectual text or a course on women’s studies, a protest, a rally, or an injustice perpetuated against my body — it was through music. The undeniably feminist lyrics of Ani DiFranco’s early songs, along with her skilled guitar playing, struck me, for reasons that I was unsure of at the time. After all, I hadn’t grown up within a family that had an explicitly feminist consciousness; I had no feminist friends who self-identified with or advocated feminism. In fact, at the time I had very few female friends at all. In hindsight, it was DiFranco’s honesty that I found compelling. Hearing lyrics such as “We don’t look like pages from a magazine but that’s alright / oh baby that’s alright” (“Imperfectly”) or “It seems like everyone’s an actor or an actor’s best friend / I wonder what was wrong to begin with that we should have to pretend” (“Anticipate”) pierced through a veil of conformity I had been measuring my own self-worth against for years. Continue reading “Self-prefacing”