Feminism and the Pink Elephant in the Tent

On January 11th, executive coach Peggy Klaus wrote an article for the New York Times called “A Sisterhood of Workplace Infighting.” In it, she examined how women treat one another at work, and stressed the importance of “learning to value one another so we can all get ahead.” She referred to this issue as the “pink elephant lurking in the room.”

The room she was specifying was the office, but I couldn’t help being struck by how relevant the observation was to the Feminist movement.

As we gear up for the Fem2.0 Conference in Washington D.C. – and strive to develop an inclusive outreach – it is important to pay attention to the goal of widening the tent.

The future strength of women’s advocacy lies in the ability to be more tolerant of different points of view. Fissures in sisterly solidarity were much in evidence during the Democratic primary, when Clinton and Obama supporters took sides, pointed fingers, and matters veered off into a very unpleasant zone.

We’re not all going to agree. So it would be best if we could “agree to disagree” in a fashion that isn’t toxic.

There are more than enough ways to demarcate ourselves. Feminist, no-label feminist, waves, decades, straight or gay (or other), woman of color, white woman. I may have left something out.

When we meet up on February 2nd, we will not all be in the same place ideologically. Hopefully we can be in the same space sharing our points of view, with an openness and sensitivity to those around us.

If nothing else, it’s a good place to start.

Originally posted at the Fem2.0 website

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