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I attend a small, midwestern liberal arts college that is fairly conservative, or at least apathetic, and I am a member of the feminist organization here. While we have been fairly active in past years, our small core is starting to get burnt out by the fact that we're trying to raise awareness and just end up beating our heads against the wall. The atmosphere on campus and the general feeling that either we don't do anything or that we're bitchy and whiny doesn't help. I guess my question is where can we look to find creative ways to deal with the situation, or other people who have dealt with the same atmosphere? We really need some kind of spark. Thanks. Robyn

Thanks so much for your note to Feminist.com--and I just have to ask are you at Lawrence? I am in the midst of co-writing a book with a woman who went to Lawrence and she always describes it as a "small, conservative, midwestern college"-and she emerged from it quite radical and smart--I guess the conservativism drove her to it. (If you want, I could put you in touch so you two could swap stories.)

Unfortunately, I know all too well the frustration that you all are feeling--and I can confidently say that if you can hold on, it does go away. I know this so well because seven years back I co-founded Third Wave. Our initial project, Freedom Summer '92, was a huge success and there was lots of initial energy--then everyone scattered and it was just me. I kept going because the need was clearly there--and young women kept writing and saying I want Third Wave in my life. Then more people got involved and I wasn't alone again and then there was another period where it was only me and I was pulling my hair out. Then another wave of lots of interest. So it comes and goes that way.

So when you are in the waning phase, I think you have to think of extremes--"what if we didn't exist--think of how much more conservative our campus would be?" Also, as Gloria Steinem after all of her years of activism says --she does what she does "because it's harder not to." Think of how much harder it would be to wake up and not have that community? I know that this seems selfless--i.e. you need to be there for other people, but in reality, this implies being there also for yourself.

As for a specific spark--can you try to organize an event--maybe focusing on one specific thing would rejuvinate the group. What about a women's film festival? Or what about a party of some sorts--come as your favorite feminist?

I hope that helps and let me know if you want me to put you in touch with my friend.


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