Working at a non-profit in D.C. has opened my eyes to how many movements and activists there are out there, but Karin’s last post made me think of the ways in which NeW specifically has changed my college experience. I was raised in home where politics and religion were central topics of discussion, and I knew “we” were Republican and Catholic. However, joining NeW really fed my hunger to know not only what I believed but also to know why I held certain beliefs.
For this, I think it really was key that NeW began as a book club, and that education and “enlightenment” are central goals. If you want to change the world, you’ve got to change ideas. This doesn’t mean using propaganda and pushing one was of thinking, it means searching for truth. So while we read Return to Modesty in our chapter at UVA, we also read The Feminine Mystique. If really understanding the role of women in society today was one of our goals, we knew we had to try to look at the broadest most objective view we could.
Surprisingly, this is not the way everyone fortifies their belief systems. Last night, I was chatting with a few of my friends from church, each of whom would have described herself as “conservative”. One of my friends, a teacher, began telling us about how a fellow female teacher recently became pregnant. Once we began to discuss maternity leave, compensation and day care, I was shocked at how much my “conservative” friends sounded Betty Freidan! Luckily, I knew a list of excellent books (thanks NeW) to recommend, as they admittedly had never read anything on the subject.
The point is that NeW still has so much work to do, but it is a noble and purposeful work. What good are strongly held beliefs if you don’t know why they are your beliefs? What we really do is fight ignorance. As idealistic as it sounds, it is what NeW has encouraged me battle in my own life!
I look forward to seeing many of you TOMORROW !!!!!