Years ago, I wrote an essay* about the Stealth Feminist generation, those of us out there quietly carrying the torch of the previous feminist generation – Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, Charlotte Bunch, Bella Abzug, Audre Lorde, Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan, and so many more – and that my generation (born in the 1960s and early ‘70s) was uniquely unafraid to embrace the “f-word” (feminism) to describe ourselves. (Not so true of the generations since.) At the time, this seemed a discovery of a unique cohort because people like Rush Limbaugh had for decades made women and men everywhere afraid to self-identify as feminists. The Rushes of this world had somehow managed to equate (at least in the public mindset) those women who embrace justice, tolerance and equality with mannishness, anger, hostility, and, dare I say it, being unfeminine. But that was the big lie. The truth is that feminists merely want what all Americans say they want: “Liberty and justice for all.” (It’s just that we underscore the word “all.”)
Technology makes this whole debate passé. Why? Because technology lets all the Stealth Feminists, all the stealth proponents of justice, rise up and say “enough.” It’s not just about labels anymore; it’s about living what you believe in, and using technology to spread the word and come together when we need to. The 2012 election (and every moment since) proved that. We united across our differences and around common sense, electing more women to Congress and sending a message to the Todd Akins and Paul Ryans and others like them that we stealths want our experiences – good or bad – to be taken seriously (and not denounced by some twisted biology lesson about so-called “real rape” and pregnancy with no roots in reality).
It’s not news that women are roughly 51% of the population; advocates for women’s suffrage over a hundred years ago believed that those numbers alone gave women the potential power to change the world. I’d tweak that optimistic assumption and put it this way: today, the power is not just in women — it’s in the hands of Stealth Feminists, female and male, gay and straight and Trans, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, and every combination of glorious humanity. We truly can create the kind of just world we want to live in, every day, in the ways we live our lives and employ technology to rise up against those who would turn back the clock on social justice.
The stealth moment has arrived.