Sit. Have a coffee. Let's chat. Let's chat about this weekend. The marches! Come now, we can't pretend libraries are not, at their heart, places of political activism. Heck, in our Code of Ethics it flat-out says that we "uphold the principles of intellectual freedom..."
For those who are rusty, the American Library Association defines "intellectual freedom" as "the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause, or movement may be explored."
So, we as librarians are ethically bound to uphold principles of intellectual freedom.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a political statement. A big one. Upholding the principles of intellectual freedom, no matter who sits in the White House, or in Congress, or in your State Assembly, or in your County Seat, or on your library's board.
Let's take the most politically painful example: family planning resources. Information on abortion. Information on adoption. Information on methods of birth control.
My commitment to this as a librarian reflects and informs my commitment as a feminist.
This is an administration that plans to push to cut Planned Parenthood funding, and did cut funding for family planning resources that the U.S. contributed to throughout the world, and particularly in the developing world (reinstating the Reagan gag-Rule by executive order). No federal funds may be used for abortion, either domestically or abroad, so what we are really talking about is restricting non-abortion services and information.
Restricting information is infringing upon intellectual freedom. By the ALA definition, at least.
And that is one of the reasons why I'm paying extra close to this administration, in terms of information (more on that in a later post).
So, I'm outed as a feminist, which is fine. (Hell, I go by warmaiden on social networks, it shouldn't be a surprise, really). But I do want to say something to the women who do not identify as feminists, who were all over my newsfeed proudly declaring that they don't want feminism, that they don't need the marches, that they are just fine and dandy on their own, that they feel heartily equal and are not interested in sisterhood with the marching masses. I have two responses to this, which I'm including below. They are inadequate responses. There are others who have written more eloquent responses. I'd like to develop better ones. But my initial gut-reactions first:
1. You don't need to be a feminist to accept other peoples' experience as valid, even if it contrasts with your own experience. You just need to be human.
2. There has been a Facebook post going around shared by women who don't agree with the women's marches that happened this past weekend. Susan Speer posted her own response here, but I posted mine on Facebook prior to having read hers. I'm too lazy to fool with the formatting resulting from a copy/paste, but it should be readable: