Reflections on feminism and women’s liberation

Sue Crockford is a London-based feminist.  Here’s a brief interview with her in which she reflects on how she got involved in the Women’s Liberation movement (via involvement in anti-Vietnam War activity),  what her memories of that time she cherishes, and what feminism means to her. Below, another feminist, Sarah Irving, writes about her reactions to the interview and what we can learn.

Sarah Irving: There are lots of reasons why I think that younger feminists ought to listen to women like Sue Crockford, with her decades of involvement in the movement. Some of them a serious reasons, like tactics and strategies and not reinventing the wheel. At forty (or very close to), I’ve realised in recent years that I’m already old enough to have seen several cycles of activism go round – similar issues and dynamics recurring, people getting enthused and burnt out in depressingly similar and repetitive ways.

Of course, we all need to learn from our own mistakes, and that’s as true of younger activists in their political lives as of anything else. But do we need to keep making the same mistakes, over and over? There’s a difference, I think, that can be drawn between the kinds of personal, emotional screw-ups that everyone probably needs to go through to understand how to function sustainably as an activist in the world, and the movement-level mistakes that can be learnt about, if only we can put aside our pride, and our prejudices against older people, for long enough to do so.

As well as all that serious, important movement-building stuff, I also think that this interview with Sue should be watched by younger activists far and wide because it’s a great reminder that being involved in politics doesn’t all have to be deadly serious. As well as being a long-term, committed feminist and struggler for social justice in other forms, Sue is also a beautiful, flirtatious, sexy, fun, funny person, and that very much comes through in this video. She’s a glorious reminder of the fact that activism is part of life, and that while a lot of life might seem pretty grey and depressing, it should also be shot through with colours and glitter. If we don’t allow for that in our activism, we risk both our own health and sustainability, and being so bloody miserable-looking to other people that we put them off getting involved too.

Watching this video, I get the overwhelming sense that although Sue Crockford might have been hard-working, high-expectations kind of comrade in the 70s and 80s, she’d also have been a hell of a lot of fun to work with. And that’s a great set of lessons to learn, for all activists.

2 thoughts on “Reflections on feminism and women’s liberation”

  1. Wonderful interview. I’m 77, and went through the ‘revolution’ and despair at the attitudes of young women who think that feminism is not for them – but they revel in the opportunities that the feminists made available for them.

    Sadly, my feminist son has been lumbered with a manipulative wife who has soured his attitude to women, and I doubt he will ever recover. When I made a remark about his possibly taking her to dinner on International Women’s Day (and I’d mind the kids), he could barely speak, but made some derogatory remark about the subject. Yet his actions are those of a man who gives women equal space in his head – he just gets walked over so much, and taken advantage of, that he is now quite resentful of ‘women’.

    I think many young women don’t know what they want of a man, especially those who eschew feminism. They like the benefits of a feminist man, but seem to want to be ‘cherished’ like little princesses too, and the two don’t necessarily go together.

    Margaret Lee

    1. I am so glad you liked the interview! Sue is wonderful, (as is Sarah Irving, but then I am a bit biased on the subject).

      I hope your son’s situation improves!!!

      All best wishes

      Marc

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