Left magazines have taken heat along with others for their low score in the numbers ranking of VIDA, an organization of women in the arts that counts how often women are published in leading magazines. Too often, left magazines take up feminism occasionally, and out of obligation, not frequently and as a core concern. But if you ignore gender, you can’t think seriously about the future of the economy or about any other concerns of the Serious Men of the Left.
The mirror image of this charge to leftists is a challenge to feminism. Most women spend time in the workforce, often in contingent labor and un(der)paid care work. This, then, is where feminists, to change the lives of women, must spend their time. Few feminists would disagree that we care less about Marissa Mayer’s choice not to take parental leave than whether all women have access to leave and to childcare and that men share the burden. But the former conversation often trumps the latter.
There are always generational debates in feminism: first through third waves, mother- daughter conflict, the misunderstandings bred by generationally divided pop culture and work experiences. You can find sparkling pieces throughout the history of Dissent that reflect each stage. This issue’s special section takes a certain continuity as its premise. If the new feminism is going to address the biggest changes altering our world—work and immigration patterns, the power of labor, the self-determination of half the population, the very structure of our days—we must look back to a feminism that assumed the centrality of these issues in order to see feminism’s future.