The conversation is getting broader, deeper, and more diverse every year. And a good deal of the credit for this goes to… the Internet, of course! Young people, no matter who they are or where they live, can simply follow a link to a story at Jezebel or Clutch or Feministing or Crunk Feminist Collective, and maybe that story is about Beyoncé, or about a protest over a transgender student being stripped of the title of Homecoming King, or about abortion restrictions in their state, and they find themselves immersed in media that applies a gendered lens to the world they live in.

And because the media has become more participatory, they can enter the exchanges themselves. The result is raucous tussling over what feminism means in a contemporary context. Sure, sometimes it’s a maddening mash-up of activism and journalism, quick-tempered 140-character exchanges, and more huffing and puffing than action. But cacophony is endemic to social movements, and can be productive.


There’s a better thing, Melanie—knowing. People have always wondered about the world. Why the sun rises and sets. Why springs turns to summer and then autumn. Why loved ones get sick. How to make them better. You know, knowing the answers doesn’t take away the wonder, it actually makes it more amazing.


"I'm gonna find out why you're sick."
"Not knowing makes you mad, huh?"
"A little."

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Wandering - unsettledness, rootlessness, estrangement - is a classical American characteristic: much of the country, at least in the West, is still on the raft with Huck and Jim. Certainly major areas of American culture celebrate mobility, the poetics of the open road. A literary genre from Twain to Whitman to Kerouac to innumerable contemporary writers, it is perhaps the central theme of country music with all its rolling stones and lost highways, its strain whistles and truck-driving epics; and it cuts a wide swath through American film, whose favorite subjects have always been tramps, outlaws, and cowboys (and whose recent swarm of road movies have at last included women as coequal wanderers rather than as milestones in a male journey). It is a psychic condition in which landscape and the freedom to move through it compensate for loneliness and disassociation, the internal exile of the outsider. It is a connoisseurship of the bittersweet taste of melancholy, of the blue of distance, of landscapes with a road running through their center, the horizon as a promise rather than a boundary. Wandering was supposed to be a finite part of American experience: you left the old world and came to the new world, a literal transplant complete with roots, but a huge portion of the population kept moving.