Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, Or A Beginner’s Guide to Politics

There's this very cool site called Gather that's sort of an intelligent, very well maintained MySpace for ideas, discussion, debate. I recently wrote an article called "A Beginner's Guide to Being Politically Active for Women" for the site and it's getting some smart responses. Please check it out, join, participate, lurk, bookmark, whatever.

Since I've been traveling around the country (oh the glamour!), I've been trying to engage women in conversations about politics, in the (vain?) hope that I might get smart women with differing views to listen to one another, to express their nuanced views that don't necessarily place them on one "side of the aisle" or the other. Outside of Congress, there is no aisle, except we act like there is. There's very little nuance in most political conversations I have -- you're with me (meaning you're good) or you're against me (meaning you're wrong). I am a born-and-bred Democrat, I bleed blue, etc. but I've not heard, or had the opportunity to hear, from people who disagree with me, people who are passionate about their non-religious beliefs, who are open to the possibility that someone from outside their party might have something enlightening to say.

I say this as a woman who has no friends who are outspoken about any conservative beliefs, who is surrounded by friends who agree with me, and our political ardor is often shored up by our mutual disdain for those who disagree with us.

As I just wrote on Gather, here are the topics that have come up around the country that I'm dying to discuss with anyoe who will listen:

women who are afraid to express what they feel to their friends for fear of alienation or a desire to avoid conflict.

-women who think that "ignorance is a choice" and women can choose to be uninformed.

-women who are lost in a swirl of "you go, girl" rhetoric that supposes that things are better for women now than they've ever been and we should be exulting in this, which often translates less as a rallying cry than a self-congratulatory group-hug that leads to inaction.

-my bete noire: second-wave feminists who, like my beloved but oft-infuriating Maureen Dowd, bemoan the complaceny of young women who are squandering the spoils of the women's movement by letting men open doors for them and choosing to be apolitical.