You are right, Kara. Hilary’s question is super hard, in both interpretations. I feel like my experience of sexism is similar now, but my response is a little different. I used to sulk. Now I get mad.
Hilary writes in the comments that what she really wants to know is: “Is it just me, or has feminism dropped away from the greater (pop) cultural dialogue?” That’s a really good question too, so I’m going to ramble and see if anything comes of it.
Here’s why I would say feminism is still part of the pop culture dialogue: Feministing.com has a really big readership, and so does Jezebel. Everyone’s obsessed with any stories in The NY Times or Time or Newsweek about ladies, especially if they are related to working versus staying home with kids or who makes more money or any of that. The biggest pop culture stars right now are all about women being powerful and not tolerating mistreatment.
Here’s why I would say feminism has dropped out of pop culture: We’re supposed to be post-feminist and equal and gender-neutral, so there is a lot of assuming we’re over certain things that we are so not over. I think because of the Free To Be You And Me childhood we had, sexism and racism are not cool for Gen Xers. And because they’re not cool, we often opt not to talk about them. So you get feminist references and ideas in, like, Tina Fey’s character on 30 Rock rather than hyper-sincere, Afterschool Special-style.
Kara, you and I met at a feminism conference because we were like, “I don’t know what the hell you guys are talking about. We have awesome careers in the mainstream and people listen to us and we can write about feminism whenever we want; there’s no conspiracy against it.” We had other issues and wanted to talk about those rather than whining about not being included in a club we actually have been included in, and that the people who were complaining had never tried to break into. (You famously asked that journalism listserv for pitches when you were editing Sunday Styles and received none.)