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a road trip, a blog, a book


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All Things Girldrive

The Road Trip
The Blog and Book
The Girls at the Wheel

The Road Trip

What do twentysomething women care about? What are their hopes, worries, and ambitions? Have they heard of feminism, and do they relate to it?

These are the burning questions that photographer Emma Bee Bernstein and I, Nona Willis Aronowitz, sought to answer when we hit the road on October 15, 2007, determined to discover how our peers viewed their lives as women. For several months, through dozens of cities, we drove across America in a Chevy Cavalier, photographing young women and finding out what was important to them. Remembering our feminist moms’ legacy, Emma and I also tracked down feminist pioneers like Erica Jong and Michele Wallace, as well as younger veterans like Jennifer Baumgardner and Kathleen Hanna, and asked them, “Where do you see our generation headed?”

Before we left, Emma and I bestowed a name upon our adventure: Girldrive.

Girldrive tracks a conversation between the next generation. It allows gutsy young women across the American cityscape to be seen and heard. It evaluates, through an intergenerational conversation, the current state of feminism and its many definitions. It’s about the past and the present, and it glimmers on the future. It’s about the promise of the open road. It’s about how young women grapple with the concepts of freedom, equality, joy, ambition, sex, and love—whether they call it “feminism” or not.


The Blog and Book

From the start, Emma and I planned to write a book about what we discovered on the road. Our book, Girldrive: Criss-crossing America, Redefining Feminism was released in October 2009 and tells our generation’s story through vivid photos, profiles, and diary entries. It includes 127 women, women as diverse as a sex shop clerk, a bible college student, a witch, a future nun, a former Air Force worker, and an anarchist. Yet, these women share commonalities we never would have suspected.

In 2007, we chronicled our adventures on a blog, which spurred a tight-knit network of complex, smart, ambivalent, and strong women across the United States. Nowadays, the blog has taken a different form. is a blog for and about young women, feminism, and activism—from a regional perspective. It spotlights the millions of grassroots movements propelled by young women across the country. It tracks the countless things they’re doing within their communities. It reveals the myriad ways our generation defines feminism. I also comment on issues in the media that directly affect young women’s lives.

I also frequently feature a reader’s thoughts and photo, to continue Girldrive’s conversation beyond the confines of the book. Visit Girldrive’s community page to learn more about submitting. I would love to hear from you.

And remember: you can always search through the archives of our original roadtrip blog posts!


The Girls at the Wheel

nona laughing smallNona Willis Aronowitz is a 25-year-old journalist and cultural critic and a born-and-bred New Yorker. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006, with a degree in American Studies and a concentration in Film. She wrote her honors thesis on 1970s porn movies and their influence on and reflection of the sex revolution and feminism—and got Wesleyan to pay for every porn movie she watched.

Nona has written about women, sex, music, technology, film, and youth culture for numerous publications including The Nation, The Village Voice, The New York Observer, Salon, Double X, and Bitch. She blogs here at, and has also guest-blogged for Feministe and Sadie Magazine. She has worked for The Village Voice, Salon, Legal Momentum (formerly the NOW Legal Defense Fund), Tango Magazine, and as a photojournalism teacher for Step Up Women’s Network. She recently participated in an online think tank for the Institute for the Future of the Book (funded by the MacArthur Foundation) on Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook.

She is currently a reporter and editor for Triblocal, the Chicago Tribune’s hyperlocal venture. She is also working on an anthology of her mother Ellen Willis’s rock criticism, called Out of the Vinyl Deeps, slated for Fall 2010.

Visit to read more of her writing.

emma author photoEmma Bee Bernstein grew up on the upper west side of Manhattan. She graduated in June 2007 from the University of Chicago with a BA with Honors in Visual Arts and Art History. She wrote her thesis on manifestations of feminism in contemporary photography. She showed her photographs at A.I.R. Gallery in NYC, the Smart Museum in Chicago, and at the University of Chicago. She was featured in The New York Times for her work in Vita Excolatur, a University of Chicago erotica magazine. Her essays have been published in M/E/A/N/I/N/G online and in a tribute volume, The Belladonna Elders Series #4. She is the star of the film “Emma’s Dilemma,” directed by Henry Hills, in which she interviews artists from the downtown NYC scene.

Emma worked at the Art Institute of Chicago, at the Renaissance Society, and was a docent at the Smart Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum. She was a Teaching Artist at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and was a teacher for Step Up Women’s Network.

Emma Bee Bernstein died in Venice, Italy, in December 2008 at the age of 23.* A.I.R. Gallery has named one of its yearly Emerging Artist’s Fellowship Program Awards in honor of Emma.

Visit Emma’s web page to see more of her photography and writing.

*I know this piece of info might be a bit shocking to those visiting Girldrive for the first time. I would encourage you to read the words of people who loved her if you are curious or confused. —Nona