Feminst Generational Rift

Interesting article on slate.com by Dahlia Lithwick about the generational, uh, differences (to put it mildly) among feminists.

It begins by imaging what a feminist version of Obama’s speech on race, delivered by Hilary Clinton, would sound like. Instead of it being about the “battle between the sexes” as the author speculates, Lithwick concludes, sadly, that it should probably address the in-fighting between Boomer Feminists and their younger GenX and Millennial sisters.

Apparently, the Boomer Fems are pretty POd at these younger women for not towing the line and automatically supporting Hilary. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the whole point of a movement such as feminism to create conditions under which people (in this case specifically women) are allowed to make up their own minds? Based on the position that the Boomer Fems are taking it isn’t. The point was to create some sort of fembot army that would do their, ie the Boomers, bidding.

Lithwick speculates based on the comments on slate.com’s The Fray that:

Right now it seems there is hardly a Democratic-leaning woman left in America who isn’t feeling either bitterly sold out by her daughter, or henpecked to a scabby pulp by mom and grandma.


Lithwick goes on to say:

Most of us are hoping that today’s outrage and recriminations will begin to fade in the months to come; that our great-aunts’ threats to cast a ballot for John McCain—the man who voted against equal pay for women—will prove mere threats.

Yeah, ladies, you’re not the only ones. This sour grapes voting mentality is troubling, not to mention childish and annoying. Hey, I didn’t particularly like John Kerry but I voted for the guy. Why? To get Bush the fuck out of office. And I know, I know. It really isn’t the same thing because of course there have always been white men, such as myself, in office. Right. Yeah, only I doubt I can identify with very few, if any, of the former (and definitely not the current) presidents of this country. But I get it. I have no argument to stand on in this regard. Fine.

This next bit I thought was particularly poignant.

The worst of the intergenerational bickering of the past months has resulted from a failure of empathy; a breakdown in our capacity to acknowledge that the experiences of others are as compelling as our own. In a sense, we have simply been doing battle over whose stories are more legitimate—the second-wavers or their Pottery Barn daughters— or whose perceptions of gender discrimination are more accurate. Forgive me for saying that this is an argument that is singularly unworthy of us as women. Aren’t we supposed to be great and gifted listeners and connectors?

That is the popular wisdom, as far as I know anyway. Maybe the popular wisdom needs to be rethought.

But one of the parts that particularly irked me was the following:

I recently got tipsy with a group of ferociously successful second-wave lawyers, each of whom offered up blood-curdling tales of being one of a small group of women in her law school class; forced to walk great distances—uphill in both directions—to find the single ladies’ room on campus. They were never called upon in class (or they were always called upon) and denied clerkships and jobs and promotions explicitly because they were women. I can’t describe how angry they were at the generation that followed for our failure to support Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. They truly felt that they had passed our generation a torch and we peed on it.

It was that last part that did it, that passing of the torch bullshit. I was pummeled with a similar gripe from some aging flower child at writer’s conference one summer when I was in graduate school getting my MFA in creative writing. The guy talked about how his generation had passed the baton and we, meaning GenX basically, had dropped it. In class sarcastic, ironic GenX style, I asked him if he was sure that the Boomers had actually passed the baton because it kind of felt to me, and others I noted, that they refused to let go of it. Maybe, I said, you all were just too high to realize it. We did not get on well after that.

The point is it is arrogant for one generation to assume that the next generation is automatically going to pick up their cause and run with it. We might — and this is whole new theory — have our own causes. And even if the younger generation does pick it up, don’t be surprised if they don’t run in another direction all together. That is, after all, they’re right. I mean, that is if you believe in things like, oh, free will, freedom of choice, shit like that.

Dahlia Lithwicks’ response was pretty the same as mine, although far more eloquent no doubt:

Younger women have, for their part, grown tired of the accusation that the simple act of supporting Barack Obama reveals them to be shallow and spoiled and ungrateful. When second-wave feminist Robin Morgan accused a whole generation of females of being “eager to win male approval by showing they’re not feminists” she pretty much said goodbye to all that respect and reverence we once felt for her feminist trailblazing. Since when do feminists accuse other feminists of being brainless bimbos? Isn’t that what men are for?

Yeah. I think us guys got the covered. I’m being snarky because Dahlia is. It’s something GenXer’s do. We know you Boomer’s don’t really get it, but then we don’t get the big deal of Woodstock, so we’re pretty much even.

Ultimately, Lithwick is making a call for reconciliation between these two factions of feminism. The problem is the faction that needs to set aside it’s bitterness and anger and resentment at not getting their way are Boomers and swalloing their immense pride will no doubt induce a fairly strong gag reflex.

I’m vest more of my hope into Replicans crossing over to Barack.


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