Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Generational Feminist Wars Revisited. Or: Whose Movement Is It, Anyway?

Seems like a stupid idea to pick on the scabs of old feminist wounds, but Anne Kornblut decided to do just that in the Washington Post, probably because anything likely to cause a quarrel will raise readership figures. Cynical, cynical Echidne.

Here's Kornblut on why younger feminists didn't flock behind Hillary Clinton in the primaries:

As the primaries played on that spring, the same scene played out in living rooms from coast to coast. Mothers and grandmothers who saw themselves in Clinton and formed the core of her support faced a confounding phenomenon: Their daughters did not much care whether a woman won or lost. There was nothing, in their view, all that special about electing a woman -- particularly this woman -- president. Not when the milestone of electing an African American president was at hand.

Jessica Valenti responded to Kornblut:

What's truly unbelievable is how Kornblut expresses the disappointment and betrayal of older women by disappointing and betraying young women. Diminishing our political beliefs as nothing more than ignorance and hero-worship is not only false, it's offensive. Like women who voted for Clinton, women who voted for Obama had their own nuanced, thought-out, intellectual, political reasons to do so.

The feminist movement's existence and future is dependent on young people. Instead of insulting their intelligence and belittling their politics, let's tell the truth about their passion, knowledge, and adeptness. Because I can't imagine that a generation of young women is going to want to stay (or become) part of a group that consistently describes them as stupid.

Now we can all have at it. Sigh.

The only reason I write about this is Jessica's last sentence, about people not wanting to join a group which describes them as stupid. I'm not saying that this might not accurately describe reality, but if young women indeed stayed out of the feminist movement for this reason it would be pretty suicidal. Feminism is not about the personalities of the leaders of the movement. It's not even about the feminist waves or the generational wars or any of that. It's about the treatment of women in various cultures on this planet.

I think that is important to remember.