Friday, March 16, 2007

Sisterhood Interrupted....Continued

Previous post aside, I find that I can't help but somehow join the fray--though I offer these thoughts in the hope of increasing understanding on both sides. In response to the TMC thread, where commentors ask why do young feminists want to be included by established organizations / movements to begin with:

Of COURSE rejection is disappointing to younger women who want in to older women’s clubhouse—and why wouldn’t they want in? These are good jobs, with good benefits, for the most part, in organizations that younger feminists believe in. Something missing from the TMC convo is the fact that what goes on in some feminist organizations goes on in the workplace more generally; lack of mentoring among women is not a problem among feminists alone. Men have been pulling each other up the ladder for centuries; women are newer at it, and perhaps, in an economy of scarcity where there’s still the perception that only so many women can hold top positions in corporations or have their own break-even nonprofit, women have not yet mastered the art of sharing power. I absolutely salute the younger women who are forming clubhouses of their own, but I agree with Patti Binder, who comments:
But is that really the best and most effective message larger organizations have to give younger women? Don't feel welcome here so go elsewhere and do your own thing?

Again, the feeling of rejection is mutual. WomansSpace, a self-identifed second-waver, comments:

It never occurred to me that your generation wouldn’t even bother to read second wave literature. That is a painful rejection when I can so clearly remember, in a zen sense, thinking about your face, long before it existed....I do not own feminism. I was but a tiny cog and was part of its creation and Ms. Valenti's understanding and mine are so different and they are different in places where I hurt. I want to see continuity in what I helped start and instead of continuity.... well I see naked, anorexic, long haired women on trapezes.

Ouch. But there IS continuity. It's just hard to see it amidst all the emotion and commotion--as I write about in my book. I look forward to the day when we stop fighting each other and see our way through to the larger issues that threaten all women’s integrity and well-being.


Alison said...

I have to say that I've gotten sort of weary of the "battle of the feminist generations" rhetoric. I mean, I engage in snarky generation-baiting, too--before I read the post by WomansSpace I laughed a little at her pseudonym, which is so stereotypically second wavey. But I agreed with what she said: lack of historical awareness among young feminists is paradigmatic. And I'm sure that this is painful to older feminists. For these reasons, among others, I'm looking forward to your book hitting the market. I think you're offering historical education and a balanced perspective on older and younger feminisms.

*e said...

I think you make some excellent points in this post. In teaching feminist theory and women's history, I have often used wave theory to help students get a general grasp on the feminist movement in the United States. Wave theory, however, has its limitations - as is illustrated, perhaps painfully, in this ongoing debate. Feminists young, old, and indifferent need to think about what the issues really are and how we will address them. It sounds like your book will offer some great perspective!

Deborah Siegel said...

Thanks for your comments, Alison and *e!

Alison: I'm with you - battle weary from the intergenerational strife. I shuttle between being completely worn out by it and being motivated, still, to intervene. That's the challenge, I suppose. Whether to try to strife without snark, or snark through the strife...(It's late. I've got insomnia. Am I making sense?! Back to bed I go!)