Dear Ms. Jong:
I read with great interest your post at the Huffington Post today and I’m writing you because I feel that there’s something wrong between us, some kind of great and terrible misunderstanding, and I’m not sure how to rectify it.
I, myself, fall kind of in between second and third wave feminism. I’m too old to be completely okay with this “I love blow jobs and snark” stuff the third-wavers do, but too young to feel much affiliation to the “We are an all powerful sisterhood of change” stuff you second-wavers seem so keen on. I think that gives me a little perspective on what’s going on here and, I have to tell you that I think the problem is two-fold:
1. You second-wavers who have power and cultural influence (like you and Steinem) have that power and cultural influence because you worked for the system to expand to make room for you–and by extension, us, and we are, I think it goes without saying, profoundly grateful. But we, in general, tend to think that the system is fucked up. So, while it’s great that we can find our place in the system, and maybe even rise to the top of that system and become President of the United States, those kinds of symbolic victories don’t have the same meaning for us as they do for you. Yes, we’ll be thrilled with a woman president, but I just don’t think that we’re willing to believe that voting for Clinton means something about the place of women in the system, because, like I said, the system is fucked.
We would, I believe, like to completely revamp said system or do away with it all together. Getting power within the system seems to many of us to be a way of appeasing us and not about real, substantive change.
2. It’s kind of shitty of you to say
But it’s different this time, say the women of my daughter’s generation. We’ve won the battle. We don’t need the White House.
No young feminists say this. Which you would know if you treated young feminists as your peers and took what we had to say seriously. There are plenty of feminist bloggers out there. You could read us (well, not me. I have a potty mouth, which apparently turns some folks off). And listen to what we’re saying and consider it as coming from your peers, instead of just making some stuff up and setting yourself in opposition to us.
After all, we don’t believe we’ve won the battle.
Also, I would like to point out, if you don’t mind, one thing: you have a great deal of power. You can complain about being “token,” but at least you’re on charitable boards and prize committees. You get published. You write for whoever you want to write for. You are a queen bee.
And you are, in that very post, attempting to rally all of the little worker bees into voting your way.
The weird thing is that few of us are saying that we wouldn’t vote for Clinton if she was the nominee.
Ha, no, I take that back. The weird thing is that one of the reasons you list for why we should not vote for Obama is
Youth has come in the person of Barack. Male? Not really. Think of his wife. Two for the price of one–like Billary in 1992. But will Ms. Obama be the prez? Not really. Power behind the throne.
And I’ll admit to being confused about what you mean about Barack not really being male, but let’s overlook that. Look at the rest of what you’re saying. No, Ms. Obama will not be president. But Ms. Clinton is running a campaign based, in part, on her White House experience. So, that experience counts for Clinton, but wouldn’t for Obama? I don’t get it.
Here’s the thing. Either one would be a fine candidate. Either one would be of huge symbolic importance. This isn’t going to be our (females) last shot at the White House and this ugly notion that you and Steinem seem to think is some kind of valid point–that in the U.S. there’s some kind of competition between blacks and women (sorry, black women, you don’t exist or need to pick a team or something) over who’s going to have their oppression salved first and we women deserve it more–needs to stop.
You keep saying that it’s not a competition, so really, stop acting like it is.
Yours in sisterhood, or whatever.