I have to ask you something, and please don’t answer, “You need to stop right now!”
How do you know, though, when to stop, when to step aside and let the new folks take over?
I’m thirty three. I’ll be thirty four this year. I’m not expecting to be a great feminist thinker; I’m not expecting to see any who are my age. I imagine I’ll live with feminist “leaders” who were born before Vietnamization or after, just like always.
I sometimes get uneasy with what the younger women are up to, what they find important. I do sometimes worry that the things I want out of feminism are not the things they want and that my concerns will get left behind.
But then, I think, I’ve got it pretty good and I want the things I want so that my life is better and so that the women (and men) who come after me won’t have to continue to want those things.
I say all this as a way of explaining that I get why the Second Wave Feminists are so hell-bent on getting Clinton into office. They are fighting for a world in which a woman can be president. To them, if a woman can be president, that will be some symbolic moment that proves women have been fully assimilated into the system.
They have been working their whole lives to bring us a world in which a woman can be president.
They have achieved that. They have brought about the change they hoped for. And now all they need is to put a woman in the White House and victory is theirs/ours. From The Vote to the White House in just under 90 years.
For some of them, they knew women who fought for the right to vote.
But you see what I’m suggesting in the title? They got the change they wanted. They should be thrilled. But they also want to dictate the shape that change will take. It’s not enough that a woman can be a plausible and likely candidate for president; they want Clinton in the White House.
And they’re pissed that the younger, third wave feminists aren’t lining up to support them.
From where I’m sitting, it appears that the feminist movement is an extremely fragile coalition of different women with different ideas and different struggles to overcome. We’re already seeing the tattered, frayed spots and hearing from large swaths of women that they never even felt welcome to help make up the fabric of feminism.
I don’t think that feminism as a theoretical position or a personal philosophy is going anywhere, but damn, I have to say, it seems to me like, if the second-wavers cannot step back and see the effects of what they’re doing on other feminists, how their nonsense poisons all of us, feminism as a movement is over.
I don’t know. I keep thinking about that speaker that the Professor and I saw, who talked about the two strands of second-wave feminism–the strand where women just wanted access to what men had, to be a part of things, and the strand that wanted new systems and wanted to change women so that we could create new ways of doing things.
I can’t help but think that the more vocal second-wavers–Pollitt, Steinem, Jong, etc.–seem pissed to discover that, even with all they’ve achieved in the world, they cannot muster an army of younger women to follow them and do what they tell us to do. Where are their minions? What are the perques they get for having made it to being rich, powerful, old, and white?
They’re trying to declare victory (which, I believe, is what a Clinton win to them would mean) only to discover that the other branch of second wave feminism is the one that actually won, that has actually changed what women (and some men) think social justice is and how it’s done.