On feminism and “old” vs. “new” activism. Bottom line: young women are not apathetic or frivolous any more than older women are redundant, but there does seem to be a case for more listening and learning and hearing each other’s discourses and motivations.

There’s a generational tension trend in social movements. First, an older generation complains that young people are apathetic – even when evidence proves otherwise. Then, when young people’s activism becomes too powerful to ignore, the previous generation charges them instead with wrongheadedness and – perhaps worst of all, in their minds – insufficient reverence to their predecessors.

Name any activist, and you’ll find a predecessor telling them they were wrong. Right now, for example, we’re seeing a slew of lefty thinkers paint college students as pampered PC babies who want trigger warnings on everything from syllabi to their lunch and, most recently, a former feminist idol bashing the work that came after her.

Last week, Susan Brownmiller, the author of the 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape derided young anti-rape activists as being a historically ignorant movement that “doesn’t accept reality.” Years ago, the feminist author helped introduce groundbreaking ideas on rape culture that paved the way for current thinking on rape and consent. So when Brownmiller said it’s “a little late” for a woman to say no to sex “after you’re both undressed”, critiqued domestic violence survivors for not leaving abusive partners, and women who “look like a hooker”, the comments were met with understandable disappointment and surprise.

In addition to criticizing young feminists’ methods, Brownmiller claimed: “They think they are the first people to discover rape, and the problem of consent, and they are not.”

In response, Kate Harding, author of Asking for It, wrote: “we have to be ready to let go of our heroes,” and at Slate Amanda Marcotte called it a “case study in the importance of not having heroes.” But Brownmiller’s tonedeaf interview is more than just a lesson in the danger of creating social movement icons; it’s a reminder for those with their heydey behind them that young people do not make you irrelevant, living in your own bubble does.

In 2010, for example, then Naral Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan told Newsweek that the only people fighting for abortion rights were those in the “postmenopausal milita.” At the time, 60% of the employees of her organization were under 35 years old, and there was a vibrant feminist and pro-choice resurgence online mostly founded by younger women.

Source and rest: Jessica Valenti: If feminist icons lose their way the movement continues without them (theguardian).


p class="wordpresspost">(Excerpt etc. first posted on feimineach.com. Orig. attribution above.)

If feminist icons lose their way the movement continues without them