One article in particular that I found especially worrisome goes so far as to lump all my second wave sisters and me (whether we are baby boomers or Gen X-ers or on the cusp of both) into the same category of offenders, suggesting that we owe it to our third wave compatriots to step off, pretty much implying that we should take a seat and let the youngsters drive the movement, however it’s described today.
And that’s when I had a thought that will probably have my head handed to me, but I’m just going to say it anyway and let the slings and arrows start – All feminists owe each other something, regardless of “wave.”
Why? Because the work that was started back in Steinem’s day isn’t done. That work has changed and, undoubtedly, will continue to change, as we address all the issues that intersectionality requires of us. But in one respect it is still the same. As my wise friend Gloria Feldt wrote, “Yes, Agenda Trumps Gender – But Women Leaders Still Matter.”
To get to a place where we finally have critical mass in women leaders, second wavers owe it to third wavers, and yes, to nascent fourth wavers, to listen to not only to their views, but also to understand that 2016 is a lot different than 1966. While we “have come a long way, baby,” there are many aspects of feminism that weren’t even on the radar when the first push for an Equal Rights Amendment was crushed, and it’s important for second wavers to acknowledge that and be open to those discussions about the successes and failures of the feminist movement, and how those have shaped the state of feminism today.
However, I believe that respect and openness should go both ways – third wavers and those who come after them also need to acknowledge that if second wavers owe a debt of listening to younger feminists and seeing feminism through a new lens, then they equally owe it to the prior feminist generations to have an understanding of the work that came before them and how that groundwork is important to the state of feminism today.