Looking to heal the gender rift between feminists.

Looking to heal the gender rift between feminists.

Looking to heal the gender rift between feminists.

Women writing about politics, etc.
June 7 2008 7:44 AM

We Need To Talk

Looking for some way to repair the feminist gender rift.

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Younger women have, for their part, grown tired of the accusation that the simple act of supporting Barack Obama reveals them to be shallow and spoiled and ungrateful. When second-wave feminist Robin Morgan accused a whole generation of females of being "eager to win male approval by showing they're not feminists" she pretty much said goodbye to all that respect and reverence we once felt for her feminist trailblazing. Since when do feminists accuse other feminists of being brainless bimbos? Isn't that what men are for?

Yes, my generation grew up in the plush comfort of academic equality and equal access to jobs. It's true that far fewer of us have bumped our foreheads on a rigid glass ceiling. But we're not blind to sexism and we don't tolerate it any more than our moms did. We've worked very hard to broaden our definition of feminism to include women of different classes and races and we are proud that the men we date and marry have met us halfway on the little things. We don't think our choices are frivolous. We think they are complicated.


It's not a coincidence that Hillary Clinton used the word "invisible" to describe her supporters this week. In an essay in Newsweek,Tina Brown used that same term to describe the women who are her staunchest allies: women over 50 in America who are "vigorous, independent, self-liberated boomer women—women who possess all the management skills that come from raising families while holding down demanding jobs" and who nevertheless "find themselves steadfastly dissed and ignored" by a shallow, narcissistic youth culture. I don't know if these women are really as furious at being ignored by advertisers, the media, and Hollywood as Brown suggests. But I am guessing that being ignored by their own daughters in recent months has proved to be too much. It's not just that some of us quit our jobs and stayed home to take care of the kids, at the expense of the partnerships and professorships and CEO gigs they'd have killed for.  We've also dismissed their feminist anger and outrage over Clinton's campaign as more old-fashioned than their bell bottoms and clove cigarettes. 

Still, in the spirit of reconciliation, I'd ask our mothers and grandmothers to take another look at the young feminists of 2008—supporters of Clinton and Obama alike. We've got money we earned—not by pole-dancing for the most part—and we've chosen to spend it on political candidates! Not shoes! (Or at least on political candidates and shoes.) We are smart and educated and politically engaged. We are passionate about repairing the world for your grandkids and goofily confident that those same granddaughters will be someday number among the joint chiefs of staff and the National League pennant winners. And wasn't that at the core of your dream for us?

You are not invisible. But we are not blind. And maybe now's not the best time to confess to this but these rose-colored glasses we've been wearing since January? We borrowed them from you. ...