In her response to the topic “What Is The Evolving Meaning of Feminism?” Jaclyn Friedman told us that she—at 38—bridges the gap between older feminists who say, “Where are the young women? Why aren’t they feminists?” and younger feminists who say, “Why don’t the older women support us?”
There are young feminists out there I’m not supporting? Please tell me where. Many other Second Wavers and I are eager to join forces with them. Friedman said because younger women don’t do feminism the way we of the Second Wave do, we tend not to find them. They’re on the Internet.
So I went to the Internet. I checked out Feministing.com, a place Friedman recommended and that must get a lot of traffic. First thing I looked at was their mission:
Young women are rarely given the opportunity to speak on their own behalf on issues that affect their lives and futures. Feministing provides a platform for us to comment, analyze, influence and connect.
I’m down with that. Sounds a lot like TOP. Except we meet face-to-face on Thursdays rather than connecting mostly on line. Is that the only difference between young feminists and me?
Approach and Images Differ
The first thing I noticed on the website was the logo: black cutouts of women with simplified outlines accentuating breasts, hips and hair that made me think of the trailers for the Charlie’s Angels movie popular with middle-schoolers at the turn of the millennium. The logo also looked like some of the figures cavorting through the title sequence of old James Bond movies. (That’s the second time I’ve referred to Bond in two blogs; is it me or something in the air when the subject of feminism comes up?)
Feministing creators call their logo “the mud-flap girl” and it’s meant to be ironic because she’s raising her middle finger (oops— I interpreted that as an adamant index finger) and they’re taking the image back. I’m more open to this kind of tactic than I once was (see earlier November blog Virgin or What?)
The Feministing site uses contemporary terms—“you guys” and “girls”— referring to women that feel like a poke in the eye to this Second Waver. Along with others, I spent years training colleagues in the business world, friends, relatives and lovers to say and write the radical word “woman” when referring to a female human older than your average high school graduate.
But I also learned a term—cis-gendered—that refers to a group I didn’t know I was in! Cis-gendered people are comfortable in the sexual identity they were born with, unlike trans-gendered folks. (Cis is a Latin prefix used in chemistry for “on the same side” vs. trans which means “on the other side.”)
I applaud this term, despite its initial awkwardness on the tongue. It follows the principle of naming the majority (instead of leaving it as the unspoken norm) as well as the minority, much like “straight” and “gay.”
Evolution Includes Differences and Similarities
Maybe these differences are what my 20 year-old daughter means when, if asked if she's a feminist, she responds, “Yeah, but not like she is,” pointing at her mother. There seem to be looser parameters around language and imagery for younger feminists than the ones we set up for ourselves in the 1960s and 1970s.
It will take more exploring online and more conversations with younger women for me to come to a deeper understanding than this brief reaction to Jaclyn Friedman’s comment about bridging a divide on my behalf. I have some homework to do, and I’m looking forward to it.
I feel great hope for Second Wavers’ ability to work with today’s generation of feminists when I see things like Sarah Jayne’s blog on Feministing. She quotes her friend’s perfect description of feminism:
“…feminism is about waking up and finding yourself in a community, its about having wicked empowered sex, feeling like you can take on any challenge, build real love, and stop feeling like you are the only person who ever thought.... damn, this world needs to change...”
What feminist in her right mind wouldn’t be delighted to subscribe to that world view?