I just read a brilliant opinion piece in The Guardian by Sarah Solemani. “The Aziz Ansari furore isn’t the end of #MeToo. It’s just the start”
Older feminists are dismayed and fretting that #MeToo has become a ‘witch hunt’ that is tarring too many men with the same brush, threatening to dissipate the movement itself. They are speaking up, cautioning that women need to respect due legal process, that we risk alienating all men in our rush to indict all. Seemingly unfettered and empowered on social media, younger women need to take care or risk losing all of their hard-won gains.
Younger feminists like Lalonde have come rudely roaring back — stand back and shut up, older feminists, you no longer have the mic. Your years of catering to and accepting men’s behaviour are over, you have been complicit, ignorant and oh so privileged. It’s time to recognize that your experiences and your perspectives add no value to today’s discussions.
And I’ve been watching all this fallout, mostly just pissed off that women are fighting each other again.
Maybe it’s the middle child in me. Can’t we find a way to get along better, or at least argue better in public? We’re supposedly on the same team.
It’s the same reaction I have to women dumping on last weekend’s women’s march for not being inclusive enough, or for being too political, or (OUCH!) too full of white women trying to take credit for the repudiation of a president 53% of them voted for.
What makes us turn on each other like this, when solidarity is so vital at this time in our history? How can we move forward if we can’t even get our own act together?
When I researched Runaway Wives, the great divide cropped up a few times. The shelter founders were deeply hurt that many younger feminists view the whole second-wave movement with contempt. They didn’t ‘get’ intersectionality; they didn’t ‘get’ how privileged they were. I hoped the book might bridge that gap, show younger feminists how and why these women did what they did. They were in their twenties once, too.
But having read Solemani’s essay, I have come to the conclusion that it is indeed time for older women to shut up and listen and learn. We need to support those now on our front lines, unreservedly and with love.
The future is in good hands.
Read the whole thing. Then read again the last paragraph and know that this is true:
Let’s at least permit ourselves to picture life in a new reality, wandering the spaces men roam freely – a strange pub perhaps, or India, or the nighttime. Imagine going to a nightclub on your own just because you like the music. Imagine boarding a bus, not noticing it was full of men, because you were enjoying the view. Imagine a really good orgasm as standard. Imagine the decent bloke you know being the norm, not the exception. Imagine the movement you were a part of that changed everything. Imagine. Imagine. I dare you.
Thanks for this – I very much enjoyed reading it!
Very very important to remember: No, 53% of white women did not vote for the Dump. It was 53% of WHITE WOMEN WHO VOTED. If you do the math you’ll see just how wildly different those numbers are. Yet this figure – 50% of white women who voted – is constantly reiterated.
This command from our daughters to Sit Down and Shut Up seems to me to be yet more silencing and disappearing of the Female, this time in her Wise Crone chapter. Yet more misogyny linked with ageism, it seems to me. Once again we erase the decades of experience of 2nd wave feminists. I’ve been an activist almost since the start of the 2nd wave. I studied feminist thinkers and through the decades have continued to study and work. Accumulated experience and contemplation count. As I’ve attended feminist events here in Southern California, again and again I’ve asked younger feminists I’ve met if they’ve read a certain book or other – “Women and Madness” for instance or “Beyond God the Father”. Again and again I see blank eyes and “No – never heard of them.” Not only have they not heard of the books – they haven’t heard of the great feminist thinkers who contributed the books. Right now in the world there is an enormous demographic of older women who 1) will live longer than we used to (barring global meltdown) and 2) often have extraordinary resources such as extra time, extra $$$, and EDUCATION 3) have an entire lifetime, many of us, during which we have nurtured other humans, which means we have grown in terms of emotional and spiritual intelligence. We have this Internet! It means that even if we don’t travel at the same speeds as before, we can travel! I’m connected online with many women in this category that I’ve just described. And, (though I could expand even more on this argument) – why in this world would we allow our daughters to shut us up when we’ve spent our whole lives fighting for our voices?
May I also suggest that we look closely at the widespread popularity of the term “witch hunt” these days? And the frequency with which it is used to protest such events as the outing of sexual predators? The witch-burning era was the Women’s Holocaust and no one would ever make a Holocaust reference so casually as we use this phrase.
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Correction, last sentence of first comment: 53% of white women who voted. Not 50%.
Thanks, Esther, for weighing in. What we can’t discount is millennials’ general discontent with the baby boomers — a massive cohort that in their opinion has destroyed the environment and held the reigns of power for way too long. That factor — a generally privileged, well-educated and massively influential cohort — did not exist for second-wavers. So when someone like Margaret Atwood tries to speak up, a lot of younger women just get irritated. I wouldn’t call it misogyny, but I would say it’s a ‘get out of my way, you had your turn. it’s mine, now’ sentiment.
But why does there have to be a “turn”, Margo? Can we afford at this point to waste or exclude ANYONE who is eager to participate and contribute? I remember being painfully aware of the environmental damage that was already evident and frightening, and working every way I knew back then to expand awareness and to care for the planet every way I could. It may be milder where you are, but here, there is extreme disrespect not only from younger women but also from women of color who claim feminists were not intersectional, and meanwhile I was with the NDP Women’s Committee working to elect Rosemary Brown, a woman of color, as Prime Minister of Canada. To the point where I comment on threads slamming 2nd wave feminists: HELP STAMP OUT WHITE FEMINISM; BECAUSE WE’D ALL BE SO MUCH BETTER OFF IF IT HAD NEVER HAPPENED. If our daughters feel entitled to call us out on our human failings and on the fact that we didn’t succeed in dismantling patriarchy RIGHT NOW (after 5,000 years of it) – then I feel entitled to call them out on ageism and misogyny. Few disagree that younger women often just despise older women, period. You write in your piece about how crucial it is, solidarity. Why would that not include the elders – who in many other cultures are actually honored? Of course we “got” intersectionality; when we said “women”, we meant women.