I have never taken to the label of feminist. An interesting quirk because I know that most people would label me one with ease, but I found them and their message to be limited mainly to the elite. The women who lunched set or those who worked for self-enrichment as opposed to the paycheck for which I and most of the women I knew worked.
Feminism had too many sub-groups. It reminded me more of high school with the pretty girls versus the band girls versus the jockettes versus the home ec crowd. Forgive my stereo-typing, but we women haven’t quite got it together as far as working together for our own common good goes.
But what is our common good? That’s the thing.
What do women have in common beyond the extra X?
To this end, I have been reading the writings of today’s feminists by way of the blogosphere. One site in particular that I enjoy and read regularly is authored by Deborah Siegel, a freelancer in New York City. Her site, Girl With Pen is a daily multi-stop for me really, and I don’t have many of those. Aside from the fact that she is a good writer, she provides a plethora of links to articles ranging from the recent Democratic primary campaign to conference opportunities for aspiring feminist writers.
One of the links today took me to a fascinating article on SlateXX about the rift between the generations in the feminist movement. While I was vaguely insulted by the condescending tone it took toward the “mothers and grandmothers” set, which at 44 I clearly fall into, it raised questions that are crucial and need to be answered by women of all ages.
Just what do we want and why do only some of us feel we have gotten it?
Why are women’s groups so reluctant to focus solely on the needs shared by all women rather than splintering off into factions that accomplish so much less, or nothing, because they lack the power of majority?
I never once set foot in a Women Studies’ class when I was at university. To me they were akin to getting that degree in Home Economics. Why, I thought, did I need to take classes in being a girl? I had spent enough of my life being tutored, often against my will, in what it meant to be “just a girl”.
Today I find myself quite behind in the game. I know nothing about the early women’s movement – now 40 something years old. I never read Steinem or Greer or Friedan. What I know about women’s role in history (and I know plenty), I discovered as a teacher seeking to enlighten my students about the rightful place of women in the development of the world’s culture and it’s exploration and settlement.
I know I bore my poor readers here quite a bit with my rants at times but my equally harassed husband can’t have all the fun now, can he? (His answer would be an emphatic “no, please spread the joy”).
I have known just as much inequity and discrimination and harassment as I have experienced equal footing and empowerment, but at my ripening age I don’t believe that it’s enlightenment which has pushed my gender forward as much as it has been members of my gender pushing us all forward.
So to this end of furthering my feminist education, I am going to read up this summer. Explore and occasionally report back, and I would appreciate thoughts from the peanut gallery when I do. I can’t learn in a vacuum here, people.