Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More "Stretch Marks on Sisterhood" follow-up and fallout

Phew. There has been a flurry of response to my Women's eNews commentary, Obama v. Clinton Puts Stretch Marks on Sisterhood. I feel that I need to address this topic one more time and then let it go for a while, if that is possible.

I feel fortunate to have talked to Deborah Siegel about the responses, because she and I came up with a consensus that it would be productive for younger women to learn the history of the women's movement, and remember to show appreciation to the women who came before us and fought hard to win our basic rights.

And for Boomer feminists, you really need to start seeing us and taking our points of view seriously.

And both sides need to think, act and write with empathy. Linda Hirshman wrote a response to younger women's commentaries selectively quoting us without really engaging us on the issues. But that paled in comparison to what the Mother Jones blog did by reporting on Hirshman's piece without (apparently) reading our original work.

In Mother Jones, Courtney Martin and I are told that we have a "false consciousness" get characterized as "young women who inherited what we mothers fought for and now want us to disappear so our girls can go wild and pole dance without feeling all guilty. Caricatures work both ways, missy."

Whoa. Seriously. You'd think this was left-wingers calling out right-wingers here. Writers such as Courtney and myself are working to help feminism stay relevant for younger women! In the 1970's I was the idealistic 10-year old sitting in the basement, reading my mother's back issues of Ms. Magazine. We want to work with you but such thoughtless, knee-jerk, stereotyping is the kind of divisive rhetoric that is getting in the way.

The Mother Jones blog post is called Throwing Clinton Under the Bus to Spite Mom and I want to challenge it in two additional ways. First of all, my own mother is voting for Obama and so is my Obamican father. So this is not a personal Mom-Daughter conflict for me, but I do believe that there is a genuine generational dynamic within feminism that needs our attention.

The ridiculous caricature that Mother Jones pulled off the shelf brings up another pet peeve of mine about the Boomers: they have a serious blind spot when it comes to seeing Gen X leaders and activists coming up behind them. We've made our mark in Silicon Valley (think Google) but seem to be struggling for visibility in the political arena.

On New Year's Eve I did stand-up comedy for the first time, addressing this issue for a largely Boomer audience. I ended with a group chant among the few Gen Xers in the room, "We're here, we're 40, get used to it!" For people who said "never trust anyone under 30" to think I am still a kid would be amusing if it wasn't getting in the way of having them take my political discourse seriously.

While Mother Jones wants to pigeonhole me as a girl gone wild, I am actually a 39-year old mother and entrepreneur with a Ph. D. from Stanford and 12 years of work experience. In 2008 I will be voting in my sixth presidential election -- and in all five contests so far, a Bush or Clinton has won every single one of them.

So it's not just idealistic new voters who are attracted to Obama's grassroots engagement and message of hope. There are many of us with more than a little gray around the temples who are ready to move beyond the era when the Bush and Clinton families take turns being President.

I am grateful for the good things that happened during the Clinton years of the 1990's but I truly believe that Washington is frozen by two decades of loyalty demands to one of these families, or the other.

Bill Clinton's campaign theme song was "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow." We should remember the following lines, "Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone...don't you look back."

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Blogger Robyn said...

Oh, Amy. I feel tired for you. I know constantly defending yourself must be exhausting. I just listened to the recent podcast this morning and what I have to say is this. Isn't heaping universal expectations on all women somewhat anti-feminist? Such as who you should vote for, when, where and how you should work, etc,etc. We as women (and mothers) have such huge burdens to carry, feminism, the environment, our education system. I wish we could unite and put our energies towards improving these issues. That is why I am voting for Obama. Do I wish I were more drawn to Clinton? Yes. But voting for her because she is a woman would go against everything I believe in, as a woman, mother with feminist principles. Keep fighting the good fight, Mojo Mom. You always have my support!

12:18 PM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

It feels horrible to be attacked as Linda Hirshman does with pretty much everyone. That is her M.O. -- personal attacks and obfuscation.

You make excellent points and, as I'm planning on writing at BlogHer on Friday, it's more than time for all us not to think of each other as first-, second- or third-wavers, but to find common ground and respect each other.

Oh, and we need to ignore the Linda Hirshman's of the world because there is no reasoning with them.

3:05 PM  

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