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