Betty Duffy

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Elegy for Feminism?

Susan Faludi wrote recently in Harper’s Magazine what read to me like an elegy for feminism (American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide, October 2010). Regarding chronic disagreements within the National Organization for Women between second and third wave feminists, Faludi notes that the women’s movement has been unable to pass from one generation to the next a coherent legacy: “At the core of America’s most fruitful political movement resides a perpetual barrenness.”

This barrenness moves both forward and backward in time, as feminists who came of age in the seventies (second wavers) look down their noses at third wavers (my generation) who seem too intent to vent on their blogs about fashion and illicit sex to have any interest in organizing together to elicit change. And of course the third wavers think their mother’s generation is too stodgy, humorless and rigid to be relevant any more.

The article is worth the price of admission for someone whose interest is watching the contortions of feminism from the outside. It brings to mind a favorite saying from my friends at Darwin Catholic, “most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.”


Kimberlie said...

My first thought when I saw the comment about not being able to pass down the legacy was "well, who are they going to pass it to?" They frown on having children, or if they have them treat them as though they are an inconvenience a mere blip on their radars of life, something to be tolerated. What young woman receiving that unspoken message from her mother really wants to follow in those footsteps?

All I ever hear from the women's movement are complaints about men, the degradation of men, that leaves me not feeling empowered but depressed. No thanks.

Anonymous said...

Just re(reading) Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (historian, women's studies pioneer, and convert) this morning on the prospects for a new feminism: "There may be innumerable 'other' feminisms, but there will be no new feminism until there is a feminism of life."


"Anonymous in NY"

Lisa said...

Kimberlie's comment is all too true-- when children are not seen as blessings but as entitlements, provided there are no more than two, or as burdens, when they arrive at an inconvenient time, it would be quite surprising to find many "2nd generation" feminist-types in the 4th generation.

Sally Thomas said...

As a side note, have you read Alice Walker's daughter's piece on being her mother's daughter? It's here.

I have mixed feelings about the way she exposes her mother so publicly, and every story has two sides, as we all know. Still, hm. Being the child of a feminist icon -- ie the very thing that that icon doesn't appear to believe people should want to have -- would come with some prepackaged baggage, to say the least.