Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

generational feminism: do we want to be like our mothers?

We read this book for my women's group bookclub at work: Not Your Mother's Life: Changing the Rules of Work, Love, and Family by Joan K Peters

I have a few ideas from it to write about, but one interesting theme she hits on is about how we all want to be different from our mothers.

Women born in the 1930s thought the key to a happy life was to marry well.

Their daughters, born in the 50s, wanted more than that... careers, and women's equality. They thought their mothers were too accepting of the status quo and launched a feminist movement.

Their daughters, born in the 80s, figured the feminist movement had done its job and wasn't needed anymore, thought their mothers needed to relax.

I tend to hate talking about "generational differences" because it's been really buzzword-y lately, too many corporate presentations about it, each chock-full of sweeping generalizations, but maybe this explains why I've had such a hard time convincing the rest of my generation that we do not live in a "post-feminist" world after all. Very few women self-identify as feminists, I know that, and it's sad.

And maybe there is something to this idea that each generation wants to be different from the one before it and distinguish itself... although it doesn't really work for me personally because I do sorta want to be like my mother. I grew up with her going to college, I thought "That's cool. I'm gonna go to college."

But it does make me wonder if, since my generation tried to throw feminism away, younger women will pick it back up. I have some little cousins who are AWESOME feminists (and when I say little I mean they're like 16-18... I've just spent my life calling them my little cousins). They know about rape apologism, victim blaming, why reproductive rights are important, all kinds of stuff I didn't even have words for until I was like 28. Hell I'm still learning. I think maybe the internet helped them out, you can find better circles here to help you with words that I had no way to get to when I was a teenager... but maybe there's something to this pendulum theory too.

I realize I can't sit back and hope someone else will revive the feminist movement for me, and I also realize that it's impossible to paint brushes across whole generations. I just keep asking myself why I'm a minority in thinking feminism is something we still need, and this is one more possible idea.
Tags: feminism
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