Old biddies vs young visionaries.
Wise women vs ungrateful little girls.
Maybe even: mother vs daughter.
"This is not your mother's feminism."
"Young women don't know what feminism is."
We've heard all of these before, from each side, staking out their territory in generational wars. This is nothing new. Feminism has been declared dead over and over, sometimes even by older women who've dedicated their lives to a feminism that no longer exists in the way they knew it.
I come to this...debate? disagreement? full-out fight?...as one of those supposedly ungrateful, lazy, selfish young feminists. I'll admit that I get awfully sick of the older generation disparaging my entire peer group, condescending to us, not trusting us, and refusing to pass on that torch.
But I do understand where a lot of the distrust comes from. I'll also admit that I do have peers who don't value the wisdom of the older generation, who don't want to be passed the torch so much as either rip the torch from the older feminists' hands or try to reinvent fire altogether.
This older generation of feminists that so distrusts my generation has been through a hell of a lot. They've had to fight like hell so that we don't have to fight quite so hard for the same things. Most of them were around when abortion was illegal, and know firsthand what exactly we'll lose if Roe falls. A lot of them were trailblazers in their field, entering predominantly male workforces and facing intense, overt discrimination. They might have been getting married when spousal rape was still perfectly legal. They've got stories to tell and wisdom to share. And yes, there are some in my generation who don't really care, but really: most of us do care.
It's a respect thing, but it's also just a logical strategic thing: if there's wisdom there, learn it. You don't need to reinvent the wheel.
This generation gap / fight / debate / disagreement / whatever is a little tiresome. For everyone. When we waste our energy fighting with each other over who gets to carry the torch, we sacrifice our ability to blaze any trails.
This is why I'm super stoked to be going to this conference at the Omega Institute in a few weeks:
Women & Power: Connecting Across the Generations. (video will automatically start playing)
The Women’s Institute at Omega is breaking new ground and bringing women of different generations together for one electrifying weekend. Featuring more than 34 amazing trailblazers, Women & Power: Connecting Across the Generations will get you charged up to make a difference in your life, your home, your community, and the world.
Join us for a weekend of celebration, uplifting speeches, entertainment, and panel discussions with women from different backgrounds and generations. Award-winning novelist Isabel Allende; Alberta Nells, youth leader of the Navajo Nation: feminist icon Gloria Steinem; singer/songwriter Natalie Merchant; and playwright, poet, activist, solo-performer, Sarah Jones; are just a few of the diverse women coming together to share, unite, and inspire.
It's got a pretty rockstar list of faculty:
Miriam Zolia Perez
My homegirl Gloria Steinem will be there!
And OMG. Helen Thomas. I have such a grandma-crush on her. (i.e. I would like for her to be my grandmother)
And Isabel Allende!
And and and and and...