Thursday, April 29, 2010

Some good news on the generational front!

Recently there has been a lot of interesting discussion in the feminist blogosphere about generational tensions in the feminist movement, much of it in response to NARAL President Nancy Keenan’s comment that young women lack the passionate commitment to abortion rights which characterized the feminists of her generation.

See my summary/analysis at Why is it so hard to pass the torch? Some thoughts on intergenerational change in the feminist movement

And if you do check it out, make sure you read some of the very thoughtful comments I received on this post.

Today I came across some good news on the generational front. We older feminists have nothing to fear. There are young women out there who are passionate about feminism.

See the Salon review of a new collection Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists, edited by Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan and interview with Sullivan.

Sullivan is optimistic about relations between young and old feminists. She was asked: “There's an argument that pops up in the news every so often that older feminists complain about a lack of passionate young feminists. It came up recently in Newsweek, specifically about abortion rights. Where does this argument come from? What can be done to bring the generations of feminists closer together?” She replied:

When you read about it, it seems like there's this great divide, and in some ways there may be. But when you get in a room with a feminist of a different generation, the whole thing changes. Part of it is just getting together and talking. A lot of women from the last generation of feminism want to know that everything they did was not in vain and that we are carrying it on.

Sure hope she's right!


  1. Sullivan is right: I can scare myself when I think about Us and Them in the abstract, but, when I talk about it with my daughter, her friends, my friends' daughters, there's NO boundary between us. There's still enough to fight for; if that wasn't clear prior to 2008, it's certainly clear since, as the Reactionary Right takes off the gloves and flexes its intolerances. Nothing like the threat of oppression to raise consciousness.

  2. Nance, I agree that when individual feminists talk across the generations, there is often a great deal of common ground between young and older feminists. The generational conflicts are most likely to occur within feminist organizations.

    And the fight about abortion rights which threatened to derail health care served as a real wake-up call for a lot of us about how fragile some of our victories are.