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Tue May 29, 2012, 07:16 AM

Breaking feminism's waves

I hope this hasn't been posted before, but this is an old article I found when I was doing some googling today and reading up on the wave thing, which I now believe even more than ever is a pretty divisive construct. I liked this article. It made heaps of sense to me at least...

The women's movement isn't about angry prudes versus drunken sluts. The generational struggle is over power, not sex

Can we please stop talking about feminism as if it is mothers and daughters fighting about clothes?

Second wave: "You're going out in that?"
Third wave: "Just drink your herbal tea and leave me alone!"

Media commentators love to reduce everything about women to catfights about sex, so it's not surprising that this belittling and historically inaccurate way of looking at the women's movement – angry prudes versus drunken sluts – has recently taken on new life, including among feminists.

<snip>

The wave structure, I'm trying to say, looks historical, but actually it is used to misrepresent history by evoking ancient tropes about repressive mothers and rebellious daughters. Second wave: anti-porn. Third wave: anything goes!

But second wave was never all anti-porn – think of Ellen Willis, for heaven's sake. It even gave us the propaganda term "pro-sex". The ACLU is jampacked with feminist lawyers of a certain age. In fact, feminists in the 70s and 80s had the same conflicts over pornography that are playing out today among young women over raunch and sex work.

You wouldn't know it from the media, but there are plenty of young feminists who do not see pole-dancing as "empowering" and do not aspire to star in a Girls Gone Wild video. Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs sold very well on campus. These women don't fit the wave story line, however, so nobody interviews them. The pairing up on sex issues is old/young, with the older feminist representing sour puritanical judgement.

And that's really strange. After all, today's "asexual, hirsute" 60-year-olds were the original sex-drugs-and-rock-'n'-rollers. In some ways, they were more sexually radical than today's youth, because they made a bigger break with conventional ideas of sexiness. Many a grey-haired women's studies professor was a braless free spirit back in the day. In fact, some of them still are. Nobody wants to hear, though, from middle-aged women with relaxed and generous views about sex, let alone who are still having it. Relaxed and generous do not a catfight make.

There is a generational struggle going on, but it isn't over sex. It's over power. For 20 years, young feminists have complained that older women have kept a lock on organisational feminism. Robin Morgan famously told young women who protested that her generation wasn't passing the torch to "get your own damned torch. I'm still using mine." So, tired of being assistants and tokens, they did. Branding themselves as a wave was part of it. By staking their claim on youth, they branded older feminists as, well, old. And old, in America, is not a good thing to be.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/jun/03/feminism-women-sex-generational-divide







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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply Breaking feminism's waves (Original post)
Violet_Crumble May 2012 OP
seabeyond May 2012 #1
seabeyond May 2012 #2
redqueen May 2012 #7
seabeyond May 2012 #8
redqueen May 2012 #10
seabeyond May 2012 #11
MerryBlooms May 2012 #3
BlueIris May 2012 #4
seabeyond May 2012 #5
redqueen May 2012 #6
seabeyond May 2012 #9
redqueen May 2012 #12
seabeyond May 2012 #13
redqueen May 2012 #14
seabeyond May 2012 #15
redqueen May 2012 #16
Violet_Crumble Jun 2012 #17
Little Star Jun 2012 #18

Response to Violet_Crumble (Original post)

Tue May 29, 2012, 07:23 AM

1. isn't about angry prudes versus drunken sluts

 

i love this alone... lol. now, will get back to reading.

and

"which I now believe even more than ever is a pretty divisive construct. " agreed.

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Response to Violet_Crumble (Original post)

Tue May 29, 2012, 07:37 AM

2. love to reduce everything about women to catfights about sex

 

As Naomi Wolf wrote in the Washington Post: "The stereotype of feminists as asexual, hirsute Amazons in Birkenstocks that has reigned on campus for the past two decades has been replaced by a breezy vision of hip, smart young women who will take a date to the right-on, woman-friendly sex shop Babeland." Pick your caricature.

The same thing happens at the other end. "Third wave" was indeed intended to define a new generation – it was coined by Rebecca Walker, Alice Walker's daughter – in 1992. The original third wavers, with their reclaiming of "girl culture" and their commitment to the intersectionality of race, class and gender are now touching 40. They hung up their Hello Kitty backpacks some time ago.

The journey continues through interviews with a former lap dancer called Ellie, who helps illustrate just how sexist the culture has ­become: "Now," says ­Ellie, "women get told they are prudes if they say they don't want their boyfriend to go to a club where he gets to stick his fingers in someone else's vagina." She interviews a woman she calls Angela, who, in ­describing her work as a prostitute, says that "basically you've consented to being raped sometimes for money". And then there's pornography addict Jim, who says that "porn is way more brutalising than it used to be. There is this unbelievable obsession with [extreme] anal sex . . . It's far more demeaning to women than in the past."

One email in particular stuck out, a message from a 17-year-old girl called Carly Whiteley. She said that she was "starting to think it was time to give up and sit in silence while my friends put on a porno and grunted about ­whatever blonde, airbrushed piece of plastic was in Nuts this week. What you said gave me back the will not to give in . . . It's nice to see someone else saying it, makes me feel like less of a prude-type oddball."

The "prude" reference was key. In Living Dolls, Walter takes on the ­notion that, for example, stripping and pole dancing are ­empowering, ­liberating choices; instead, she ­suggests, it has become increasingly difficult for young women to opt out of this culture, to take any path other than that which leads inexorably to fake nails, fake tan and, finally, fake breasts. And, if they do, there are ­serious social penalties.

"I was surprised by the attitudes of the girls I interviewed," she says, "who seemed to feel that they would be mocked if they protested within their peer groups. You know, when I was at university [in the 80s] it was OK to be annoyed about ­sexism, to take it quite seriously – if you argued about it, it didn't make you the ­subject of ­mockery. Even if you didn't ­particularly identify yourself as a feminist, you could choose where you wanted to be on a spectrum, and you could still say, 'I really don't want Page 3 in the ­common room,' or, 'I ­really hate the idea of porn' . . . I was surprised when I was ­interviewing young women that they felt ­uncomfortable engaging in that way. Of course, a lot them would say, 'It's fine, we can choose whether to [interact with the sexist culture] or not,' and then you dig a little deeper, and you realise that it is more ­problematic than that."

. I believed that we only had to put in place the conditions for equality for the remnants of the old-fashioned sexism in our culture to wither away. I am ready to admit that I was entirely wrong."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/25/natasha-walter-feminism-sexism-return



original 3rd waver changes her mind.



many of us are too young to have gotten to play in 2nd wave. my two nieces, for different reasons and arriving to the opinion thru different experiences both oppose porn in their life. 20 and 24.

many of the blogs i pull my info from are young feminists. to suggest that all of the third wave is this.... is simply wrong.

thank you for this article. it is good stuff.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #2)

Tue May 29, 2012, 08:52 AM

7. UGH! That Naomi Wolf quote...

that kind of tripe is why I find her unworthy of attention. She is such a hack.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #7)

Tue May 29, 2012, 09:08 AM

8. i think she was being sarcastic. nt

 

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #8)

Tue May 29, 2012, 09:20 AM

10. I still think she's a hack.

Read the whole thing.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/01/AR2009050101859.html


Or in case you don't want to, here's a telling quote. Wolf has cheered on this wave bullshit quite energetically.


(snip)

So what happened? Well, when it comes to women's rights, Americans have clearly matured. What has helped that process along is that stealthily, quietly, second wave feminism -- the movement personified by Betty Friedan and her 1963 bestseller, "The Feminine Mystique" -- has been supplanted by "third wave" feminism, with its more upbeat and individualistic signature.

And how timely that at this moment of next-generation triumph we have a new biography of an icon whose optimistic, go-getter vision of female emancipation helped bring on that third wave. Yes, it's that leopard-print-wearing provocateuse, Helen Gurley Brown.

(snip)

And guess what? In the long battle between the two styles of feminism, Brown, for now, has won. Just look at the culture around us. Ms. Magazine, the earnest publication that defined feminism in the 1970s and '80s, has been replaced on college women's dorm room shelves by sexier, sassier updates such as Bitch and Bust. The four talented, smart -- and feminist -- women of "Sex and the City," who are intent on defining their own lives but are also willing to talk about Manolos and men, look more like Brown's type of heroine than "Sisterhood Is Powerful" readers. The stereotype of feminists as asexual, hirsute Amazons in Birkenstocks that has reigned on campus for the past two decades has been replaced by a breezy vision of hip, smart young women who will take a date to the right-on, woman-friendly sex shop Babeland.

...

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Response to redqueen (Reply #10)

Tue May 29, 2012, 09:39 AM

11. ya. well.... she too is backpedaling now. not as forthright as walker with a firm, i was wrong

 

she is trying to do it without saying it out loud. so yes... i dont put a whole lot of stock into her opinion.

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Response to Violet_Crumble (Original post)

Tue May 29, 2012, 07:39 AM

3. Very good read for me, ty.



>Media commentators love to reduce everything about women to catfights about sex, so it's not surprising that this belittling and historically inaccurate way of looking at the women's movement – angry prudes versus drunken sluts – has recently taken on new life, including among feminists. <

I despise the term, 'catfight', always have.

I read Female Chauvinist Pigs a few years ago. I may need to re-read it soon. I recall it was a good read, but then being left with a feeling of, 'That's it?'. No happy ending

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Response to Violet_Crumble (Original post)

Tue May 29, 2012, 08:18 AM

4. Nice article.

Especially the part about how the 'catfight' is being defined by media.

This next part isn't going to be all that popular here, I think:

I don't buy that there is a rift between second and third wave feminism. Mostly because I have a hard time believing there actually IS a third wave, but that's a soapbox for another day. I actually just haven't seen that much conflict between second and third wavers to make me think it's a real, and not media generated phenomenon.

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Response to BlueIris (Reply #4)

Tue May 29, 2012, 08:22 AM

5. i think many of us were surprised as anything that there was this supposed

 

divide and we had to do a lot of research to learn.... that we had issues.

i will wait for the "that's a soapbox for another day". because i could not agree more.

so much of it is manufactured and created. the more i read, with all the different groups, the more i see the same. i dont get it either

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Response to Violet_Crumble (Original post)

Tue May 29, 2012, 08:49 AM

6. Thank you!

Bunch of overly simplistic idiocy.

So tired of these lazy, thoughtless attempts to avoid articulating actual positions. The media (and most people) are really fond of this crap though. So tiresome.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #6)

Tue May 29, 2012, 09:10 AM

9. how was your weekend?

 

lmao. really, i like your post and am looking forward to what you have to say. there is something i missed.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #9)

Tue May 29, 2012, 09:45 AM

12. It was nice, just hangin with the family...

too broke to do much LOL. I tried to avoid the internet, and got sucked into Minecraft instead.

How was yours?

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Response to redqueen (Reply #12)

Tue May 29, 2012, 09:58 AM

13. omG lol.

 

my articulate, academic, oh so serious oldest son is obsessed with that game. my youngest bought him a minecraft tshirt for his bday. we cant make him wear it, but we think it is funny all the same. he is just too for a tshirt.

ah, lovely, as usual.

no spending money. two on the way to college. what does a parent do.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #13)

Tue May 29, 2012, 10:26 AM

14. Learn to love Ramen noodles again. :)

That game is like crack. And it causes time to warp. I'm sure of it.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #14)

Tue May 29, 2012, 11:14 AM

15. is that what happened to sons math grade? and i thought it was just challenging for him, lol. nt

 

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #15)

Tue May 29, 2012, 11:30 AM

16. Ha, maybe!

It is pretty engrossing. Ok very engrossing.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #6)

Fri Jun 1, 2012, 05:56 AM

17. As I've said before, they're pointless and divisive labels...

I was reading somewhere else that saying that apparently makes me a second wave feminist, but that's total bullshit. Apart from not being into waves unless it was back when I used to surf, I have differing views to quite a few members of this group when it comes to porn and prostitution, but it'd be a boring as shit place if we all agreed on everything. Me, I'm just someone who'd rather exert energy on women do gain full equality than flinging round labels at women they don't agree with and making them the enemy instead of dealing with real issues..

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Response to Violet_Crumble (Original post)

Fri Jun 1, 2012, 11:27 AM

18. Good article! k&r

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