Friday, June 13, 2008

The Post-Election Feminist Rift

I just read a blog post about sexism in regard to Clinton's campaign that directed me to Dahlia Lithwick's article about repairing the feminist gender rift that reared its ugly head in the recent Democratic nomination process.

[Disclosure: I was a state delegate for Clinton and, while saddened at her loss, will nevertheless happily vote for Obama in November.]

I have always been a bit annoyed by the ceaseless divisiveness in the feminist movement. Do generational changes in the feminist movement really need to be codified into hard and fast feminist typologies like the second and third waves? Sure things have changed in the movement...for example in regard to the treatment of race. But these divisions only serve to accentuate the differences between the movements and lead to a finger pointing and stereotyping. Witness the recent Rebecca Walker tell all and the (absurd and polarizing) motherhood-is-superior backlash against the generation of second wavers. (Not to mention that the use of sequentially numbered "feminist movements" seems to imply a hierarchy of achievement in our ways of thinking and being--a fundamentally non-feminist sort of thing to do.) But I digress.

The feminist "generational rift" in election 2008 politics is a sad reality of a movement that frequently loses touch with it's fundamental principles and too easily descends to reactionary blame games. de Beauvoir had it right the first time around (well, some of it) when she asserts, "For women it is not a question of asserting themselves as women, but of becoming full scale human beings."

Those who supported Obama are not any less feminist than those who supported Clinton. They haven't "let women down." They aren't minimizing the great accomplishments or turning their backs on previous generations of feminists. In fact, some would argue that Obama is in some ways more of a feminist than Clinton. Conversely, those who supported Clinton didn't necessarily "do the right thing" by supporting a woman. The highest glass ceiling of all is an alluring, symbolic, and important target...but a reactionary vote for a woman just for the sake of her gender or sex--even for the first viable female presidential candidate in the history of this country--isn't a feminist action.

Despite the undeserved baggage of the movement and all the sexist garbage in the media, feminism is alive and well and feminists of all generations should be proud. Millions of women and men across America recently made independent decisions about two historically underrepresented and qualified feminist presidential candidates. What an why all the finger pointing?

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Anonymous :P said...

8:17 PM  

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