Monday, March 03, 2008


Testify, Sister Cheryl!

"I have fought the anti-abortionists. I have fought for equal pay. I have fought for the right to make decisions about my life and dreams. I have fought and fought hard.

So why do I get the feeling that I am not only being dismissed by society in general, but dismissed by my own feminist sisters?"

Cheryl makes an interesting distinction between "second" and subsequent "waves" of feminism. Like me, she's what's referred to (sometimes derogatorily) as a "second-wave" (late 60s) feminist. We're the ones who fought for the most basic of womens' rights. Not just for abortion, but for the right to have sex for any other reason than being a baby-cannon, and the right to enjoy it. Not just for equal pay but for the right to even make the choice of career over homemaking. And not just for the right to choose a career, but the right to walk down the hallway of the office without getting our asses slapped by some passing senior executive (yeah, that happened -- a lot).

Having waded through that kind of shitty misogynist cesspool, it's hard to get outraged about the c-word or some guy calling me "dear". I've reclaimed the c-word -- it's the one curse I use judiciously enough so that when I do, it actually has some punch. And I don't mind being called "dear" -- it's not always meant to be patronizing, sometimes it's sweet, and I think I can tell the difference. At any rate, that's The Small Stuff, not worthy of my sweat. Especially considering there's other fuckery afoot that's very much worthy of outrage and sweat: like 2 bills before Parliament that are (1) a first step in rolling back reproductive rights to the 50s and (2) tantamount to censorship of the arts by Christofascist ideologues. Those are things I can get excited about.

I used to consider it a good thing that younger women took their rights for granted and considered first-wave feminism irrelevant. That's why we fought, so womens' rights would be so integral to society that feminism really would be irrelevant. And yet, old battleaxes like myself prepare to re-enter the fray... and over the same issues we fought years ago. If first-wave feminism is so irrelevant, on whose watch did things go sideways?

Never mind, we might have mellowed but we haven't ripened and rotted yet. Bring on the chains and padlocks, all I ask is to be chained somewhere close to a bench.

EDIT: "First Wave" edited to "Second Wave". The actual "first wave" of feminism took place in the late 1800s/early 1900s, thought it wasn't known as "feminism" until the second wave in the 60s. (Thank you, Mattt :p)