The Feminist “Generation Wars” Continue

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First we had the “wave” wars.  Now it’s feminists who were there (read: politically aware) at the time of the Clarence Thomas hearings versus everyone else.  That’s how I read Vivia Chen’s reflections over at the Careerist (here) about last weekend’s “Sex, Power and Speaking Truth: Anita Hill 20 Years Later” conference at Hunter College.  Here’s Chen’s take on younger women at the conference:

Which brings us back to the Generation Ys and Zs at the conference. I don’t mean to sound so down on them, but I had a hard time identifying with aspects of their fight. Some were quite good speakers (but what’s with that “up,” Valley-girl intonation?), but they lost me from time to time. One spoke about defeating racism, sexism, and heterosexualism–and I had to stop and ask, “Heterosexualism?”

Another young woman was lauded for starting the group Hollaback!–an organization whose goal is to stop street harassment, such as those annoying catcalls some men make at women.

All worthy goals, I’m sure. But somehow after the high drama and high stakes of the Clarence Thomas hearings, I found myself asking, is this where women’s rights are now?

Were the Thomas hearings “more important” because they involved allegations of workplace sexual harassment, not street harassment?  Harassment by a prominent man, instead of the man on the street?  Harassment by a man about to be appointed to the Supreme Court?  Does Chen really believe that street harassment is merely “annoying catcalls”?

Feminism is strengthened through critique from within and without.  But is the best Chen has a comment about young women’s “up-speak”?  Is that where feminism’s at right now?  I hope not.

H/T Marie Newman

-Bridget Crawford

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