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11/07/2005 Entry: "Is the party over for 3rd wave feminism's party girls?"

I wasn't going to write about this, but two diverse bloggers wrote about it, so then, of course, it wouldn't leave me alone. I encourage you to follow the links and read the whole posts; here goes:

"But it reminds me of the problems of third-wave feminism, this idea that there's this game that men and women play with each other (let's call the game Patriarchy) and that most people aren't even aware that they're playing it, which--it seems third-wave feminists are saying--is fine because, as the failings of second-wave feminism have shown us, there's no real way to escape from the game and it's useless to try. Instead, the only really powerful thing we can do as feminists is to be aware that we are playing the game and to play our parts knowingly.

"Maybe it just goes to show that I'm some kind of old-fogey feminist, but I find that to be a pretty shitty conclusion to come to."
Cutting the Best Deal You Can, Tiny Cat Pants, November 6, 2005

and

"I'm very proud to be a feminist, but a pro and con of feminism is that it destabilized social structure. There was a time when women knew what they were expected to do. They could hate it, resent it, rebel against it, but the norm was there. Those norms were hugely oppressive to women but they also provided a framework to work within. Today, we have no structure and i live in a mecca of people trying to 'find themselves.' How do you build an identity from scratch without having it pre-defined? For many, this seems to be a hard task. Personally, there are days when i revel in my ability to escape gendered norms and then i dream of being a Hollywood-image 1950s stay at home mom. Even in my chaos, i realize the power of structure."
the power of social structure in World of Warcraft, apophenia, November 5, 2006

The trick overcoming to all this consternation is turning 40 and truly understanding what 40 can mean. Or at least what it means to me: it means a kind of freedom I'd never dreamed of. It means I think young people are quaint. It means I don't have to prove anything to anyone, unless I want to. It means I'm living my feminism, not just talking about it. It means I don't define myself in relation to men, because I don't have. It means no sex is better than bad sex. It means no man is better than the wrong one. It means I salute those of you in good relationships and those in bad, well, good luck because I no longer measure myself against either of you. It means I'm so cool, I don't have to prove how cool I am anymore. See? You're getting frostbite just reading this, that's how cool I am.

Tiny Cat Pants makes a good point: women are trying to beat men at their own game and can't. Do we really want to be spend that much time in strip clubs? I know I don't. If you want to glorify the whatever's-in-vogue about stripping and strippers, isn't a more feminist route to support the strippers who've unionized? Stop thinking with your imaginary dicks, sisters, and start thinking with some solidarity, or if that's too hard, at the very least some compassion for your fellow woman. I think that should be the lesson of third wave feminism, I think it was the lesson of all the waves of feminism.

I never took comfort in the "Hollywood-image 1950s stay at home mom," my comfort fantasy from age 12 to, oh, 28 was to be the Supreme Leader of some huge intergalactic military, with the added ability to diffuse my consciousness over time and space. I know, too much Star Trek (if that's possible). Then it was to be a successful composer in Paris. Now it's to be a successful novelist who still writes music (God, that would be nice). But, I do see your point about structure. And I think you know this, so I was very puzzled by your post: your structure is your work and your work is your structure. Whatever your work is: linguistics, raising kids, working in an office, writing novels, blogging, etc., whatever it is, the point is to find a structure in what you're doing and be productive, peaceful, happy, aroused, whatever in it. Being productive provides the greatest happiness for me. I rest outside of the structure of my day job and creative lucubration in my off hours.

There was a time when women knew what they were expected to do. They could hate it, resent it, rebel against it, but the norm was there. Those norms were hugely oppressive to women but they also provided a framework to work within.

What norm? Get married, have kids, stay home? That was only available to those who could afford it. If anything's destabilized the social structure it's an economy that requires two incomes per family just to survive. I know this because I work with women who'd love to stay home with their kids and can't; they just can't afford it, and they're not livin' large either.

I think these two writers are amazing women, writers and thinkers, and are going to be even more amazing when they turn 40. They will probably be so cool, they won't have anything to do with me. I salute you both.

Posted by Ginger Mayerson

Replies: 1 Comment

Fabulous post. I too love "living my feminism." Also I am very glad that California yesterday helped young women preserve their opportunities to grow up to live theirs by defeating Prop. 73.

Posted by janinsanfran @ 11/09/2005 09:53 AM PST

 

 

 

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