We were told the big battles had been won. They hadn't.
I like the framing here. And what comes to mind is that feminism was mutated into the Female Empowerment branding. You can have it all and you don't have to stink while you do. I remember working with a 2nd wave feminist who was so derisive of younger feminists (then referred to as 3rd wave) that she undermined their efforts to deal with sexual assault on campus. She wasn't representative, but she was a problem. Then we had rich white feminists like Sheryl Sandberg who advises women to lean in. This, too was a problem for many not in her "sphere". I'm hoping that we can be a much more inclusive movement, and that we listen to Black, Indigenous, and women of color as well as trans folks. We have a lot to reflect on and draw on, as well as some serious missteps, but I'm holding out hope.
I aggressively but also respectfully ask you to publish more!
Great piece. We are about the same age, so I can relate a lot to the “pop feminism” that was marketed to girls in the ‘90s (and, later, in the Obama years). “Feminism” became conflated with self-confidence… and if you were self-confident, ironically, why would you need feminism? See the rise in “anti-feminist”/right wing women… everything is focused on the individual.
Insightful article and relatable comments here. Growing up in the 80's Reagan era, I was inspired and mentored by feminists from the 60's and 70's. Sadly, I've witnessed a few of my feminist mentors succumb to the influences of Faux news and abandon facts and science. Ironically, the generation of much older women (from the 30's) who are now in their 80's remain some of the most woke women I know.
Thanks for replying. I appreciate this.
I am really interested that you think violence works for women. What makes you think that? Maybe you mean pushing back/assertively saying no? Would you define that as violence.
I was a historian of sexuality and now I work mainly on gun control and guns for self defence don't, in fact, protect women. Most women are smaller and weaker than most men so how else might female violence work? Police violence? They don't support women.
I feel ya. We got sold a bill of goods that turned out to be bullsh*t. All I can do is try not to raise as$holes and to raise decent people. The next wave of feminism is the domestic front: raise people who can be better than the previous generation. Once you see the web of oppressive societal behaviors it is hard to unsee. Be you. Let that be your own consistent act of rebellion. That’s all I can do.
I support you Moira! Keep it up!
👏🏼 👏🏼👏🏼yes indeed!
Potemkin feminism is a good concept but all my life I’ve been hearing some version of your vague backlash [BL]thesis. Journos don’t have much time on any single item but how about setting conceptual awareness goals to help thinking better like 1/what specific forces do you identify as opposed to F? 2/ Is F experience different to other progressive movements? (Environ; worker’s rights; anti-war) 3/ how & which F groups have colluded in BL? What do they do? 4/ Ditto those opposed to BL. Pls try & be specific & then big (not vague & big) Pls try & get beyond individualising identity politics that result in breaking down the category of women in ways largely irrelevant to the opposition to F or specify why relevant. And lastly think about history- what has worked for women & what makes you think that? (Just stop dissing Beyoncé etc- it’s weak & mean. Based on a flawed generalised theory of culture that removes agency & feelings from actors in pop culture).