As Feminism Goes By

Laurie and Debbie say:

Our recent post in response to Rachel at Alas, A Blog is making interesting ripples in the blogosphere.

We had a very mixed response to Ronni Bennett’s response on As Time Goes By.

“The point both women are making, it appears, is that there aren’t enough older women blogging – particularly older feminists – or, at any rate, they can’t find many.”

Actually, we said the opposite: we believe that there are lots of older women blogging, and we’re good examples.

“When Laurie states that we have no idea how many ‘older, feminist bloggers’ there are, I would like to think we are speaking about people of both genders.”

Without a doubt. We were responding to a post by a woman on Barry Deutsch (Ampersand)’s fabulous blog . We’ll just take this opportunity to remind our readers of his superb male privilege checklist–which makes the point about inclusive feminism and male allies much better than we can. What’s more, we don’t just believe that men are important to the feminist movement–we also believe that feminism is as important in improving the lives of men as it is in improving the lives of women. At the same time, we’re not confused about who has the power.

“I am much more concerned with the marginalization of elders by the culture at large and with the pressure on elders from the youth and beauty police to spend small fortunes attempting to hide the inevitable physical changes aging brings.”

We believe that this marginalization is precisely a feminist issue. We can’t think of any better description for our work on this blog and in our books than countering the “youth and beauty police,” in hundreds of ways including this photograph. Thanks for the term, Ronni; we’ll use it again.

“We’re here, Rachel and Laurie, hundreds and most probably thousands of us, blogging and/or reading blogs every day about the issues you raise and many more.”

Thanks for underlining our point. And we appreciate the pointers to specific older bloggers; we just wish Ronni had included links in the post itself.

“I have considered myself a feminist since reading Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique for the first time in 1963. I did my share of marching, petitioning, lobbying with millions of others, and I produced a lot of radio and television programs promoting feminism. Our activism waned as it become less necessary.”

“All elderbloggers and elder blog readers I’ve gotten to know appear – in the attitudes, beliefs, interests and passions revealed in their blogs, comments and email to me – to be moral and philosophical feminists. Among elders, … equity among all people is a given – as a goal if not yet a reality.”

“Yet, I have never heard any of them refer to themselves as a feminist. Two reasons come to mind. One, because we are old enough to know that we won. Sure, there are still some inequities between men and women, but to the extent that it is possible to be fair to everyone, those remaining wrongs will be corrected in time.”

We disagree. Feminism for us is as necessary as ever. We have not “won.” Laurie frequently comments that her two daughters’ lives as women are much better than her life growing up in the 1950s, and that “better” just isn’t close to “good enough.” Ronni, if we had won, the “youth and beauty police” would no longer be a problem.

“The second reason is more radical: I propose that elders are natural feminists. As we age, the external differences between men and women become less evident. Hormone production declines allowing men and women to bypass some of the sexual tension of youth which, in age, makes real friendship possible. Men become less competitive. Elder women often find strengths they hadn’t, in youth, been aware they had.”

This is worth thinking about. On the other hand, we certainly know elders who are not “natural feminists.” Far too many of them are in the U.S. Senate and other branches of the government. Also, we aren’t willing to make the assumption that all the noninclusive, right-wing, anti-egalitarian bloggers are under 50.

And in the final analysis, we just can’t support the idea that hormones and lack of sexual tension drive politics.

<br /> feminism<br /> women<br /> aging<br /> men<br /> feminist men<br /> <a href="" rel="tag nofollow">Body Impolitic</a><br />

3 thoughts on “As Feminism Goes By

  1. This reminds me a little bit of a character in Terry Pratchett’s illustrated novel,The Last Hero. Vena, the Raven-Haired, who is now white haired looks a bit grandmotherly and sometimes fools bad guys by getting them to hold her knitting while she kicks them in the crotch. She joins the also geriatric Silver Horde to go off on a rampaging quest to return fire to the gods. She’s depicted in Xena-style leather armor with a blood-stained sword almost as tall as she is. A stranger encountering her notices, “..the lady was somewhat…youngly dressed for a grandmother, and the message on the sampler she was sewing, surrounded by little flowers, was EAT COLD STEEL PIGDOG.”

    Not everyone goes for leather bustier, the sampler and the sword, but I think there’s a quiet heroism in refusing to be crammed in a corner and using whatever life experience we have to select the appropriate tool to use to get what we need–craftiness, diplomacy, or pointed observations.

  2. “And in the final analysis, we just can’t support the idea that hormones and lack of sexual tension drive politics.”

    Of course not. Power and hierarchy drive politics. There have to be groups of people to suppress, in a hierarchy, for the pyramid of power to work. Movements like the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and now the gay movement flatten that power pyramid as there become fewer and fewer people to distain and lord it over based on appearance alone. It is quite frightening to the rich white males that their patriarchy might be subverted by those daring to be in charge of their own lives and refusing to submit to the hierarchy. Why, the white male masses who vote for them might not look up to them any more as alpha males to envy!

  3. I am a feminist and 65 but I am only just exploring what blogging is about. It is great to read comments by feminists. Most of the women I know are so busy with full time jobs and families, as I have been myself. I think feminism begins with addressing the restrictions society tries to put around you, but it expands into growing awareness of oppression of all kinds. Feminism to me is an attempt to counter the culture of Capitalism, to oppose the Capitalist enterprise of putting people into categories, creating privilege for some over others, and exploiting (abusing) those who have been made powerless in this way in order to gather wealth for the privileged.
    I began by realising I had internalised much of the social doctrine about women being inferior. Others come from different positions and different cultures. Some people describe this as ‘Lots of Feminisms’ which is like saying ‘cultural diversity’ But I think the motive is the same, equality, respect, independence and recognition of interdependence.
    Hey this is fun. I may do this again!

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