Different Generations, Different Issues

by Alana Wingfoot
06/29/1998


One of the problems with communicating across any generation gap is that the two generations have different issues to deal with. What works for the older generation may not even apply to the younger; what is unthinkable to the older generation may be a necessity for the younger.

This applies, of course, to second- and third-wave feminism. Some second-wavers shake their heads over us and decry us for not being serious, for not being 'real feminists' -- more specifically, for not focusing on the same issues they focused on. Of COURSE we don't focus on the same issues -- if you are a second-waver, how much time did you spend on getting the vote for women? (Not just for black women; for women in general?) Did you use the exact same methods that the first wave used? No, you didn't. And we face different issues and use different tools than you did, and the fourth wave will face yet another bundle of issues needing its own ways to handle them, and so forth.

Some of the differences between us:

Second Wave Third Wave
Getting paid work, even if you're married or a mother. Getting _better_ paid work, so we can support ourselves and our families.
Securing the right to an abortion. Maintaining that right, and learning how to use it properly.
Breaking the glass ceiling. Leaving the building and climbing up to the roof.
Getting women into positions of political power. Getting women into positions of economic power.
Getting day care. Changing our family and work structures so day care is less necessary.
Finding ways for women to have loving sexual relationships with other women. Finding ways for women to have loving sexual relationships with whatever gender they prefer, and yes, that includes the individuals with prominent external genitalia and obvious body hair.
Breaking the silence about rape and sexual abuse. Breaking the silence about consensual sex.
Giving women divorce and singlehood as options to het marriage. Making het marriage a better choice for the women who want it, while still keeping those other options.
Making it acceptable for women to delay or space their children with birth control, or even to not have children at all. Making it possible to be a mother AND have a life.
Making it acceptable for mothers to work. Earning enough money so we can afford to become mothers.

We grew up in a different world. We run into different problems than you did. Is it any wonder that we work with different issues?


Copyright © 1998 by Alana Wingfoot

07/09/07 at 6:57