Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Time to Pass The Torch

Katha Pollitt's recent column in The Nation is about intergenerational feminist conflicts. Read it at this link... & then my response below... http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090615/pollitt

I write to affirm Katha Pollitt’s view that it is not about waves, it is about power. And to suggest that 2nd wave feminists (and I am one, albeit a youngster of 60) all need to start pass the torch to Generation O, the Obama Generation.
Perhaps we do more action and less hair splitting here in L.A., where this passing of the torch is already well underway. And I am speaking more of the LGBT Movement, which strongly overlaps the re-burgeoning young feminist movement.
Both had their re-birth with the same historical events in 2007 – the campaign between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And in California, at least, Generation O has further earned their stripes on the same Election Day November defeat over Proposition 8, which would have given same-sex couples the right to marry.
For the last eight months, California’s Generation 0, a huge passel of high school, college and post college young kids – often led by young women – have taken to the streets in protest on a weekly basis. They have organized so many new groups that we’ve had to form a coordinating coalition called OUT West that now includes 40 organizations.
I have met these young militant adults at a half dozen history-teach-ins, civil disobedience actions, panels, rallies, marches, and on Facebook. And unlike their parents’ generation – the 40 to 60 years olds who went partying or lip-sticking during the Bush’s dead years - they want to hear from us, their grandmothers of the 2nd wave.

That’s the real news -- that the kids are back on the streets again and wanting us to tell them: what is consciousness raising? How do you get a thousand people to a rally? What are the tricks of the trade?
With a looming defeat on our state’s agenda, and having been radicalized in Hillary’s campaign AND Obama’s brilliant grass-roots organizing, the only thing they want to know is – how do we win?

These young women – and dare I say, young men as sweet and feminist as their grandmothers raised them to be. Their vigor and idealism warms my heart. They are a super-bright, socially conscious lot and I sleep well at night knowing that after the fallow years (80’s & 90s’s) – the kids are back!
And now it is our job to school them, (Our Council of Elders is putting a book list together that covers everything from Simone de Beauvoir to Kate Bornstein), to support them, and turn the power over to them. We need to be pushing them forward, making sure that on every panel of old feminists, there are Gen O speakers too. We need to open our meetings to them, yes the top planning meetings too. And make sure their views and interpretations of the world get air time too.
And now, Robin Morgan, we do need to pass the torch. We had our day and did a hell of a job with it. But now it is time to be mentors to them. They are the future.


Elizabeth Stark said...

Jeanne--This is a wonderful and inspiring write-up, and it gives me hope, too. I can't wait for that book list. Surely some of these young activists have a few books inside of them. Thanks for passing the torch. (I suppose I'm somewhere in the middle of the line.) I think, really, we'll all need to carry it together for as long as we can, and burn away the ignorance, burn away the fear.

Anonymous said...

Very well done, except that a lot of our really wonderful international activism occured in the 1990s. Where we spreak lesbian activism to South Africa, newly unified Germany, England and other parts of the world. Groundbreaking lesbian/gay marriage activism was led by MCC in the early 90s, we got married in SanFranciso way before it became fashionable in 1987. There are a lot of seasoned lesbian activists, thinkers and creatives out there in their late 40s and early 50s. I have a long way to go before I retire, and I believe Mary Daly once famously said to Rebecca Walker... "I'm not dead yet."