Speaking of Women's Rights: The big feminist sorority

Friday, May 29, 2009

The big feminist sorority

Katha Pollit’s article on generational conflict in feminism (second wave, third wave, etc.) in The Nation starts “Can we please stop talking about feminism as if it is mothers and daughters fighting about clothes?”

Her argument boils down to this: the conflict isn’t about sex, age, or social mores – it’s about who has, and wants, power in the women’s movement.

Legal Voice is an unabashedly feminist organization, and the women and men who work and volunteer here range from their 20s on up through their 60s, with stops at every decade in between. Ms Pollit’s point – essentially, that conflict among feminists of different ages is simultaneously damaging to the cause and not as bad as it’s made out to be – rang really true. Butting heads is part of how we get work done around here – a little conflict breeds conversation and stronger ideas – but it is far from all we do.

I had two interviews before I started working at Legal Voice. At the second one, the whole staff gathered around the conference room table, grinning, to meet me, and I grilled them with probing questions like “What do you love about your job?” It seemed like the most appropriate question – everyone in the room clearly really did love their job.

I also mentioned that I like to bake pie, although I hope they hired me for other reasons.

After that, when people asked me why I took a job here, I told them I felt like I was joining a big, multigenerational feminist sorority. The way I see it, the conflict isn’t going away, (example: the sniping between these ones and those ones) but it doesn’t have to stand in the way of our achieving things together.