Generation Wars Rise Again (or maybe not)

By Jo Reger


Having spent a large part of my career studying U.S. feminism and the women’s movement, I find myself screaming a bit inside my head as I look at headline after headline declaring a feminist generation gap in the next presidential election. The refrain goes —“Why don’t young women support Hillary? Why don’t they know their history? Why turn to ‘the Bern’? Why? Why? Why?”

I have seen the rise of the generation “why?” several times in the past decade. Most recently, it was around the 2011 (and continuing) slutwalks that condemn rape along with slut shaming and sexual profiling. In this case the question was around appearance and sexuality — why are young (mostly white) women and men embracing the image of the slut as empowering? As a result of the constant rise of the generation “why” question, I spent a lot of time thinking about feminist generation gaps after spending time at a slutwalk  in 2012 and, earlier ,   my  study of community feminist networks. Drawing on that research, three relevant points about the upcoming presidential election come to mind: 1) Feminism is not monolithic. 2) Dividing feminists by age is problematic. 3) Coming of age as a feminist in different times makes different priorities. I realize that these points somewhat contradict each other. Let me explain. Continue reading “Generation Wars Rise Again (or maybe not)”