November 19, 2015

Old feminists, young 'bitches'

I turned 50 this year. Am I an older feminist now? And what does that even mean?

I must admit: it does mean figuring out how you, as an older feminist, can provide effective support to allies who are younger than you and vice versa. Not because I believe that the different generations of feminists today  are so different from each other. Women of all ages worldwide are still confronted with a broad range of limitations. And both young girls and older women worldwide are rising up against them. The suggestion that the current crop of young feminists are more innovative than the generation of feminists that came before them also seems to me to be a myth.

Feminists, by definition, carry out innovative and radical work, regardless of their age. However, every generation has its own issues, its own hot potatoes, its own solutions. Its own terms too.

It is a bit shocking to me, for example, when I hear young feminists use words in their campaigns like ‘bitch’ and ‘slut’. These are terms that make me wince, but they are common vernacular for some girls. They are used as a badge of honour, thus reclaiming the terms and lending them their own positive connotation. These days girls don’t allow themselves to be made into victims easily and I admire them for that.

After many inspiring conversations with young girls’ rights activists, it is clear to me that it is not us older women who must try to empower these girls. They are empowering themselves, with each other’s support. We older women must, above all, place our trust in these girls. After all, they are the experts when it comes to their own activism. Moreover, we must support them by making sure they have  access to the resources and power that we older feminists have managed to amass. Girls will take care of the rest themselves. Whether they are bitches or something else.

Share this article