The recent death of Betty Friedan reminded me how out of touch women are with one another over the issue of Feminism.
A second generation of women, the grandchildren of the Feminists of the 1960s and 1970s, are growing up in a world shaped by Feminist thinking and Feminist gains. It is only when reality stumbles over the fact a women's right to choose to bear children, or not, is brought in jeopardy that people get into touch with their "inner Feminist."
The word for this is complacency.
Feminism is the idea that women should have equal rights.
When Betty Friedan passed away, I read some of the retrospectives about her and what her contributions were - or weren't - and in them we learned more about the author of the articles than we did about Friedan - and I suppose that that's how the world works.
If I were to write about ante-Bellum America, I am sure I would have difficulty picturing people who believed they had the right to own other people.
I look at pictures of the Holocaust and the mind snaps.
It is hard to look at the world in which we have no experience - and today's young women, thankfully, have had to live with less sexism than did the women and girls did in the era I grew up in.
Along the way we won the right to choose. I can still remember the day that it happened. So many victories and so many battles and so much that we owe to so few - who fought for the rights we take for granted.
Feminism meant that women not automatically be subservient to men. This angered some people who twisted what Feminism was, and contorted it into some sort of monstrosity, which then could be attacked because it was a Frankenstein -and ugly. The word Feminist was turned into a synonym for lesbian, as if only lesbians wanted to have equal rights, and all real women would spurn the concept. "Feminism was unfeminine."
And we still hear it in a different form - how out of touch Friedan was; how she was a forgotten giant of a forgotten era; how today we have a post-Feminist era; that there is a Third Wave ... as if there were a Second Waves when all it really is part of the SAME wave.
Using the word "wave" separates people and helps them forget.
Words such as "radical," a cousin of the current "liberal," is applied to the idea a woman might have ambitions and talent.
Is the Second Wave Feminist like "Web 2.0?" Are there Feminists that are 3.0? Hard to imagine when the Equal Rights Amendment, ERA, isn't even on the radar, like it wasn't for the 1950's housewives that Friedan's book targeted.
I am not out to flame the young women who are making a go of it. More power to them, but when the basics such as ERA languish, it is hardly a time to speak of second and third waves, and how fighting for choice is an issue.
We can speak to Second and Third Wave Feminism, but until some of the fundamental legislation that goes by to the 1920s is passed, we are at Feminism 1.0 - or even still in "beta."
Kos and others are right, but not the way they mean it. They say Reproductive Rights are a narrow issue. True enough, for it is how women get marginalized in a backwater. Until women have full equal rights, we will get side tracked in this area because the argument can be made that women are different and need different laws - just like the slaves of old.
Until we all are free, no one is free.
Feminism needs to be celebrated as a living thing and not some curiosity of history - a footnote of a failed cause.