Buried Alive

Feminists who came before by pisaquaririse
February 28, 2008, 5:45 am
Filed under: Interconnected!, VENT!

Inspired by a quote via Deb’s I’m addressing something I’ve been meaning to for a while. I want to talk about ageism as it pertains to women and feminism.

 Fact: I’m young in the birthdays sense (nope, you’re not getting a number outta me!).  I have however, generally recognized, supported and promoted a very “second wave” feminism.  I don’t do so to deliberately pit myself against those in similar age or fancy myself *better* because I’ve aligned with an older crew—that would be ageist. (I do, in actuality, agree with 2nd wave feminism and have for quite some time). 

But what would also be ageist would be to ignore the women who came before *because* of their age, to feel their time has come and gone—that somehow my newer existence means my ideas and thoughts should be pushed ahead.  That I am more relevant.  

 I have encountered plenty of (too many) feminists online and off, as well as women of varying ages, who flat out don’t want to hear from older feminists/other older women.  And they aren’t alone.  “Old people” as they are called are ignored and mocked and, for general purposes, hated.  (I’m going to continue to use “old” from hear on out to address it more as a societal phenomenon than any particular way *I* label people). 

The young hate the old.   The old hate the old.   And if either had their druthers about who to get the latest scoop from on women’s condition it certainly wouldn’t be the old.   

The following portion of Deb’s quote especially moved me:

“What happened to the idea of respecting the elders. Didn’t we recognize the many ways patriarchy works in our culture and vow to disentangle ourselves?” 

It occurred to me in reading this (pisaquari can be slooooow) how disrespecting our elders works in a patriarchal society: it largely silences older women.  And more so, it silences feminists—for whom worse to learn the ways of the world than old, lonely deviates.  Sweet older order would not have it. 

If patriarchy can silence older women it can stop the flow of information, it can stagnate us.  When older women speak they are ignored or not believed—and this is only accounting for the times someone is there to listen. 

For feminism it creates a kind of perpetual motion, wherein we become hamsters on a wheel, regurgitating the same ole stuff and calling it new.   

And if there is one recurring theme I have found in reading and blogging and immersing myself in this movement it’s that:                                                                                              This stuff has been said before. 

What takes me months to figure out (if not, years) is in 8 different books already or has been said for hundreds of years and here I am just now connecting the dots (if I may utilize a patriarchal concept here: how inefficient!). 

 I find it sort of unimaginable to think about where women could be right now if our time was not so exhausted getting to these points—getting a fuller understanding of what’s already been done/said.  What would the world look like (or how would it operate wrt women) if this knowledge base were more readily available—if our herstory and experiences were a part of our everyday growing and understanding.   

The women who have come before are not so different, are not so foreign to us that we cannot share and learn and continue to grow together.  Who are we to say amongst the living whose time is up?  When we reestablish these divides we disservice ourselves, entire generations, and an entire movement.  (And I should mention, very seriously, that I signed up for movement). 

Feminists who came before, in many ways, are our revolution.