Dear feminist forebearers,


First of all, I want to say thank you.

I know you don’t hear it enough from my generation. But, I know how much we’re indebted to you. You’ve fought long, you’ve fought hard. You’ve paved the way. I know this, as a woman in a religious occupation, where the sexism runs deep, in a rancid stew of tradition and theology.

In my corner, you took everything on. You have overturned the notion of what a pastor ought to look like and you have overturned our blind beauracracy. You have even made it to the core of our faith and unmasked our masculine idolatries. From the pew, to the pulpit, to the academy, you fought valiantly. Courageously. And you made it so that I could step into a solo pastor position, as a green woman in my twenties. And I thank you.

But you might have forgotten something. When I move my focus from the religious subculture to the popular culture in general, I see that some of you have failed to remember the importance of your great legacy. You have forgotten that we are women too. You have neglected to empower a new generation of women.

It’s coming to a head here, in our democratic primaries. I have watched it unfold, with a sick, uneasiness in my stomach. Younger women are voting for Barack. Older women are voting for Hillary. Some of you have seen this dynamic as if we’re turning our backs on everything for which you have fought.

In the process, many of you, our feminist thinkers, our leaders, our writers have smeared our newspapers with the vilest ageism (even while decrying it). Some days we’re spoiled and whiny. We never work hard enough. Other days my generation of smart women is reduced to a bunch of screaming morons who would do anything to pacify their boyfriends. And our choice in political candidates? Oh, we might as well have decided that by discerning who we thought would be the best kisser.

We know that sometimes the oppressed can become the worst oppressors. And we need to guard against this in this extremely important time. You are causing some irreparable damage when you belittle us over and over again. This is not just a little argument that you’re having with your daughter in your living room. Your words will be echoing through the halls of the academy, and in the board room, and in the legislature. They’ll keep reverberating there as we try to get in.

There is something extremely important that we need to do, unless we want to see all of our hard work wither when we die. We need to remember that the fight is not just for us. It is for our daughters, our granddaughters, and for women everywhere. We need to begin to take the perspectives of young women seriously, even if they sound different from our own. Or else the feminist movement will be cut short–not from a new generation’s lack of resolve–but because of our inability to let a new generation have their own voice.

8 thoughts on “Dear feminist forebearers,

  1. This is so well said. I’ve found it so hard to talk about first-, second- and even third-wave feminism with the women that have paved the path for us. It can’t be a demonization on either side. I wish we would learn that — together.

  2. I’m seeing so much vitriol right now, and it isn’t just older and younger women. I had hope that this would be a positive campaign, and would inspire more people to get involved, but I’m beginning to doubt that now.

  3. Ugh… and now Geraldine Ferraro’s in on the act. I had so much respect for her. Seriously, when our daughter was born, my husband made it a point to say her name at least three time every week in our house. (He was very creative, as you can imagine.) This is just so disappointing. Here, at the Merritt Ranch, we’re all clutching our ears, crying, “She didn’t say it! Tell me she didn’t say it!”

    I’m beginning to worry… was the fight for equality for all, or just equality for them?

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