I am thoroughly enjoying the Ann Romney pile-on. I thought it would only be good for one news cycle, and then the president of NOW decided it was time to crawl out and remind my generation why we are rejecting our mothers’ feminism in increasing numbers.
Many of us went through a staunch feminist phase during adolescence and young adulthood; as childhood fell behind us, we sought to define ourselves as women in a way that made us feel strong, empowered and, well, adult. Feminism portended to offer us that. Anything men could do we could do, better! We were women, hear us roar.
And then we graduated, moved into the workforce, settled into domestic partnerships, and came to know the truth about ourselves: Anything men could do we could do, differently! We began to realize that neither had our genitalia endowed us with superpowers to beat men at their own games, and nor was our sole distinction from our male counterparts a matter of mere anatomy.
But more off-putting than our burgeoning skepticism about the premises of feminism was our realization that feminism, as our generation was experiencing it, was increasingly pitting women against each other. Feminists were demanding that all women embrace the lifestyles and choices they had fought to make culturally available to us, or else we were ripe targets for the sort of debasement that would never be tolerated coming from men.
My liberal-minded girlfriends and I agree that feminism, if we’re going to embrace it, must be about defending women’s right to make their own choices, not about badgering women into belief that only certain choices are valid or better than others. Feminism, like so many other liberating movements on behalf of disenfranchisement, eventually became what it sought to overthrow — a force telling women what to do and how to do it.
Feminism may be turning virulent because it’s realizing its own irrelevance with the rise of generations born after it. Feminism no longer needs to speak for women because we can finally speak for ourselves.