Our little group had another salon yesterday. Since there were few there, mainly due to several conflicting engagements, I got to talk more than I would have been able to if there were more people there. One of the topics that frequently comes up is hierarchy, to which I've been saying for years, "Reclaiming has always been hierarchical. I am not averse to hierarchy; it occurs throughout all of Nature. But I think that unacknowledged hierarchy is dysfunctional, even toxic." From hierarchy we progressed to structure. Oak referred us to this wonderful article called "The Tyranny of Structurelessness," by Jo Freeman, written way back in 1970 when I was another one of those sisters in a CR group. Ours didn't die entirely, though, because several of us went on to form the SF Women's Studies Collective. Sandy Butler, Carolyn Shaffer and I assembled the first, that we knew of, bibliography of feminist literature. We sold it for the cost of photocopying it at Modern Times Bookstore. One of us, Jean Pauline (Jean Nute), was a founding member of the MT collective. My introduction to collective work came from Jean, and I took to it like the proverbial duck to water.
Reading it tonight sent me to thoughts of my own involvement in Second Wave Feminism in my younger days. I've published some talk of those years here.
After the salon, while I was shooting the breeze with Oak, I happened to mention an article that Yvonne Aburrow referred to in a post to the Pagan studies list that I had forwarded around to some friends. The article, about polarity in Paganism, by Lynna Landstreet, contains this brilliance, which I plan to use from now on:
That, to me, is the true Great Rite, of which all other enactments, sexual or not, are merely symbolic. That moment of lightning striking the primeval sea to create the first living organism is what I see when the athamé touches the wine.
I mentioned this article to Oak and a younger friend, Denise, who said she was grateful that there had been a Second Wave Feminism because, first among other changes, it made it okay for her to be a lesbian. I was so touched by this remark, because so many younger women either have no idea that feminism ever happened, or simply assume that so many of the rights and privileges they enjoy were not available to their mothers and grandmothers. I had been feeling that we were invisible and our work was discounted, and here this young woman tells me she's grateful.
At 37, I may no longer count as a "younger woman," but the debt I own to Second Wave feminism is deep: my college and graduate educations, my political consciousness and commitments, many of the texts that have shaped my thinking, open expression of my (bi) sexuality, all my assumptions about what I have a right to ... and the list goes on. Oh, and not to mention my spirituality, which I never would have found if feminist Goddess women hadn't shown me the way.
My own concern has to do with the dearth of younger feminist voices in the public sphere. The "third wave" hasn't come to pass as a theoretical or political movement. Recent books by self- or media-appointed third wavers like Rebecca Walker and Naomi Wolf make me cringe. "Who is speaking for feminists my age?" is a question I ask a lot.
OK, I have some answers to my own question: Inga Muscio, Ariel Gore, Ani Difranco....
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