Disgruntled Adolescent Complaint Department

January 8, 2011 § 6 Comments

by KATIE E.

Something has been irking me for the past couple of days.

I thought maybe I was over-reacting. Maybe that I should have just kept my mouth shut. But, I can’t stop thinking about it. So here it goes:

I do not want to be a part of a feminist movement that conflates youth with a lack of intelligence.

I am, in particular, referring to this. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of misogyny in the piece from the Catholic League, and it deserves to be written about, but not only is it problematic to only pick on the writer’s grammar, it is absolutely infuriating to blame it on supposed youth, even as a “joke.”

You do not get to take your anger about misogyny out on young people. Period. There are many young people (including myself and my co-bloggers) who do not feel that way. Recognition of that is past due.

This is not the first time I’ve seen something like this and been mad, though. This one just wins the honor of putting me over the edge. I can’t deal with so-called feminists who don’t show an iota of respect to young people anymore. I can’t deal with feeling like I’m a sub-par feminist writer just because I’m under 18 anymore. My opinions, ideas, and writings are no less legitimate than any adult blogger, so please stop making me feel that way, thanks.

One thing I hear entirely too much about in feminist circles is the so-called “generational divide” between second and third wave feminists. I hear a lot of complaints particularly (though not exclusively) from 20-something feminists who were too young for the height of either about how they’re not taken seriously, oppressed, ignored, whatever you want to call it.

I’m not going to be a jerk and say that isn’t true. It has only been very recently that younger (emphasis on the fact that they are youngER, not the youngEST) feminists have gotten the respect they deserve. And there are still occasional comments from some older, legendary feminist about how 20-somethings/college students/young people in general/whatever either aren’t feminists or aren’t doing it right. And I feel the sting of those comments, too, and I think the complaints are completely legitimate and should be heard.

But, seriously? It is not the same being a younger feminist and one of the youngest feminists. Not. At. All. There is little to no discussion given to feminists under 18 in these “generational divide” discussions, and feminists who are claiming they are not taken seriously for being born in the 70s or 80s are helping to perpetuate that. The ageism that victimizes you may be real, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t keeping the cycle going in another way. The voices of feminists who aren’t yet adults are silenced even more than yours are, yet you ignore us.

I am betting now that multiple people are going to claim that starting a whole discussion about the generational divide and ageism against youth stemming from one teeny Feministe post is overreacting, but it is not. Language is how this cycle keeps going, and language is where I feel it the most.

So, please, if you have any respect or support for myself, my younger co-bloggers, and other feminists who are teenagers or younger: stop equating a lack of intelligence, misogyny, or anything else that you hate with us. We are not like that, and you effectively erase us by doing it.

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§ 6 Responses to Disgruntled Adolescent Complaint Department

  • Sophie says:

    You know, I didn’t even notice that the first time I read it. Now I completely agree with you. I think that they were completely insulting the intelligence of teenagers. I’m an eighth grader who, in more than just my opinion, is an awesome writer. I also am a feminist, and often do not see enough aimed at me as a young teenager. There is no one talking about what to do to get my friends interested in feminism. There are no chances for me to discuss the issues that plague me as a feminist, as most people seem to consider them “adult issues”, while I think that anyone of any age can understand concepts like misogyny and double standards. There may be a generation divide between the second and third wave, but there is an even bigger one between adult women and teenagers.

  • Feyline says:

    Hear hear! I’m 17, but I’ve been wandering around the feminist/equalist community online and off since I was 14. I admit to taking the easy way out in many discussions and lying about my age. The difference was staggering: as a 14-year-old, I was told that I couldn’t possibly fully understand, that I hadn’t seen things as clearly as my older counterparts, that I’d understand when I was older…RAWR! So much baseless dismissal! But tell them I was 20, and all of a sudden I’m a reliable adult who makes excellent points!

    Sophie- The blog Our Turn: Feminism for Newbies has a pretty good -alebit short- list of resources for teenage feminists: http://our-turn-feminism.blogspot.com/2010/05/teenagers-and-feminism.html

  • Laura Blum says:

    Oh my goodness, thank you for this post. I agree so much. I’m 18, and I’ve only been hanging around the feminist blogosphere for about a year now, but I’ve definitely noticed a lack of younger/adolescent voices, as well as marginalization of the voices that do exist. I read one fairly controversial piece posted by a guest blogger on Bitch Magazine’s blog that talked about the effects of pornography on teens/young people, and the whole thing was written by an adult, was obviously aimed at adults, and, in my opinion, made us teenagers out to be gullible, too-easily-influenced idiots. Reading it was so strange–it was like witnessing a group of people in the same room as you, talking about you as if you’re not even there. I commented voicing my protests, and the blogger’s response was rather rude and dismissive. So I’ve definitely experienced this type of prejudice firsthand.

    And I don’t think it goes away once you turn 18–yes, in many places 18 is the legal age of adulthood, but that doesn’t mean older people are going to necessarily treat you as an equal. I wonder when I’ll hit that magic age where people suddenly start taking me seriously. Is it age 20? 21? 25? I’ve rarely outright lied about my age online, but I generally try skirting the issue, because I know that once people read that I’m a teenager or a freshman in college or whatever, they’ll immediately stop listening, or they’ll make a million judgments and assumptions about my maturity level and/or intelligence. And I’ve been actively interacting with people online since sixth grade. It was even worse then.

    I apologize for my ignorance, but is there any community or group blog or something out there for younger feminists and younger feminist bloggers? If so, I’d love to join or at least lend my support.

    Don’t be afraid to speak up! This is definitely an issue that deserves the attention of the feminist blogosphere, and no one has any right to silence us.

    • Sophie says:

      There’s http://thefbomb.org/ which is for and by teenagers and features articles and stories.

      I think the magic age is 25. You’re old enough to have your opinion listened to, but not so old that people start to dis-value your thoughts.

  • Laura Blum says:

    Oh, crap. Literally 2 minutes after I posted this I actually bothered to click the “what” page and realize that THIS VERY BLOG is for/by young feminists. D’oh! Sorry about that.

    Anyway, except for that one silly oversight, the rest of my comment still stands. I’ll definitely be following this blog from now on!

    • mirandanyc says:

      Hooray, thanks! And if you’d ever like to submit a guest-post for publication here, just send me an email: womensglib AT gmail DOT com.

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