by Tyanna Slobe
Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of presumptuous chitter-chatter in the media about how young feminists do not exist and how feminism itself is a dying movement. It seems that there are a number of journalists out there who believe that feminism was left behind in the 1970s, and since Taylor Swift doesn’t call herself a feminist, feminism itself must be a lost cause.
Here at SPARK we take offense to the proclamation that young feminists are non-existent, or even hard to find.
We are not lazy or inactive; we’re not unaware of the issues that face women today or that have faced women in the past; we do not “want to become men”; we have not given up; we do not think that we are already equal; we are sick of being ignored.
The biggest difference between feminists in the 1970s and feminists of today is that feminists in the 1970s were alive in the 1970s and we were not. We cannot be directly compared to feminists of the past. Our struggles are different, our goals are different, our mediums of communication and organization are revolutionarily different, and our success—yes, we have had success—is different.
Feminists of “generation now” have effectively adapted to the social media and mass communication driven world that we have grown up in. This is precisely what defines us as feminists of generation now, because generation now is highly influenced by new means of communication. We manifest our voices in the form of blog posts, tweets, and online petitions, we are involved in politics, and we even create our own forms of media when more popular media sources fail to represent us correctly. We are everywhere, penetrating your media and making our voices heard.
The most absurd thing about claiming that young feminists are few and far between, or even that we do not exist, is that we are very loud. We are so loud that any claims that we are ineffective blatantly and obviously ignore the work that we do. We are involved in the fight for equal pay, race issues, LGBTQ issues, immigration issues, media criticism, politics, the business world, international issues, we are everywhere. Young feminist Malala Yousafzai was even brave enough to speak out against the Taliban. We’re not hard to find.
We are also sick of hearing that we’ve grown up being told that we can achieve anything and be anything that we want. Assuming that every girl’s biggest hopes and dreams do not have to do with becoming a man’s sex object, it is fairly easy to see how this claim could not possibly be true. As young feminists we are very much aware of the media’s representation of women, and very aware of its negative impacts on girls. We grew up with sexualized images in magazines of the female body and with very few images of successful non-sexualized women.
We grew up with “role models” pushed by popular media whose success was built around their sexuality. We grew upbeing told that we talk too much, despite the fact that men statistically hold the floor longer in a conversation. We grew up being told that the ways that we communicate—whether it be how we spell on the internet, the vocabulary that we use, even the intonation of our speech—make us less intelligent. Basically, we grew up in a society that tells us that we are inferior to men and that we will never achieve as much as men. Feminists of generation now are aware that we have bodies and voices that have traditionally been stigmatized and degraded and we are fighting these notions.
SPARK-supporter and fellow feminist of generation now Shelby Knox created this page on Pinterest called Feminists of Generation Now in response to CNN’s “Where are the millennial feminists?” article. The page consists of a plethora of diverse individuals doing diverse things to fight for women’s rights. And guess what…we all consider ourselves feminists!
Anyone who thinks that young feminists do not exist is not only not looking for us but not paying attention to anything in the media. We are here. We are active. You can’t ignore us.