Matricide by the third wave?

Katha Pollitt in The Nation  thinks not:

In “American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide,” her cover story in the October Harper’s, Susan Faludi argues that young feminists are frivolous fashionistas who choose Lady Gaga over Gloria Steinem and consumerism over activism, thereby betraying the cause—and their second-wave mothers, real and figurative. Faludi thinks today’s young feminists are out to kill their mothers, much as young women in the 1920s rejected the Victorian matriarchs who had won them the vote: “Over and over, a younger generation disavows the women’s movement as a daughter disowns her mother.”

Jessica Valenti’s piece in an earlier Nation  argues a quite different point.  She does see younger women as ignored and/or sexualized by the older feminists, but she lays a heavy charge at her elders’ door.  That is, they’ve neglected what must be the core goals of a sustainable feminism:

Feminism isn’t simply about being a woman in a position of power. It’s battling systemic inequities; it’s a social justice movement that believes sexism, racism and classism exist and interconnect, and that they should be consistently challenged. What’s most important to remember as we fight back against conservative appropriation is that the battle over who “owns” the movement is not just about feminists; feminism’s future affects all American women. And if we let the lie of conservative feminism stand—if real feminists don’t lay claim to the movement and outline their vision for the future—all of us will suffer.

Feminism has in fact restricted its attention to “white women’s concerns” and, as such, become vulnerable to the idea that Palin and the Grizzlies can also be feminists.

These are such important issues.  What do you think?

And by the way, we should watch what we write if we have children!  Rebecca Walker’s  reactions to her mother’s writing should give us all pause.  It certainly calls matricide to mind.   (As far as I know I have nothing in print beyond one unfortunate comment comparing cats and babies, or more accurately, observing that I might not have had a child had I had a cat.  Sorry!!  Obviously just a joke!!!)

Disturbing news from Yale

A reader writes:

Last Thursday night, pledges to the DKE fraternity at Yale marched through various central and public spaces on the Yale campus chanting. Among the slogans they repeatedly shouted were “no means yes, yes means anal.” Footage of the incident is available online both on the Yale Daily News website and YouTube.

Incidents of this sort seem to occur every 2-3 years at Yale. The last such incident involved twelve initiates to another Yale fraternity, Zeta Psi, who posed with a sign reading “Love Yale Sluts” and shouted various slurs against women in front of the Yale Women’s Center in January 2008. The presence of the Zeta Psi initiates was so intimidating that one Women’s Center member felt barred from entering the building.

Both DKE and Zeta Psi have issued public apologies. But the apologies have been to the Women’s Center, not to women at Yale. And, beyond holding forums to discuss the problem, the Yale administration has yet to take any clear action to prevent the problem from recurring or to improve the working environment for women on campus. One of the arguments that was advanced in 2008 for the administration’s apparent inability to act was that fraternities are “private” entities, not part of Yale, and are therefore outside the purview of Yale as an academic institution. Although the administration has made it clear that they do not condone such behavior, no action has taken to penalize either the students or the fraternities.

The Yale campus continues to be an unfriendly place for women to study. Witness, for example, a couple of the online reactions to one of the Yale Daily News pieces on the DKE incident:

“I still don’t understand why ranking women (or men, or cars, or cows) by attractiveness constitutes misogyny.” (This was in reference to the “Preseason Scouting Report”, which ranked the women (and only the women) of the class of 2013 by physical appearance.)

“Promoting sexual violence is not necessarily misogyny. Even the most evil rapists are not necessarily misogynistic.”

For more, see and other YDN articles.

Where are the Yale faculty, residential advisers, Deans, etc in these online forums? Why is no faculty member stepping up to educate and censure blatantly misogynistic remarks and behavior? (I would certainly feel compelled to do so in the event of a similar discussion about hate crimes at my own institution.)

Until this problem is addressed, I don’t see how I can in good faith recommend the Yale graduate program to my undergraduate advisees.

We’d welcome any further information about this from our readers.