One of, if not the single most, influential women in any young feminists’ life most likely will never grace the covers of any magazine. She will, more likely than not, never receive any public praise for the things she’s accomplished in her life, let alone any kind of positive impact she left. Regardless of the type of mother she was or where she is now, every mother of a feminist played a role in forming who their child is today.
As a woman in her twenties, my generation’s mothers ranged from children to young adults during the time of the second feminist movement. The movement began in the early 1960s with the intention to bring women’s rights – in regards to a number of areas including reproductive choices, problems in the workplace, as well as many more – equal to the rights of men. As the children of this generation, third-wave feminists have expanded the issues being discussed in our parents’ youth. However, with the inclusion of new groups to the feminist community, has a generational gap formed? Are our mothers not progressive enough to keep up with how and where our Internet-catalyzed movement goes?
I met with my best friend’s mother – better known as Second Mom, Anne – to have a conversation and get more insight about what our moms consider feminism. Obviously, a couple of hours pass and, we had discussed a plethora of topics that can’t all be contained in this article. Between conversations about how my family has been and who her daughter is dating, Anne and I came across a topic that has seen drastic change between the feminist movements. While not the priority of the second wave, the third wave is known for more vocal support of both queer and non-white people. Though I know one of her daughters is in a relationship with a woman, I wanted to gain her perspective on my parents’ generation’s progress.
Kerrie: Do you see that people of your generation are evolving?
Anne: I think we evolve when we interact with people who are trans, or gay.
Kerrie: Do you feel like your peers (people who grew up in the 60s and 70s) are more prone to more conservative views on LGBT issues?
Anne: Absolutely, but I think that is because we are far below the learning curve than your generation. In the 60s and 70s, much of the LGBT community was in the closet, so we didn’t talk about it. It wasn’t until the 80s when HIV started claiming lives, notably lives of famous actors, that people began coming out of the closet and society was suddenly confronted with the issues affecting the LGBT community.
I have known Anne’s politics when it comes to LGBT rights for some time. However, I was unsure of if she saw them as part of feminism.
Kerrie: So do you, personally, consider the trans community and gay community part of the feminist movement?
Anne: Men and women? Or just women? But sure, I do see them as part of the feminine movement, absolutely.
Kerrie: The third wave of feminism is thought to be more focused on the queer community. Do you think it makes sense that this has become included in the feminist movement?
Anne: Yes it does, because feminism is about equal rights, and both women and the queer community still do not have the same rights, or the same opportunities to achieve in the workforce, as the straight, white men in this country, particularly in the Bible Belt states. Moreover, women have had a much longer history of fighting for our rights, so it is only natural that feminism lends a hand to the LGBT community.
A shift was made between the second and third waves of feminism to bring higher awareness to sexuality and broaden the scope of people being supported beyond the white, cisgender female community. Of course, with any alteration or addition, not everyone can personally progress at the same rate. However, as Anne demonstrated, this is on a personal basis, not indicative of an entire generation. Anne is a suburban mother of two adult women. Though she isn’t at every protest to support the causes she believes in, neither am I. She is just as involved in the current wave of feminism, no matter the beliefs she was brought up with nor what assumptions are made of a generation that is frequently being critiqued on its socially conservative viewpoints.
As we left the coffee shop to beat the parking authority to our cars before the meters ran out, Anne and I made plans to meet again soon to continue the discussion. She promised to bring some of her friends. I could never be convinced that every mother is capable of the sensitivity and openness Anne embraces, but I do look forward to meeting more women who do understand the relevance of the third wave of feminism. To be ageist and a feminist is an oxymoron. No matter the year one was born, they are just as influenced by the world around them as any other person, making even the concept of allowing a generational gap to occur outrageous. Over coffee, Anne explained that homosexuality wasn’t something her parents ever brought up to her. When her best friend in college came out to her, it was him who sparked her evolution. She was the one to bring it up to her mother, and now it is our turn to include our own mothers — and fathers. The bonds between every member of our community shouldn’t be dictated by anything, age included. We are all working towards making tomorrow a better day than today.