"Iron my shirt"; Citizens United Not Timid; steel-thighed nutcrackers... according to two feature articles this week, all that misogyny may be creating a new "wave" of the women's movement. Not only does Salon's Rebecca Traister suggest that the current election cycle may very well "give birth to a new generation of young feminists", across town, NY Magazine's Amanda Fortini is outright declaring that the political climate "leaves behind a legacy of reawakened feminism—the fourth wave, if you will." What both writers point to, of course, is the female population's disgust and surprise at the often sexist treatment of Hillary Clinton by their peer groups, the media, and political establishment. Here's my "two cent" takeaway: It's embarrassing that, in the year 2008, there are apparently so many educated young women who are either blind to sexism, claim to have never experienced it, or are shocked at its pervasiveness.
"...In our reluctance to appear nagging, scolding, hectoring, or petty, many of us have made a practice of enduring minor affronts not realizing that a failure to decry the smaller indignities can foster blindness to the larger ones," writes Fortini, who, three paragraphs later, explains that her "first experience" with sexism occurred when she was asked by a high school debate coach to loosen the bun in her hair). "We then find ourselves shocked when one of the smartest, most qualified women ever to run for public office is called 'fishwife-y' by a female pundit on national television."
Who exactly is this "we" Fortini is talking about? Are the young, well-educated women quoted in these articles — most of them economically secure and white — really so shocked to discover that misogyny exists, even among their seemingly-sensitive male (and female) peers? You can argue that young women's failure to see the pervasiveness of sexism in this society underscores the fact that the work done by second-wave feminists in the 60s and 70s has paid off, and maybe you'd be right. But I'll go out on a limb and say the problem isn't that women are reluctant to "decry the smaller indignities" of being female, but that a lot of them seem so willfully blind to them in the first place. (Talk about the dumbing down of America.) Maybe that — not the identity politics in the race for the Democratic nomination — is a good thing for elite, solipsistic, newly-outraged Americans, female and male, to start focusing on.