Is the Internet Disconnecting the Generations of Feminism?
The internet has undoubtedly played a huge role in reshaping societal movements. With forums for discussion and apps designed for organizing events and like-minded groups, it seems we’re living in a golden age for mobilizing change.
Events and movements like the Women’s March of 2016 and the Black Lives Matter movement have relied heavily on the internet’s power to interconnect people and raise awareness of social injustices. However, technology can also contribute to women of an older generation feeling disconnected from the modern day feminist movement.
The issue does not lie with the older generation's desire to return to an earlier time, or even in their lack of contact with the internet, but rather with the limited voice and space given to them within these new movements. To continue making strides forward, feminism needs to evolve to include all women, not just the younger generation.
Feminism in the age of technology is a complex discussion. One of the biggest issues to address is that problems unique to the older generation are often left out of media discussion. For example, incidents of elder abuse have skyrocketed in recent years due to various socioeconomic factors, such as poverty, education levels of both the elder and the caregiver, and social isolation due to geography.
Elder abuse is not prioritized by researchers or discussed in-depth publically, and it remains one of the least investigated crimes. One out of 10 adults over the age of 60 have been abused — with women at a statistically higher risk — yet next to nothing is heard about these issues in the media.
Alongside this, older feminists frequently clash with modern-day society’s attitudes towards porn. Specifically, they aren’t thrilled about how the advent of hard-core porn sites has affected the feminist movement. Many women in the older generation express concern about younger women participating in sexual acts they aren't comfortable with simply to please their partners who have begun requesting violent sex acts due to things they’ve seen depicted and normalized in internet porn.
This issue is something the second generation of feminists — which arose after the suffrage movement and peaked from the 1960s to the late 1970s — often finds severely and understandably distressing, as they fought hard for sexual liberation.
However, it is a common misconception that modern-day feminists condone everything that is depicted in porn in the name of some twisted version of sexual liberation. In reality, true modern-day feminists don’t condone the violence depicted in porn, but are open to discussing a sex-positive take on porn, offering alternatives like “feminist porn” that focus on depicting realistic and equally enjoyable sexual experiences between porn stars.
However, this truth is often understandably lost on the older generation when they are frequently bombarded by conflicting attitudes toward porn from the younger generations online. It is true that many in the younger generations still do not fully realize the extent to which our current access to violent and misogynistic porn is hurting our culture.
This is actually a serious gap within the current feminist movement in general. In order for sex-positive progress to be made, women everywhere need to get onboard with a female-friendly version of the way we talk about and access pornography and sex.
So what can we do to bridge a generational gap? While differences exist between the older and younger generations, common ground also exists. While the U.K. has seen their first female Prime Minister, women in the U.S. have yet to see their first woman president sworn in. Continuing to address the fact that women can make capable, intelligent leaders and the prospect of casting votes for some of the first female leaders in history seems to excite older and younger feminists alike.
It’s important that the current movement keeps the older movement involved. Overall, making sure the needs of all women receive equal attention and funding will make the feminist movement stronger. Considering the needs of older women as well as the young — as well as those of women of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community — will keep feminism a united front in a world where the fight for true equality is still yet to be won.
Article by Kate Harveston, Journalist and Freelance Writer
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