Outskirts online journal

Chilla Bulbeck

Further information

About the author

Chilla Bulbeck holds the remaining named chair of women's studies in Australia, at Adelaide University's Department of Social Inquiry where she teaches gender studies and social science subjects. She has published widely on issues of gender and difference, including Re-Orienting Western Feminisms: Women's Diversity in a Post-Colonial World (1998) Cambridge University Press, Living Feminism: The Impact of the Women's Movement on Three Generations of Australian Women (1997) Cambridge University Press, Australian Women in Papua New Guinea: Colonial Passages 1920-1960 (1992) Cambridge University Press. Recent publications on the generation debate include 'Simone de Beauvoir and Generations of Feminists' (1999) Hecate 25(2): 1-18. This paper is based on research supported by a small Australian Research Council grant in 2000 and a large ARC grant 2001-2003.

Publication details

Volume 8, May 2001

Feminism by Any Other Name?: skirting the generation debate

'Letters to the next generation'

In 1987, a special issue of Hypatia dedicated to the phenomenon of 'third wave feminism' described the generation debate as 'the most pressing task for the feminisms of our time, both inside and outside academe' (Zita 1997:1). This issue of Outskirts takes the theme of feminism and generation, reflecting on some of the questions prompted by the popularised version of the generation debate. Rebecca Stringer asks what is the accusation of 'victim feminism' really about and why is it so prevalent? Anita Harris queries why young feminists are characterised as apolitical and self-interested, when she sees them forging new complex feminist identities. Jane Long applies her training as an historian to contextualise the contemporary generation debate and ponder whether it is a thing of the past, in more ways than one. Long suggests that the media-driven generational debate appeared to reach its climax in Australia, Britain and the United States in the 1990s. Nevertheless, publications within the genre continue, most recently Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards' (2000) Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, sponsored by Ms magazine in the United States.

As Jane Long and Anita Harris elaborate in some detail, the common themes of the popular generational debate pitch the 'dowdy' 'politically correct' mothers against their glamorous street-smart daughters. Young feminists focus on individual 'self-improvement' (Barbara Ehrenreich in Baker and Cline 1996:258) and 'do-it-yourself' feminism, as Bail (1996:3-4) calls it. In DIY Feminism young women do not define themselves by their gender - their 'group identification' - but by their 'individual practice' and their 'personal challenges', by their passions like music and publishing fanzines. Young women's feminism is expressed in a cultural space, for example constructing internet sites, publishing ezines (self-published internet magazines), playing in all-women bands (for example see the preoccupations of 'young activist' essayists in Heywood and Drake 1997). The older generation's 'institutionalised feminism' is condemned for proposing a homogenous womanhood (Lumby 1997:155), based on shared oppression. This feminism is described as victim, puritan, punitive or Victorian feminism (Wolf 1993:53; Lake 1995:26; Denfeld 1995) because of a pessimistic preoccupation with sexual oppression in heterosexual relations (rape, pornography and sexual harassment). Young women are 'pro-sex', claiming (hetero)sexuality is at least as significantly about pleasure as danger.

Quentin Bryce, a former director of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, denies that feminism is about '"my" career, "my" rights, "my" pursuit of happiness … feminism is about selflessness, sisterhood and a civil society' (in Bowen 1998:212). Thus, second wave feminists accuse the younger generation of 'entitlement feminism' (Skeggs 1995:478), 'free market feminism' (Wilkinson 1999):29) or commodity feminism. Popular commodified feminism finds expression in the 'girl power' of the Spice Girls (Treagas 1998:1), the Nike advertising slogan 'Just do it' (Wolf 1993:29) and Courtney Love's 'I want to be the girl with the most cake' (Bail 1996:15). Indeed, as Jane Long suggests in this issue, generation debate feminism is a form of commodity feminism; it too is readily packaged and commodified.

Anita Harris argues that girlhood has replaced youth as the container for social anxieties concerning risk and power: risk of sexual vulnerability, disaffection from civic life; power expressed in greater violence and criminality. According to some young popular feminist writers, women are no different from men, no purer than men, no less capable of violence (Denfeld 1995:167-8), no more caring (Benn 1998:224), no more 'idealistic, empathetic, non-sexist, less driven by ego' (Legge, 1998:26). Wolf (1993:xvii) asserts women 'have the ability to be good or bad, generous or cruel' (see also Denfeld 1997:xiii,8-9). Walter (1998:184) notes young women report almost as much attachment to violence, hedonism and detachment as young men; they have begun to acquire male arrogance, leadership qualities and tendencies towards dishonesty . Concerns about young women's gender atypical attitudes to sex, citizenship and violence have been readily displaced into the generation debate.

Anita Harris, noting the young feminists who are suspicious of popular culture's distortion of their projects and ideas, points to punk and grrlpower feminism's use of alternative media, such as internet magazines, fanzines, rock group lyrics. However, warning against an over-eager condemnation of the media, Jane Long notes the historic ties between feminism and the media. The upsurge in feminist activity in Britain in the nineteenth century coincided with the rise of a truly mass media in that country. From that time, there have been interesting and changing connections between women's movement activists and the media, while feminists have become the media as editors, like Anne Summers; as journalists, like Virginia Trioli and Helen Garner; as columnists, like Catherine Lumby.

When women's liberationists signed their letters, 'Yours in sisterhood', they were, as Germaine Greer (Greer 1999):231) notes, claiming unity through a shared age. Greer goes on to claim that 'our society is even more rotten with ageism than sexism'. Indeed, Greer's (1999) own recent book, The Whole Woman, can be seen as part of the generational debate: 'This sequel to The Female Eunuch is the book I said I would never write'. Despite her erstwhile belief that women of each generation should produce their own statements, The Whole Woman is a 'letter to the next generation', as well as women of her own, who say feminism has 'gone too far' ((Greer 1999):1). More famous than Greer's letter to the next generation is Anne Summers' (1993). Summers (1993:507) wondered why young feminists were not grateful for the achievements of her generation. She (993:507-9) outlines the enormous changes in women's lives in a single generation, a strategy the younger feminists, Baumgardner and Richards (2000:1-4,315-321), replicate in Manifesta. They book-end their work with 'A day without feminism' and 'A day with feminism'. Clearly, the purpose of this rhetorical device is to claim 'You've come a long way baby', and, in Summers' case, to remember to thank your elders. Summers (1993:510) told her story so that 'it might just move some of you to reach out for the torch'. Kathy Bail (1996:3,5) was among the many young voices raised in anger against Summers' letter. She challenged Summers' 'institutionalised' feminism which assumes all women have the same interests; she condemned Summers' 'dowdy, asexual' victimhood. Esther Rice and Michelle Swift (1995: 195) suggested that their 'ability to do anything comes from being a naughty girl', playing with the Sega mega-drive instead of the 'dolls mummy gave her'.

As a fashion of feminism based on generation, third wave feminism is characterised as a 'break with the past' (Orr 1997:33), displacing the pioneers of second wave feminism into history, as no longer active or changing, as good as dead (Kaplan 1997:17). Between us, the contributors to this issue of Outskirts speak from - or nearby - both protagonist generations of the generation debate: the baby-boomer or second wave and the more loosely defined third wave. The 'thirtysomethings' or 'generation Xers' (women now in their thirties) first began to define themselves against the baby-boomer generation. The 'generation Xers' have recently been joined by women in their twenties, teens even, who describe their feminism as 'third wave feminism', 'new feminism', or 'power feminism'. Comparatively few feminists can fit themselves, simply in terms of age, into the two generational armies. Where does that leave those in their thirties and even forties, as Jane Long muses in this issue?

The reduction of contemporary feminist debates to the single variable of generation not only excludes those feminists in 'the middle' but also ignores complex reasons for difference. Long notes that 'in the press, Poppy King is invoked as the quintessential twentysomething; a migrant woman from Vietnam or a homeless street-dweller, never is'. Class and ethnicity are flattened away and the media voices in the generation debate - younger and older - are those of middle class articulate women. While the three articles in this issue draw largely on such middle class articulate Anglophone feminist women to discuss the generation debate, a 'letter from Vietnam', by Phung Thu Thuy, describes how generational differences are experienced and expressed in Vietnam.

Identity and politics

Anita Harris identifies three strands of 'next feminism': the 'equality feminism' of power feminism, the often angry punk and cyberspace interventions of 'DIY and grrrlpower', and the 'third wave' which recognises young feminism's links with second wave feminism. Popularised feminism is the equality feminism variant, propounded by Naomi Wolf, Natasha Walter and so on. Young women are urged to seize and use their power, to act more like men if they so wish, and to work with young men who are deemed to be the natural allies of feminism. A new politics for young women in advocated in 'grrrlpower', emerging from a combination of punk and feminism in the early 1990s and expressed in publications such as fanzines, webpages and music. Harris notes that the term reclaims the word 'girl' and sometimes focuses on young women's anger as a feminist tool. Jane Long suggests of cyberfeminism, 'there is no time for theorising, or space for the faint-hearted'; Carla Sinclair in NetChick distinguishing her digital warriors from victim feminists. DIY feminism is proclaimed as more diverse, individualistic and concerned with cultural practices (Bail 1996:16) than second wave feminism. DIY feminists change the world just by being there, in non-traditional areas of education or work for example, which produces change in institutional cultures (O'Brien 1999:106-7).

Third wave writers include Rebecca Walker, Lesley Heywood and Jennifer Drake in the USA, Virginia Trioli and the contributors to Rosamund Else-Mitchell and Naomi Flutter's (1998) collection in Australia. The academic third wavers criticise popular feminism which 'ignores much academic feminism and feminist history, particularly the work of feminists of color, and returns to a universalized concept of woman' (Heywood and Drake 1997a:16). One of the strengths of third wave feminism is the refusal of a singular liberal-humanist subjectivity' (Reed 1997:124). They discuss their differences within the discourses of postmodernism, postcolonialism, post-structuralism (and multiculturalism - Siegel 1997a:46). The editors of Third Wave Agenda point to the multiplicity of feminisms in their lives (Heywood and Drake 1997a:3). Given their reference to 'multiple' identities, 'coalition politics' and poststructuralism which eschews a single vector of oppression, it is unsurprising that the authors express a discomfort with the term feminism, and its undertow of presumed homogenisation of women. Young women are 'beasts of such a hybrid kind that perhaps we need a different name altogether' (Heywood and Drake 1997a:3). Thus the third wave is for

girls who want to be boys, boys who want to be girls, … people who are white and black, gay and straight, masculine and feminine, or who are finding ways to be any and none of the above, successful individuals longing for community and coalition, communities and coalitions longing for success; tensions between striving for individual success and subordinating the individual to the cause; identities formed within a relentlessly consumer-oriented culture but informed by a politics that has problems with consumption (Heywood and Drake 1997a:8).

Heywood and Drake (1997a:16) point out that 'many of us working in the "third wave" by no means define our feminism as a groovier alternative to an over-and-done feminist movement'. However, Harris in this issue of Outskirts suggests that Third Wave feminists do claim a more complicated critique of beauty, sexuality and power than Second Wavers, draw on a more diverse membership, and focus on the cultural field as a site of feminist activism.

To explore multiplicity in identity-formation and openness in political positioning, Harris discusses how young women negotiate the inter-connections of homophobia, racism and sexism in a UNICEF on-line forum. No position is defended as more feminist than any other and the cultural complexities of each young woman's life is reflected on and attended to. Of course, as Harris goes on to say, 'The fact that this debate about culture and religion takes place in cyberspace is significant'. Her illustration reveals the use of new technologies and the expanded access to communication produced by 'alternative' media. Ezines, websites and so on are not merely about girls just 'having fun'. They also reflect new spaces and practices for feminist politics. Moreover, young women writing in these spaces often understand and resist the commodification of their feminism and the surveillance of youth. This drives their activism underground, into their bedrooms and on their computers, but also joining the global village of the internet.

One can easily overdraw the 'new' cultural politics of young women's feminism. While some young feminists work in the cultural sphere, many young women continue to work in more traditional structures. Rebecca Walker was one of the originators of The Third Wave, formed during the Clarence-Hill hearings. The Third Wave seeks to politicise and organise women from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds, to strengthen relationships between young women and older feminists, to mobilise for specific issues, political candidates and events. Among the twenty-eight young contributors to Listen Up, a quarter work collectively. One has joined a Supportive Students Against Sexual Assault group (Myhre 1995:134), another works with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (Green 1995:147), another is involved with 'Voters for Choice', and another works to keep an abortion clinic in New York City open against the actions of Operation Rescue (Silverstein 1995).

In Talking Up, twenty-one young Australian women (aged between seventeen and thirty-three – Else-Mitchell and Flutter 1998:xxiii) criticised Bail's 'marketing feminism with groovy fonts' (Else-Mitchell and Flutter 1998:xv), asking 'What if we can't do-it-ourselves?' (Else-Mitchell and Flutter 1998:xvi). Unsurprisingly, then, most pursue a structural feminist agenda, either socialist or radical feminist. For example, Ingrid FitzGerald (1998:9,11) notes 'It is as if everyone was born in the middle class' and 'it's too hard to think through structural inequality, too hard to accept that there are some things over which we have limited control'. Kate Lundy (1998:46,51), active in her union, asserts that 'social justice remains the most important philosophical issue facing Australian society today'. Krysti Guest (1998:163) threw herself 'into community-based political activism'.

No victim feminists here

By contrast with these young feminist voices aware of structural inequalities, an older femocrat, former head of the federal Office of the Status of Women Pru Goward, stated 'We are finally seeing the left wing's domination of the Women's Movement weakened, which is why we're seeing young women rejecting victimhood'. Young women 'want to embrace competition, success, business … People are sick of the Thought Police' (in FitzGerald 1998:9). Feminist academics have long cogitated on the widespread support for at least some of feminism's goals combined with women's continuing unwillingness to identify as a feminist. 'I'm not a feminist, but …' is the constantly reiterated way of speaking feminism without making an identification with it (Griffin in Skeggs 1997:142). The feminism that is embraced is liberal feminism; the feminism that is rejected is radical feminism.

The press in the United States more often associates the term feminism with issues concerning the family, reproduction, psychological well-being rather than work and legal rights (Huddy 1997:194-5), thus perpetuating the idea that feminism is 'about' sexual violence rather than equal pay. Surveys which focus on the equal opportunities aspect of feminism secure higher support for feminist goals. A 1995 Time/CNN poll in the USA found that when women were asked if they were feminists 'by the dictionary definition' (focusing on feminism's public political role), 71 per cent of women and 61 per cent of men said yes, with women aged under 30 more likely to call themselves feminists than those aged over 30. By contrast, without this qualification, only 27 per cent of women were willing to call themselves feminist (Bellafante 1998:58). Surveys consistently report that feminists are popularly understood as manhating, lesbian, boiler-suited, fat and ugly (the 224 women of 'middle Australia' in Riley-Smith 1992:48; Walter 1998:36). For some respondents, this manhating stereotype is linked to a feminist politics of sullen political correctness, and being 'an activist or a socialist' (Walter 1998:50; Skeggs 1997:143). More people in the USA believe that the earth has been contacted by aliens than believe that the term feminist is a compliment.

Younger feminist 'media maids' claim that second wave feminists are victim feminists. Victim feminism focuses on sexual oppression in heterosexual relations, on constructing women as helpless victims of masculinity or male oppression. Thus the 'dissenting daughters' (Siegel 1997b: 63) propose a new feminism (Natasha Walter 1998), 'power feminism' (Naomi Wolf), 'do-it-yourself' feminism (Kathy Bail), 'girl power' (the Spice Girls) or even 'grrrl power' (punk ezine writers). Siegel notes that young populist feminists often reduce the terms of the contemporary debate to a rhetoric of good and bad, of equality versus difference, in which, it should be added, they construct difference in very narrow, anti-(hetero)sex terms. 'Good feminists' 'fight for equality in their lives' as opposed to the bad feminists in NOW (the National Organization of Women) and women's studies courses (Denfeld).

In Fire with Fire, Wolf (1993:141-2,144) deplores an anti-capitalist, anti-power, anti-money orthodoxy of victim feminism ('women as sexually pure and mystically nurturing' – Wolf 1993:xvii) which she attributes to the older generation, including Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, Adrienne Rich and the eco-feminists. These feminists see all bad things as male and patriarchal, from 'meat eating' to 'child abuse'. She chides us: 'Do not call it "masculine", that will to power in yourself' (Wolf 1993:320; this suggestion also approvingly cited by Walter 1998:65). Rene Denfeld (1995:93) claims that Second Wave feminists are like Victorians as they 'would create the very same morally pure yet helplessly martyred role that women suffered from a century ago'. Katie Roiphe's (1993) The Morning After attacks her female peers at Harvard University, today's victims of rape and sexual harassment, as bearing 'a striking resemblance to the fifties ideal' ... that 'men want sex, women don't' (Roiphe 1993:6,74). Natasha Walter (1998:65) deplores 'feminine fears about using power and asserts that 'Feminism is about equality for women, nothing more nor less' (Walter 1998:41). Feminism has both alienated and blamed women for not purifying themselves sufficiently to avoid rape, for example by becoming celibate or lesbian (Walter 1998:59-60). Walter (1998:173,175) claims that Margaret Thatcher in politics 'normalised female success'. Also a winner rather than a victim is the supermodel (Walter 1998:99,177).

As Jane Long notes in her contribution to this issue, in Australia it is the young feminists who are accused of being victims, and by their libertarian mothers, at least in Helen Garner's case. In The First Stone, because the young women 'went to the police' when they were sexually harassed by the master of Ormond College, Garner (1995:93,99) describes their feminism as anti-erotic and disempowering, 'priggish, disingenuous, unforgiving' and a 'creation of a political position based on the virtue of helplessness'. Young women have replied as angrily to Garner as they did to Summers. Kath Kenny (1996:150) suggests that, in a sense, Garner is the 'victim' feminist. She argues that women of Garner's generation, but not her own, believe themselves responsible for men's sexual actions. Similarly, Debra Shulkes (1998:76-77) claims that Garner's position requires 'young women … [to] take responsibility for the effects of their bodies in the world'. Although Garner later suggests that she had been incorrect to express the debate in generational terms (in Bowen 1998:45), Garner also replies to her critics by claiming that she did understand that sexual harassment is about institutional power relations. However, she criticised academic feminists' belief that 'institutional power was the only kind of power that could be discussed'. Garner's interest in feminism is not in 'structural things' but its interpersonal aspects (in Bowen 1998:42).

It is interesting that no-one wants to be labelled a victim feminist in these debates. Rebecca Stringer's thoughtful critique of Naomi Wolf's and Katie Rophie's understanding of 'victim feminism' offers us some reasons why. Stringer takes as her departure point the meaning of victimology in criminology. Some feminists have been reluctant to adopt a formulation of the perpetrator-victim relationship which assigns any agency to the victim. This so readily becomes victim blaming: 'she was raped because she wore a short dress', 'she was hit because the dinner was not on the table when he got home'. Victimology, however, suggests that victims do have a role in the crime, varying from passive to quite active. The purpose of explorating the victim's role is not in order to blame the victim, but to confer 'active subjectivity'. Feminist commentators and 'victim activists' (for example feminist lawyers or workers at shelters) have denoted the idea of agency by replacing the term 'victim' with 'survivor'. The survivor replaces self-blame ('I was raped because I wore a short dress') with taking responsibility for moving on beyond the victim status into that of survivor of the abuse. The survivor learns to be resourceful, active, courageous.

Wolf and Roiphe claim that 'victim feminism' replaces the self-blame of the victim with blaming men. Victim feminism encourages women to be resentful of men, to blame patriarchy, and to 'perform' victimhood as an essential identity of being a woman. The have not apparently noticed the work of 'victim activists' who attempt to transform victims into survivors. Thus Wolf appropriates this activist work as a new idea by claiming that women do indeed experience rape and assault, but should not take this on as their identity. Stringer notes that this is exactly what the 'victim activists argue'. Roiphe's claims are even more problematic because Roiphe argues that women duplicitously perform the identity of victim in order to benefit from the kudos it provides.

Stringer concludes by arguing that, in relations between survivors and perpetrators, the waters are inherently muddy, echoing Harris' discussion of the young women who embrace the 'cultural complexities' of their lives. Like Third Wave feminists in the United States, Stringer criticises Wolf's and Roiphe's simplistic responses to complicated interactions. The victim-oppressor analysis is 'inherently and indeed irresolvably complex'. An example Stringer proffers is that '"taking responsibility" [for one's victimhood] is at once a vigorous form of empowerment and-by its own logic-a reinstallation of the possibility of self-blame'. If the survivor fails to survive, fails in her new courageous identity, will she not be open to blame and self-blame for this failure?

Conclusion: plus ça change …

Ann Kaplan (1997:14-15) suggests that women's liberation was part of the resistance to modernity. Modernist social movements have collapsed in the face of postmodernity, 'transnational capitalism, the insistence of the market, globalization, computerization, the end of colonialism, and an increase in diasporic communities'. These changes are too large to be dented by the local resistances that have replaced global social movements. Similar sentiments are expressed by Wendy McCarthy, one of the three founding members of WEL (in Bowen 1998:85) and the Second Wave social commentator and academic Eva Cox (in Bowen 1998:134) who also notes political engagement has declined in the face of cynicism about the political process. Heywood and Drake (1997a:4,11) suggest that third wavers lack time 'in our own overextended, economically insecure lives' for 'public activism'. Economic insecurity makes it hard to replace collective action with competition: 'Despite our knowing better, despite our knowing its emptiness, the ideology of individualism is still a major motivating force in many third wave lives' (Heywood and Drake 1997a:11).

Like other left social movements, feminism has been losing legislative and media favour in Australia. While some trace the beginning of the end to the 1980s, for example Faludi's 1991 book Backlash (1991), the backlash gained momentum in Australia with the election of the conservative Howard federal government in 1996. Government funding for social services and for women's organisations has been cut or eliminated; money has been redirected to men's organisations and 'men's services'. Government support for childcare, supporting parents and legal aid for women suffering domestic violence has been reduced (Sawer 1999:4). Legislation to amend the Sex Discrimination Act to allow state governments to deny fertility treatment such as IVF to single and lesbian women is passing through parliament . Married mothers are encouraged out of the workforce and single mothers are pushed back into paid work with the notion of 'mutual obligation'. The balance of power and resources following divorce has been shifted even more towards men. The loss of government support is particularly significant in Australia with its strong femocrat tradition and women's movement reliance on governments for funding and legislation (on femocrats, see Eisenstein 1996).

Women's studies has also suffered setbacks. Between the early 1990s and the end of the decade, the number of women's studies centres and women's research centres halved (Magarey and Sheridan, forthcoming). There is now only one named chair in women's studies and no named departments of women's studies. For some, the explanation lies in the dramatic defunding of universities as public institutions and the concomitant attack on all 'intellectual activity except teaching in the narrowest vocational sense' (Fraiman 1999:528). For others, a shift to cultural studies and the post- discourses threatens the political integrity of women's studies. In Australia, about a third of women's studies programs have changed their name to gender studies. Some commentators ascribe the change to shifting intellectual preoccupations, from the social sciences to cultural and media studies. Some blame flagging student enrolments, as young women turn away from women's studies (for one perspective, see Threadgold 1998).

Baby-boomer feminists complain of the declining involvement of ordinary women in political organisations and formal settings such as women's organisations, labour unions, women's studies classes, seeing this as related to the de-institutionalisation of the women's movement in Australia . For their part, the younger generation are envious of the prestige and economic security of their putative mothers. Reflecting on the remnants of institutionalised feminism in Australia, some younger feminists note the silence in Summers' letter: her 'failure to acknowledge the implications of her own generational power' (Lumby 1997:155-6; see also Nicholson 1993:17). Mark Davis (1997:29-30), more generally, complains about the weight of the baby-boomer generation in culture, politics and the media. Older feminists occupy academic positions in women's studies courses, as femocrats in government departments and experts in legal, medical and academic spheres (Lumby 1997:157). By contrast, the 'downwardly mobile twentysomethings' (Heywood and Drake 1997b:48) face 'McJobs', casual work as tutors, short-term contracts in universities or government; they are forced to become self-employed consultants vying for diminishing research or community activist dollars. In these changed economic circumstances, leaving domestic roles to pursue a career is no longer a political statement. It is a necessity that does not constitute activism for twentysomething women (Sidler 1997:37).

The psychological conflicts that express the generational war often appear familiar – indee familial - expressing envy, anger and resentment. The frame of generation wars displaces any sense of cultural and intellectual context, of feminisms as products of historical moments (Kaplan 1997:15,18). Psychological oedipal dramas reduce positions to trashing, countertrashing and metatrashing (Fraiman 1999:528). However, as Jane Long notes, scholars do not write about Lenin as the wayward son of Karl Marx, whose theories sprang from jealousy of his famous father. In explaining the generational debate, it is important to note that there are demographic differences in women's life chances and differential access to the jobs and resources produced by the women's movement in Australia and elsewhere. The women's movement has expanded the ways in which young women can imagine their femininity and their futures, albeit not achieving its early dreams of androgyny, equality or an end to gendered violence. Feminism has changed its meanings. Third Wave feminists write and sing and act within the context of a history produced by Second Wave academic feminists. And they write their own history, for, we hope, the next generation of feminists. The contributors to this issue speak between and across the generations of feminists, uncovering some of the reasons why the generation debate made such a powerful impact in popular feminism.


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