Who Speaks for the Girls?

A friend – female – wrote to me this weekend that she didn’t understand the current craze of “shop hauling.”  I had posted a story about hauling with the comment that I loved the idea – and the trend.  It was a story from NPR so I was feeling like the “brainy” media had finally caught up with a popular craze I’ve been talking about for months.  Cool.

My friend and I exchanged comments that were slightly snippy.  She told me (this former cocktail waitress) that she had always been into “headier” things and was either too old or too nerdy to understand the consumerism of today’s young women.  I was trying hard to not take offense and to figure out why I was reacting so strongly.  I think I have it now.

It’s this:  who speaks for the girls?  We raise them, nurture and teach them.  For many of us our models were along the lines of Germaine Greer and the writers of Amazon Poetry.  When I was at Ohio State, the emerging Womens Studies department was the prize in a battle royale between the feminists in the English Department (the “lipstick lesbians”) and the ultra-left (political fems who may or may not have been gay but certainly didn’t consort with men.)  We followed the exploits of women around the country and were really happy about that not having to wear a bra thing.

I walked the line carefully, studying and reading voraciously during the day, wearing a bunny costume and serving up drinks in a nightclub by night.  Crossing the feminist picket line to wear four-inch heels and sitting beside the girls in class the next day.  Probably the beginning of leading a carefully cultivated double life.

So my generation, the ones who came after the leaders, have daughters who may only be dimly aware of what a feminist is.  They take for granted that daddy does the cooking.  They expect to compete for the best jobs.  God love their hearts – they want to wear pretty bras.  These are the girls who have it all.  They live in the age of technology.  Of immediate gratification.  Of sexual freedom and common-sense restraint.  They are mysteries to us as much as our mothers were to their mothers. 

So who speaks for these tiny consumers?  Who defends these creations of our hearts and our minds?  Why would any woman deride what will surely become the best and the brightest amongst us because they simply expect to be?  Feminism isn’t dead – it’s just taken a turn for the better.

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