The cover story in the January 14 issue of Time magazine has stirred a lot of conversation on both sides of the abortion aisle.
In particular it has brought to the fore a generational rift within the pro-abortion movement.
The article noted the rift as one of several problems the movement is facing. But in the article’s wake young feminists have apparently felt freed to launch an open revolt.
According to 32-yr-old Erin Matson (pictured above, to the right of feminist icon Gloria Steinem), who has a view from the inside as a recently resigned VP of NOW, the problem is boards of “powerful, older, white, heterosexual” feminists who want to keep the power.
“Suddenly the 27 make the conversation all about them,” wrote Matson on her blog yesterday. “What about me? Am I supposed to go away? Are you saying I’m irrelevant? Wait is this just that you secretly want to grab the power and kick me out of here?”
To be sure, there is a generational tug-of-war in almost every walk of life.
The difference here is the “legacy” pro-abortion movement, as Matson called it, fought for the freedom to murder all these young up-and-comers before they were born. So the older feminists bring built-in selfishness to the table. (Although their protégés don’t lag too far behind.)
This fact must also bring some level of distrust on the part of young feminists, even if subconscious. (And youthful abortion pushers will run into the same problem if their movement survives long enough.)
I’m not blind to the fact there are older leaders in the pro-life movement who have trouble passing the baton. But in general I see love, pride, and encouragement toward our young people. After all, they’re why we are here. We covet their participation and leadership. In addition to zeal, young people bring insights, talents, and gifts to the battle we don’t possess, such as built-in intuition about social media. Many of our young people forge new trails, such as Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America, Lila Rose of Live Action and Ryan Bomberger of The Radiance Foundation (pictured below in order, left to right).
Basically, the pro-life movement carries none of the generational baggage the pro-abortion movement carries. We have built-in trust between the generations, and pro-aborts have built-in suspicion.
I see a split of their ranks coming. Why? According to Steph Herold, pictured right, in a harshly worded piece at RH Reality Check yesterday:
Organizations like NARAL, NOW, and the Feminist Majority Foundation (not to mention Planned Parenthood) prioritize the needs of white, middle class, straight, cis-women, and work within the Democratic party politics system to achieve their goals. It’s not just young activists who reject the messaging, strategy, and focus of these legacy organizations. Anyone who is interested in working for the rights of people who don’t fit into those identity categories must find other homes for their social justice work….
It may be true that, as Pickert claims, the pro-choice movement is “more fragmented than it’s ever been,” but this is not because young people are clamoring to overthrow the boomers who are running failing organizations. We are fragmented because we have different visions for the future of our movement. Pickert chastises young activists for abandoning “those feminist institutions that have traditionally been the headquarters for voter mobilization campaigns, fundraising, and lobbying, the lifeblood of any political movement.”
And therein lies the problem. We don’t see our movement as just a political movement. We see it as a movement for culture change and social justice. We do not want to participate only in lobbying and voter mobilization. We want to be involved in organizations that create dynamic, lasting, empowering change that lift up the experiences of those with the least power. We don’t want to be involved in organizations that have pursued the same strategies for decades that lead us to the dismal place we are today. We want a bold, pro-active vision for a future of our own creation. And we aren’t getting that from NARAL, Planned Parenthood, the Feminist Majority Foundation, or NOW.
So we’re creating it for ourselves. If anything is strengthening the pro-choice and reproductive justice movements, it’s the people, regardless of age, who are working outside the traditional power structures and are pushing us to be unabashedly inclusive, radical, and unashamed.
Ouch. The problem for Steph and her throng is their thesis of wanting to “lift up the experiences of those with the least power” doesn’t track. You can’t launch – never mind achieve – that lofty goal on the premise of murdering babies.