Monday, March 12, 2018

Older generation needs to let go of power and ego

Elizabeth Renzetti is one of my favourite Globe and Mail journalists, a voice of reason and of sharp wit, and I am looking forward to reading her new book of essays, Shrewed, A Wry And Closely Observed Look At The Lives Of Women And Girls.
What I was particularly struck by in her recent interview on CBC was her graciousness. As a proverbial elder stateswoman of Canadian feminism - well, actually, she's only a good-looking 52 years old, several years younger than me, but she was involved in the second wave of feminism, even if not the first - she does not expect the younger generation of feminists to kowtow to her superior years and experience. In fact, she specifically says that she feels that older feminists should actually take a step back and listen to and support younger people, cognizant of the fact that their concerns and their approaches may be different: "I think we need to be quieter as older feminists and listen, promote and amplify their voices ... taking cues from them because they know how the world actually works now".
What a refreshing attitude! And how different from another recent article I read (and which I can't now locate online), this one by the executive director and publisher of The Walrus magazine, Shelley Ambrose. Ms. Ambrose's article annoyed the hell out of me, coming across as whiny, curmudgeonly and entitled. She maintained that younger people did not have enough respect for us older folks, and that they needed to listen to us more and defer to our greater wisdom and experience.
No, absolutely not! Like it or not, we live in a young people's world, and we should not be foisting our outdated attitudes on another generation. We have made (and continue to make) enough of a mess of the world: let someone else have a crack at it - it would be hard to do worse. We should not be resting on our laurels and perpetuating the orthodoxy, but, as Ms. Renzetti suggests, supporting the next generation in their contemporary struggles. This applies to feminism, just as much as to environmentalism and other aspects of progressive thought.

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