Sometimes women are just assholes, OR resisting generalizations in intergenerational discourse

As many of you know, I’ve been known to think a lot about intergenerational issues, particularly when it comes to feminism. As I’ve stepped into the role of mentor in the last few years, it’s pushed me to reflect more on my own expectations and experiences of the older women who stepped into my life and helped me become who I wanted to be in the world.
One of the things that I’m pretty clear about now, that I was totally fuzzy about back in the day, is that too often women take one bad experience with someone of a different generation and then globalize it. I remember having a particularly disappointing interaction with someone that I really looked up to and admired, and then projecting my pain over that one individual’s dysfunction on a much broader scale. That one older feminist was a bad listener and, suddenly, in my mind, the majority of older feminists were bad listeners. (I may be overstating the case, but I did some pretty catastrophic thinking as a youngin’.)
I think this also happens in the reverse, of course. An older woman meets one younger woman who doesn’t identity as feminist and, in fact, thinks the feminist fight is no longer necessary. Suddenly, this older woman is ranting and raving all around town about how younger women believe that equality has been achieved.
First and foremost, we all need to have a critical mass of experiences with feminists from various generational groups in order to break down these stereotypes. But beyond that, I think it’s our individual responsibility to catch ourselves in the ineffective tendency to globalize. Sometimes women just got issues or haven’t learned the tao of feminism. Sometimes people are just jerks or emotionally unstable or limited leaders. It’s better for the movement if we recognize this as an individual issue, rather than slowing down a whole movement with the weight of judgments and generalizations.

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