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Menopausal Militia, Millennials...and the Backlash Generation

More from the rally: I shot some video (above) of Jane Seymour of Haverford College welcoming a very long list of fellow students to the rally. The crowd was full of young activists and it was great to have them acknowledged with cheer after cheer. Unfortunately, many of them were bristling at recent articles here and here accusing them of apathy when it came to reproductive rights.

There's been a lot of inter-generational grumblings between the 'menopausal militia' and the 'millennials,' but I have yet to go to a feminist event that wasn't fueled by the energies of 20-somethings. I rode a multigenerational bus with The Latina Institute (great snacks), and one of my busmates, the fabulous Shelby Knox, wrote a this column as a response:

I am addressing you as a sister. I am not your daughter, your niece, your granddaughter or your goddaughter. I am your colleague. I’m 23 and I’ve been in this movement for eight years, more than a third my lifetime. I was not raised with “feminism in the water” nor am I an anomaly – I travel across this country organizing with young women on campuses and in communities for reproductive justice, better sex education, access to birth control and pre-natal services for teen mothers. And yes, abortion rights.

Regarding Jane Seymour's otherwise wonderful shout-out to her fellow students in the video above, Shelby notes:

...every speaker fell all over herself to thank young women for simply showing up. The stage behind the podium was carefully dotted with young faces sporting bright pink t-shirts and signs. Yet only one speaker was under the age of thirty – a white woman from a private college whose only role was to list the universities from which student activists had traveled.

But, behind the scenes, young feminists who are dedicated organizers crafted a youth specific response. Sarah Audelo, a twenty-four year old organizer at Advocates for Youth, created The Hanger Project, which mobilizes college students to distribute wire hangers with facts about illegal and inaccessible abortion on their campuses and send pictures of their actions to elected representatives.

The team of twenty-something organizers from the Feminist Majority Foundation coordinated with young activists across the country to plan local call-ins and rallies to coincide with the national day of action.

Like I said, every event I've ever been to has been energized by 20-somethings. You know who I am missing? My own peers, the 30- and 40-somethings who came of age in the 1980s and 90s, who I'll call the Backlash Generation. I really think we're the ones most guilty of apathy. I felt like the NY Times hit the nail on the head when they wrote:

The 30- to 40-somethings — “middle-school moms and dads,” Ms. Keenan calls them — are more concerned with educating their children about sex, and generally too busy to be bothered with political causes.

I'm not sure how many parents are actually having the sex talk, but I know we're all busy with work and/or family – and many of us did our fair share of protest when we were in our 20s. I'm not sure what to do about it except just show up myself and hope others come along for the ride (and the snacks).

There's lots more video at the Trixie Films YouTube channel.