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Archive for January, 2012

Youth in Developing Nations Value Education for Both Genders, US Youth Value Relationships and Service to Others

We’ll look at two recent survey reports, one in developing nations and one in the U.S. World Bank researchers interviewed 800 youth who live in eight developing nations, and surveyed more youth ages 11 to 17 in 19 countries, for a report released in 2012. They value education and getting good jobs. A young man from North Sudan explained, “Education lets us join the modern world, and offers us better jobs now; in the past it was not important since our people were farmers and were not paying attention to their future….” Girls admire their hard-working housewife mothers, but want to work outside the home. Boys also wanted their sisters and future wives to have jobs. Although parents also value education, girls may be taken out of school to help at home and boys to make money. In some places no schools are available or it’s not considering safe for girls to travel to school. In the Dominican Republic both genders agree that girls are afraid of getting raped or other violence if they go out.

Girls have less free time than boys for studying because of housework and some may marry and have babies while still school age (common in 11 of the 19 countries surveyed). However, most agreed the ideal time to start a family was 18 or older.  A girl from Papua New Guinea reports, “Boys do nothing to help. They look for their friends to tell stories, and roam the streets the whole day, chewing gum, listening to music, sleeping, and resting. Girls take care of all household cores, collect firewood, and fetch water.” Boys’ chores take less time.

This high value on education defines what they think is good or bad behavior—studying and doing well is the top of the list for both boys and girls. For girls, helping at home was the second marker for a good girl, followed by being respectful, obedient, religious, dressing appropriately, staying home rather than wandering, doesn’t have a boyfriend, is hardworking and polite. The worst trait for a girl is roaming around and staying out late. The list of appropriate good behavior for boys is different after the first choice of studying. It’s followed by being respectful, not having vices like drinking and smoking, helps at home, religious, obedient, polite, has good friends, and doesn’t have a girlfriend. The worst behavior for boys is vices. It’s encouraging that both genders don’t see women’s only place as in the home, although girls have less mobility because of safety concerns.


Thom and Jess Rainer. The Millennials: Connecting to American’s Largest Generation. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2011.

A survey of 1200 young adults in the US, born from 1980 to 1991, about evenly split between male and female, 61% white, and  39% people of color. They tend to focus on relationships with family and friends, to not be religious, and to value doing service for others. They would like to have lots of money but it’s not high on their list of priorities, nor is the environment.


Only 13% of US Millennials surveyed by father and son team Thom and Jess Rainer said spirituality was important to them. However, the authors write later that 75% define themselves as spiritual. Religion isn’t important to them; most (65%) don’t regularly attend worship services, making them the least religious of any generation in modern history. They tend to view institutional religions as irrelevant and too traditional. Many view religion as divisive, but only 6% are atheists and two-thirds consider themselves Christians. The events of 9-11 taught them that life is fragile. They value doing good, making a difference in the world—96% agree that “I believe I can do something great” and they’re motivated to serve others (77%). Mediators, they like to bring people together. %). Many (60%) donate money to nonprofit groups. They report they’re more influenced by music, Internet and TV than religious beliefs.

They look to their Baby Boomer parents as their advisors (89%) who put great belief in their children and taught them they can achieve anything they decide to do. Unlike the Boomers, they respect their elders (94%). Millennials value family above all else (61%), followed by their friends as most important (25%), with education and career in third and fourth place. Relationships are what motivates them. Of course they use electronic devices to communicate frequently and they’re in front of a computer many hours a week. They hope to stay married to one person (86%) and about the same percentage plan to have children, most more than one child.

They are not driven by money (finances were in seventh place in their list of what’s really important) but they’d like to have lots of it (83%). They are not racist, as over one-third of them are people of color. They’re open to mixed marriages between different ethnic backgrounds, as well as same-sex marriage. Most of them voted for President Obama and look to government to provide services like health care and Social Security. In their careers, they want to succeed but they want work and family balance, they want to learn and to have fun, and they want a mentor. Millennials are concerned about the environment but it’s not at the top of their list of concerns.

My notes on Wael Ghonim. Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater Than the People in Power. 2012. He helped create the Egyptian revolution.

Wael Ghonim. Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater Than the People in Power. A Memoir. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.


Wael Ghonim explains his part in starting a revolution in his book Revolution 2.0. A Google executive who spent a lot of time online, creating a successful website called IslamWay.com, he wasn’t politically active. The fear of the regime kept people afraid, silent, and passive. Young Egyptians frequently commented, “There’s no hope.” Dreams of obtaining an apartment to be able to get marriage were unobtainable for many. In 2010 that motivated Ghonim to set up a Facebook page for Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Many young people hoped he would run for President against Mubarak. The co-administrator of the page was a 24-year-old college student and political blogger, AbdelRahman Mansour. The page asked for signatures for seven demands for change, supported by the Muslim brotherhood. Within three months the page had over 100,000 members.

Later that year he came across a Facebook photo of a young man beaten to death by police in Alexandra. He created a page called Kullena Khaled Said, We Are All Khaled Said, although someone else had already created a similar page. He felt its tone was too aggressive. He was inspired by the movie V for Vendetta where an anonymous rebel tries to stir up revolt against the unjust government and included a clip of the film on this Khaled page. Gandhi’s non-violent resistance also inspired him, and he included quotes on the webpage. Videos of protests in Chile also gave him ideas. Its first day, 36,000 people joined Ghonim’s page, mostly under age 30. The page publicized Khaled’s funeral on June 11, attended by about a thousand people. He also posted other examples of the regime’s brutality, including photos and videos. Images have more impact than words, so he included photos of members holding a sign with the webpage name and their poetry and designs. He asked members to call TV talk shows and demand discussion of the prosecution of the police murders.

Fearful of the State Security who used torture as one of their main ways of collecting information, he kept his identity as administrator of the site secret. He used a proxy program called Tor, which constantly changed his IP address. He again asked AbdelRahman Mansour to be his co-administrator. Then he started organizing on the streets, asking “friends” of the site to stand silently, wearing black, holding the Koran or a Bible. He called these Friday protests the Silent Stand and publicized them as an “event” on Facebook in Alexandra and Cairo and with press releases. Thousands participated in June and July along with the presence of security forces in what he called “The Revolution of Silence.” Trying to overcome passivity he wrote on the page “Yes, we can.” After three months, the page had 250,000 members. In the November elections he campaigned for people to vote for “Khaled Said, the symbol of Egyptian youth,” to boycott corrupt election practices.

At the end of 2010 he decided to take advantage of a national holiday, Police Day, January 25 for another demonstration. His partner AbdelRahman suggested the idea. The other Khaled Said Facebook page, the April 6 Movement page (80,000 members), and ElBaradei campaign helped publicize the event without much coordination.

There wasn’t much enthusiasm until people were inspired by the Tunisian revolution to “break the psychological barrier of fear.” A post from a member predicted, “No one will do anything and you’ll see. All we do is post on Facebook. We are the Facebook generation. Period.”  Facebook members (700,000 of them) were asked to distribute mass text messages and paper flyers to publicize January 25. Asmaa Mahfouz made a videotaped message for people to show up, which was put on the Khaled page. A page for photographers was encouraged to attend and photograph the action. People were asked to carry the Egyptian flag but no other affiliation. They waited until midnight of January 24 to post locations so as to not give security forces much time to mobilize, and because no one was in charge, people had different ideas about where to march. Tweets were used during January 25 to further direct marchers–Ghonim had over 30,000 Twitter followers. They yelled, “The people want to topple the regime.”

Many were middle class young people who were informed by Khaled and April 6 Facebook pages as well as satellite TV news. Al Jazeera satellite TV, begun in 1996, became the most viewed channel in the Arab region and wasn’t afraid to criticize Arab leaders and helped publicize the event, as did CNN. The protests continued for 18 days, sometimes entertained by singers and telling jokes. Ghonin missed part of it when he was blindfolded and kept in a cell by the security forces. Activist Israa Abdel Fattah announced on Al Jazeera TV that no negotiations would start until Ghonim was free as he was one of the people who should represent youth. After the fall of Mubarak, Ghonim concluded, “The bottom line was that Jan25 was not the work of any political groups. It was a reaction from a generation that had been raised amid fear, failure, and passivity, a reaction mainly inspired by the events in Tunisia.”




Wael Ghonim spent his last two years in boys’ high school in a public school with 70 students in a class, frequent fights on the playground with a corner for smoking, and fights between students and teachers. Because their salaries are so low, teachers rely on private lessons as their main source of income as well as bribes during tests. The emphasis is on memorization rather than analysis. P. 11


Wael Ghonim was impressed with during his travels in the US with the quality of education and the respect for citizens’ rights including freedom of religious practice. He also met his wife in the US. However, the emphasis on individualism contrasted unfavorable with the Egyptian focus on family and other groups that create emotional warmth and social support. P. 18


http://www.khanacademy.org/ free education for 90 million

What Youth in Developing Nations Value

World Bank researchers interviewed 800 youth who live in eight developing nations, and surveyed more youth ages 11 to 17 in 19 countries, for a report released in 2012.[i] They value education and getting good jobs. A young man from North Sudan explained, “Education lets us join the modern world, and offers us better jobs now; in the past it was not important since our people were farmers and were not paying attention to their future….” Girls admire their hard-working housewife mothers, but want to work outside the home. Boys also wanted their sisters and future wives to have jobs. Although parents also value education, girls may be taken out of school to help at home and boys to make money. In some places no schools are available or it’s not considering safe for girls to travel to school. In the Dominican Republic both genders agree that girls are afraid of getting raped or other violence if they go out.

Girls have less free time than boys for studying because of housework and some may marry and have babies while still school age (common in 11 of the 19 countries surveyed). However, most agreed the ideal time to start a family was 18 or older.  A girl from Papua New Guinea reports, “Boys do nothing to help. They look for their friends to tell stories, and roam the streets the whole day, chewing gum, listening to music, sleeping, and resting. Girls take care of all household cores, collect firewood, and fetch water.” Boys’ chores take less time.

This high value on education defines what they think is good or bad behavior—studying and doing well is the top of the list for both boys and girls. For girls, helping at home was the second marker for a good girl, followed by being respectful, obedient, religious, dressing appropriately, staying home rather than wandering, doesn’t have a boyfriend, is hardworking and polite. The worst trait for a girl is roaming around and staying out late. The list of appropriate good behavior for boys is different after the first choice of studying. It’s followed by being respectful, not having vices like drinking and smoking, helps at home, religious, obedient, polite, has good friends, and doesn’t have a girlfriend. The worst behavior for boys is vices. It’s encouraging that both genders don’t see women’s only place as in the home, although girls have less mobility because of safety concerns.

[i] World Bank, World Development Report, pp. 280-283, 2012.

Barbie a Threat to Traditional Values?

The speed of technology is crashing into traditional societies, according to Andy Lehto, an American teacher in Jordan. “It creates a shock to the collective senses of this society which until relatively recently, remained a rather closed society.” A teacher in a village school in Jerash, Jordan, said, ‘The only thing that your technology has brought us is 10,000 new ways to sin.’” Julia, a South Korean girl (14) said that because of Western media, “I tend to sometimes think as if I AM from a western heritage. It disappoints my parents a lot” (they grew up in small towns while she is growing up in a large city). In Iran, the police tried to prevent the Trojan Horse of permissive western culture by confiscating Barbie dolls. “I think every Barbie doll is more harmful than an American missile,warned an Iranian cleric. They’re banned for more than a decade but are sold illegally in stores. Dara and Sara were promoted as dolls to promote traditional values but weren’t as popular as Barbie—see photos.[i]The authorities also worry about satellite dishes that enable viewers to watch foreign TV programs.

First and Third World Feminist Movements

International Feminist Organizing–your additions, observations??


Gloria Steinem observes, “We’ve produced the most uppity generation of young women in history.” An Indian college student wrote to me, “I want to eradicate the evils mainly faced by girls and solve the problems of girls.” (Sunihta, 16, f) This implies the need for a woman’s movement. Another confidant Indian girl states: “I think that I have the talent to achieve all theses things: I ’m here on earth to vanquish corruption, help people and make myself an honest memorable person in the world.” (Ritu, 17, f) Other progressive aspirations from SpeakOut girls follow.


Desire for Equality

I want to empower the youth as the bone of development of Nepal and eradicate discrimination, inequality, and eliminate social evils like early child marriage of girls, dowry, trafficking in girls, drug addiction and the bonded labor system [almost like slave labor, farmers are in debt to landowners].

Anzel, 16, f, Nepal


Realize that girls have got the same rights as boys. Some adults think that girls’ duty is taking care of family. I would make them realize time has changed and goes with technology. ?, 17, f, Tanzania


I’d change gender stereotypes of giving men work and denying women, saying that women are for kitchen work. ?, f, teen, Kenya


I want to become a blacksmith. Nikita, 14, f, Netherlands


My purpose is to mark my name in the world. Neelima, 14, f, India


I want to make mistakes so I can learn from it and others can learn from it. I want to be noticed, not just someone you walk past in the street. I want to make something of myself. Talia, 15, f, Australia


I’d like to be an explorer. Although it’s dangerous, and I might have to pay my life for it, I still love it. To get close to nature, to listen to the harmonious sound of it, to go to the animal world to feel their special skills for survival, these are all interesting although I have to take risks. Zhangqihong, 15, f, rural China


I have a dream and one day it’s going to be real. After I finish high school I want to be the first Palestinian girl pilot. Rafeef, 16, f, Palestine


I want to be a diplomat because I like helping people very much and we can live in another country for a while. Fitriana, 16, f, Indonesia


I want to be a doctor and help my poor and kind Afghan people.

Nadia, 17, f, Afghanistan


I’d like to be the mayor of my village. Eman, 17, f, Bedouin in Israel.


I want to be somebody who does what no woman did or only few do in my work. To be different in this way I need to be well educated and literate. I should have the feelings of equality between a man and woman like I can also be equal to man. I should have the ability to compete. Right now I have no interest in marriage. I am thinking to remain single in the future but if at all I am to marry, I would prefer to go by my choice. We don’t have custom of selecting groom by the parents. Chuney, 17, f, Bhutan


International Women’s Organizations

Women and girls are around 70% of the one billion people who live in abject poverty on less than $1.25 a day. Amnesty International reports that at least one third of women are abused in their lifetime. They’re more likely than boys and men to die in developing countries. Globalization is widening the gap between the rich and the poor, consuming resources and harming the environment, increasing unsafe jobs, and international banks often reduce services like health and education to repay loans. On the other hand, it enables information about gender equality and attention to abuses and in some places increases women’s employment. The realization that women are the key to development, as in population control, resulted in more international focus on women’s issues and support for women from international agencies like the World Bank and its 2012 report on “Gender Equality and Development.”[i] Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated, “No country can develop if half its human resources are devalued or repressed.”

The United Nations has organized the most people and drawn the most attention to sexism and the status of women through its conferences in the International Decade for Women, in Mexico City (1975), Copenhagen (1980), and Nairobi (1985) and then in Beijing in 1995. In Copenhagen, I was shocked to see that most of the official UN delegates were men. The lively activity was in the NGO discussions. My baby and his dad made the TV news in Copenhagen, as it was still unusual to see a father caring for his children without their mother to watch over him. The Nairobi conference was credited for the birth of global feminism and the Beijing Platform for Action declared “gender equality was an issue of universal concern, benefiting all.”

The UN established a Commission on the Status of Women the first year it was organized. The Millennium Development Goals established in 2000 included “Promote gender equality and empower women” and “reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio.” The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is considered the most important international agreement on the rights of women and girls, but the US is the only industrial nation not to ratify it. In 2010 the UN merged different agencies into on called UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, referred to as UN Women. Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile, heads the agency.

The Sisterhood is Global Institute believes it is the world’s first feminist think-tank.[ii] Robin Morgan, Simon de Beauvoir and women from many other countries founded it in 1984, a spin off of Morgan’s Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women’s Movement Anthology. Some of its achievements are: The first Women’s Urgent Action Alerts used by NGOs; The first Global Campaign to make Women’s Unpaid Labor visible in national accounting; The first Human Rights Manuals for Women in Muslim Societies.

A list of national women’s organizations and current news sources are listed in the endnote.[iii] Media centers on powerful men, so Pulse Wire was created as a voice for global women. A shy Wisconsin girl who was even afraid to raise her hand to ask the teacher if she could go to the bathroom, at age 19 Jensine Larsen went to the Amazon to work with native women. Then she went to Burma to assist refugees. At age 23 she had a vision about increasing media’s coverage of women because only 10% of central stories are about women and only 1% of the world’s editors are female. Although women and girls do two-thirds of the work, they only own 1% of the financial assets. By the time she was 28 she was able to raise the funds to start Pulse Wire, with local reporters in over 21 countries telling women’s stories in a print magazine and website where women from all over the globe can talk with each other.[iv]

Charitable organizations for women include Women For Women to help survivors of war and The Global Fund for Women. The GFW has given grants to women’s groups since 1987–over $71 million to more than 3,800 women’s groups in 167 countries.[v] Universities offer courses such as “Global Feminisms,” defined by Vanderbilt professor Brooke Ackerly as ”the study of feminisms transnationally, and of global politics through feminist lenses….on the ways in which systems of power – race, gender, sexuality, colonialism, imperialism, genocide, slavery, and health – are interrelated.” These courses use “feminisms” in the plural to indicate many different viewpoints, as seen if you do an Internet search for global feminisms courses.


First and Third World Feminism

Although feminism in the US and Europe influenced the spread of the women’s movement around the world in the 1970s, women in other countries sometimes feel judged by American women in “moral imperialism” for cultural practices like the headscarf or female genital cutting. They don’t feel all women want the same things and don’t aspire to be like American women. Lila Abu-Lughod has done fieldwork in Egypt for decades and reports: “I cannot think of a single woman I know . . .who has ever expressed envy of U.S. women, women they tend to perceive as bereft of community, vulnerable to sexual violence and social anomie, driven by individual success rather than morality, or strangely disrespectful of God.”[vi]

Third World women organized their own women’s movements, such as the organization Women Living Under Muslim Laws in 1984, and those discussed in Women’s Movements in the Global Era: The Power of Local Feminisms, edited by Amrita Basu (2010). They bemoan the influence of Western consumerism on girls and women. In Nigeria, Nanjala Nyabola says she was raised with the idea of feminists as bra-burners who couldn’t get along with men. She reports that “In many parts of the global south, women are rejecting the baggage that comes with western feminism….Qualified feminism—third-world feminism, postcolonial feminism, chicana feminism—emerged as a rejection of this homogenizing approach to liberation, as many women felt that their double burden—gender as well as racial or economic—was being overlooked.” For example, she points out that western feminists aim for sexual liberation, while in other parts of the world women want freedom from sexualization.

In Fiji, girls who were exposed to Western beauty images on TV were 60% more likely to have eating disorders.[vii] In China, “Ads never build the image that women should be strong or successful, just that they should be pretty,” observed Zhang Zheng, a 25-year-old brand manager.[viii] Professional women are only shown using beauty care products. ‘There are only two images of women: the pretty girl and the good mother.’ The pretty girl predominates, and invariably is dangerously thin, scantily clad, and listlessly passive,” as demonstrated in my photo of a subway ad in Shanghai.

The attractive achieving woman is a global theme. In India, instead of showing a woman as being dependent on her family and a burden to them, Unilever (UL) ran successful but controversial TV ads for its Fair and Lovely line of skin-lightning beauty products.[ix] The commercial shows a young woman with her father, who complains about not having sons to provide for him. The daughter then uses the cream to lighten her skin, so she gets a better-paid job as a flight attendant and is able to help out her parents. The ad was controversial because it disparages dark skin, but does show a woman provider.

Tension exists between Western/First World/Northern feminism, which tends to emphasize a homogenized global sisterhood, women’s rights and reproductive choice[x] versus localized feminisms in the Global South. Some First World feminists realize that they must consume less to equalize access to resources. In the Global South/Third World/Eastern developing nations legal rights are not as important as poverty issues. Former Marxist countries like China and Russia argued that feminism is a bourgeois distraction from class struggle. Rather than universal feminist goals, the current focus is on the specific local environment in which women live, and influences in addition to gender—race, class, religion, age, etc.

However, some feminists fear the emphasis on being sensitive to local traditions as dangerous to women. A “gender activist,” Rita Banerji, believes that despite the activity of thousands of women’s organizations in India,[xi]


The women’s movement today in India unfortunately is like an ingrown toenail. It is going in the wrong direction. For example, there are women arguing that sati [a widow joins her husband on his burning funeral pyre] is not murder but cultural and religious way of women committing suicide, so we shouldn’t defame it; or that we should continue to allow Muslim men to legally have four wives. It is hurting itself. So mothers-in-law murder daughters-in-law; women strangle their own baby girls. When a group of women at a pub last year were molested and beaten up for “violating Indian tradition” the NCW (the National Commission on Women), the highest office protecting women’s rights, said the women had asked for it because they were drinking and inappropriately dressed.

The Feminist movement believed that a woman’s body and being is her personal domain. Freedom within and freedom without. But in India the women’s movement sees women just as suppressed citizens that have to be given rights. Do you see the difference? The only feminist movement we had has now died out completely. The women who started were getting death threats and they just shut everything down. I wrote about it online.[xii]


What Boys Think About Feminism

I would like to stop the dowry system and corruption. Bhat, 16, m, India


I do agree that men dominate most fields in life and women should be given EQUAL opportunity. But if this term of GENDER DISCRIMINATION is all together ignored, there would there be proper equality between the two genders. Media and people have made such big deal out of FEMINISM and DISCRIMINATION that these terms are enough to make a dividing line between females and males. I would give you an example: In a local office of an NGO, all the staff was male. One day a female worker was added to the staff of only males for the sake of giving “equal opportunity to females” and was preferred over a better-qualified male applicant. Now, she may be good but the other male applicant was better than her and now the whole office is fed up. Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan


Most of the girls’ parents, with much fear towards their daughter, do not give much freedom to her. Instead, they treat her as a prisoner. This has to be changed and every girl given sufficient freedom to be friendly with others and to do jobs without wasting her 22 years of valuable education. Abhinar, 18, m, India


Equality must be given to every one in the societies because in different tribes women have no say or do not participate in decision-making. I will give first priority to women in employment opportunities in order they will not discriminated by their husbands. Also I will try my level best to help children who are orphans, so I will try to make funds for them to survive like other kids.

Sarrwatt, 19, m, Tanzania


[i] http://econ.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/EXTRESEARCH/EXTWDRS/EXTWDR2012/0,,contentMDK:22851055~menuPK:7778074~pagePK:7778278~piPK:7778320~theSitePK:7778063,00.html

[vi] Hester Eisenstein. Feminism Seduced: How Global Elites Use Women’s Labor and Ideas to Exploit the World. Paradigm Publishers, 2009, p. 191

[vii]Rick Nauert, “Eating Disorders from Secondhand TV?” Psych Central. January 7, 2011.


[viii] Lisa Movius, “Cultural Devolution,” The New Republic, March 2004. http://www.movius.us/articles/TNR-sexism-original.html

[x] Frere and Tripp. Global Feminism argues fro a transnational feminist culture.

A useful overview is summarized by Kate Brooks, 2009. http://www.investigalog.com/author/kbrooks8/

The Generation Gap in Feminism

The Generation Gap in Feminism in North America–please add your observations and thoughts. This will be in my global youth book in process.

An insightful way to look at the generation gap is to compare older and younger feminist activists. How are young feminists in the Third Wave different from the Second Wave feminists of the 1960s and 70s? The First Wave was of course the suffrage movement of the 19th century that culminated in women’s right to vote in 1920. Both generations agree that problems remain: women are most of the people who live in poverty and women still earn 78 cents for a man’s dollar, the US lacks social supports for working parents like paid leave, men dominate leadership positions such as 83% of Congress members are male, sexual and domestic violence is high, and reproductive freedom is being eroded. The media still has many more male characters, more males who speak, and females are five times as likely to be shown in sexy clothes.[i]

Friction and misunderstanding sometimes foment a generation gap as when the head of the abortion rights organization complained about young women’s lack of activism. There’s a “generation war” said Megan Austin, “there are few generalizations you can make about young feminists, except that our feminism is likely to be idiosyncratic, even contradictory, and we prefer it that way. It isn’t just irony and lipstick that separate us from Second Wavers: It’s an entire continent.”[ii]  Anastasia Higginbotham (who worked for Girls, Inc.) told me, “We take ourselves seriously but have taken it further by trying to adapt the message with more humor and playfulness; this can be subversive.“

Feminist author Susan Faludi, age 51, worries about a “generational breakdown and “battle of the ages.”[iii] Older feminists accuse younger women of being narcissists who don’t care about politics, and “frivolous fashionistas” who view liberation and empowerment as the right to dress in miniskirts, and wear stiletto heels or a Wonderbra. The Second Wave’s realization that “The personal is political”—a social problem–devolved into the personal is simply personal.

Another older feminist, Paula Rothenberg wrote an article, “Snatched from the Jaws of Victory: Feminism Then and Now,” that the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s was about the deep forms of male and white privilege, calling for radical change. Feminism challenged the basic beliefs about women’s nature, and definition of beauty as looking like a Barbie doll in high heels and girdle. It fought for a woman’s right to choose her own destiny. It fought against the social and institutional inequality of women. Now Rothenberg sees girls wearing T-shirts labeled “Bitch” and “Stupid Girl,” wanting to look like Barbie dolls or dress in sexy skimpy clothes like Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears, Mariah Carey, and L’il Kim. Some teens get breast enlargement surgery as birthday gifts. Rothenberg observes,


We’ve been duped into trading social critique and collective action for a vision of feminism that offers us personal choice without social responsibility and without social context. Once upon a time the personal really was political. Today, it is simply personal. Racism, sexism, and class privilege are still alive and well. They frame our choices and define the meaning of what we choose.[iv]


            Author and Professor Susan Douglas argues that these antifeminist attitudes are manufactured by media that defines women by their sexuality:[v]


Enlightened sexism is a manufacturing process that is constantly produced by the media. Its components—anxiety about female achievement; renewed and amplified objectification of young women’s bodies and faces; dual exploitation and punishment of female sexuality; dividing of women against each other by age, race and class; and rampant branding and consumerism—began to swirl around in the early 1990s, consolidating as the dark star it has become in the early 21st century.


In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Sandy Banks quotes a young woman who observes, “What’s wrong is that the ‘consumer culture’ has become such a defining force in young women’s search for identity. It’s what you’re wearing, what your weight is, rather than what you believe in, how you think.” The popular TV series and movie Sex in the City illustrates how status and joy comes from the brand of shoe and purse you display.[vi] Bitch Magazine was founded to comment on popular culture.[vii] The two young women and a male founder were recent college graduates in 1996 who were “pop culture obsessives” who wanted to do fun feminist analysis of sexism in the media. They compiled their favorite articles into a book called Bitchfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine, 2006.

Holly Morris explained the difference between the second and third wave feminists on her blog.[viii]


We were raised on pop culture…and pot tarts, not pop political movements. We know computers, not the Dewey decimal System, divorce not devotion, Email, gang-rape, rage, websites and the Webster Decision, androgyny and AIDS, Bikini Kill and the battered women’s movement. We know there is not one way to be; we embrace multiplicity and contradiction. We know about harassment and rape. We know how empowering fun can be. We know that feminism lets us know ourselves; and we know it has a history and a legacy…. It can be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, and most importantly, just plain sexual. Somewhere within this splinted kaleidoscope we exist.


A young feminist, Emily Heroy, writes in her blog “Gender Across Borders,” that there aren’t many young feminists who fight for abortion rights, or publically say they’re feminists, or consider progressive movements cool.[ix] Many in her generation believe feminism is about bra burning and hating men, but there are other young feminist and “we are loud.” Another blogger replies to the charge of missing in action that Second Wavers are looking in the wrong places for the wrong people.[x] She sees young feminist activity on college campuses, doing volunteer work and internships, participating in the Occupy movement, protecting the environment by working in community gardens, integrating feminism in civil rights and other progressive causes, and of course on the Internet. Ashthom reports most of her education about social justice issues was achieved online.

An older columnist for The Nation, Katha Pollitt wrote she’s tired of tiny-bopper words like “awesome;” their use of obscenities, referring to themselves as girls or chicks instead of women; their obsession with consumer ads, women’s magazines, pop culture and celebrities, and sometimes taking libertarianism too far.[xi] She thinks their lack of focus on political and governmental solutions such as childcare stems from growing up in an era where government is viewed as bad and public institutions like schools and medical care are problematic. Therefore, they look to individual and person solutions.[xii] On the other hand, she points out they do a lot of activist work, volunteering at rape crisis centers, mentoring teens, writing books by the dozen and hundreds of blogs. Anthologies by young feminists include Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape and The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities.[xiii]

Pollitt observes bloggers like Jezebel, Feministing, Pandagon, and Salon‘s Broadsheet bring many young women to feminism and post current feminist news. She believes young women today are much fiester than women who are in their early 40s. Third Wave feminists accuse the older generation of being stodgy, stuck in the past, lacking in humor, and hogging the power in organizations like the National Organization for Women (NOW). The first and largest Second Wave organization, founded in 1966, NOW reached out to young women with campaigns for Title IX and Love Your Body Campaign. NOW formed a Young Feminist Task Force in 2003, stating, “Our purpose is to help bring young women and men into feminist activism and give a greater voice to young feminists, who feel underrepresented at times.” NOW provides resources for college and high school chapters.[xiv]

A similar effort is The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campus Program begun in 1997, “to inform young feminists about the very real threats to abortion access, women’s rights, affirmative action, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights posed by right-wing extremists. The Campus Program is built upon FMF’s philosophy that the most effective activism is informed activism, or study to action.”[xv] Another source for young feminists, Campus Progress is a website for “young people working for progressive change.”[xvi] One of its bloggers, Stephanie Herold points out the contributions of young feminists are expanding the movement to the Internet, using their “nuanced understanding of social media” to get the word out about established feminist organizations and to counteract the myth that feminism isn’t relevant or is a bad word.[xvii]

In response to the suggestion that older women should make way for the younger generation, writer Robin Morgan said, “Get your own damned torch. I’m still using mine.” The generational conflict came to a head in the NOW election for president, pitting a 33-year-old black woman, Latifa Lyles, against Terry O’Neill, 56. The latter won after what Katha Pollitt described as a “nasty campaign with generational insults both ways.” During the NOW conference she heard older women complain: “I’m so sick of these young women treating us like a bunch of old bags who need to get out of the way.” “I actually heard one of them say, ‘We don’t need Gloria Steinem feminists anymore!’ ” “They aren’t willing to do the kind of grass-roots campaigning we did. All they want to do is sit at their computers and blog.”

The Third Wave is the only stand-alone young feminist organization I know of, in contrast to youth task forces of NOW and the Feminist Majority. The Third Wave was organized by Rebecca Walker (daughter of writer Alice Walker) and Shannon Liss in 1996, with a part-time staff person. Amy Richards was also a leader who said she was tired of not being called on in second wave groups who “weren’t necessarily willing to let young women be leaders in the way that I think was needed.” She told me in a phone interview, “because we grew up in the wake of the second wave, we were afforded more opportunities and fell entitled to want and ask for more,”

Third Wave led some national activities, starting with a 1992 voter registration drive called ROAMS (Reaching Out Across Movements), tours to meet with social justice organizations to share strategies, and public education campaigns such as “I Spy Sexism” and “Why Vote?” But, its main focus is on funding feminist projects. The Third Wave’s mission is to conduct public education and provide technical assistance and funding to activist and research projects for young women, including leadership training, small business loans, and college scholarships.

Katie Claro, who interned for three months at the Third Wave Foundation reported on the organization’s website, “Third Wave has shown me that personal experiences, humor, and story-telling are just as important as theory; that the voices of traditionally marginalized folks matter and can make change; and that a different, more just world is possible.” She got interested in feminism when she was 16 and read Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, by Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner.


It was the first time I realized feminism could be cool. I began devouring any and all feminist media I could get my hands on: blogs like Feministe [founded in 2004 by four young women] and Jezebel, riot grrrl CDs, old Sassy magazines, and classic feminist texts. Soon I was a card-carrying, loud and proud feminist, majoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies at NYU and volunteering with reproductive justice organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL.[xviii]


Some refer to a Fourth Wave Feminism as in a blog begun in 2008 by Aviva Dove-Viebahn after “grappling with the continued gender inequity in America and the world.[xix]


I came to the horrifying realization that other women of my generation (women in their twenties and thirties) really did think that the women’s movement had already achieved what it sought to achieve…. I think we need a new movement, not just a vague idea of feminist values from an era gone by. I’m not saying that this movement hasn’t already started—there are women and men everywhere who still believe strongly in the tenets of feminism. … The world has changed a lot since the 1970s, and our battles are different, but there are definitely still very real battles to be fought and won. We are not all the same, we all have different needs and wants and creeds, but we can still present a unified front in the face of gender inequity.


A college student in Canada wrote to me about her changing attitudes towards feminism:


Recently I was assigned a paper for a philosophy class. The basis was “Is Feminism Dead?”  I had never considered myself a feminist. Sure enough, my mom was a feminist. I was raised equal. I was fortunate to grow up with a strong upbringing, and feeling unequal was rare for me growing up even in such a diverse city as Chicago’s Southside, especially in the issue of gender. I kept up with the boys in sports and math. I joked about being a woman. I accepted that women specialize in some things and men in others. Still, I love what makes me a woman and feel no need to hide those qualities.

               Sure enough, though, I did not consider myself a feminist. I wasn’t a man-hater. I wanted gender empowerment for all. I didn’t see myself as a powerful businesswoman, a lesbian, or any other generalization that comes with a stereotypical feminist. I felt disconnected from my mother in that way. She earns more than my father. I didn’t think this was unusual. My mother was the prime caregiver, yet she was the prime moneymaker. My mother knew that she was a powerful woman. She worked full time in college and received no help from her parents. She wanted to be a lawyer. She couldn’t; the financial means were not there. My mother is not a man-hater. She never raised me that way either. She is a feminist though. For that I am thankful.

               However, I feel generational differences much like you were describing in your book Woman’s Culture in A New Era: A Feminist Revolution? I have friends who misunderstand the term “feminist.”  If media, politics, and business are to blame for this I will never know.  Realizing that I have been a feminist all along was a real shock to me.  I am grateful for your book and will certainly share your ideas with my feminist-hating friends. I appreciate your time and effort you have spent on such a subject that is not projected as loudly as it should be. Still, I believe that organizations such as NOW are out of touch with the third generation and are buying into endorsements and bureaucratic BS of businessI guess where that is where my fight starts.  I am proud to be a Third Generation Feminist. The Revolution will continue.

Lauran DeCeault, Illinois, university student in Quebec


Lauren noted how many young women in the US don’t see the need for the feminist movement and consider established organizations like NOW bureaucratic and out of touch.[xx]

What about young men? Professor Michael Kimmel describes “guyland,” a stage of development from adolescence to manhood inhabited by young men, referred to as “laddism” in the UK and Australia.[xxi] Their sexist motto is simple, “Bros before Hos.” This world revolves “almost exclusively around other guys.” These young men have an entitlement about being male but realize male privilege is eroding. They tend to be homophobic, anxious, competitive, lonely, confused, aimless, and desperate to prove their manhood, without adequate adult guidance. Kimmel concludes a new model of masculinity is needed that involves the courage to stand up for what’s right rather than conforming to their band of brothers.

When I asked seniors in a local high school about equal rights, the guys agreed with Kimmel, saying they were sick and tired of reverse discrimination, as when minorities are favored in college admission. White males are the only ones not allowed to discriminate, they said, as women can sue for sexual harassment at work and get millions of dollars. They don’t feel their generation discriminates on the basis of gender or ethnicity. Feminism doesn’t seem relevant to them, despite public comments like this one in 2009, when the Governor of Virginia remarked, “The dynamic new trend of working women and feminists … is ultimately detrimental to the family.”

The future trend is the ascendency of women, according to a provocative book The Decline of Men by Guy Garcia,[xxii] updated in an article by Hanna Rosin, “The End of Men.”[xxiii] She suggests postindustrial society that values “social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus” and a “post-heroic” management style suits women better than men. Three-quarters of the eight million jobs lost in the US Great Recession were men’s jobs, mostly in manufacturing. The Prime Minister of Iceland, Johanna Sigurdardottir, who campaigned to end the “age of testosterone”, blamed the banking crisis that precipitated it on men. Irish President Mary McAleese agreed that the country’s troubles were  “testosterone driven” and in a poll 55% of Irish Times‘ readers agreed. Thus the number of women heads of state increasing by 250% since the recession of 2008.[xxiv] Usually, the greater the power of women, the greater a country’s economic success, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Hanna Rosin points out that in the US women are a majority of the workforce, the majority of university students–both undergraduate (57%) and graduate, as well as workers with managerial and professional jobs. Men’s college graduation rates stopped growing after the Vietnam War ended in the late 1970s.[xxv] With the disappearance of manufacturing jobs for men, women-headed families dominate working-class families and 40% of babies are born to unmarried mothers. As of 2011, 81% of prime working-age men were employed and they’re earning less, compared to 95% in 1969. Sixty-nine percent of women were employed. Rosin refers to a Super Bowl ad for Dodge Charger titled “Man’s Last Stand,” after a hen-pecked man says, “I will put the seat down, I will separate the recycling, I will carry your lipbalm,” but is empowered by owning the Charger. In Japan, young men who reject the work ethic of their fathers are called “herbivores,” while their female peers are “carnivores” or the “hunters.” in a rebuttal article to Rosin’s, Andrew Moore suggests men are risk takers and innovators and lead in technology fields.[xxvi]Hopefully we’re moving towards equality rather than reversal of power.


[i] The Geena Davis Institute on Gender and the Media. A 2005 study of G-rated movies and children’s TV. http://www.thegeenadavisinstitute.org/research.php

[iii] Susan Faludi, “American Electra: Feminism’s ritual matricide,” Harpers, October 2010.


[iv] rothenbergp@wpunj.edu

A French film provides us a rare role model of a brave 10-year-old girl who scares away a wolf pack and an eagle, and isn’t afraid of a bear, all in her efforts to protect her favorite fox. The 2007 film is called The Fox and the Child.

[v] Susan J. Douglas. Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism’s Work is Done. Times Books, 2010.

[vi] Sandy Banks, “A Younger View of Feminism,” Los Angeles Times. April 20, 2009.

[xii] Joanna Chiu, “Young Feminists ‘Rankling The Old Guard’ and the Future of Feminism: A Conversation with Katha Pollitt,” the Nation,

January 6, 2011.


[xiii] Mako Fitts, “Where Do We Go From bell?” September 10, 2010. http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/09/10/where-do-we-go-from-bell/

[xx] “Ask Amy” column on Feminist.com

Amy Richardson and Jennifer Baumgardner. Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000

Jennifer Baumgardner, Amy Richards, and Winona LaDuke. Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism. 2004

Gayle Kimball, ed. Women’s Culture in a New Era: A Feminist Revolution? Scarecrow Press, 2005.

Craig Jeffrey and Jane Dyson, Eds.Telling Young Lives: Portraits of Global Youth.


[xxi] Michael Kimmel. Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men. HarperCollins, 2008.

[xxii] Guy Garcia. The Decline of Men. Harper Perennial, 2008.

[xxiii] Hanna Rosin, “The End of Men,” The Atlantic Magazine, July 2010.


[xxiv] Claire Gordon, “Women Make Better Leaders Than Men, If you Give Them the Chance,” AOL Jobs, August 23, 2011.


[xxv] Mike Dorning, “The Slow Disappearance of the American Working Man,” Bloomberg Businessweek, August 24, 2011.


[xxvi] Andrew Moore, “The End of Men? Not Quite.” Askmen.com


Vote on global youth book title

Please vote on your favorite title for my book on global youth. The Table of Contents is below.

A Brighter Future: How Global Youth Shape/Transform Our Future

Global Youth Transforming our World

Global Youth Revolutions: Changing Traditions

Global Youth: A Brighter Future

Global Youth: Connected, Altruistic, Anti-Establishment

Global Youth Revolutions: Connected, Altruistic, Anti-Establishment

Global Youth Create the Future

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Global Youth Power (22 pages)
Youth Power, Get to Know Eva, Abel, Sahar and Yuan, International Youth Issues: Urban vs. Rural, The Gap Between Rich and Poor

Chapter 2: Millennial Generation (27)
Teenaging of Culture vs. War on Kids, Youth Generation Characteristics, What Youths Think About Adults

Chapter 3 Global Youth Culture (33 pages)
Media and Common Language, Teen Style, Multinational Corporate Consumerism, The Demise of Traditional Values?

Chapter 4: Youth Activism for Equality (45 pages)
Activist Youths vs. Apathy, History of Youth Movements, The Arab Spring, European Summer, US Fall and Russian Winter Youth Revolutions, The Occupy Movements, Change Making Tools: Electronic Networking

Chapter 5 Activism for Gender Equality (22 pages)
Current Status of Gender Equality, Life For a Traditional Village Teen, Women in Government, Global Feminist Activism, Third Wave Feminism

Chapter 6 Traditional vs. Modern Values (26 pages)

Life Purpose, Values, Rural vs. Urban, Respect for Elders, Modern Consumerism

 Chapter 7  Beliefs about Religion and Spirituality  (24 pages)

Suffering, Religious Purpose, Beliefs About God, Participation in Organized Religion, Spirituality

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