A Lesson For Millennial Women: Don't Reinvent The Wheel (Unless You Want To)
PolicyMic, along with every other internet news outlet, was ablaze recently with Anne-Marie Slaughter's op-ed "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," AOL and PBS combined forces to create an amazing online platform (Makers.com) documenting interviews with influential women, Meryl Streep was involved in getting a National Women's History Museum going in D.C., and now Claudia Chan will roll out five tips for millennial women and a new conference to support female entrepreneurship. The internet has become a fresh treasure trove for millennial women to navigate their lives. The overwhelming message is that we should be listening to those who have gone before us. This might not seem so progressive but it's a far cry from stagnation and more of a helping hand than we know.
Feminism has become rather infamous for being one of the more ambiguous, fluid concepts out there. Overwhelmingly, this is a positive aspect. It allows feminism to be capable of change, progression. It polices feminism (sometimes not so well) from becoming a completely white, North American, women-only endeavor. But it all too often segregates "us" (millennials) from "them" (feminists from the generations before us) from having productive conversations.
We are reminded that we are third wave (fourth wave, gender-neutral, etc) feminists and our mothers who came before us are not perfectly on the up-and-up, and that they are awesome because of what they accomplished to get us here, but which can be left to the history books for all we're concerned. All too often with feminism, "listening to our elders" is seen as a dangerous stagnation of the movement. But with all of the recent push (on and offline) to catalog, showcase, and promote women passing down their knowledge, there's a stark reminder that we've got to stick together and value listening to each other in the cacophony of noise that is everyday life.
The best part? The individuals behind all of these great endeavors (Claudia Chan, the women in the Maker's interviews, Slaughter) aren't limiting us in saying that those who have come before might have some good advice to give. Yes, they're reminding us that reinventing the wheel isn't always necessary. But they're also telling us that we can if we feel like it, that taking sage advice doesn't mean following it to a T, and that above everything, we should go for whatever dreams or goals we have. All this while reminding us that they're there to help us however they can? Sounds a lot less like stagnation of a movement and more like a connected progression that will serve us all better in the long run.