Huffpost Media
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Amy Siskind Headshot

Letterman Quietly Ushers in the Next Wave of Feminism

Posted: Updated:

It's not your mother's feminism. In fact, it's so revolutionary that the word "feminism" is being updated. The next wave is here. The players are different. The words are different. The asks are different. The weapons and tactics are different. Even the feel is different.

We knew it was coming. We just didn't know when or what it would look like. Quietly, cloaked in the unfortunate choice of David Letterman's words, the next wave has washed ashore, sight unseen by our national media. This explains why the media's constant query of "where are the feminists" is not being answered. The "feminists" are still there, yes. But the media is peeking under the wrong rocks as this next wave sweeps calmly over them and reaches our country's shore.

Gone is the "women's movement." This wave is not focused solely on women. This wave is primarily about the next generation -- our daughters and granddaughters. We see the sexualization of the next generation. We see the disturbing parade of misogyny and sexism. Mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers are sick and tired of the constant assault against women and girls.

Gone is "equal rights." This wave is not focused solely on above-ground demands for legislative change. This wave is about reaching down beneath the surface to eradicate the roots of sexism that lie deeply buried in darkness, ignorance and bias. The next generation deserves to be safe and be given a fair shake, yes; but we realize our daughters can only get there by changing our culture.

Gone is "domestic violence." The words in this wave will be completely different. In fact, part of this wave will be renovating the words that our culture has used to keep women and girls in their place. Domestic violence with its connotation of "a private matter, behind closed doors, none of our business, stay away," is being replaced with violence against women, and violence against girls. And as we see the escalation of violence against women and girls, we see how Letterman's words enable the sexualization of our daughters.

Gone are "protest rallies." Picket signs are being replaced by keyboards. This wave is cresting with alliances formed on the blogosphere. With writings critical of the media's culpability in blaming the victim. With the organization of boycotts. With the country's weariness of an attack on a mother and father defending their teenage daughter. For the realization that, in their shoes, we would all do the same.

Gone is "feminism". The word, hijacked by few into an exclusive clique with liberal, pro-choice rites of entry, is being put to rest. This wave is about inclusion. This wave is about unity. Every woman, man, girl and boy have a place in this wave regardless of their party, religion, race or sexual orientation.

Gone is "anti-male". In fact, this wave is hardly anti anything. This wave is about moving forward for the sake of the next generation. This wave is the culmination of our collective sigh of "oh, not again" and "I cannot bear to watch anymore." This wave is a quiet acceptance that yes something must be done. That sexism is alive and well in our country, and we do not want this to be the legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren.

And perhaps most revolutionary of all are the unlikely alliances being forged to fight against the words of David Letterman. Women who have had abortions are joining hands with those whose religion forbids it. Men who voted against Proposition 8 are joining hands with lesbian couples. Women who pulled the lever for a Republican are joining hands with men who voted for a Democrat. All uniting in the name of common decency and the desire to make things better for the next generation. It's a "how did we let it come to this" type of moment.

And although Sarah Palin and her daughter were the target of Letterman's words, it could just as easily have been Hillary Clinton or Cindy McCain or Michelle Obama or Nancy Pelosi or any of the women who were targets of the 2008 misogyny-fest. You see, it's hardly about Sarah. It's about our county and the next wave. And Sarah Palin may or may not even realize at this point, that the next wave has her back. A year ago today, the battle with Letterman would have barely registered in our national psyche.

But not so now -- not as the next wave washes ashore. And we see concrete impact of the actions of the next wave, such as the RNC pulling their "Pussy Galore" video targeting Nancy Pelosi, or Playboy's So Right It's Wrong article disappearing overnight. So is anyone surprised that this time, the women and men of the next wave are not backing down? Word to the wise, CBS: this isn't your mother's feminism. And yes, you should be concerned.