I don’t often write explicitly about feminist theory (I have done, but that was a different blog, in a different political climate.)

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of mostly USA-generated writing about third wave feminism – which roughly defines the generation that came of age in the 1990’s and forwards – and has famously been written up by Jennifer Baumgardner, Sarah Boonin, Leslie Haywood and Jennifer Drake, among many others.

In a text edited by Jo Reger, I found a chapter by Susanne Beechey titled ‘When feminism is your job: age and power in Women’s organisations’ which points up the intergenerational conflicts between Second Wave (60’s & 70’s) feminists, many of whom began their organisations, and the young women they are now recruiting, who don’t have the income support of a well-established salaried partner and can’t afford to be unpaid interns or low-salaried staff within a feminist organisation.

I totally understand this position, having watched younger feminists around me struggling to keep a 10-hour-a-week, minimum-wage part-time job in a feminist group going, whilest actually putting in many more hours voluntarily to stop the group folding altogether.

Here in New Zealand, funding for women’s organisations like Women’s Refuge, Rape Crisis and even Child Poverty Action Group is very precarious. They all work at the sharp edge of social policy and welfare provision, often doing work that one might expect MSD, Min Health or CYFS to be doing within their portfolios. I have spoken to older feminists who recall cuts in funding that wiped out their meagre salaries – “well, we just went on the dole, and kept doing rescue work with battered women” one said, referring to the infamous Muldoon Government years.

But that was before Student Loans, casualisation of workplaces, or the benefit cuts of the ‘90’s and more recent cuts.

How do feminist organisations in NZ continue now?

[ CPAG, ALRANZ, WIRC, Women’s Refuge examples – ask around ]

Never mind all the volunteers who stoke the issue groups, policy loops and other sub-groups within our left-leaning political parties. (as far as I’m aware, there is no women’s networking per se within National or Act, but I could be wrong.)

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