It annoys me that we still call this 3rd wave, when feminism has undergone an extreme shift between the 90′s and now. The 1990′s shifted focus away from white, middle class, city dwellers toward exploring feminism across race, religion, ethnicty, refugee status, indiginous status, migrant status, post-colonialism, class, ageism and ableism. It opened new women only spaces via wicca and riot grrl; reclaiming female power, processes, strength, art and vulnerabilities via historical avenues by one and grass roots future development by the other. It was a modern consciousness raising. There was a rejection of female objectification and with this came a rejection of lads mags, porn, strip, pin-up, burlesque and anything associated with the ‘male gaze of female as object’. (A fantastic book to read, if you are interested, is Manifesta).
I feel that we’ve entered a 4th wave, though it is still being thought of as part of the third wave. This focus is on sex, gender, sexual orientation, sexuality, adult industries, sex industries, rape, sexual assault, shaming and femininity.
To my mind, it is taking a big step backwards because it has alienated older, (and possibly stronger) feminists via blame, backlash, ageism and a disdain for the path that was cleared by them. In short, our wise elders have been rejected as useless, dated and ‘couldn’t possibly understand’.
I sincerely hope this changes because while feminists are dividing ourselves we will have no chance to prevent gains being lost, let alone new equalities reached.
As a gen x’er I feel caught between the boomers and gen y. A tiny generation jammed between two huge ones. I understand the needs of gen y to address these issues, and they are indeed important but I also see the lessons of the boomers being at best ignored and at worst rejected as a bunch of whining old has-beens. And as for my own generation, well we’ve been ignored by you both.
So, I’ll say this as the Gen X’er I am, the three important stages of femininity, Maiden, Mother and Crone are strongest when allied and working in harmony.