End of Feminism’s 3rd Wave?

This is an article published in Ms. a while ago, but I just came across it and wanted to get some feeback. It is written by Lisa Jervis, the co-founder of Bitch magazine and she talks about what she considers a dated term–“wave” when refering to feminist activism and thought. She believes that in our attempt to distinguish ourselves as “third wave” feminists, we have caught ourselves in the belief that there is a singular way to be feminist.
In her reluctance to answer questions about “third wave” ideology, she responds…
This reluctance isn’t just me being cranky and not wanting to answer any hard questions. Here is the reality: We’ve reached the end of the wave terminology’s usefulness. What was at first a handy-dandy way to refer to feminism’s history and its present and future potential with a single metaphor has become shorthand that invites intellectual laziness, an escape hatch from the hard work of distinguishing between core beliefs and a cultural moment.
Interesting stuff. I also found this quote rather interesting…
Here’s what we all need to recognize so that we can move on: Those in their 20s and 30s who don’t see their concerns reflected in the feminism of their elders are ignorant of history; those in their 50s and beyond who think that young women aren’t politically active — or active enough, or active around the right issues — don’t know where to look.
These are some pretty intense statements. Have we reached a phase where we can stop differentiating between the different moments of feminism? My entire experience with 3rd wave agenda is that it put me, women of color, at the center of it’s (non-linear) discourse. Not in the age-old, or previous “native informant” type of way, but in a way that recognized my differing relationship to the movement, to patriarchy and to society. The second wave failed to effectively do this. That is why I consider myself not only a 3rd wave feminist, but also a 3rd world feminist. I don’t think we have reached a place to completely make amends with our foresisters (at least not with my experience with 2nd wavers in academia!). But that’s just me.
What I do agree with…
We may not all agree on exactly what it looks like or how to get it. We should never expect to agree. Feminism has always thrived on and grown from internal discussions and disagreements. Our many different and often opposing perspectives are what push us forward, honing our theories, refining our tactics, driving us toward a more thorough dismantling of the white-supremacist, capitalist patriarchy (to borrow another phrase from hooks).
What do you think?

Join the Conversation