How would you define the fourth wave of feminism?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 · 140 Comments »

Earlier today, commenter Alison said:

I think the women at Feministing are at war with the 4th wave just as much as they are at war with any woman who does not meet their card carrying Democrat standard.

Their recent post in which they are defensive in regard to criticism that they do not support all women – and then this… it just shows they are feeling the heat of the 4th wave which is ushering in their irrelevancy.

That fourth wave. We all know it’s happening, and we all know it started last year with the auto de fe of first Hillary Clinton and then Sarah Palin. But how do we define it?

Specifically, how do we differentiate it from the waves that have gone before?

In my view — and in my optimistic hopes — the fourth wave represents a return to the power and clarity and sisterhood of the second wave. That’s why I like to call it “second wave squared,” a math joke that absolutely nobody but me appreciates. And by sisterhood I mean true sisterhood, not membership in the Ladies Auxiliary of the Democratic Party. Back in the second wave, we understood that feminism stood outside conventional partisan divides; we understood that sexism knew no party.

But of course it’s not just a return to the second wave. We’re 40 years down the road from Women’s Lib, and along that road we’ve had the third wave (which was really more of a feeble attempt at dog-paddling through the backlash), the growth of feminist studies and feminist sensibilities in academia, and the rise of multiple social justice/human liberation movements. Gay rights, to name one huge example. And feminism itself has taken root in communities and cultures all over the world, thus diversifying and enriching the movement.

Fourth wave will stand on the shoulders of all of that. But how do we express that in a definition? How do we express that we are the heirs of the second wave and the third wave, yet distinct from both? How do we describe the fourth wave to others? We talked about that some last year, but I’m hunting for nutshells.

I really don’t want to use the word “intersectionality,” even though that’s the hallmark of the third wave, because in my experience that word is a pure boondoggle. It’s supposed to mean an understanding of how women’s oppression intersects with other forms of oppression, which is fine and good, but in practice it doesn’t work that way at all. In practice, it means:

A. Racism and any other oppression always trump sexism;
B. Women from different cultures and social groups have so little in common that any talk of “women’s oppression” represents the racist hegemony of middle-class white women;
C. Feminism must simultaneously tackle all other oppressions that affect women, including racism, homophobia, anti-semitism, ableism, ageism, poverty, war, and global warming,
D. Unlike feminism, none of the other social justice movements (civil rights, gay rights, etc.) are obliged to simultaneously tackle other forms of oppression, though intersectional feminists can’t for the life of ‘em tell you why. (Hint: maybe if they read some second wave feminists they’d get it.)

So you see why the word “intersectionality” makes me reach for my gigantic ice-cold glass of Mexican Mudslide, which I’m really loving this week, by the way. Goddamn this stuff is good. To hell with Long Island Iced Tea.

But this post is already too long. I don’t want to know what I think; I want to know what you think. How would you define the fourth wave?

Filed under: Feminist Theory, Second Wave Squared · Tags:

140 Responses to “How would you define the fourth wave of feminism?”

  1. RKMK says:

    That’s why I like to call it “second wave squared,” a math joke that absolutely nobody but me appreciates.

    Not true! Me! I appreciate it!

    /totally tangential, mostly irrelevant comment

  2. Lori says:

    Remedial feminism is what I’d call it. You know how when kids get into college and they can’t read, they have to take remedial classes? That’s what it is to me.

    It’s just shocking to me that forty years after college girls started walking out of anti-war organizing meetings because the boys wanted them to make coffee, we have to explain why it’s demeaning and bigoted to call women “cunts” and “sluts”.

    For me the point of the Letterman brouhaha, was that our culture has not absorbed the boundaries of gender humor nearly as well as they have absorbed the boundaries of race humor. Letterman effortlessly avoids race humor, but he doesn’t know where the boundaries are for gender humor. I think the ignorance spans all aspects of our culture.

    We have to start at the beginning. The ground has been lost and the lessons have been forgotten.

  3. Sweet Sue says:

    I hear you. I don’t know why but the posters and regulars at feministing are more upset by racism than by sexism (both are abhorrent) and more interested in the transgendered and disabled than in the issues that effect all women.
    Of course, feminism can embrace these causes but the problems and concerns of all women should be paramount, otherwise why should feminism exist at all?
    Sites like feministing are becoming “Oh my God, you just triggered me, you ableist, privileged asshole, when you said lame excuse.”
    Cue the fainting couches. I know that we second wave feminists said “the personal is political” but we didn’t mean “it’s all about me.”
    Are these new attitudes from college studies?

  4. donna darko says:

    It’s supposed to mean an understanding of how women’s oppression intersects with other forms of oppression, which is fine and good, but in practice it doesn’t work that way at all.

    You nailed it. Theory and practice are different.

  5. cellocat says:

    A commitment to the 30% solution? Recognizing that numbers matter, and cracks in the glass ceiling aren’t enough, since without a following series of serious breaks, those cracks just get repaired and an additional layer of steel added. I mean, did you read about troops in Iran having to back down due to the sheer numbers of protestors? We need real numbers so that individual women can’t be hung out to dry so easily.

  6. Sis says:

    Snort “Sites like feministing are becoming “Oh my God, you just triggered me, you ableist, privileged asshole, when you said lame excuse.” Yes.

    Maybe it’s a menopausal surge of energy, that knowledge that we didn’t achieve what we aimed to do. I remember thinking that’s not what I marched for, so you could turn women’s studies into the gender studies headed by a man (with or without ‘gender reassignment surgery’. I didn’t march and go throught he pain of consciousness raising led by Marxist Leninists (waterboarding has nothing on those people, really) so you could wax and tuck your labia, get tied up, be ordered by some sicko male to f**k a dog, and call yourself “transgressive”. For me, that was the wake-up call. To see it make it’s way into mainstream media, and become what it did with Clinton and Palin, I just ache. I keep waiting for someone to wake me up. It can’t be true!

  7. myiq2xu says:

    As a guy, the only thing I could suggest is that Fourth Wave feminists should use “Don’t take shit from anybody” as a guiding principle.

  8. Violet says:

    It’s just shocking to me that forty years after college girls started walking out of anti-war organizing meetings because the boys wanted them to make coffee, we have to explain why it’s demeaning and bigoted to call women “cunts” and “sluts”.

    Lori, I have that feeling all the time.

    There was a post recently at Shakesville and/or at Hoyden about a flash developer whose conference presentation featured giant close-up photos of a woman’s vagina and lots of porn references. This was at a developers’ conference, you understand: a business setting.

    Forty years ago — hell, 30 years ago — we were explaining that having pinups of naked women in the workplace represented a hostile sexist environment, etc. And for awhile it was understood that this was a Bad Thing.

    Then the porn revolution came along, feminism was co-opted by Playboy, Inc., and now if a woman complains about porn in the workplace or strippers performing at a business conference, she’s a humorless prude. ‘Cause porn and strippers are empowering, doncha know.

  9. Lori says:

    Violet,

    Here in LA (and maybe everywhere), we have amateur strip night at high end clubs where young, well-paid, well-educated female attorneys get up and strut their naked stuff. It is weird. I think those women are gonna wake up one day and be stunned at where they aren’t.

    In the early 90s, I worked at an insurance firm in LA, they provided life, health and keyman insurance to several major law firms. Because we provided the full package, we saw all the information about the employees – title, gender, age, date of hire, marital status and number of children. All of the women made less money than their male equivalents. All of them. Whether they were fresh out of school, had been there ten years or were partners. Married men with children made more money than single women. No one made less money than married women with children. The boys just out of college were frequently paid more than women who’d been there for several years.

  10. Violet says:

    Here in LA (and maybe everywhere), we have amateur strip night at high end clubs where young, well-paid, well-educated female attorneys get up and strut their naked stuff. It is weird. I think those women are gonna wake up one day and be stunned at where they aren’t.

    Not only that, but this kind of thing makes it almost impossible to make clear the real human toll on women who aren’t doing sex work for fun but because they have no other choice. “Young, well-paid, well-educated female attorneys” are playing at something they can easily walk away from, unlike the vast majority of sex workers whose options are desperately limited or non-existent. Yet people say, “how can sex work be so bad if some women are doing it for fun?”

    Yeah, Marie Antoinette liked playing at being a shepherdess, so that means the peasants were well-off.

  11. liz says:

    How would you define the fourth wave?

    The answer is 9.

    Someone(s) wanted to believe they were in a third wave, or were the third wave, but they were mistaken. I think, Violet, that you properly recognized there really hasn’t been any third wave.

    Using the powers analogy, sequencing things, in base ten, the first wave would have been all waves, every wave there ever was or will be, or even itself, raised to the zero power. Because that’s where one starts, at zero. And it’s kind of metaphoric for zero power. That would be 1.

    The second wave then was the second wave raised to the first power. That would be 2.

    Intersectionality obviously isn’t and wasn’t any wave at all, because whatever the heck it is, it’s not an item in this sequence, not in this set. Or another way of looking at it would be that it’s a crackpot theory of nothing raised to all powers, which makes no sense.

    Therefore, if we are embarking upon the next wave of feminist movement, the next real one, one that actually accomplishes something productive that defines it, then notwithstanding journalistic innumerates, we would be in the third item in the series of actual wave movements. If that’s to be squared, the definition is 9. On the other hand, if the power of wave metaphorisms has dissipated, as waves will do, as I suspect, maybe we’ve backslid to the zero power, or something approaching that. That’s 1, and that, the number representing a whole, and the symbol of unity not intersections and divisions and so on, might not be such a bad thing either.

    So we’re either at 9, and about to start over on our digits, or approaching unity.

  12. Violet says:

    Dear God.

  13. Violet says:

    Liz, is that feminism or a unified field theory?

  14. Gender2010 says:

    The third wave hasn’t accomplished anything. If they have it passed me by.
    A feminist revolution will have to include conservative women too. (And many of them are pro-choice). But, to relegate feminism to the democratic party keeps our numbers small.
    Speaking out against sexism towards conservative women is a good step. It reinforces that feminism is about principals not party politics.

  15. Gender2010 says:

    Oh, I didn’t answer the main question directly.
    I don’t think there was a third wave, so I don’t think there can be a fourth.

  16. Violet says:

    Gender2010, this is true, but the problem remains that the Third Wave, as a term, has been in use for two decades. The third wave announced itself around 1991. And Third Wavers identify as such. So, a new feminist movement, a new epoch in feminism — such as we’re seeing — must have a new name.

  17. Amy K. says:

    A feminist revolution will have to include conservative women too. (And many of them are pro-choice).

    And many of them are pro-life. Can they still be feminists?

  18. cellocat says:

    It seems to me that inclusiveness is key, as Gender2010 says above. But then do we get back to the previous choice argument in which we say that since control of our bodies is so critically important, women who are not pro-choice are by definition not feminists? How can women move feminism forward without engaging the large numbers of conservative women?

  19. liz says:

    the problem remains that the Third Wave, as a term, has been in use for two decades. The third wave announced itself

    This is a huge problem. A word problem. A problem of words who think they are numbers announcing themselves yet.

    So screw that. Eliminate their “third” moniker.

    Second squared, translated: we are entering the binary wave. This has a lot of metaphorical possibilities, not the least of which is cutting down on diversity and defining the issues primarily in terms of 10 things, male and female. Alternately, because the answer to your question regarding what is the second (or more precisely the 10th) wave squared (or, rather 10thed) is, arguably, 100 (and I could comfortably concede, having eliminated threes, and able to ignore the third wave lingo irritant, that it’s not 1001), you have something symbolically useful that will appear to many (vested in the use of obsolete classification schemes) to satisfy what I suggest it is that you might be talking about: unity.

    Besides, who on what authority made the rule that you yourself with unerring insight rightfully have recognized deserves to be ditched, to wit: that we must be constrained by someone else’s arbitrary conceptualizations, categorizations, delineations, descriptions, and language and so forth of what constitutes progress, or appropriate direction (such as their circles)? No one. They no longer make sense (and no more need to argue that they never did inasmuch as their declaration cannot exist since they don’t), the point being (and not one of intersection) that we need to stop letting this kind of thing continue, and get together, get it together, stop with the labeling, stop with the dividing (and start with the multiplying), and move the fuck on.

  20. Ian N says:

    I’ve never commented before, but I think this blog is awesome.

    Amy asks: And many of them are pro-life. Can they still be feminists?

    My thinking is
    1) While abortion is a very big issue, it’s not the only issue. Excluding anti-abortion women by calling them non-feminists seems like it would do more harm than good to efforts on non-abortion issues.
    2) Improving how society views women might lead to more respect for women’s right to autonomy in general, which might move enough people away from being anti-abortion to fix the issue without a direct attack. I’m not sure I believe it would work out that way, but I can imagine scenarios where it does.

  21. AM says:

    I’m thinking it wasn’t a third wave, it was the first anti-wave. Or maybe not the first, but the first in most of our lifetimes. I mean really: celebration of being sex objects? For example.

    So maybe before we can come up with words other than fourth wave we have to spell out what the third wave really is, an anti-wave. The concept of free to be was expertly turned against us.

  22. Phoenix says:

    Either it was ahistorical, in the first place, to collapse at least four generations of early American feminists into a single “wave,” or it was presumptuous to announce a “third wave” just 20 years or so after the second one.

    How ironic that the feminists who drew such strength from rediscovering women’s history would see their own history distorted and erased so soon.

    Yet who is to say that bitter generational differences did not exist in earlier stages of the women’s movement, and for the same reasons?

    Reassessing the significance of the so-called “sexual revolution” of the 1920s, Sheila Jeffries writes: “The propangandists of sex reform in the 1920s and 1930s attacked the earlier feminists for being prudes and puritans. Contemporary historians, for whom the new ideology of the 1920s has become the conventional wisdom, have replicated this attack.” (The Spinster and Her Enemies, p. 4).

    “The development of a class of spinsters proud to proclaim that they were happy, fulfilled, had made a deliberate choice and were vital to the political struggle of women met with serious opposition,” Jeffries adds. “It was not just men who wanted to deride and undermine the position of these women. Some feminists also went into the attack.” (p. 93)

    Perhaps the so-called “fourth wave” will rediscover, as the “second wavers” did, that “the sexual revolution wasn’t our war.”

  23. sharon says:

    We have to proceed along the following fronts to get 4th wave / tidal wave / rogue wave feminism off the ground:

    1. Execute with unstoppable focus and unwavering determination targeted at intercepting and destroying the forces of sexism and discrimination. It needs to be made crystal clear where the ‘lines’ are so that the Lettermans of the world know it, and know the wrath they will encounter (and sponsorship cancellations) should they dare to cross it. I am shocked over the number of comments I’ve seen on the Palin / Letterman story that insist he did nothing wrong, she’s fair game, etc. I, along with many other writers, have taken pains to point out that criticizing an elected official over what they do, or don’t, do in office is fine. Making sexist remarks is no more acceptable than making racist remarks. This needs to be hammered home. We also have to actively work to end ongoing discrimination such as differences in pay between men and women because of women’s ‘choices’ to have children. These are subtle forms of discrimination that persist, and must be tackled. When you have a baby in this country, as a working mom, you are out on disability for 6 weeks. That’s ‘maternity leave’. You’re disabled from having a child. This is the kind of nonsensical policies that keep us down, and we have to attack them head-on.

    2. Open it up and become inclusive to women of all walks of life, class, and ideology. Currently, feminist = white liberal Democratic educated man or woman who is pro-choice. That leaves a whole lot of people out, and pits us against them, when it need not be so. Pro-lifers are freaked out over the prolific number of abortions performed. But pro-choicers are also disturbed by elective abortions based on the sex of the child (girl), color of the eyes, and sheer stupidity from not having a condom or spermicide by the bedside. So there’s some ground to work with here, because pro-choicers aren’t 100% for abortion whenever for whatever reason. We have to open feminism to conservative women, like Palin, because even though we may not agree on abortion, we all agree that women can and should be empowered to run for office at whatever level they deem fit, and be able to do so free of sexist slurs.

    3. Shift our image. Women of color sighed in relief at a conference I was at 2 weeks ago when they were informed that to be feminist does not equal hating men. Jesus Christ – is that all people think we are? I’ve had Latino men accuse me of that when they find out I am feminist. Young girls turn away from feminism because it’s so…butch and man-hating, and they’ve had it drilled into them that getting a man is what it’s all about. Feminism needs to be sexy, accessible, and something we WANT to be, which means we’ve got a massive PR job ahead of us.

    That’s how I see it.

  24. orlando says:

    Oh, I am so annexing the Marie Antoinette shepherdess line.

  25. Adrienne in CA says:

    I’m thinking it wasn’t a third wave, it was the first anti-wave.

    That’s what I think too, AM. The real motive wasn’t advancing women’s rights, but marketing of Feminizm[TM]. No more effective way to kill a movement than to commercialize it.

    Janis at The New Agenda describes how women were sold a bill of goods.
    http://thenewagenda.net/2009/06/01/step-zero-get-a-match-part-1-the-consumerization-of-feminism/

    *****A

  26. JadedByPolitics says:

    “And many of them are pro-life. Can they still be feminists?”

    So whether you are pro-life decides your ability to be a feminist? It has absolutely nothing to do with the rights of women. The law of the land is abortion the women in the SoCon movement as much as wanting to end it would just like to make it less necessary and the new WAVE ought to include some facts to young women that their bodies are their’s NOT some man’s to decide what to do with….do any of you on the left really think it was to women’s greater good the sexual revolution? HELL NO it filled every man’s fantasy and he was able along with the Steinham’s of the world to take women to the very depths of depravity in the name of feminism!

    I could never pin my finger on what kept the Women’s movement back behind the other movements and it was because the women were NOT DEMANDING the same RESPECT that the other’s demanded! I don’t think I walked away from “free love” feeling empowered but I am sure the pricks who enjoyed that free love were empowered enough to go get the next “free” woman!

    When the feminist movement decides that ALL women are of value no matter their political leanings and that WE are 51 percent of the vote and truly hold the keys to kingdom then we will have have reached the WAVE that finally crashed on the beach!

  27. JadedByPolitics says:

    OBTW let me qualify on the abortion issue…I am a Conservative not a part of the SoCon movement but part of the State Rights movement on all the social issue’s! I personally do not believe that 9 people ought to decide the rights of all the people I think those issue’s should be front and center at the local level where We The People can confront our legislature’s EVERY DAY on the issue’s that mean something to our lives.

    D’s and R’s in DC are NOT answering to us they answer to themselves!

    I have done many post’s on Sarah Paln and what I see her having done for the women’s movement on Redstate because, she CHOSE her husband she CHOSE her career and she CHOSE to have her children and a woman who makes all her CHOICES is a feminist!

  28. thistle says:

    In my day to day life, I never think of feminism in waves. I just speak out for women’s rights when I can.

  29. thistle says:

    I know there is much of talk here about Palin being a feminist. But remember it is a politically good move at this time to do so. If she runs again in the future she will want the feminist vote. Especially now that the conservatives feel they have knocked Hillary off the platform.

    I am wondering, before being asked to run for vice-president would Palin have labelled feminists as “feminazis” like many conservatives have for years?

  30. Mary Tracy9 says:

    “Unlike feminism, none of the other social justice movements (civil rights, gay rights, etc.) are obliged to simultaneously tackle other forms of oppression”

    I would really like to know why now.

    I personally believe that any new wave would have to stand firmly against sexual exploitation and drop the “me” focus, ie: is my “choice” feminist? are all my actions feminist? are my orgasms feminist? It’s not about “me”. It’s about all of us.

  31. myiq2xu says:

    I am wondering, before being asked to run for vice-president would Palin have labelled feminists as “feminazis” like many conservatives have for years?

    No she would not.

  32. samanthasmom says:

    I like the name “2nd Wave squared”, 2w2″. I think it’s appropriate because I think that a lot of the leadership for the new wave will be coming from members of Second Wave. Hopefully, from the tail end of the wave because those of us who tried to land on the beach first are either dead or soon to be. We seconder wavers were fixated on a woman’s right to have an abortion because until the mid-sixties there were fewer choices for birth control and in some places it was still illegal to sell birth control to unmarried women. The ability to control when and if you had a child was key to success in other areas so it became the biggest and most important goal. Contrary to the popular image, there are many of us old-timers who are for a pro-choice public policy but who are personally opposed to abortion except in limited instances. I think that’s the bridge between women who believe that abortion should be available under any circumstances and those who think it should always be illegal. This bridge can be built, but we need to just keep a ferry running until we get enough momentum from other successes to give us the confidence to build it without tearing each other’s work down. Then we can reach the shoreline.

  33. SYD says:

    We would do well to take a lesson from Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady-Stanton. We are reliving their trajectory, are we not? They also tried to tackle race and gender simultaneously. Race trumped gender then too. (As boys will be boys, and they do not tend to reciprocate the favors we do for them.)

    There is no “wave” about it. This is the second cycle. The second time around the WHEEL. If we do not observe the lessons of the first wheel, well enough to create the second, we will have to trudge up the mountain yet again, with only our backpacks.

    In that sense, yes. It is all remedial. While at the same time it is all new. Because two “wheels” make a bicycle. And now we have a chance to go somewhere…. fast!

  34. samanthasmom says:

    To clarify – the fight for the right to have a legal abortion was not a fight for the right to have a “hook up” society. It was part of a battle for women to have the right to control if and when they had children so that they could have control over other major areas of their lives. It also included the right to access to safe, reliable birth control. The “sexual revolution” was more about men having access to women who no longer had to be as worried about sex leading to pregnancy. Many women “back then” appreciated the freedom from pregnancy, but resented the new expectation that they would have sex on a second date. I think the Third Wavers let feminism get lost in the revolution.

  35. yttik says:

    I don’t really view feminism as separate waves. In the last election it was actually the older feminists who disapointed me the most, people like Gloria Steinem. As to the empowerful porn feminists, it’s the same crap we had back in the 60′s with freelove. It took women a long time realize that sexuality in the 60′s wasn’t about empowering and freeing them.

    Women really aren’t all that different. I think if we went back to a sisterhood is powerful model, built some unity, some gender loyalty, feminism would hold some real power. I really believe some hope lies in uniting conservative and liberal women. We’re never going to agree on everything, but we don’t have to, we simply need to unite over some basic values.

  36. alwaysfiredup says:

    Amy K. says:

    “And many of them are pro-life. Can they still be feminists?”

    I think they can. I understand many people like to think of the “pro-choice” and “pro-life” in terms of whether or not all abortions are legal or illegal. But most people don’t think about this issue like that. I consider myself “pro-life” at the moment because I think there should be more legal restrictions on certain kinds of abortion than are currently in place. So to me it’s a relative thing. If I had thought that the regulations went too far, I would label myself “pro-choice” without any change in my susbtantive position. I am too young for second-wave feminism and so these may not be the same definitions as you all are used to, having lived at a time when abortion in all cases was illegal. But no one is going to get Roe overturned, and even if they did, most states would keep it legal at least in some situations. (Admitted: some states would not.)

    To clarify (muddify?): I have zero problem with early abortions and I have a major problem with late abortions. Where’s the line? I think abt 22-26 weeks when major fetal brain development takes place. It’s not about taking away the mother’s rights, it’s about recognizing that that baby has rights too that conflict. I thought that was what Roe was all about. How to enforce? Probably not criminally, maybe just by adding progressively more red tape. These are muddy positions, but they are common. So yes, I think one can call herself “pro-life” and still be a feminist.

  37. octogalore says:

    Fourth wave – I think you define it well. Getting beyond the partisan divides is important. I’ve seen (and experienced this year) numerous fractures with otherwise productive alliances because of such divides. Not sure whom that helps, but I know it isn’t women.

    Unfortunately, I see a lot of momentum in the opposite direction. Into increasingly narrow groups with a club-like mentality and a stigmatization of dissent, to the point that the only people who can work together on Issue X are those who must also agree on Y and Z, otherwise you’re dead to me.

    I’m hoping there is a way to get beyond this, but I fear it will take some huge affront to women collectively (not just conservative women, who don’t count) to gel any kind of bonding.

    You *totally nailed it* on the inaccurate and unfortunate meaning most young (or young-like) feminists ascribe to intersectionality. I would also add:

    E) While feminism is ostensibly supportive of women achieving private sector success in ways that men feel they deserve, those women who do so must be understood to have trampled on other (poor, brown) women’s backs along the way. Doesn’t matter if you have your own small company or work at Goldman Sachs: you’re evil, and your participation in “intersectional” feminist circles is premised on your willingness to exist in a state of constant apology.

  38. octogalore says:

    OT: Lori, and anyone else also in LA, we should have a meet-up.

  39. britgirls says:

    Re: late-term abortions. Speaking only from my experience, during my three pregnancies I received an ultrasound around the 20 week mark. This is the point where complications may be discovered.

    20 weeks. Think about it … that’s really close to being a late-term abortion. It’s absolutely necessary that late-term abortions are available.

  40. yttik says:

    The pro-life pro-choice thing has really been used to separate, divide, and control women. Neither political party really cares to strengthen or ban abortion rights, because it’s such an effective way to rally their base. Being able to holler, “the blood of our daughters will be on your hands if you don’t vote for Obama” was a great piece of marketing. By contrast, “you’re killing hundreds of innocent babies” is another effective way of triggering people emotionally. Nothing like a little hysteria to keep the masses moving in your direction.

    From a feminist perspective, neither side is 100% correct. Having access to safe abortions is not the same as having women’s rights. The fact that unwanted pregnancies occur at all is a symptom of a society that still does not respect women’s bodies. No matter how safe, legal and rare we make abortion, and unwanted pregnancy itself is still a violation of a woman’s body. I think a big part of our discussion in preventing the need for abortion is going to have to be about men taking full responsibility for their fertilization. If people don’t believe in abortion, than don’t cause the need for one.Too often abortion rights have become an excuse for men to avoid taking any responsibility for their reproduction, and to avoid having any respect for women’s bodies.

  41. slythwolf says:

    I also appreciate the math joke, FWIW. I was in math club in school as long as they had one; mentioning the square root of 18.6 still tickles me, although that joke was an inside one. (And not much of a joke, really, it was just the number we always used (after 2) to test anything, and then we had T-shirts of it for a while.)

    I think much of the third wave was actually the backlash, women thinking pole-dancing is an empowering way to get in shape and talking about how awesome porn is. It’s the patriarchy in feminist’s clothing.

    Don’t know how I would define or explain the fourth wave. It’s so brand-new.

    Amy K., late-term abortions like you describe are already illegal in the United States unless the mother’s life is at stake. In those cases, the baby’s not going to survive either. There are only 2 or 3 clinics in the country that perform them. What more restrictions could you ask for?

  42. Lori says:

    Amy,

    What kind of restrictions do you want?

    Octogalore – that would be fun!

  43. Foilwoman says:

    I’d — wishful thinking, I’m sure — define Fourth Wave feminism as women actually uniting to fight for their human rights again: birth control, abortion, the ability to have a family and a job, to not get penalized financially for having children (or simply a vagina), affordable, good child care, a reasonable (not 10% or less) rape conviction rape and a general awareness that women aren’t responsible for rape. For starters. I’m sure there’s more.

    And yeah, the pornification of women and young women buying into that (does anyone really want to wax her vulva?) really does get me down, and I’d like to get beyond that.

  44. angienc says:

    yttik says:

    I just had to tell you that I agree so much with everything you just said.

    And Lori has is completely right — remedial. I’m technically part of the “third wave” & this election made me aware of problems I had no idea existed. It was like a slap in the face, but in retrospect, it should not have been.

  45. jackyt says:

    “As a guy, the only thing I could suggest is that Fourth Wave feminists should use “Don’t take shit from anybody” as a guiding principle.” BINGO!

    Embroiling us in a debate on the a hierarchy of grievances is a really effective way of deflecting argument for change. Women are the largest disadvantaged group: 51% of the population.

    The LGBT community shares WITH US a concern for the right to autonomy of personhood.

    Colorful minorities share WITH US concerns about job opportunities and equal remuneration.

    Physically challenged people share WITH US a fight to be recognized for our competencies regardless of our bodily attributes.

    I see no reason for putting any other group’s bandwagon before that of women in the march toward universal human rights!

  46. Elise says:

    Amy K., late-term abortions like you describe are already illegal in the United States unless the mother’s life is at stake. In those cases, the baby’s not going to survive either. There are only 2 or 3 clinics in the country that perform them. What more restrictions could you ask for?

    Sorry, but this is going to be one of the main issues that breaks the idea of a single circle of feminism. Part of the outpouring of gratitude for Dr. Tiller took the form of personal stories from women who had late-term abortions. It is simply not the case that all of those stories involved threats to the mother’s life. Does that mean the abortions shouldn’t have taken place? I think we can have a huge argument about that.

    Abortion is the biggest deal-breaker here but there are others. I spend a lot of time on blogs that are more right than left. There are women there who the women here would admire and appreciate and who agree with every single word written here about, for example, Letterman. But they won’t call themselves “feminists”. Partly because they’re not Democrats but mostly because they’re not interested in, say, further Federal government intervention in how companies pay their employees or in how much maternity leave companies provide. This terminology is new to me so I may be misusing it, but perhaps it is accurate to say they are individual feminists rather than group feminists.

    I don’t know if the type of feminist most in evidence here is willing to find common ground with women like that – or with feminists like me. Or vice versa. I hope so but even if we do make common cause, I don’t think there’s any way we can end up with one big circle of feminism. We could, however, end up with overlapping circles of feminism much like the fabulous Big Tent post Violet did a while back. Somewhere all the circles intersect and that’s where we all have each other’s backs. That intersection might turn out to be absolutely tiny, maybe nothing more than an agreement that it’s as unacceptable to attack women in sexist terms as it’s become to attack African-Americans in racist terms. But if we could hang together on that, we could fight about all the rest of it as if we had just as much right in the political sphere as men.

    Sisterhood really is powerful.

  47. gxm17 says:

    I think we should call the new wave Absolute Feminism. As the 3rd anti-wave bounced us back to zero. And I love absolute zero because it’s the only thing absolute power can’t touch. (And 17th wave has a nice ring to it too.)

    Certainly a woman who is pro-life can be a feminist. Wasn’t Susan B. Anthony pro-life? I think there are plenty of pro-lifers who can, and do, grasp that the common ground we share is that we believe this very important decision lies in the hands of the pregnant woman and not the state. Personally I’m pro-life and politically I am adamantly pro-choice. We should not let this issue be used to divide us.

  48. Lexia says:

    Yeah, Slythwolf, there are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don’t. But a lot of those who do keep getting Christmas and Halloween mixed up.

    I like the name 2nd wave squared, because it suggests power. But for someone like myself, who came of age during the height of second wave feminism (and benefited enormously from it), it also has a faint echo of the 50s term “square”, which of course will be picked up and amplified by a hostile media.

    On the other other hand, I believe the power of the media to define anything or anyone however it chooses must be overcome before women are able to consolidate what political and economic power we do have. We must, as Virginia Woolfe said, be able to take the gate without paying any attention to the chorus of advice and insults shouted from the spectators lined up on either side.

    This, and the unique situation of women, largely unchanged since JS Mill nailed it a century and a half ago, are the two insurmountable obstacles women –must- deal with before any permanent change in the daily lives of all women is made. I finally realized that at some level most women know that the only way to remain in the social and economic group into which they were born is effectively to marry back into it, either by actual marriage or what the media refers to as common-law. It’s not even a question of higher or lower in the social strata, it’s a question of belonging to one at all. The chance of earning one’s way back in independently of any man is desperately small. Those women who do are constantly attacked as being harmful to the men of that group and therefore to the group itself, the men and the media making no distinction between these.

    From the The Subjection of Women:

    “We must consider, too, that the possessors of the power have facilities in this case, greater than in any other, to prevent any uprising against it. Every one of the subjects lives under the very eye, and almost, it may be said, in the hands, of one of the masters in closer intimacy with him than with any of her fellow-subjects; with no means of combining against him, no power of even locally over mastering him, and, on the other hand, with the strongest motives for seeking his favour and avoiding to give him offence. In struggles for political emancipation, everybody knows how often its champions are bought off by bribes, or daunted by terrors. In the case of women, each individual of the subject-class is in a chronic state of bribery and intimidation combined.”
    (http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/mill/john_stuart/m645s/):

  49. sam says:

    From the day I decided the thirdwave lexicon handed to me by circumstance of birth was inadequate unless I needed 17 new euphemisms for whore, I started searching for words to describe my kind of freedom fighting. Shortly after ‘pornstitution’ was born I started calling myself a second waver squared.

    Thirdwave feminism began in the 1990s and then devolved from ‘do-me feminism’ into ‘do her, not me feminism’. ‘Fuck me feminism’ became ‘fuck her, not me feminism’ in the 2000s.

    “Fuck her not me, my sex is priceless but hers isn’t.”
    “Do her not me, she will accept it in ways I’ll never submit to.”
    “Fuck her not me, I will never be filmed fucking for YouPorn but it’s a feminist action for other women.”

    Long before I read Catharine MacKinnon’s words, “The feminist question is not whether you, as an individual woman, can escape women’s place, but whether it is socially necessary that there will always be somebody in the position you, however temporarily, escaped from and that someone will be a woman. my feminist ethics had found definition through a Twilight Zone episode.

    It’s the one where a man tells a shopkeeper that he’ll get a million dollars if he presses a button on a box to kill someone he doesn’t know. The shopkeeper presses the button for the money and when the man comes to take the box away he tells the shopkeeper that someone else now gets a chance to press the button, someone he doesn’t know.

  50. Sameol says:

    Elise, that’s simply not true. The most basic fact that gets forgotten here is that EVERY pregnancy involves threats to the mother’s life. Pregnancy is dangerous, period. Every pregnancy can result in death.

    Many if not most of Dr. Tiller’s patients were carrying fetuses without brains or with other conditions which would have made it impossible for them to survive. So to deny them care is to ask them to risk their lives, health, and fertility for a child who will inevitably die.

  51. AniEm says:

    I can’t define the next wave of feminism although I’m praying for a tsunami, but I hope it includes the recognition that:

    1. We are in the middle of a government engineered psy-ops blitzkrieg. While women are being targeted, we do not have to be victims. Hold on to the loving sources of serenity and truth in your lives, including blogs like this. Take a self-defense course. The statistics are posted; crimes against women fall under a “not-so-benign neglect” government policy.

    2. “Conventional partisan divides” are INIMICAL to feminism. The most the political parties do is throw crumbs of approval at their respective ‘posse-girls’. Neither SOS Clinton and Governor Palin was supported by her own party. They received support from rank and file members and had to be neutralized for that reason. Both political parties will gladly resort to sexism, racism, and every other -ism to divide and conquer.

    3. Liberal women should acknowledge that if they are alive and not contemplating suicide, that suggests that they are pro-life too. Liberal beliefs require much more than defending the right to abortion. They should include an insistence on male responsibility for conception. And if that includes promoting abstinence or vasectomy, so be it. Boys will be boys until we insist they become men.

    4. Men who support strong women such as McAuliffe (sp?) or Todd Palin should be recognized and identified as role models for men. Fortunately, the men in my environment respect women and their contributions. Accordingly the men around me (working class white or first-generation college graduates) deserve respect, not across the board castigation.

  52. donna darko says:

    Violet’s comment on the Third Wave:

    Feminism has been the most slandered of political movements, and none more so than the Second Wave. The Third Wave of feminism is really not so much a wave as the patriarchal backlash: it’s feminism as defined by anti-feminists. Virtually every propaganda lie against Second Wave feminism has been taken on board by Third Wavers as the truth, because they believe the patriarchy instead of the actual feminists. It’s the Larry Flynt/Eldridge Cleaver version of feminism.

    The men who ran the civil rights movement were bitterly opposed to feminism, and claimed that it was either a plot by white women to fragment the black community by turning black women against their men, or, at best, just another example of white imperialism. The truth is that feminism in the 70s was far and away the most progressive and inclusive enclave in American politics in every respect, while the civil rights movement was grossly sexist (not to mention homophobic). But the civil rights leaders won the propaganda war.

  53. donna darko says:

    myiqxu said:

    As a guy, the only thing I could suggest is that Fourth Wave feminists should use “Don’t take shit from anybody” as a guiding principle.

    Violet and I called it “zero tolerance” for sexism during the election.

  54. AM says:

    gxm17 says:

    “I think we should call the new wave Absolute Feminism.”

    I like that.

  55. Elise says:

    Elise, that’s simply not true. The most basic fact that gets forgotten here is that EVERY pregnancy involves threats to the mother’s life. Pregnancy is dangerous, period. Every pregnancy can result in death.

    Then every abortion, at every stage of pregnancy is justified. There are effectively no limits on it. That may be your position but I do not think it makes common ground with those who oppose abortion totally, those who oppose abortion in the third trimester, or those who oppose abortion after “major fetal brain development takes place”.

    As for your argument that “many if not most of Dr. Tiller’s patients were carrying fetuses without brains or with other conditions which would have made it impossible for them to survive” we simply don’t know that. I’m perfectly willing to believe it but the only abortions we know about are those who self-reported.

    I hate to cite Andrew Sullivan – and I will probably shower immediately afterward – but after Dr. Tiller was murdered Sullivan did a series called “It’s so personal” which reprinted reader emails about late-term abortions. Then he printed one from a cardiac surgeon – who admittedly opposes all late-term abortion – pointing out that some of the readers who sought or supported late-term abortion did so when the fetus suffered from hypoplastic left heart syndrome. According to the surgeon, better than 50% of children born with this defect survive with corrective surgery. It takes three surgeries, “the surgeries are long and difficult, and the recovery periods are longer.” But the simple fact is that these are not fetuses who survival is impossible. Is it acceptable to ask women to “risk their lives, health, and fertility” for a child who has a better than 50% chance of living? What if the child’s chance was slightly less than 50%? Slightly better than 75%? This way lies madness.

    This is an irresolvable conflict and that was pretty much the whole point of my comment. If we feel compelled to argue about that, if it’s absolutely necessary that every woman who wants to be part of the 2**2 wave of feminism must take the same position on abortion – or on many other issues currently defined as feminist – then the reach and power of that wave will be severely limited.

    Violet asked how I would define the fourth wave of feminism. I would hope to define it as the wave of feminism that articulated a core principle of sisterhood – I’ve got your back – and left everything else up to each woman’s conscience.

  56. Sis says:

    Is it acceptable to torture babies so that they MAY have a 50 percent chance of wretched survival so that you (and other like-minded late abortion refusers) can have your ethical cake?

    And I’m sorry, but those comments will forever be burned into my mind as coming from you Elise. AS is where they may have originated, but you’ve cited him to buttress an anti-woman point of view. From my point of view.

    You make a choice for your body and no one else’s Elise. Although I must say if a daughter of mine came to me at, say, seven months pregnant, I would move heaven and earth to get her to abort because of the nightmare of having a family member (now dead) who had schizophrenia. Not known about until age 15. I don’t care if the chances were only 5 percent she’d have such a child. I’d be galvanized.

    But I would also pay for it and help her immediately, if she came and said “I want an abortion. We’re going to buy a house and this isn’t the right time. And maybe, it never will be because then we want to travel.” She would know she didn’t need to say any of that though.

    I don’t flipping care if it comes out alive. If the woman does not want a child, she should not have to have it, at any time in gestation. I fully understand the two young women in recent news who are being criminalized because they abandoned a baby to die. It’s the Feet of the Fetus advocates/women haters who caused that, and up to her to deal with it HOWEVER SHE WISHES, without being criminalized.

  57. Sameol says:

    It’s not my position, it’s a fact, and frankly I think accepting the medical realities is a far better way to find common ground than abandoning the most at-risk women to political squeamishness and safe pregnancy myths. Every pregnancy carries the risk of death. I’m not going to tell any woman that she needs to reach a 90% chance of developing this or an 80% chance of this complication because a 30% chance of death with a 50% chance for the fetus doesn’t satisfy me. These are medical decisions and it’s not up to me to determine how much risk someone else must bear.

    Nobody is saying that everybody has to agree about abortion. We can disagree and still work together on other issues. What I don’t want to see happen, however, is pressure brought on those of us who feel very strongly about this to abandon the women who are most easily sacrificed in a political debate because their numbers are small and they make others uncomfortable in the name of “common ground.”

  58. alwaysfiredup says:

    My apologies to Amy K, as I am the one against late abortions, not her.

    What I read about Dr. Tiller in the aftermath of his murder is that a good proportion of his abortions were performed after their mothers discovered the babies had birth defects. I personally do not see that as a valid reason to abort, because I know of so many mothers who were told their babies would be “defective” who were born perfectly healthy. Medicine is simply not accurate enough to know for sure what will happen. Just because there is a chance the baby wouldn’t survive is, to me, no reason not to give that baby a chance at survival. If birth really would kill the mother, that would be at a minimum justifiable homicide even where abortion was completely illegal. Further, in Kansas, depression can be a valid health exception for late abortions. Depression is a pretty common side effect of a lot of pregnancies, so it seems a flimsy excuse. My understanding is that, while the law creates a “ban” on late procedures, the ban is avoided fairly easily for those with a mind to do so. I just wish it were more difficult.

    Let’s remember though that this is a tiny, tiny percentage of abortions done every year. If we can agree on even 90% of policy and disagree on 10%, I’d say we are doing well.

  59. Violet says:

    Is it acceptable to ask women to “risk their lives, health, and fertility” for a child who has a better than 50% chance of living? What if the child’s chance was slightly less than 50%? Slightly better than 75%? This way lies madness.

    This way lies madness, indeed.

    For thousands of years, there has been a simple, clear-cut, unmistakable line of demarcation between a woman’s pregnant body and the creation of a new person with its own rights. It’s called birth.

    You’ll never get a line any clearer than that. If it’s living inside a woman’s body, it’s hers to deal with. Once it’s outside her body, it’s a separate entity.

    Birth.

  60. alwaysfiredup says:

    “For thousands of years, there has been a simple, clear-cut, unmistakable line of demarcation between a woman’s pregnant body and the creation of a new person with its own rights. It’s called birth.”

    I suppose that would be the easiest place to draw the line. But we also live in a time when babies born prematurely routinely survive and a very large percentage of babies are “taken” (c-section) rather than “born”, which is not at all like the past “thousands of years.” I think that’s appropriate to consider as well.

  61. teresainpa says:

    To clarify (muddify?): I have zero problem with early abortions and I have a major problem with late abortions. Where’s the line? I think abt 22-26 weeks when major fetal brain development takes place. It’s not about taking away the mother’s rights, it’s about recognizing that that baby has rights too that conflict. I thought that was what Roe was all about. How to enforce? Probably not criminally, maybe just by adding progressively more red tape. These are muddy positions, but they are common. So yes, I think one can call herself “pro-life” and still be a feminist.

    I am so disapointed that someone posting on this blog would have such a anti-choice rhetoric induced misconception about late term abortion. I really do not mean to be rude I hope you do not take it that way. But here is the real scoop for you from me who used to work at a woman’s clinic where on several days a week, in between providing GYN services, we had abortion services.

    Late term abortion (that done after the 23/24 week|) is NOT done on viable fetuses. Women do not wait until the third trimester and decide they don’t want to be pregnant because bikini season is coming up. Third term abortions are done on woman who wanted a baby and found it is either already dead or going to die at birth or has no brain but a brain stem or is in some other way not compatible with life
    Most women who have abortions between 14/16 and 24 weeks do it for some health reason. And the fetus is NOT viable at that point and so the mother’s rights superceed the fetus. Would you really want women to be forced to risk their health or even their future because some one else thinks they should?

    I hope that clears things up for you.

    as far as what 4th wave is, it is the 3.1 wave since the 3.0 wave was in reality the undertoad and not a wave at all.

  62. Carmonn says:

    “so many mothers who were told their babies would be “defective” who were born perfectly healthy. Medicine is simply not accurate enough to know for sure what will happen.”

    And if you don’t happen to luck out on that, what then? There are very few resources available to help families care for children and eventually adults with disabilities and every year there are less and less. I have spoken to many parents who love their children dearly but regret having them because they can’t afford optimal care and can’t get adequate help. And no, they’re not using “flimsy excuses” and being selfish, they simply want their children to have the best life possible but it’s simply beyond their means to provide.

  63. alwaysfiredup says:

    But then shouldn’t we focus on providing those services rather than encouraging the termination of the pregnancy? And I did not say that birth defects are flimsy excuses for abortions, I said depression was. I do understand that having a child with a birth defect is a difficult and serious thing. I also think having an abortion is a difficult and serious thing. I think we could be going about this differently in a more ideal world. I do not mean to offend anyone on this board with my apparently “misconceived anti-choice rhetoric”.

  64. Jackie says:

    I’ve been pondering this for several months. By the time I reached young womanhood, feminism had pretty much become a dirty word, and then came the “third wave,” which always felt wrong to me. I never actually thought of myself as a feminist until I experienced being a Hillary supporter. The massive outpouring of truly disgusting misogyny surprised me at first, but then I realized there was no way it came out of the blue. It had been there all the time; I just hadn’t been paying attention, thanks in part to the third wave.

    Anyway, since I realized I was a feminist, I’ve thought a lot about what that might mean, or ought to mean. To me it means that women are entitled to the same respect as any other minority. All women, all the time. I don’t believe women need special treatment, but we must have equal treatment. Sexism is hate speech. Pornography is hate speech. Women who trade on their sexuality strengthen the patriarchy, and diminish themselves and their mothers, sisters and daughters.

    I’m disappointed to see the disagreement about abortion on this blog. I’m neither pro-choice nor pro-life personally. I’m not the least bit religious but I find abortion personally repugnant. I respect other people’s opinions and choices. I guess that really means I’m pro-choice even though I personally would likely never choose to have an abortion. Maybe that makes me pro-life? Either way, does it really matter at this point?

    Honestly, abortion must not be on the top of our list, because if we keep bickering about it we will get nowhere. There are much more pressing concerns. I’m frightened we are losing ground.

  65. Sis says:

    They don’t “routinely survive”. They are hooked up to machines and forced to struggle on only to have brain damage, behavioural problems and neurological disorders and more later. That’s the problem with your point of view, you think if a baby “survives” the surviving is done. All those mothers forced to have babies who should have died, been aborted (left on an ice floe or a rock when the tribe moved on–the wisdome of the ages).

    Mother nature would have had those babies die. She brought them early for a reason.

    The whole obstetrical profession is a Mengele. People who think being born is the same as survive are unethical and selfish.

  66. Sis says:

    !!!!!!!!

    “as far as what 4th wave is, it is the 3.1 wave since the 3.0 wave was in reality the undertoad and not a wave at all.”

  67. Carmonn says:

    Well, first, we’re not “encouraging” anyone to terminate just because we oppose forced pregnancy and respect women’s rights to make their own medical decsions. Second yes of course we should be focusing on providing those services, but realistically I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Disability services are always the first to be cut, always, because no one who matters to TPTB is lobbying for them. Everyone’s in favor of everything in the abstract until it’s time to raise taxes or move a group home into their neighborhood. And with the economy, federal aid is drying up and states, cities, and towns are likely not going to have either the political will or resources to pick up the slack. We can’t ask actual flesh and blood human beings to suffer because in the abstract we *should* live in a much better, happier, more humane world where we provide adequately for each other.

    I realize you did not say birth defects are flimsy excuses, I was trying to make a point about how easy it is to have all kind of not particularly well informed, somewhat judgmental opinions of others’ motivations and experiences when we’re not actually in that situation ourselves. Many, many people certainly would and do assume that parents of disabled children who wouldn’t have them again if they could do it over are just mean, selfish, unfeeling and thinking about themselves, their convenience and their bank accounts.

  68. sister of ye says:

    Yeah, the heart defect can be corrected – if you have loads of money or premium insurance (and loads of money). Many premies can survive – if you have loads of money or premium insurance (and loads of money).

    Many women don’t have the luxury of philosophical “oh but the baby might survive” calculations. Their decision is based on: Can I take care of this baby? Do have the income, can I get medical care, do I have a support network for tough times, can I give my child a life worth living?

    I suggest you leave the law open for each woman to make her own choices – on abortion and other issues – based on her own judgment and values.

    If you don’t like abortion, work to change the factors in women’s calculations. Lobby for comprehensive healthcare. Convince your conservative friends that taxes aren’t the devil’s handiwork, but can be a good investment in your fellow citizens. Some problems that hamper women can by helped by government action, or by union demands; quit acting as if they are manifestation of Satan.

    Then come back and talk to me about being pro-life.

  69. Honora says:

    I am blessed with three beautiful healthy children. When I was pregnant with each of them, I had genetic testing and I would have aborted if serious abnormalities showed up. Then I would have had another healthy child. I should get to decide whether and abnormality is more than I can or choose to accept.

    It is my body, so it should be my choice.

    A pro-life woman can be a feminist, if she wishes only to control her own body. If her goal is to make reproductive decisions for other American citizens (who may just be female and pregnant), then she should reconsider why she wishes to do so.

  70. Violet says:

    “undertoad”

    I love this word.

  71. Sandra, CA says:

    I wish people would stop saying “pro-life” when they really mean “anti-abortion.”

  72. jackyt says:

    Can we all please agree to not force anyone to have an abortion against her will?

    Okay… now can we all agree to not force anyone to have a baby against her will?

  73. alwaysfiredup says:

    I believe the question was whether someone can be a feminist and be pro-life. I thought this might be a forum where people could agree to disagree. Maybe I should have just said said “no,” because the “feminists” here will not allow it. My POV has now been labeled judgmental & anti-choice, despite what I thought was a pretty evenhanded and non-judgmental approach. Whatever. It’s still “my way or the highway” with you people. You and NOW deserve each other.

  74. Sameol says:

    “Agree to disagree” means it’s not discussed, not that you get to expound your theories at length and our choices are to agree or to smile/nod/say nothing.

  75. orlando says:

    I’ve been thinking over your question about the fourth wave, and now I expect no one will scroll down past all the abortion retread to benefit from my words of wisdom. She who hesitates, and all that.

    I think your description of “dog-paddling through the backlash” is key. The trouble is that survival strategies have gradually become miscast as activism.

    The desire to ensure sex workers are protected and respected, which was feminist action, became an idea that sex work is feminist. The idea that female sexuality should not be surpressed, which is feminist, became a belief that it is feminist for a woman to play an object of desire. The conviction that the work of motherhood is criminally undervalued, which is completely feminist, results in women still taking all the responsibility for child rearing. Just a few examples.

    To get back on track we need to acknowledge these things as survival strategies. We all have to use some, some of the time, but they are not in themselves feminist behaviour.

    The new grand unification theory of feminism can simply be that we all resolve to do whatever we can where and whenever we can, not only for ourselves but for one another. And the times when someone can’t, she can’t. As long as we’re diligent about grabbing every opportunity we’re given to challenge the staus quo, I think we will gradually become astonished to see how much we can get done.

  76. murphy says:

    My definition of feminism is:

    Feminism is human existence as lived by women.

    http://pumapac.org/2009/06/05/what-if-we-had-a-feminist-movement-and-told-women-to-keep-out/

  77. quixote says:

    (I’m commenting before reading others’ comments, so this may be a repeat of things already said. I wanted to post it in case you’re keeping a tally.)

    The defining has been done. Here for example: How did we go from Tomato Nation’s Yes You Are to This?

    Defining it, at this point, looks like one of those triple wavy ways of avoiding action to me.

    What we need is doing feminism, not defining it. Vote for women. Vote against misogynists. Get the bastards fired. (Yes, I’m thinking of Lettermouth.) Call people on sexism at home, at work, everywhere. That last is the hardest revolution of all. Harder than shouldering a gun and shooting at someone you don’t know. But this particular revolution will never happen until we do it.

  78. m Andrea says:

    “Yeah, Marie Antoinette liked playing at being a shepherdess, so that means the peasants were well-off.”

    Knock me over with a feather. Thank you. And Liz just cracked me up… Great thread.

    We already know that the reason the third wave ate itself is because over a gradual period of time, an insidious conflation between two mutually exclusive concepts occurred: pornification with liberation. By the same token I predict that this movement will also be a massive failure if it eventually conflates any two mutually exclusive concepts — pro-slavery and anti-slavery qualify.

    Back in the day, vanilla girls luved being porntastic cos their dude told them to luv being porntastic, and so to accomdate these twits in their midst, feminists made room without setting any boundaries of their own. So the movement became watered down and eventually lost it’s way.

    Which is exactly why I love Violet’s “big tent” idea. Strategy-wise for the long haul, politely framing abortion as an exception is the only psychologically healthy option. Agree to disagree while praising their efforts in other areas that you do agree on. But there is no valid psychological theory in existence which predicts sound mental health from accomodating two mutually exclusive ideas at once.

    Trying to contort oneself into accomodation with pro-slavery while supposedly remaining anti-slavery is Orwellian insanity. Cognitive dissonance brick wall, here we go…

  79. SYD says:

    “I have worked 40 years to make the Women’s Suffrage platform broad enough for Atheists and Agnostics to stand upon, and now if need be I will fight the next 40 to keep it Catholic enough to permit the straightest Orthodox religionist to speak or pray and count her beads upon.”

    Susan B. Anthony

    If the fourth wave cannot take this lesson from the first…. we are all doomed. There can be no progress until we recognize that we are ALL in this together.

    The path we are going down…. demanding that we all agree on every issue… including when a fetus is a child, is madness. Not even ethics scholars all agree on this. Now do all religions.

    If the fourth wave demands that we all choose one definition of “life” … I will count myself out.

  80. m Andrea says:

    Honora, that was perfect.

    “A pro-life woman can be a feminist, if she wishes only to control her own body. If her goal is to make reproductive decisions for other American citizens (who may just be female and pregnant), then she should reconsider why she wishes to do so.”

    Expect in that case, she’s not techically “pro-slavery” anymore, she’s “pro-choice”. By definition, the pro-lifers are actually pro-slavery.

  81. quixote says:

    Or, short version, as others said earlier, don’t take shit from anybody. And when forced into a survival strategy, never pretend it’s not shit.

  82. angienc says:

    How about a feminist is a woman who doesn’t want to be treated like sh!t. Start from there. Regardless of a woman’s position on abortion, we cannot tolerate attacks on a her simply because she is anti-choice.

  83. Violet says:

    Defining it, at this point, looks like one of those triple wavy ways of avoiding action to me.

    Actually, no. I understand the urge to just roll up the sleeves and do, without bothering with the defining, but the fact is sometimes there is no substitute for the elevator pitch. You have to communicate with other humans what the fuck you’re on about, especially if they’re suspicious/curious/potential allies or enemies.

    There are discussions going on in the feminist movement about what this new thing is all about. People are asking questions, trying to understand. When I said I was hunting for nutshells, I wasn’t just inviting comments to kill time. I really think this kind of talking is important.

    And by the way, women did a whole hell of a lot of this kind of talking 30, 40 years ago, which is a big part of why the second wave was as cohesive as it was. People were excited about hammering it out and getting their arms around it.

    As for the abortion question: I am very sorry if anyone here has felt stifled or attacked. I consider all the participants feminist-minded folks who are discussing things in good faith. My own opinion, as I think many of you know, is that I am adamantly pro-choice but willing to “agree to disagree” with the pro-lifers if we can work together on other issues.

    I think this thread is actually a good demonstration of how rapidly the abortion issue can fracture consensus among women, and also of how feminist-minded women can agree on almost everything but that. Well, that and the porn/sex-work thing, which is another huge divide.

    I think the abortion discussion itself is rather useful, actually. Why not talk about it, especially if we have our manners about us and we know we’re in a feminist space? I personally lack the patience to argue with, say, wingnut men about abortion, but I can carry on a civil discussion about it with women who I know are on my side in every other way.

    (Though perhaps not right now, because as we see, it can quickly swamp an entire discussion.)

    But back to what you were saying.

  84. Amy K. says:

    How would I define the fourth wave of feminism?

    One of those waves that looks like it might be a big one but then peters out right before it hits your toes. The attitude toward abortion in particular and conservatism in general keeps dragging it back out to sea.

    As long as people who are adamantly pro-choice tell women who are pro-life that they are “anti-feminist” and other ridiculous and insulting charges, you are cutting off over half the women who might ally with you. The last polls done show over 40% of women define themselves as conservative and an even larger percentage consider themselves pro-life in some way.

    That’s just facts.

  85. Amy K. says:

    The last polls done show over 40% of women define themselves as conservative…

    Correcting myself: It’s 40% total who identify conservative; 37% of women identify as conservative. Only 23% identify as liberal. More food for thought.

  86. Sameol says:

    You’re the person who brought up abortion in the first place. Agreeing to disagree is fine, but when it comes into the discussion it usually turns into “we can find common ground by agreeing abortion is morally hideous” or “we can all agree that we should ban late term abortions, that’s a compromise” or “we can all agree that women get late term abortions for silly reasons” or whatever, well no, we CAN’T all agree on any of that.

    We can try to find common ground in other areas and not discuss it or we can agree to have a back and forth. But if you’re expecting a one way discussion where you explain all about how you feel about it and we’re supposed to just agree, keep quiet, validate your views on the matter or let assertions that we feel are inaccurate go unchallenged, it probably won’t happen that way. I don’t mean here, because that’s up to Violet, but in general.

    When topics get introduced into the conversation, they generally get discussed.

    Several of us here voted for Palin (I did) and almost all of us have defended her strongly, despite her views on abortion. But that doesn’t mean we’re not pro-choice and we’re not going to disagree about it if it comes up.

  87. Kiuku says:

    I think we are ignoring a big element of why Feminism has changed and why it is not what it used to be: men. At first, men realized it was right for women to have the rights that they demanded. They apparently didn’t realize that it would bother them as much as it did and the fear of losing their privilege led them to attempt to define feminism, what it should be, and to this backlash against feminism and against women.

  88. Sameol says:

    And another thing, this indicates why IMO there’s no point in dragging these issues in (beyond the fact that nobody’s changing anyone’s minds), because often we don’t even speak the same language on this. Based on the fact that it’s a very personal issue with a lot of personal experiences involved, there are a lot of hot buttons here. My intentions may be fine and I may think I’m being as diplomatic as can be when I’m unknowingly waving a red flag in front of someone, and definitely vice versa. If I don’t understand why I’m offending you when it’s obvious to you and maybe others, we will have a very difficult time communicating.

  89. cellocat says:

    I do think that a cornerstone of what we must do is, as was mentioned above, challenge/discuss/point out sexist speech and behaviour around us in our own personal and professional lives. Self-preservation is a valid reason to stay quiet, sometimes (and everyone has to make that estimation for herself), but too many times I think women hesitate to say something and instead mutter to themselves in private. It’s cumulative; the more women are willing to speak up, the more women will be willing and comfortable with doing so.

    The boundaries have been lost and swamped and perverted and co-opted. It is the job of the 4th Wave to re-establish them, to insist on the existence and despicability of sexism, and the importance of combatting it.

    I have a good friend who’s 10 years younger than me. She wasn’t entirely comfortable with the feminist lable, and at first didn’t want to accept feminism as a good reason for supporting Hillary. Her discomfort was something I didn’t understand, since I grew up in an environment where feminism, along with liberalism, was viewed as both positive and necessary. I think that rather than trying to find common ground with that discomfort, it’s important to keep asserting what sexism is, and pointing out examples, to keep asserting the importance of feminism and pointing out examples. It’s like with the Supreme Court; if you keep adding centrists and rightists the court will drift right. You have to add lefties to maintain some sort of balance (if that’s what you’re trying to do).

    Rather than trying to portray feminism as sexy in an effort to find common ground with women who don’t want to be feminists, it’s important to show that feminism is absolutely necessary, vital, and powerful. It’s terribly important not to dilute it.

    So yeah, the conversation is important. Clarity of purpose is powerful, and we need that power.

  90. Kiuku says:

    3rd wave=FeMENism

  91. SYD says:

    More of my thoughts on this subject:

    http://syd4.blogspot.com/2009/06/wave-and-wheel-can-fourth-wave-of.html

    for those who are interested.

    I agree with Sameol… it is time to stop with the red flags. We are doing harm to ourselves, and each other by hanging on to them.

  92. yttik says:

    I think one thing we can often unite over is the desire to stop criminalizing women. Feminists who are pro-life may hold that as a personal belief, but have absolutely no desire to lock women up. I know I am anti-pornography, anti-sex trade, but I have no desire to lock up prostitutes. I don’t want more laws against the sex industry because the laws themselves are often used to further exploit women. Not in a million years are you going to convince me that the porn industry is empowering for women, but that doesn’t mean I’m advocating stuffing everyone into burkas or putting women in jail. I think many women who lean liberal have a problem making this distinction. They’ve seen the Pat Robertson, Falwell kind of extremes and they use that rhetoric to judge conservative women.

  93. gxm17 says:

    “Mother nature would have had those babies die. She brought them early for a reason.

    Not always. In my case, mother nature would have brought two completely healthy babies too early to survive. Most women with my condition lose their first baby. I’m very very lucky to have my daughter. Oddly, the only reason I didn’t miscarry her is because I lost my health insurance when I got married and had to go to a free clinic. I couldn’t get in till I was about 4-1/2 months along and already dilating; and since it was my first visit the doctors caught it.

    I’m pro-choice but just wanted to clarify that not all miscarriages involve a fetal defect. It doesn’t do any good to answer misinformation with more misinformation. Yes, the truth is that most women who have a late-term abortion do so because there is something seriously wrong with the fetus. One woman who shared her story of a late-term abortion expressed her feelings in a way I think most people can understand: It was like making a decision to take a loved one off of life support.

    Late-term abortions are not flippant decisions. They are the type of agonizing and heartbreaking decision we all hope we never have to make.

  94. Sis says:

    If “mother nature” aborts (brings babies too early she is doing her job.

    It is a mistake to think a baby born with massive intervention who looks normal does not have any birth or genetic defect.

  95. Sis says:

    And by the way, no pro-choicer I’ve read here has characterized late-term abortions as flippant decisions. (Your words, oddly). But the opposite of “flippant” is not agonizing.

  96. sharon says:

    I see, where even among many pro-choicers on this blog, that the feminist position on abortion is far from clear. In this area, of not collectively knowing exactly when / how / under what circumstances abortion should be condoned, we have been forced into the polarity position against ‘not at all’ into ‘whenever we want’. That’s really not that sensible, or humane, and we all know it. In that, we have much in common with the pro-life crowd, the key difference being that they are absolutely categorical about ending abortion, while we are trying to figure out where the lines should be by looking at individual cases and trying to draw broader conclusions. Someone suggested that this issue should perhaps be eclipsed by the broader movement of 4th wave feminism, and I agree. In voting for Palin, I did put that issue aside. I wanted a woman to attain high office, and once she did, I was willing to fight her position on abortion, should she have chosen to try to enact something. But getting her in as VP was the primary goal.

    I suggest eclipsing abortion under 4th wave by reaching out to conservative women in the name of advancing ALL women. I don’t suggest the eclipse of abortion as a matter of shelving it, so to speak, but rather as a way of embracing a pro-life woman into the fold of feminism, looking her in the eye (which HRC said something similar, btw, in backing down somewhat from total and complete support for abortion on demand) and saying, ‘you know, I think we don’t have this all sorted out, either of us, but we both agree that abortion is intensely personal, is something women alone have the responsibility to deal with, and we don’t know the final answer to it in either camp. But this misogyny thing, and the lack of women in higher office, and the rampant discrimination that still exists…well that’s something we’ve simply got to work on NOW. Wouldn’t you agree? If so, well come on in, sister, take your shoes off, and make yourself at home. We are all of us after empowerment for women here.’

  97. Anna Belle says:

    Elise,

    This is fascinating to me:

    Partly because they’re not Democrats but mostly because they’re not interested in, say, further Federal government intervention in how companies pay their employees or in how much maternity leave companies provide.

    Keep in mind that I have traditionally been a liberal feminist, but that my mind has also been pretty open. I recognize that methodology is a huge issue between the two dominant political camps, and I’m always looking for practical solutions that will allow a diverse range of people to participate in political activism. So I see just where you’re coming from.

    My question is, how would a conservative feminist go about making something like parity in pay happen? What strategies and methods do they offer? I can see how government regulations might bother conservative women, given the poisoned rhetoric coming from both sides. I can’t convince them that the rhetoric they’re exposed to is illogical and diversionary any more than I can convince liberal women that the rhetoric they hear is. So how do I get them both on board?

    Republicans would like us to believe that Democrats are out to spend all the money and regulate everything business, and Democrats would like us to believe that Republicans are out to starve the poor and regulate everything personal. They’re both lying, of course, because what they’re really doing while they’re keeping us confused is simply stealing our money and giving it away for pennies on the dollar; it’s the most impractical business model that ever was. More importantly, however, it’s keeping us down. How do we fight that?

    Now for Violet’s question: I’m getting long winded here, but I’m probably pre-writing my next installment of Practical Feminism here, so bear with me. Part of the problem is our bullshit American legend of individuality. So many people are so busy adhering to some peacock-model of self, some useless, preening personal preservation of their collage of ill-gotten values, they never have time to consider practical solutions. They never even get to the part where they wonder how to solve a problem, so busy are they bleating their own brand. Look at me! I’m the coolest amalgamation of triviality ever! And that gets reinforced as people get stroked for it. We never dare to look at our commonalities, because that is anathema to our common cultural value of individuality. It’s maddeningly circular.

    That’s not going to change. Human nature is herd nature, and it is what it is. The only hope we’ve got is the chorus of voices dominating the communication. How to provoke and unite that chorus using language individual groups can understand is our task. As a poet and teacher this is so fundamental to me. You can talk all you want, but if you want people to pay attention, you’ve got keep it real while employing the novel. I really don’t think it’s all that complicated, but it is going to take organization, some stealth, and plenty of vision. And a focus on solutions instead of loyalty.

    My 2 cents, as always.

  98. Anna Belle says:

    Right on, Syd! Your last comment was spot on. :)

  99. Elise says:

    I put my oar in regarding abortions in order to point out that late-term abortion would be a big problem in putting together a large tent partly because not all late-term abortions involved a risk to the mother’s life as had been claimed by an earlier poster. In that comment I spent:

    51 words quoting the previous poster
    79 words on abortion
    113 words on the possibility of making common cause with conservative women who will not call themselves feminists and a couple of issues other than abortion that would cause conflict
    162 words on my view of what a fourth wave could look like

    Somehow all anyone (except Anna Belle) wants to talk about out of that is how wrong I am about abortion. Repeatedly wrong. And now not just wrong but a baby-torturer:

    Is it acceptable to torture babies so that they MAY have a 50 percent chance of wretched survival so that you (and other like-minded late abortion refusers) can have your ethical cake?

    This is quite possibly one of the ugliest things anyone has ever said to me. Funny. I don’t believe those who support late-term abortion think it’s acceptable to murder babies so they can have their ethical cake. I believe they have reasons for their position which seem good and just and moral and ethical to them. I disagree with their position and their reasons but I don’t assume they are willing to kill helpless infants simply to be able to claim they hold some mythical moral high ground. I assume they are decent, sincere people.

    And then there’s this comment which is also quite charming:

    By definition, the pro-lifers are actually pro-slavery.

    This commenter might benefit from reading a little Megan McArdle on this issue.

    At any rate, these comments provide quite a clear answer to the question first asked by Amy K. in comment 17: No, pro-life women cannot be feminists. Well, not around here anyhow. I hope none of you will sue me for copyright infringement if I continue to refer to myself as a feminist in other venues.

    And I’m sorry, but those comments will forever be burned into my mind as coming from you Elise.

    There is no need to be sorry, sis. Those comments did come from me and I stand by them. I did not mention Andrew Sullivan to attempt to lay the “blame” on him but rather as a warning in case anyone wanted to not click the link or even refuse to give any credence to the information given its source. Personally, I would cite the Devil himself – and may have in this case – if he had information I believed was correct and important.

  100. julia says:

    We need unity and we need it now! I don’t care what we call it, although I like many of the suggestions here. I was away fromt the US for years and didn’t even know there had been a Third Wave. I just read a very fiery article by Rebecca Walker, about standing up to some African American men on the subway and I was amazed that this was her! She wrote it during the Anita Hill trials, and confronted her boyfriend with on his sexism around the trials, too.

    What happened?! I could barely believe this was the same woman who wrote Baby Love.

    We need something so badly, I will join a movement that is good enough, at this point. It’s very lonely being a radical over 40 feminist right now, and working together will do more than just thinking about it.

    You all are my ‘group’ for the moment: wouldn’t it be something if we all lived in the same place?

  101. gxm17 says:

    Sis said: It is a mistake to think a baby born with massive intervention who looks normal does not have any birth or genetic defect.

    I’m not sure what you consider “massive intervention” but without medical intervention I would have miscarried both my pregnancies and NOT because of birth or genetic defects. Unless, of course, you consider my body’s inability to carry a pregnancy past the 5th month a “defect.” But that was me, not my healthy children who are now healthy adults with children of their own.

    And, btw, the words I used were “not flippant” and my point was directed at the pro-life commenters who appear to believe that women who have late-term abortions are making an easy or casual decision.

  102. Toonces says:

    Like Anna Belle, I am also curious what conservative feminism offers as solutions for the problems they feel women are facing. I have the impression that most feminist activism comes from the left. Maybe conservative feminists refuse to act on issues other than abortion as pro-life protest? (I am not trying to sound snarky or trying to stir a bees nest here, I am sincerely trying to ask and understand)

    I don’t know enough about the waves to have an opinion, honestly. I think feminists have a lot on their plate. Women around the world are …in trouble. I don’t need to feel like I fit perfectly in this wave or that or to agree on everything with other feminists as long as we’re working to change the fact that 70% of the world’s poor are women (or is that just in America?), that women are brutalized every day just because they’re women, that women are still perceived as being not fully human, that most of the child and caretaking and house work falls on women’s shoulders despite their also having jobs outside the home, that women are scared to walk alone at night and society says that’s just fine, and on and on and on and on. That’s really where my passion lies, not in getting everyone to agree, I guess (though I agree with your point Violet, that if we’re not organized, nothing can get done).

  103. Carmonn says:

    Elise, I’m sorry, but late term abortion is one of the biggest areas in which misinformation is promulgated by the anti-abortion people. It’s the third rail of abortion politics, as you yourself pointed out.

    If you’ve ever spent time on the internet, you really can’t think that quoting something (forget Andrew Sullivan) about how if some of Dr. Tiller’s patients could afford to pay for what, 3 or 4 pediatric cardiac surgeries, plus time off from work for the recovery period, some of those babies might have had as much as a 50-50 shot is going to settle any comment about women, health, and risks.

    You pick out any randomly selected group of individuals and throw that in there, that’s going to cause discussion, whether or not it’s tangential to your main point. In fact, anything about this will cause discussion, because again, it’s one of the main areas where misinformation has completely dominated the national discourse and affected policy making.

    And if that’s being spun as intolerance, then I don’t know what to say. I guess I do see ‘my way or the highway’ but not in the way it’s being spun.

  104. soopermouse says:

    Violet-not to hijack, but any thoughts on France’s intention of banning the burqa?

  105. Violet says:

    Somehow all anyone (except Anna Belle) wants to talk about out of that is how wrong I am about abortion…No, pro-life women cannot be feminists. Well, not around here anyhow.

    Elise, please read my comment #83. I know it’s crazy and big-headed of me, but I kind of like to imagine I’m the last word on who is welcome on my blog.

  106. Dark Angel Cryo says:

    Here are my thoughts on the subject(for the record I am male):

    1. Inclusiveness:
    Like you said, the one thing you need to avoid is getting yourself attached to one political party and political issues. I mean, how is it helping women when we have supposed womens rights advocates saying that republican women aren’t real women or that it’s okay to smear them because they are pro-life.
    One advantage this would have is that it makes it so that it could actually be worth republican politicians to support the feminist agenda. I think a lot of politicians in both parties are opportunists first and foremost and will tend to support the policies they think are most likely to get elected.
    I think another problem that needs to be addressed has been a tendency among certain groups to hate women who act in ways usually considered feminine. I know I once stumbled on an internet discussion where somebody was alleging that Disney’s Mulan was antifeminist just because she got married to a guy in the end. A lesbian friend of has written about the trouble she’s gotten just because she doesn’t conform to butch lesbian stereotypes. I know Julia Serano has written about how this sort of exclusion hurts feminism.
    Another thing you need to be sure to avoid in the fourth wave is misandry. Although men can indeed be horrible to women there has been a perception amoungst certain radical feminists that every problem ever is the fault of the males. This has been seized upon by opponents of womens rights to portray all feminists as misandristic.
    I think that the membership in the fourth wave feminism could probably be summed up by a modified version of one of Obama’s slogans: “Yes You Can!”
    I.e:
    “Can I be a feminist if I’m a republican?”
    “Can I be a feminist if I’m a conservative?”
    “Can I be a feminist if I’m pro-life?”
    “Can I be a feminist if I like men?”
    “Can I be a feminist if I’m a stay at home mom?”
    “Can I be a feminist if I’m a man?”
    The answer to all these questions should be “Yes You Can!”

    2.Objectives
    a.One of the first objectives should be to destroy the myth of the man hating butch lesbian Feminazi by opening feminism to all women and men who want and our willing to work for equal rights for women. That should be the only requiremnt for being a feminist.
    b. Changing Culture
    We need to change culture. One of the first and foremost things to do will be getting rid of the “she was asking for it” rape defense. it shouldn’t just be that it’s illegal to use it in court, i wnat to see it considered so repugnant by jurors that if a defense attourney tries to use it he is guaranteed to lose. Also we need to change it so that the traditional femine traits such as being in touch with your emotions and being nuturing are considered strengths as much as the traditionally male traits of strength and toughness.
    c.Fighting prostitution and live action pornography. More specifically, we need to end the human rights abuses involved in each. We also need to get it so that the men who watch it understand the humanity of the women and men involved. Like you said Dr. Socks, everything that is happening in live action pornography is real (everything except a good portion of the female orgasms that is). We also need to make it clear that being opposed to pornography does not mean one thinks sex is dirty.
    d. Show how discrimination and stereotyping hurts men and women. A lot of people are pragmatists and will only join movements if they think that they will benefit from. Therefore we must bring back the old saying “misogyny hurts men too” because it does. Off the top of my head there was a study done that showed that being a stay at home dad can make your marriage fail. And they believe that part of the reason is because of stereotypes of men as the providers and protectors of the family.
    e. we need to make it so that people understand that even though they don’t support a particular female politician they should still condemn sexist attacks against them.

    That’s all I can really think of for the moment.
    -Dark Angel Cryo
    first time commenter on this site

  107. Nora says:

    The comments to this post have made me quite sad. On a blog about defining the 4th wave, which we hope is about inclusivess and unity, we still cannot get past f*cking abortion. IMO, the women who come here have heard all the arguments (I know I have) and considered the issue. I doubt anyone is going to be persuaded to a different point of view. It seems to me if we believe that a thread is necessary to present both sides for the uneducated (who I doubt are visiting here) and who have been living in a bubble their whole life (who hasn’t debated the issue with themselves since stating to menstrate) we should ask Dr Socks for a new thread. This important side topic belongs in another thread (IMO).

    If the folks at this blog, the best blog on the web, IMO, can’t focus on how we can unify all women on at least 1 f*cking issue, then we’re all screwed, and Dr Socks is wasting her money and intellect on us. Sorry, but I’m sick of arguing, ad nauseum, about abortion. We all admit that the issue is designed to control and divide us so here we are letting it control and divide us.

  108. Violet says:

    Although men can indeed be horrible to women there has been a perception amoungst certain radical feminists that every problem ever is the fault of the males. This has been seized upon by opponents of womens rights to portray all feminists as misandristic.

    and

    One of the first objectives should be to destroy the myth of the man hating butch lesbian Feminazi by opening feminism to all women and men who want and our willing to work for equal rights for women. That should be the only requiremnt for being a feminist.

    No. Massive misunderstanding here.

    These myths of man-hating aren’t based on actual behavior by feminists. They are propagandist lies created by anti-feminists to undermine feminism.

    Feminism has always been open to men. Remember Alan Alda? Feminism has never been about hating men. Ever.

    So there’s really nothing feminism can change about itself to stop these lies, since they are, in fact lies.

    What you’re prescribing is the path of the Third Wave: to accept the lies as true (“oh yes, I guess some other feminists/older feminists really were man-haters, but not us!”) and then go about trying to defeat them by pandering to the male culture (“we love men! We adore men! We love men so much we spend all our time posing for Playboy and designing Father’s Day cards!”)

    So, no. We won’t be doing that. At least I won’t.

  109. Puma for Life says:

    I don’t see why abortion is an issue at all; who cares as long as the person is a woman. Susan B. Anthony was pro-life, so does that mean she is not a feminist. Get over this hangup women. We are all in this together.

  110. Toonces says:

    Ditto, Violet.

    If you care about women’s rights, you care about women’s rights, whether some/all women act/dress/talk/think in a way that you’re personally comfortable with or not. If you care about something like fair pay, why on Earth would a woman who has a haircut you don’t like also supporting it stop you from supporting something you care about? Feminism isn’t like the kind of jeans you wear or the car you drive — it isn’t about joining a club of people exactly like you so you can show everyone what “group” you fit in with… *sigh*

    It shouldn’t have to be seductively marketed for people to care about what’s happening to women.

  111. gxm17 says:

    I completely agree with all the commenters who believe that we need to stand together despite our differences on abortion.

    As far as I’m concerned every woman has a right to express her desire for gender equality on her own terms. For some this includes a pro-choice stance. For others it doesn’t. But we must not let this divide us.

  112. AM says:

    Anna Belle says:

    ‘That’s not going to change. Human nature is herd nature, and it is what it is. The only hope we’ve got is the chorus of voices dominating the communication. How to provoke and unite that chorus using language individual groups can
    understand is our task. As a poet and teacher this is so fundamental to me. You can talk all you want, but if you want people to pay attention, you’ve got keep it real while employing the novel. I really don’t think it’s all that complicated, but it is going to take organization, some stealth, and plenty of vision. And a focus on solutions instead of loyalty.”

    Yes. Breakthrough language that resonates with the zeitgeist can coalesce that energy into a huge wave. At the moment the zeitgeist does not appear to be with us.

    I didn’t originally use the word feminist to define my position; “fighting for justice and liberty for women” came to mind for me. Followed quickly by “women need to be making the decisions around here, and fast, to stop the men killing us in their wars and destroying the environment”. That’s how the women I met saw it too. And in the bookstore we opened, we made it clear we were a *women’s* bookstore and community center.

    The trouble with using one word is that that word becomes a vault or suitcase into which things are placed, hardly ever again to be seen, while the meaning of the word, and who and what it includes, is fought over. Endlessly.

    Maybe we should have a thirty-word (arbitrarily chosen number) definition of what we’re about and mercilessly insist it be spoken and written in its entirety at all times. I guess I’m joking. But probably my mind will be working on coming up with the best thirty words anyway.

  113. SYD says:

    Here, here Nora!

    i am personally so sick and tired of hearing all of these same arguments… on both sides of the abortion issue… I could throw up.

    Nobody here needs a primer on the pro-choice/ pro-life dichotomy. What we need is a primer (at least some of us do) on Feminism.

    Dr. Socks has made an excellent start… in discussing how Feminists have been manipulated into being porn queens to prove we don’t hate men.

  114. Dark Angel Cryo says:

    So other than that do you agree with what I said? Or are those just what your biggest objections are?

    As for not being based on actual feminist behavior, there are a few things that may qualify, most notably the SCUM manifesto and some of Andrea Dworkin’s most radical writings (to be fair, they are often called satire, having never red them i do not take a position one way or the other). Like I said, it’s a myth and one that needs to be addressed. Really, just getting some conservative women, i.e. Sarah Palin involved should be really helpful.

    I had actually never heard of Alan Alda. Although looking at his Wikipedia page he seems like a pretty good guy.

    I think in the end that is your best defense against charges of misandry, pointing to examples of men such as Alan Ada that are held in wide regard by feminists and considered feminists themselves.

    But if we fail to make it clear that we reject misandry then we risk alienating women who have been told that that is what feminism means.

    -Dark Angel Cryo

  115. Violet says:

    I think you’re ill-informed and missing the point. Several points, actually.

  116. Toonces says:

    Ohhh, I get it now, it’s not “I can’t care about the epidemic of wartime rape until Rosie O’Donnell puts on a dress,” it’s, “I can’t care about the epidemic of wartime rape until feminists take up for men.”

  117. Sameol says:

    Is using misandry as if its a real word a Double word score on feminist bingo?

  118. Dark Angel Cryo says:

    Dr. Socks,
    Would you mind telling me what points I’m missing?

    All I’m saying here is that feminists have gotten a reputation for hating men over the years and the new wave of feminism needs to combat that stereotype somehow.

  119. quixote says:

    (Violet, I didn’t mean to be insulting about triple wavy defining. I know what you mean about needing a clearly communicable vision, and it is important. I am just so screamingly frustrated that we’re still in this stupid place. I want to hit people with blunt objects when they refuse to see that standing up for women, including themselves, is a really goddamn simple concept. They’ve gotten on my last nerve. I know that’s not the way to win friends or influence your uncles.)

  120. Violet says:

    Dr. Socks,
    Would you mind telling me what points I’m missing?

    All I’m saying here is that feminists have gotten a reputation for hating men over the years and the new wave of feminism needs to combat that stereotype somehow.

    Feminists have always been accused of hating men. Always. Since before Mary Wollstonecraft. I know, you’ve never heard of Mary Wollstonecraft, but maybe she has a Wikipedia page.

    I absolutely appreciate that you mean well. Really, I get that. In fact, I do agree with several of your suggestions. I invite you to read the archives, and also perhaps spend some time reading the Feminism 101 blog: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/

    But in this thread, you’re out of place. It’s like this: imagine that you’re a young white guy from, say, North Dakota, and your sole knowledge of racism and the civil rights movement is what you’ve heard from Rush Limbaugh. But you want to help! And somehow you stumble into a high-level strategy meeting at the NAACP where civil rights veterans are discussing how to present a new push for anti-poverty legislation. So you, trying genuinely to be helpful, suggest that they get rid of welfare queens and stop hating white people so much.

    It’s kind of like that.

  121. Sis says:

    Texas.

    Did I already say this? Cryo person, go visit Stan Goff. You’ll love it there.

  122. Violet says:

    What’s Texas?

  123. Dark Angel Cryo says:

    Point taken,
    I can see how it could come across as offensive, and I apologize for any offense I may have caused. I’ll have to check out that site you mentioned in detail later.

    Just out of curiosity, what suggestions of mine did you agree with?

    -Dark Angel Cryo

  124. octogalore says:

    “Like Anna Belle, I am also curious what conservative feminism offers as solutions for the problems they feel women are facing.”

    Well, let’s see. Without the support of Republicans Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) the Ledbetter act wouldn’t have passed.

    Additionally, having worked for both liberal and conservative women, I haven’t seen a difference in terms of who was better in terms of helping mentor more junior women. OK, I lie, my own anecdotal experience is that liberal female bosses were more focused on other causes, my two best female mentors were conservative at least from an economic standpoint.

    I once got into a discussion of Yale Sex week with a group of feminists. Pretty much all except me and one other felt that it was fine for Yale to have a Vivid Girl Lookalike contest for female Yale undergrads as part of the (university-sponsored) event. In this discussion and talking about it with friends afterwards, I found myself agreeing more with the conservative feminists. I thought their position generally fit better with the idea that there’s a difference between free choice for adults (which I’m all for, as a former stripper) and universities sponsoring patriarchy-coerced non-choices.

  125. Violet says:

    Just out of curiosity, what suggestions of mine did you agree with?

    I agree with you on being inclusive and non-partisan. I agree, of course, that sexism and misogyny against any woman is wrong, regardless of her political affiliation. I agree on the rape issue and on the prostitution/pornography issue.

    As for the “misogyny hurts men too,” yes, it does, but I’m inclined to let others make that argument. Particularly men; they can focus on making that argument, if they like. It gets up my nose, frankly, because it’s like saying “slavery hurts white people too!” Slavery and segregation were heinous because black people are human beings, not because these institutions had a deleterious effect on white people.

  126. Toonces says:

    Yes, I am aware of that vote; it was inspiring to see women working together. It was called crossing the aisle at the time I think, meaning that the women had to go against their own “side” to do it.

    What I really meant to ask was what do conservative feminists believe? Is being pro-life the only difference? I have the impression there is a chasm even on feminist issues, so I thought I would go straight to the source and ask if that’s actually true.

  127. HeroesGetMade says:

    I like Fourth Wave = Second Wave Squared but I like
    Fourth Wave = Second Wave Raised to a Higher Power even more, as I think the power of the Fourth Wave has the potential to become exponential. The Fourth Wave has the ability to be a complete game-changer if we can get women to transcend tribal boundaries to unite in common cause. We can finally use our majority status to effect real change if we can get past the diversionary crap Dude Nation constantly throws in our paths.

    Abortion, for one. What’s more basic than abortion rights? How about the audacity of bodily autonomy for women, not just men? Do women really go around demanding abortions? The people I know who had them were scared and desperate and not demanding much of anything from anybody. They did however, get lots of demands from guys who apparently just couldn’t control themselves sexually, or so they claimed. Abortion on demand is just another pure projection of Dude Nation onto women from whom they are constantly demanding sexual availability.

    I think the common ground that all real feminists walk is the rejection of rape. If you believe in using rape to keep women in line you aren’t a feminist. And being radical, I think of pornstitution as nothing more than paid rape, so I guess that puts me on the outs with the sexy fun feminists. Oh, well.

    One thing I noticed during the unfortunate election is the fear coming off Dude Nation when they realized what might happen if women went off their respective dem/repub, pro-choice/pro-life, liberal/conservative, career/stay-at-home reservations. Women could be in charge of everything, including them. There really is no greater fear than that for them, judging by the hysteria that ensues whenever a woman, any woman, gets anywhere close to the presidency. I think we need to ratchet up Dude Nation’s fear factor by sticking together and having each other’s backs whenever any of us is attacked based on our gender. I think this might be the essence of Fourth Wave feminism – all women in, no one left out or behind to pay the price for someone else’s freedom.

  128. yttik says:

    “What I really meant to ask was what do conservative feminists believe?”

    I’m really not much of a conservative, but I’ll fake it for a moment. Republicans anyway, believed in electing the first female congresswoman. They were the first to put a woman into the nomination for the presidency at the RNC.

    The conservative women that I know seem to believe our culture should promote respect for women. They have an opposition to the porn industry, for example.

  129. octogalore says:

    Toonces, I think it’s a false dichotomy, re liberal vs conservative feminists.

    First, I don’t know if I personally would qualify as the latter, being fiscally conservative but socially liberal, pro choice, etc., so I probably am not the “source” in terms of answering the question.

    Toonces says:

    Yes, I am aware of that vote; it was inspiring to see women working together. It was called crossing the aisle at the time I think, meaning that the women had to go against their own “side” to do it.

    But your suggestions aren’t accurate, eg re “Is being pro-life the only difference.” I think a number of Republican women, eg Christie Todd Whitman, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, are pro choice. There actually isn’t much difference politically between them and say Blanche Lincoln, or the Blue Dogs generally.

    On the economics, I don’t think the liberal side is necessarily the pro woman side. Feminists can legitimately believe that an appropriately regulated capitalist-based system is the best of a bunch of imperfect choices, and allows for the most movement upwards for the poor. There are arguments on both sides, but the jury is out as to whether there is one “feminist” position.

    I think generally that people take on the titles “liberal” and “conservative” for reasons that sometimes have, but often don’t have much to do with their true beliefs about women’s rights. We can see that with a number of young self-described feminists and their treatment of HRC or Palin.

    So IMO the best way to assess “feminism” isn’t a political label, but understanding whether someone believes in and is willing to work towards women’s equal rights. In that context, some (I’m with Violet in this regard) will believe that choice is an important part of the equation of women’s rights, but that requiring everyone to agree on everything will drastically cut down our set of allies at a time when it’s already under threat from so many on the outside.

  130. thistle says:

    summed up by a modified version of one of Obama’s slogans: “Yes You Can!”

    ugh…..no thanks.

    Instead, I will take the Hillary Clinton version of ‘Yes, we will”!

  131. Anna Belle says:

    Yes. Breakthrough language that resonates with the zeitgeist can coalesce that energy into a huge wave. At the moment the zeitgeist does not appear to be with us.

    Creating that zeitgeist is the point of using such breakthrough language, ftr. It has nothing to do with resonance. The “zeitgeist” (the time and spirit of a society as measured by its beliefs, for those not in the know) is not some entity that floats to the top of an age. It is created by cultural forces in that age.

    One of the most frustrating things for me as a feminist is the sense of helplessness emanating from certain feminist quarters. The whole, Well, what can I do? mentality really bothers me. Given the amount of time Americans spend on meaningless activities, finding the time to have an impact shouldn’t be a problem. Hint: It starts with turning off the TV.

    Being smart about that impact isn’t very difficult either. I spend almost every minute of my time trying to articulate a point of view that influences people, and I have great success. Every term where I teach I get working class women to think about their lot in life. I have turned so many of these young women into out-of-the-closet feminists, I stopped counting months ago. I get the young men in my class to think about the their obligations to the lives they’ve helped create, and how to go about respecting women.

    On my blog I talk about intellectual consistency and critical thinking. I do this because as a change agent, I have two options: I can adopt methodology I find odious in order to dupe people into my way of thinking–which is how change happens in our culture more often than not–or I can try to impact that methodology so people can hear what I have to say.

    Of course, ultimately, I’m willing to use both methodologies, because this is the most effective strategy for making manifest change happen.

    If everyone who posted in this thread took this approach, the fourth wave would not be some distant swell developing in the deep channels of the sea; it would be upon us already.

  132. Toonces says:

    Okay, I just have to say that being a liberal (at least in American politics) doesn’t necessarily mean not believing in capitalism. Yes there are a few socialists, but personally I just don’t believe in laissez faire capitalism and think proper regulation is vital to a healthy market. And that’s why I think we, “liberals” and “conservatives” actually need to talk to each other rather than believing whatever we’re told about the other side. We could also use a refresher on what the political spectrum is — so many people confuse communism with authoritarianism (and personally I don’t believe in either, but we need a better understanding of the differences, IMO).

    Maybe we need something like node feminism, where you can pick and choose what issues you care about, rather than all or nothing. As has been said many times, it doesn’t serve us (in feminism and also politics in general) to stay in our respective camps and root for our team and hate each other. If it turns out that I agree with conservative women on 90% of feminist issues, then why do we act like we come from different planets? I just want to have these conversations and at least be clear about each other’s real beliefs before disagreeing.

  133. FLAConnie says:

    Personally, I’m not very fond of labels. It seems to me that labels make it easier for the opposition to fit the designated group into a box. On the other hand, I have never shied away from stating that I’m a feminist. I’m proud to say that I am, even though that word has been turned into a “four-letter word.” So, in my feeble attempt to come up with a catchy, marketable phrase, how about Resurgent Feminism? Why follow the wave progression, since 2nd wavers reject 3rd wavers and vice-versa?

    Then there is the abortion issue. I’ve always wondered why there is rarely a mention of the tens of thousands of years preceding Roe v Wade. Women have been aborting fetuses since the beginning of time. Whether or not abortion remains legal, or has ever increasing restrictions placed upon it, abortions will still occur. Roe v Wade was important, at least in my way of thinking, because women would no longer have to visit a back alley “doctor” to end her pregnancy. Women would not risk their lives by shoving a wire hanger into their uterus to cause a miscarriage. Fewer women would die from this procedure. Fewer women would be permanently incapable of giving birth when they were ready to raise a child. In many ways, to me at least, abortion isn’t about right or wrong, it’s about the reality of dealing with a pregnancy and raising a child. As long as these two activities, for lack of a better word, are “woman’s realm”, she is the one who must deal with them and must decide whether or not she can handle them.

    No disrespect intended, Violet, because I think you are brilliant, insightful and an amazing communicator, but I personally feel that Patriarchy oppresses both women and men. I think men’s consciousness needs to be raised too, instead of society’s focusing on raising only their penises. Patriarchy defines what it means to be a man, while nature determines when a girl becomes a woman. To me, that is the eternal conflict – Man versus Nature. So, in subjugating women, men must also subjugate Nature and either control or destroy the very essence of Life and life-giving properties. It’s certainly easier to control or destroy some-THING that has little or no value. Pornography dismembers women, making them breasts, or vaginas, not whole human beings. A petroleum based economy places higher value on the oil than the teeming life surrounding the oil above ground. We need gas for our cars more than we need caribou herds. We need more and more factory farmed cows, pigs and chickens than clean water, so the farms dump the excrement into nearby waterways. I’ll refrain from going off into an ecofeminist tirade, and stop here.

    And to Dark Angel Cryo: please read Andrea Dworkin, don’t rely on commentary alone. I have read nearly everything she has written and I did not take away the feeling that she “hated” men. When other respected voices in the feminist movement were justifying pornography, she was the loudest voice speaking out against it.

    Anyway, thanks Violet for offering such a thought-provoking, welcoming and intelligent forum!

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  136. No Blood for Hubris says:

    Fourth-wave feminism seems to be for people who weren’t paying attention the first 3 times.

    I joined The New Agenda, and then I read a column today at HuffPo, couldn’t believe what it said. Must de-join, I guess.

    http://tinyurl.com/kvewyo

    Not to mention the piece appearing in a blog that regularly ridicules the Secretary of State for her clothing (today it ridicules the SOS and the Speaker of the House for their clothing).

  137. Violet says:

    Hey, well, I’m not a member of The New Agenda anymore either.

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  139. julia says:

    On the Man Hating myth: it’s only a tactic to be used against us, and yes, all men can do violence to women, so we didn’t make this up. I’m a Radical Feminst and some of my best friends are men. Do we say to African American activists ‘you all hate white people’? I think some folks would understand their anger, but they don’t understand ours.

    I’m all for inclusiveness in this new tidal wave of feminism, because we have got to have a mass of women.

    I’m all for hitting the country where it hurts: in the bank account. We are the consumers and the workers, and organizing a strike and a boycott seems to me a whole lot better than a protest.

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