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Feminist Waves in the US

Feminist Generation Gap in the US

Second Wave Critics

One way to look at the US generation gap is to compare older and younger feminist activists. How are young feminists in the Third and Fourth Waves different from the Second Wave feminists of the 1960s and 70s shown in the documentary Makers: Women Who Make America? (2013).[i] Both generations agree that sexism remains. The Second Wave thought of women as a class and aimed for mass action on equal rights legislation like the Equal Pay Act and Title IX, and reproductive choice. In a 2012 Ms. Magazine poll with the Feminist Majority Foundation, 58% of younger women considered themselves feminists compared to 54% of older feminists, along with 30% of men polled. The percentages are higher than when first asked in 2008, leading the writers to believe that younger women are increasingly likely to identify as feminists.[ii]

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, 42, believes, “To solve this generation’s central moral problem, which is gender equality, we need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic. . . . A world where men ran half our homes and women ran half our institutions would be just a much better world.”[iii] However, her advice for women in her book Lean In generated criticism for unrealistically encouraging women not to ease up on their careers if they have children and to share family work with their partner as unrealistic without institutional change. Easy for a rich woman to say who can pay for household help, although she called her book a “sort of feminist manifesto.” Family programs such as parental leave and good affordable childcare are necessary. The US is the only developed country without the right to paid maternity leave, and is not one of the 51 countries that provide paternal leave. Childcare is too often expensive and poor quality.

Sandberg puts the onus for progress on women. She urged women to form “Lean In” support groups to empower each other with stories of “happy endings.” She urges women to promote themselves, “throw their chest out,” while also noting the bias against assertive women who are viewed as less likeable than a successful man, too aggressive or bossy.  She met with a Lean In women’s group in Beijing where the pay gap between men and women is increasing and the number of women on corporate boards is decreasing. Employers are permitted to advertise for specific gender, height, and attractiveness. Sandberg concluded that in every country “gender biases run deep.”

The pay gap persists in the US where women still earn 77 cents to a man’s dollar and women and their children comprise most of the Americans who live in poverty. A year after graduating, women are paid 7% less than men with similar training, according to a 2012 study by the American Association of University Women. One reason is they’re much less likely to negotiate their first salary and have less ambitious goals. Girls lack role models as only 4.2% of the Fortune 500 CEOs and men dominate the STEM professions of science, technology, engineering and math. To help transform this imbalance, three women techies started Makah company to make tech-oriented toys for girls, starting with a build-your-own dollhouse. GoldieBlox is another toy company designed to spark girls’ interest in engineering. And Legos added a popular new line of building sets called Lego Friends in 2011, although the scenarios are traditional suburban home, beauty parlor, and “New Born Foal” horse stable.

Ten years after college graduation, the pay gap between men and women graduates widens to 31 cents, but Congress hasn’t passed the Paycheck Fairness Act first proposed in 2009. Men dominate leadership positions (only 18% of Congress members are female), sexual and domestic violence is common, and reproductive freedom is being eroded. Women count for less than a third of the student presidents in the most prestigious US universities.[iv] American girls face gender-related problems: distorted body image, the highest teen pregnancy in the developed world, over half of rapes (54%) occur before the victim is age 18, the average age of entry into prostitution is around 13, and girls are more likely than boys to be malnourished.

The media still has many more male characters who have more speaking time, and female actors are five times as likely to be shown in sexy clothes. [v] Women were only 28% of featured roles in Hollywood’s most popular films in 2012, an increase of only 7% since 2007.[vi] Over a third of these women were dressed to be sexy or shown partially nude, including well over half of the teenage actors. An activist group called Spark Movement opposes the sexualization of young girls by media, illustrated in photos on their webpage.[vii]

Antonio De Walk is a 24-year-old writer who faults media for its outdated archetypes, saying he doesn’t recognize the women of his generation in films such as The Hunger Games and Twilight where the heroines have power only because several men are in love with them. The films don’t reflect the fact that “the women of my generation are forces to be reckoned with.” He sees his female peers as more likely to succeed in university and their careers; “I don’t know a single woman my age sitting on her parents’ couch—something I cannot say for my male friends.”[viii] More young men are living with their parents, 19% of men between 25 and 34 compared to 10% of women, according to 2011 census data.

Despite this ongoing sexism, Zoe, a teen activist in California, reports,

A lot of my friends are disgusted with feminism; they think it means burning your bras as in the 60s. My co-host on the radio show during women’s history month said, “I’m not a feminist because I believe men and women are equal,” although that’s what feminists are. It’s come to mean women power and militant movement and you’re not satisfied; they think equality has already been obtained. There’s a lot of ignorance that people need to let go of and not listen to their parents or mainstream media.

Friction and misunderstanding sometimes foment a generation gap. There’s a “generation war” said blogger Megan Austin; “There are few generalizations you can make about young feminists, except that our feminism is likely to be idiosyncratic, even contradictory, and we prefer it that way. It isn’t just irony and lipstick that separate us from Second Wavers: It’s an entire continent.”[ix]  Anastasia Higginbotham (who worked for Girls, Inc.) told me, “We take ourselves seriously but have taken it further by trying to adapt the message with more humor and playfulness; this can be subversive.“ This theme of seriousness vs. fun as a common thread through the generational debate.

Feminist author Susan Faludi, age 51, worries about a “generational breakdown” and “battle of the ages.”[x] Older feminists accuse younger women of being narcissists who don’t care about politics, and “frivolous fashionistas” who view liberation and empowerment as the right to wear stiletto heels and call themselves bitches. The Second Wave’s realization that “the personal is political”—a social problem–devolved into “do what ever you want.”

Another older feminist, Paula Rothenberg wrote an article titled “Snatched from the Jaws of Victory: Feminism Then and Now.” She reminded readers that the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s was about the deep forms of male and white privilege, calling for radical change. Feminism challenged the basic beliefs about women’s nature, and the definition of beauty as looking like a Barbie doll in high heels and a girdle. It fought for a woman’s right to choose her own destiny. It fought against the social and institutional inequality of women. Now Rothenberg sees girls wearing T-shirts labeled “Bitch” and “Stupid Girl,” wanting to dress in sexy skimpy clothes like Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears, and Mariah Carey. Some teens get breast enlargement surgery as birthday gifts. Rothenberg warns,

We’ve been duped into trading social critique and collective action for a vision of feminism that offers us personal choice without social responsibility and without social context. Once upon a time the personal really was political. Today, it is simply personal. Racism, sexism, and class privilege are still alive and well. They frame our choices and define the meaning of what we choose.[xi]


            Professor Susan Douglas argues that these antifeminist attitudes are manufactured by a media that defines women by their sexuality:[xii]

Enlightened sexism is a manufacturing process that is constantly produced by the media. Its components—anxiety about female achievement; renewed and amplified objectification of young women’s bodies and faces; dual exploitation and punishment of female sexuality; dividing of women against each other by age, race and class; and rampant branding and consumerism—began to swirl around in the early 1990s, consolidating as the dark star it has become in the early 21st century.

In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Sandy Banks quotes a young woman who observes, “What’s wrong is that the ‘consumer culture’ has become such a defining force in young women’s search for identity. It’s what you’re wearing, what your weight is, rather than what you believe in, how you think.” The popular TV reruns and movie series Sex in the City and its prequel The Carrie Diaries about the high school Carrie illustrates how status and joy comes from the brand of shoe and purse you display.[xiii]

The first and largest Second Wave organization, founded in 1966, NOW (the National Organization for Women) reached out to young women with campaigns for Title IX (prohibited discrimination against girls and women in educational institutions receiving federal assistance in 1972) and the Love Your Body Campaign. NOW formed a Young Feminist Task Force in 2003, stating, “Our purpose is to help bring young women and men into feminist activism and give a greater voice to young feminists, who feel underrepresented at times.” NOW provides resources for college and high school chapters.[xiv]

The generational conflict came to a head in the NOW presidential election in 2009, pitting Terry O’Neill, 56, against a 33-year-old African American woman, Latina Lyles, who emphasized youth, diversity and new technology. The former won by eight votes after what an older columnist for The Nation, Catha Pollitt, described as a “nasty campaign with generational insults both ways.” During the NOW conference she heard older women complain: “I’m so sick of these young women treating us like a bunch of old bags who need to get out of the way. I actually heard one of them say, ‘We don’t need Gloria Steinem feminists anymore!’ They aren’t willing to do the kind of grassroots campaigning we did. All they want to do is sit at their computers and blog.”

Another Second Wave effort to reach out to young women is The Feminist Majority Foundation’s (FMF) Campus Program, begun in 1997, “to inform young feminists about the very real threats to abortion access, women’s rights, affirmative action, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights posed by right-wing extremists. The Campus Program is built upon FMF’s philosophy that the most effective activism is informed activism, or “study to action.”[xv] Another source for young feminists, Campus Progress is a website for “young people working for progressive change.” Other resource organizations are included in the endnote.[xvi]

Third Wave feminists accuse the older generation of being stodgy, stuck in the past, lacking in humor, and hogging the power in organizations like NOW. In response to the suggestion that older women should make way for the younger generation, feminist writer Robin Morgan said, “Get your own damned torch. I’m still using mine.”

Third Wave Response

Third Wave feminists in the mid to late 80s rejected the Second Wave essentialist notion of sisterhood and the Marxian view of women as a single oppressed class in a patriarchy, for “interlocking oppression” or not feeling oppressed. They focused more on “identify feminism” including one’s individual combination of class, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. Some academics’ deconstruction of words in post-structuralism favored subjectivity without fixed meanings over absolute construction of concepts like male and female. Transgendered, Queer and Gender Studies were as Women’s Studies seemed too limiting. Some “lipstick” or “girly” feminists reacted against unfeminine Second Wave clothing. Young women advocated Riot Grrrl power in their music and zines. In response to the Anita Hill versus Clarence Thomas event, Rebecca Walker wrote in a 1992 Ms. Magazine article, “I’m not a post-feminist feminist. I am the Third Wave.” Imani Perry is Professor of African American Studies at Princeton, who shares her thoughts about the feminist waves as someone who grew up during the third wave:

We were talking about feminisms in plural, about multiple women’s experiences, about how gender coexisted with race and class and sexuality, identities and experiences. However, somewhere along the way, certain branches of third (and fourth) wave feminism got caught up in the neoliberal fixation on personal choice and the individual experience, embracing sexiness without challenging the larger power relations that socialize the very ideas about what sexy is. We need to keep alive the second wave focus on broader liberation and justice, alongside the truths from non-mainstream feminist and queer thought and activism.[xvii]

In a 2013 letter to Ms. Magazine, Gail Bjorkman defined Third Wave feminism as emphasizing “multiplicity, pluralism, contradiction, playful resistance, cyber culture and relational power.” In her 2011 book F ’em! Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls, the title illustrative of her generation’s humor, Jennifer Baumgardner defined the Third Wave. She said it’s interested in pop culture, tolerant of a range of sexual expression, and more interested in individual expression than organizing institutions.[xviii] She dates the Third Wave as from about 1988 to 2010. By the late 1980s young people were living feminist lives whether they called themselves feminist or not, because of the Second Wave activists. She added that young feminists were more “sex positive” rather than condemning sex workers and porn. She discussed her own bi-sexuality in the book and what it was like to nurse her best friend’s baby.

Despite all the openness about sexuality and showing a lot of skin, the double standard still exists, as Zoe, 17, explains about her California high school:

A lot of women in high school are afraid to speak out about contraception because people will assume they’re sexually active and therefore a whore, because of the way sex education is handled in our schools. It’s almost strictly abstinence only in the textbook. It doesn’t show you where the clitoris is or about female orgasm or birth control or condoms. People are feeling shamed for being sexually active. That’s my main frustration at the moment because the condom is widely regarded as the greatest invention of all times so women don’t have to be baby machines. I don’t understand why something as basic as birth control is being torn from under our feet. I’m worried that Republicans will pass legislation to make it impossible for underage girls to get birth control or an abortion. I take birth control, it’s necessary, trust me. It directly threatens me; I’d like to punch someone in the nose when limiting contraception comes up.

Holly Morris explained the difference between the second and third wave feminists on her blog.[xix]

We were raised on pop culture…and pot tarts, not pop political movements. We know computers, not the Dewey decimal System, divorce not devotion, Email, gang-rape, rage, websites and the Webster Decision, androgyny and AIDS, Bikini Kill and the battered women’s movement. We know there is not one way to be; we embrace multiplicity and contradiction. We know about harassment and rape. We know how empowering fun can be. We know that feminism lets us know ourselves; and we know it has a history and a legacy…. It can be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, and most importantly, just plain sexual. Somewhere within this splinted kaleidoscope we exist.

Emily Herroy writes in her blog “Gender Across Borders” that there aren’t many young women who fight for abortion rights, or publically say they’re feminists, or consider progressive movements cool.[xx] Many in her generation believe feminism is about bra burning and hating men as Zoe said, but young feminists do exist and “we are loud.” Interviews with young women in Britain and the US back up Herroy’s observation of lack of identification with feminism. The interviewees reveal they expect equal rights, are reluctant to speak about existing discrimination, and view feminism as passé.[xxi] As a British girl told interviewers, feminists “weirdos” burning bras happened years ago and “doesn’t really exist anymore. You don’t really hear the word ‘feminist’ anymore, do you?”

Columnist Catha Pollitt wrote that although she’s tired of repetitive teeny-bopper use of words like “awesome;” their use of obscenities, and referring to themselves as girls or chicks instead of women; their obsession with consumer ads, women’s magazines, pop culture and celebrities; and sometimes taking libertarianism too far, she points favorably to their activism. Pollitt observes that young women do a lot of activist work, volunteering at rape crisis centers, mentoring teens, writing books by the dozen and posting blogs by the hundreds. Anthologies by young feminists include Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism; Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape;  and The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities.[xxii]

Pollitt observes that blogs like Jezebel, Feministing, Pandagon, and Salon‘s Broadsheet bring many young women to feminism and post current feminist news. She believes young women today are much feistier than Gen X women who are in their early 40s, but she thinks their lack of focus on political and governmental solutions such as childcare stems from growing up in an era when government is viewed as bad and public institutions like schools and medical care are problematic.[xxiii] Therefore, young feminists look to individual and personal solutions.[xxiv] Blogger Stephanie Harold points out that young feminists are expanding the movement to the Internet, with young feminists using their “nuanced understanding of social media” to get the word out about established feminist organizations and to counteract the myth that feminism isn’t relevant or is a bad word.[xxv]

Bitch Magazine was founded by Third Wave feminists to comment on popular culture.[xxvi] The three founders, two young women and a man, were recent college graduates in 1996 who were “pop culture obsessives.” They wanted to do fun feminist analysis of sexism in the media. A compilation of their favorite articles is called Bitchiest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine (2006).

The Third Wave Foundation is the only stand-alone young feminist organization I know of, in contrast to the youth task forces of NOW and the Feminist Majority. The Third Wave was organized by Rebecca Walker (daughter of writer Alice Walker) and Shannon Liss in 1992, with one part-time staff person, as explained on thirdwavefoundation.org. Amy Richards also became a Third Wave leader because she was tired of not being called on in Second Wave groups. She said they “weren’t necessarily willing to let young women be leaders in the way that I think was needed.” She told me in a phone interview, “Because we grew up in the wake of the Second Wave, we were afforded more opportunities and felt entitled to want and ask for more.”

Third Wave led some national campaigns, starting with a 1992 voter registration drive called ROAMS (Reaching Out Across Movements), tours to meet with social justice organizations to share strategies, and public education campaigns such as “I Spy Sexism” and “Why Vote?” But its main focus is on funding feminist projects. The Third Wave’s mission is to conduct public education and provide technical assistance and funding to activist and research projects for young women, including leadership training, small business loans, and college scholarships.

Katie Claro, who interned for three months at the Third Wave Foundation reported on the organization’s website, “Third Wave has shown me that personal experiences, humor, and story-telling are just as important as theory; that the voices of traditionally marginalized folks matter and can make change; and that a different, more just world is possible.” She got interested in feminism when she was 16 and read Manifesto: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, by Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner. (Other books about the Third Wave are listed in the endnote.)[xxvii] Claro tells more about her feminist inspirations.

It was the first time I realized feminism could be cool. I began devouring any and all feminist media I could get my hands on: blogs like Feminist [founded in 2004 by four young women] and Jezebel, [and another blog called thefbomb.org] riot grrrl CDs, old Sassy magazines, and classic feminist texts. Soon I was a card-carrying, loud and proud feminist, majoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies at NYU and volunteering with reproductive justice organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL.[xxviii]

In 2013, “The board has decided to close the foundation in its current form and transfer remaining assets to a new entity, but wanted to continue to “invest in current and future feminist leaders.”

A college student in Canada wrote to me about her changing attitudes towards feminism:

Recently I was assigned a paper for a philosophy class. The basis was “Is Feminism Dead?”  I had never considered myself a feminist. Sure enough, my mom was a feminist. I was raised equal. I was fortunate to grow up with a strong upbringing, and feeling unequal was rare for me growing up even in such a diverse city as Chicago’s Southside, especially in the issue of gender. I kept up with the boys in sports and math. I joked about being a woman. I accepted that women specialize in some things and men in others. Still, I love what makes me a woman and feel no need to hide those qualities.

               Sure enough, though, I did not consider myself a feminist. I wasn’t a man-hater. I wanted gender empowerment for all. I didn’t see myself as a powerful businesswoman, a lesbian, or any other generalization that comes with a stereotypical feminist. I felt disconnected from my mother in that way. She earns more than my father. I didn’t think this was unusual. My mother was the prime caregiver, yet she was the prime moneymaker. My mother knew that she was a powerful woman. She worked full time in college and received no help from her parents. She wanted to be a lawyer. She couldn’t; the financial means were not there. My mother is not a man-hater. She never raised me that way either. She is a feminist though. For that I am thankful.

               However, I feel generational differences much like you were describing in your book Woman’s Culture in A New Era: A Feminist Revolution? I have friends who misunderstand the term “feminist.”  If media, politics, and business are to blame for this I will never know.  Realizing that I have been a feminist all along was a real shock to me.  I am grateful for your book and will certainly share your ideas with my feminist-hating friends. I appreciate your time and effort you have spent on such a subject that is not projected as loudly as it should be. Still, I believe that organizations such as NOW are out of touch with the third generation and are buying into endorsements and bureaucratic BS of businessI guess where that is where my fight starts.  I am proud to be a Third Generation Feminist. The Revolution will continue.

Lauran DeCeault, Illinois, university student in Quebec

Fourth Wave

Some refer to a Fourth Wave, as in a blog begun in 2008 by Aviva Dove-Viebahn after “grappling with the continued gender inequity in America and the world.”[xxix]

I came to the horrifying realization that other women of my generation (women in their twenties and thirties) really did think that the women’s movement had already achieved what it sought to achieve…. I think we need a new movement, not just a vague idea of feminist values from an era gone by. I’m not saying that this movement hasn’t already started—there are women and men everywhere who still believe strongly in the tenets of feminism.


Baumgarder dates the Fourth Wave as starting around 2008; it “continues the legacy of the Third Wave and moves it into the tech-savvy, gender-sophisticated world of blogs, Twitter campaigns, transgenderism, male feminists, sex work [organizations like the Third Wave Foundation don’t want to criminalize safe and consensual sex work[xxx]] and complex relationships within the media.” They organized on Twitter and created blogs like Feministe (2002) Racialicious and Feministing (2004), Jesebel (2207). She believes the Fourth Wave’s use of social media transformed politics and feminism. Because of media advances and globalization, the waves of mass change are coming faster.

A blogger replied to the Second Wave charge that young women are missing in action that they’re are looking in the wrong places for the wrong people, as blogger Ashthom spells out.[xxxi] She goes by one name and sees young feminist activity not in large organizations like NOW but on college campuses, doing volunteer work and internships, protecting the environment by working in community gardens, integrating feminism in civil rights and other progressive causes, and of course on the Internet. Ash Thom reports most of her education about social justice issues was achieved online. On the same Amplify website, Ashley agrees, “Sites like Feministing, Amplify, and Sociological Images have become places for me to push my values and beliefs and broaden my perspective. I have also found other strong feminist communities on Facebook, twitter and tumblr. #Fem2 anyone?”

When I asked Women’s Studies students at California State University Chico about the themes in their classes in 2013 they emphasized “intersectionality” as the main concept, being aware of the influence of ethnicity, class, and sexual preference and of white privilege—not a new concept. They mentioned learning about their “internalized oppression” based on gender, etc., as discussed in the Second Wave. They didn’t identify with being part of a particular wave and are glad to include men.

Jessica Valenti, founder of the blog Feministing.com, maintains that the future of feminism is revealed in SlutWalks that started in 2011 (keep updated with their Facebook page). Some of the marchers wear very little to point out the perpetrator is responsible for his actions, not his victim. Some German demonstrators went topless. They carry signs like “My dress is not a yes,” “Don’t tell us how to dress. Tell men not to rape,” or “Slut pride.” Valenti views the marches as the most successful feminist action of the past 20 years, mostly organized by young women.[xxxii] While carefully planned protests by NOW and other second wave organizations as scripted, these events organized by young women occur spontaneously, “fueled by the raw emotional and political energy of young women.”

A 19-year-old Stanford student who participated in a SlutWalk there, explained the appeal to youth: “It’s loud, angry, sexy in a way that going to a community activist meeting often isn’t,” she says. The director of an organization that tries to prevent street harassment added, “It’s easy to forget that change starts with anger. . ..” Valenti thinks this new day of feminist organizing, “when women’s anger begins online but takes to the street, when a local step makes global waves and when one feminist action can spark debate, controversy and activism that will have lasting effects on the movement.” So the future of feminist organizing is loud, angry and sexy?

A group in that vein is FEMEN, started in the Ukraine by university students in 2008 that spread to other countries. They also claim members in Brazil, France, Germany, the US, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Israel, Tunisia and Russia. The Ukrainian teacher (age 28) who told me about them described them as “crazy girls.” They protest sexism including sex tourists and international marriage agencies and demonstrate at major events like the Olympics and Devos. FEMEN conducted a “Pope No More” topless protest for gay marriage in front of the Vatican when Francis 1 became pope and conducted a “Topless Jihad” “sex attack” at a Paris meeting attended by the Tunisian president. Their motto is, “Our God is a woman, Our Mission is Protest, Our Weapon is our Naked Breasts.” They explained that going topless and writing slogans on their chests is, “the only way to be heard in this country. If we staged simple protests with banners, then our claims would not have been noticed.” They also wear flower garlands on their heads. Their photos are on their Facebook page, their book published in French, and website (femen.org) including videos and cartoons like “Fuck Woman’s Day. Femen’s Day is Every Day.” In the cartoon, a topless woman kicks aside a man offering her flowers on bent knee.

The Republican assault on reproductive choice in 2012, including the infamous Virginia State requirement for vaginal probe ultrasounds before being allowed to have an abortion, shocked young women out of their complacency. Many female politicians used satire, including proposed state legislation in Ohio and Illinois to prove the need for Viagra in order to get the pills or to have to watch a video about its side effects before getting a prescription. In Oklahoma, a bill was proposed making it illegal to waste sperm as an act against unborn children.

In Michigan, representative Lisa Brown responded to Republican legislation requiring doctors to make sure women weren’t being coerced into having an abortion, “I’m flattered you’re all so concerned about my vagina, but no means no.” The legislature censored her and another woman representative for lack of decorum, silencing them for a day. In response to “vaginagate,” Brown and other Michigan women politicians appeared in a performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, with over 2,000 supporters in the audience. Some men and women wore T-shirts saying, “If you can’t say it, you can’t legislate it.” Ensler attended, saying the incident revealed “men’s terror of women’s sexuality and power.”

Another feminist action in 2012 around sexuality was a “digital shaming action” led by a Baltimore feminist group called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. They used Facebook and Twitter to spread the news of a fake new line of Victoria Secret underwear, with slogans written on them such as “No Means No,” “Consent is Sexy,” and “Ask First.” The company shut down their Facebook page “PINK Loves Consent” and Twitter account, but the action was considered conscious-raising in a new digital era. At change.org, Shelby Knox creates campaigns for women’s rights.[xxxiii]

Other fourth wave interests are ecofeminism and spirituality, which were also part of the Second Wave. They also organized feminist groups during the Occupy Movement. The first Feminist General Assembly was held on May 17, 2012 in various cities, they raised the need for “safe spaces” for women in large gatherings, and advocated “step up or step back,” where dominant speakers are encouraged to be silent and marginalized people to be prioritized in the “progressive stack” of participants who sign up to speak at gatherings. Many of the Third and Fourth Wave issues continue Second Wave themes because sexism continues. Stylistic differences, emphasis on humor and Internet expression, and reluctance to define women as one class characterize young feminism. The blog Feministing’s Weekly Feminist Reader provides current updates.[xxxiv]

[i] http://dncdn.dvlabs.com/ipod/dn2013-0226.mp4


See an overview of the status of women in the US, starting in 1968.

Ruth Rosen, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby (or Have you?), NationofChange, February 22, 2013.


[ii] Eleanor Smeal, “The Feminst Factor,” Ms. Magazine, Winter 2013, p. 27.

[iii] Brian Womack, “Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to Join Board,” June 25, 2012.


[iv] Jenna Johnson, “On College Campuses, a Gender Gap in Student Government,” The Washington Post, March 16, 2011.


[v] The Geena Davis Institute on Gender and the Media. A 2005 study of G-rated movies and children’s TV. http://www.thegeenadavisinstitute.org/research.php

[vi] Tracy Bloom, “Hey Hollywood, Remember the Ladies?”, Truthdig, May 16, 2013.


[viii] Antonio De Wolk, “Hungering for a Tale of True Empowerment,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 31, 2012, p. A9.


[x] Susan Faludi, “American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide,” Harpers, October 2010.


[xi] rothenbergp@wpunj.edu

The Fox and the Child, a 2007 French film, provides us a rare role model of a brave 10-year-old girl who scares away a wolf pack and an eagle, and isn’t afraid of a bear, all in her efforts to protect her favorite fox.

[xii] Susan J. Douglas. Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism’s Work is Done. Times Books, 2010.

[xiii] Sandy Banks, “A Younger View of Feminism,” Los Angeles Times. April 20, 2009.

[xvii] Gwendolyn, interview in “The Academic Feminist,” Feministing, January 24, 2012.



Jennifer Baumgarder. F’em! Goo goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls. Seal, 2011, pp. 248-252.

[xxi] Anita Harris and Michelle Fine, eds. All About the Girl: Culture, Power, and Identity. Routledge, 2004.

[xxii] Mako Fitts, “Where Do We Go From bell?” September 10, 2010. http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/09/10/where-do-we-go-from-bell/

[xxiv] Joanna Chiu, “Young Feminists ‘Rankling The Old Guard’ and “The Future of Feminism: A Conversation with Katha Pollitt,” The Nation, January 6, 2011.


[xxvii] “Ask Amy” column on Feminist.com

Amy Richardson and Jennifer Baumgardner. Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000

Jennifer Baumgardner, Amy Richards, and Winona LaDuke. Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism, 2004

Gayle Kimball, ed. Women’s Culture in a New Era: A Feminist Revolution? Scarecrow Press, 2005.

Craig Jeffrey and Jane Dyson, Eds.Telling Young Lives: Portraits of Global Youth.


[xxxii] Jessica Valenti, “SlutWalks and the Future of Feministm, Washington Post Opinions, June 1, 2011. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/slutwalks-and-the-future-of-feminism/2011/06/01/AGjB9LIH_story_1.html


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