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Feminism: The Distraction of Waves

 by Julie Hanus


Tags: Media, media criticism, feminism, waves, sexual freedom, political awareness, Katha Polllitt, The Nation,

The Nation“Can we please stop talking about feminism as if it is mothers and daughters fighting about clothes?” Katha Pollitt writes in The Nation. “Second wave: you’re going out in that? Third wave: just drink your herbal tea and leave me alone!”

The wave structure tossed around in the media “looks historical,” Pollitt writes, when in reality it’s anything but. Second wavers (like Adrienne Rich and Gloria Steinem) are in their golden years; third wavers (known for staking a renewed claim on “girl culture” and their passion for the intersection of race, class, and gender) are approaching 40.

Yet third wave “continues to be used to describe each latest crop of feminists—loosely defined as any female with more political awareness than a Bratz doll—and to portray them in terms of their rejection of second wavers, who are supposedly starchy and censorious. Like moms. Somebody’s mom, anyway,” Pollitt writes.

Aside from being inaccurate, this wave narrative reduces feminism into a tired battle between sexual freedom and repression. “Why not acknowledge that there will never be a bright line between pleasure and danger, personal choice and social responsibility, open-minded and judgment?” Pollitt writes. “The fine points of sexual freedom will all be there waiting for us—after we get childcare, equal pay, retirement security, universal access to birth control and abortion, healthcare for all and men who do their share at home, after we achieve equal representation in government, are safe from sexual violence, and raise a generation of girls who don’t hate their bodies.”

Source: The Nation