“Hey! Ho! Gender violence has got to go!” (“List of Chants”). Armed with picket signs and adorned in feminist apparel, people all over the country are protesting to end sexism in the United States. Often referred to as Third Wave Feminists, these protestors are fighting against unfair gender treatment in the modern world. Before the contemporary ideals of the Third Wave movement surfaced, First and Second Wave feminists started a battle about women’s rights that shaped what would be known as feminism.
Many believe the Third Wave has stayed true to these ideals of early feminism, and that the Third Wave is necessary for improvement. Alternatively, it is thought that modern feminists seem to have forgotten the integrity and purpose of feminism; their idea of “feminism,” which was solely based on equal rights for women, has strayed far from the ideas of their predecessors. Anti-Feminists, those that disagree with the modern approach to feminism, believe the Third Wave has berated the ideals set by Suffragists.
While each group has their own approach, they all agree on one thing: equality. The controversy behind Third Wave feminism stems from the ideals set up by First and Second Wave feminists, extreme practices in modern feminists, and the opposition of Anti-Feminists.
On January 20, 2018, many Women’s Marches took place across the country in cities like New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Chicago. At each one, protestors were parading through the streets, singing chants, and fighting to gain equal rights. These were the second annual feminist marches aiming to bring awareness to many issues, such as the recent cases against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
While young girls fighting for their rights dominated the marches, many men, women, and elderly supporters gathered to protest. The young women, who had seen many acts of sexism through social media, participated in the march to fight the things they saw online; the exposure to the media could lead to misinformation and a hope for a “female dominated” world among many Third Wave feminists. Also in attendance at these protests were Anti-Feminists, who are constrained by their extreme bias and refusal to see the valid arguments of the feminist agenda. Much like managers of companies should view both sides of an argument when making decisions in the workplace, feminists and Anti-Feminists should respect other’s viewpoints. Despite the multiple opinions, the most effective resolution to conflicts about feminism would be acknowledging the problems feminists are fighting but approaching them in a less hostile, more equal protest that focuses on equality rather than the extreme perspective of female dominance.
Although, many disagree with the Third Wave, there are those who embrace the work of early feminists that shaped the country. However, there is a facet of female society who believes women no longer need to fight for rights as they have all the rights they need early gains of First and Second Wave feminism. One of the biggest factors in the Suffragist movement was the advocacy for property rights. According to an article by Cristen Conger, a writer on women’s rights, women in the 1800s could not own any property at all (Conger 1). Without early feminism, women would not be able to hold ownership over anything. There would be much more oppression if there had been no fighting for these rights. The actions taken by early feminists changed society completely as many women began to have ownership over many things. As a result, there is a stronger presence of women in society, as well as a confident attitude in many women when taking action. Women were also denied the right to financial standing. An article on infobaselearning.com states, “… any wages women earned belonged to their husbands…” (“Women’s Rights and Sexual Harassment”). If these rules were still around today, there would be no women’s freedom whatsoever. These rules caused change within the country, as many women were now entering the economy. Our economy is stronger because women can now own property and businesses. Women gained more personal autonomy as well, especially since the birth control pill was introduced during the Second Wave. Many Second Wave feminists agreed with the pill, as supporters believed it could aid in getting a better education (as women would not have to worry about pregnancy in a college setting) and healthier marriage (there would be no surprise pregnancies that could potentially destroy a relationship). Many who were against the drug argued, “it would promote sexual promiscuity” (“Second Wave Feminism”) as women would be more inclined to behave recklessly. While there is still the issue of birth control today, the new concept helped spark the Second Wave movement. The ideals of body ownership have carried over into Third Wave feminism. Although the Third Wave has some unpopularity, many people agree the with the practices of early feminism.
People support Third Wave feminism for many reasons. These practices have led to many improvements in society, such as abolishing the idea of gender roles and stereotypes. While women have benefitted from this mindset, men are no longer looked down upon if they possess “feminine” qualities. Studies have shown these new ideologies, “…[play] a role in lowering men’s suicide rates” (Karl 2). These beliefs have lead to gender equality across the board for both men and women in the United States. In addition, Third Wave feminism could lead to more equality in the workplace. According to an article on pewsocialtrends.org, “In 2012, the median hourly wage for women, full-time and part-time workers combined, was 84% as much as men ($14.90 vs. $17.79). In 1980, the gap had been much wider: the median hourly wage for women was 64% as much as men ($11.94 vs. $18.57 per hour, in 2012 dollars)” (“On Pay Gap”). There is still a long way to go when it comes to equal pay, but it has definitely improved considerably since the 1980’s. More and more women are working in higher paying jobs, such as STEM jobs. The fact women are getting more job equality is effectively stopping social bias towards women only working in teaching jobs or less scientific environments. Furthermore, Third Wave feminism is supported is because of the new idea of body positivity and “owning your body.” Clint Roberts writes, “First, we don’t want anyone telling us what we can and cannot do. Americans put a premium on individual liberty, personal rights, and entitlements” (Roberts). Women are encouraged to not only embrace the skin they’re in, but also take control over themselves and do what they want. There is now a presence of a confident, body-positive ideology that has gained tons of support throughout the younger generation of feminists who will fight for these ideas. Third Wave feminists strive for a better world.
Many Anti-Feminists have strong opinions against modern feminism. For example, it is said Third Wave feminists fight for inclusiveness, but it is argued they are too hostile in their methods and see every little thing as a threat. Anti-Feminists argue modern feminists harbor anti-male and anti-Conservative ideologies rather than views of equality. According to Gad Saad, a professor of behavioral sciences, feminist writers Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon believe “all men are rapists, and that heterosexual sex is nothing short of rape” (Saad 2). Women now see men as an immediate threat in any situation; the line between flirting and harassment has blurred. Many modern feminists generally see Conservatives as a threat as well, as they believe the party will take away their privileges. Feminists argue because Conservatives have opposing ideas about abortion and birth control, they are automatically sexist people who will not hesitate to take away their rights. Moreover, it is believed Third Wave feminists are making themselves victims to get more rights.
As Connecticut College writer Kayla Kibbe says, “Feminism leaves women entirely at the mercy of the system it claims to subvert. Don’t worry, your failures and insecurities aren’t your fault. How can they be, when your thoughts aren’t even your own? It’s not you, it’s the patriarchy” (Kibbe 5). Many feminists take advantage of the controversy of the subject to use it to their advantage, but doing so is making the feminists look weak to the patriarchy. Editor Katrina Trinko writes, “Instead of throwing a temper tantrum, er, striking, women who want to change the status quo further likely would be more effective not to mention more considerate of women and men who need services like schools during the week by focusing on specific problems at specific companies” (Trinko). Women who are protesting are seen as overdramatic, as if they’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Further, Anti-Feminists claim Third Wave feminists push the boundaries between right and wrong. In a video made by YouTuber “Fleccas Talks,” an interviewer at the Women’s March in Los Angeles in January talks to a young girl holding a propaganda sign. On the sign, there is a threat to both the president and the vice president, along with profane words to get her point across (“Delusional Women’s Marches”). While feminists argue these signs are an expression of freedom of speech, Anti-Feminists say these “stunts” are taking the feminist movement too far, as well as losing the ideals of equality First Wave that feminism was founded upon. Anti-Feminists are completely against Third Wave feminism because of the extremist views.
There are multiple different ways to attack the controversy behind feminism, but the most effective would be acknowledging the problems Third Wave feminists are fighting and approaching them in a less hostile protest. These actions would be most effective because equality for all would solve many of the debates on feminism itself. While each side has valid arguments, the extreme Third Wave feminist tends to overlook the actions they’ve taken and the effects those actions have on the rest of society. Their ideals are valid, but it feels as though there has been an attack on society rather than a positive use of the platform. All parties involved must strive to make an impact on everyone- not just the people that believe the same things they do. Each group needs to take a step back, see how far women have come, and work together to see how far women can go in the future.