Third Wave Feminism? What?

This is What it is About.. Gender Equality, Solidarity, Stop the Man-Hating, Stand up for each other, make an active effort toward inclusion. That, in a nutshell, is what HeForShe is about. There are many groups of activists out there in the world. Ours is new, but we have a clear mandate. Clarity is often more precious than skill.

It is a simple program. Simple is good though. I looked to the feminists when I first committed to HeForShe, to see what actions and goals they had committed to. I’m told that Feminism is in the Third Wave now.  It’s much more complicated for them now, as I expected it to be. I guess I should drop the clarification that I don’t’ have a history of active Feminism, I don’t have an history of any kind of Advocacy. As an experience this is all very new to me. On a skill level, however, I’m right at home, and this is much better than pushing pushing an alkaline water machine or selling dog food. I’m great at research, history, marketing and social marketing. I’m also a successful writer. So, skills I have, measurable and achievable goals I didn’t.

First Wave Feminists had very clear goals. They practically had nothing. They couldn’t vote, they couldn’t own property. Against violence they had literally no recourse. So, they fought and marched for the vote and for owning property. They might have mentioned the violence but I believe they dropped that on their own. Some goals, even if they are right, feel like reaching for the moon. The International Woman Suffrage Alliance began on the vote question in 1904. Two years after man was in the air flying, women still had no voice in their government.

In 1919 women got the right to vote. They celebrated fiercely and voted a lot of dead weight out of Congress. My home town of Seattle was actually the first city in the US to give women the vote. That was in 1883, when Washington was still a territory. Women went crazy, to hear the men talk. They closed bars, made gambling illegal set curfews. It was madness. By 1888, two measures granting suffrage were ruled unconstitutional by the Territorial Courts. Women lost the vote until the amendment was passed. It sounds funny now, in a gastly way, but the devastation must have been solid then.

There were men backing their play even then, though they are rarely talked about. Votes For Women was a popular slogan back then(1901). The slogan was from a speech, that Mark Twain wrote and then went on the road to perform. In this speech Twain spoke out for women’s full enfranchisement in the electoral process, and predicted that within twenty-five years, they would have the ballot. This proved to be true, the Women’s Suffrage Amendment to the Constitution being passed by the United States Congress in 1919 and ratified by all the states in 1920. Less true was his assumption that he would live to see it.

Then they had the vote, and … it was over.. right? They went home, cooked cleaned and talked politics. Women are still much more involved with their right to vote than men are today. I don’t believe (not exactly sure on this but) there has been a national vote since 1920 when more women didn’t show up than men. I doubt state votes are any different. It is not a huge difference. Nearly 66% of women voted in the 2008 election, compared with 61.5% of men. Not a huge edge, but they use every inch of it — whereas men are getting more lax about it every year. I predict within 15 years, they’ll suddenly get everything they wanted because too many men will stay home.

Second Wave Feminism happened in the early ’60s and lasted until around the 1980s.

Phyllis Baker, a professor in the Women and Gender Studies Department at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, equated the start of Second Wave Feminism with a women named Betty Friedan. According to Baker, Friedan’s work is best summed up by, “Women need more than staying at home all day.”

Second Wave Feminism was the revolt of housewives in America. Suddenly, women wanted equal pay, to be hired in managerial positions and to be allowed to do more than housework and baby-making (Suddenly being — over the course of about five years).

80s came, went, and that area of women’s lives was fairly open. CEOs CFOs, judges, congresswoman. Women in space. And now women with guns in their hands rocking the Casbah.

During all of this, Feminism didn’t hold together like it did before. It split. There were three distinct camps, and several minor groups which were in the spaces between:  Liberal Feminism, Socialist Feminism and Radical Feminism.

Liberal Feminism can be described as feminists working within the system already in place to achieve equality. Liberal Feminists are huge advocates against sexual harassment as well.

Socialist Feminists believe that the governing body needs to change in order to be truly free from oppression. Many Socialist Feminists believe in an overhaul of what they call “the patriarchy.” Others think capitalism needs to be overthrown as well.

Lastly, Radical Feminists make up the rest of Second Wave Feminism. Radical Feminists encompass the women who believe any relationship with a man is oppressive. Many believe that all women should live in communes or shop only at stores owned by women. Some Radical Feminists think all women should be lesbians and avoid men altogether.

Prior to the third wave all three of those factions hit the Internet shouting at each other. They all call themselves Feminists, but the belief systems, and the goals behind them are sometimes contradictory. The battles spill out into the media frequently enough that a group has risen up, out of embarrassment and anger, calling itself Women Who Hate Feminists. These women are dedicated to equality, but will not align themselves with any of the three parties of Feminists, and their membership is growing.

And now the third wave.

What are the goals of Feminism today? I really don’t  have a clue. Depends on which feminist you are discussing it with. Also, there are goals that you state, and then there are goals that you communicate by your actions. An example is the stance of being offended.

Some feminist will tell me they are looking for equality. Which is one of those words everyone knows the definition of, and many feel it is agreeable. But asking them to define it in the space of this week, and most of those women couldn’t give me an answer.

The Global Gender Gap Report has decided on a set of four areas which are required to be in balance if Equality is to be reached.  Those four are:

  • ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION AND OPPORTUNITY
  • EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT
  • HEALTH AND SURVIVAL
  • POLITICAL EMPOWERMENT …

Under each of these are no less than three sub-qualifiers. In the report for each country, each of the sub-qualifiers  is given a value based on the collected data. Then under those we are given a long list of Contextual Data.

Most of the points in this Contextual Data is specific and basic enough to be action areas and goals. One such Contextual point is “Percentage of women, men with an account at a formal financial institution.” This can be turned into a project, and given clear and measurable goals of going out, finding women who do not have accounts, discovering the causes, and then presenting solutions to the problem. “Percentage of Internet users,” is another that can be acted on. Points such as percentage of women who completed a Ph.d presents a more involved problem but again, support groups, cheering sections, tutoring, discovering methods of finance — all of these can be broken down and solutions discovered.

My first task has been to find the scattered HeForShe’s and to give them a place to gather. To this end I started a website (meforshe.wordpress.com), which I am stuffing with information, bringing in guest bloggerss, and collecting fresh news into an eMagazine, and an eNewspage. I’m also recruiting helpers to gather and compose material as well. The other social gathering place is a FaceBook Discussion Group (bit.ly/HeForSheDiscuss)

My next step is to use social networking, and Internet marketing to find groups of Feminists, and try to discover what help, if any, they might require.. This will also entail gathering a clear understanding of what their goals are, how these goals were decided on, and how they intend to achieve them.

There is a ton of work to be done in this area, and it fits my skills of research, writing, and social marketing. The first step in this area is to assist in bringing an end to the man-hating. Stopping the man-hating is a must. Emma made that very clear in her speech and I intend to step up and add my efforts to the banner. To this end I’ve allowed two guest speakers who have negative opinions of the HeForShe’s (well, we’re men and we were “invited” in by a new girl who doesn’t look like much, is rich, and always has been and was never abused, or oppressed in her whole life… not everyone is going to like us).

The Feminist goals appear to be all over the place in this Third Wave. But I’m locating triggers, and finding that there are predictable sources which open up lights in these dark waters. One source are Feminist Bloggers. Some of these women are like female Rush Limbaugh’s. They don’t seem to care about goals, directions or completions. They lead where and with what they wish and much of their material is either dated or false. One of these bloggers is Anita Sarkeesian who, because she pressed this too far, became the object of Game-Gate’s wrath.

The third wave is different though. Some groups are focused on wage inequality.  I won’t argue the validity of that goal. I’ve witnessed the ceiling and felt the effects. The repeal of the Law in Wisconsin demonstrates inequality exists. Perhaps not as dominant as it was in the 70s and 80s (with the office couch interviews)  but it is still there and many feel it is time to be rid of this.

Junior Grace McIntee feels that the Third wave is about self-expression. Where is the oppression in that? Well, she points out that you can not be oppressed if you are not afraid of your oppressor. So the Third Wave is about challenging  and demonstrating a woman’s right to be. Some of the methods of demonstration are… well basically it is close to taunting — and we’ll have to gain more insight into these demonstrations and spend more effort into understanding the methods. If we can help we will. That’s what we are here for — but we’re not here to help spread hate or negativity — so there is more to learn in this area.

Another thorn with this wave is — objectifying of women. I found statements about this all over the Internet, form comment areas in news posts, to blogs to studies and research. In one article I read — discussing Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Miley Cyru:

Many women see these actions in the media as objectifying to women. If women make their bodies objects on a national stage, then perhaps men are more likely to see them as such. This could lead to more violence against women as a whole.

I’ve gone into this subject deeply, since it is so prevalent in the media. Right now I feel there is more to be explored and discussed.

Welcome. If you wish to help, your efforts will not be wasted, or your talents ignored. There is plenty to do. You might wish  to get with us on FaceBook in the discussion group. #HeForShe 

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