The finest moments for Third Wave Feminism.
“Mummy what were the Slut Walks?”
Have you noticed how society tends to celebrate the iconic moments of a movement in retrospect? This comes as no surprise. It is easier to pick out your favourite parts of a story once you have finished reading it.
Nonetheless, this rule seems to have applied itself to the wave of each Feminist era. The story of the Suffragette movement was only crowned a defining moment for First Wave Feminism from the 60’s onwards. Similarly, equal pay and reproductive rights were only later labelled as key topics for Second Wave Feminism.
From the 90's up until present day, the Western World is said to be encountering Third Wave Feminism. This makes me wonder which moments will define this wave in years to come? Which stories will we be relaying in classrooms, documentaries, and to our Grandchildren? I for one will be remembering the below…
Isn’t it strange how a lot of women’s magazine’s seem to undermine women? Ironic given their target demographic. If Grazia isn’t telling us “What he really wants in the bedroom (and how to give it to him!)” the Femail section of the Daily Mail is reminding us that if Kim Kardashian can’t get away with baby weight, neither can we.
In 2012, the editors of The Vagenda quite rightly identified that “the women’s press is a large hadron collider of bullshit … when you flick through one (magazine) you’re always dodging another insecurity explosion. Whether it’s Rihanna’s 25-minute underwear workout , or snake venom infused lip-gloss, the underlying message throughout is that you aren’t good enough” .
This content of The Vagenda is the perfect antithesis of this, it is about female empowerment. It actually recognises that women have brains and would like to read more pressing, intellectually stimulating, salient topics.
The Vagenda has opened my eyes to the ways in which women’s media tells me to push up, dress up, kiss up, shack up, kneel down, slim down , dumb down, bow down... More so, it’s helped me to switch off.
This monumental movement was sparked by a policeman in Toronto stating that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” to avoid sexual assault.
This controversial comment soon went viral, and shone an unforgiving light on Rape Culture. Rape Culture perpetuates the widely misconstrued idea that rape is anyone but the rapists fault by blaming appearance or gender stereotypes.
For years, women have been given rape whistles, we have been told not to walk alone at night, not to drink too much, not to wear too little. We have seen ominous posters warning what will happen to women who ignore the above.
This policeman did women everywhere a favour, he translated the above behaviour into what it well and truly is. Victim blaming.
To this day, people around the world march in skimpy outfits to protest against this. These rallies attract powerful speakers, rape victims and international press, bringing us one step further towards ending rape culture. All thanks to one dumb cop.
So catcalling is quite possibly one of my biggest bugbears. I hate to generalise but it does seem to be a battlecry of the construction site. I don't know whether these men think it’s opposite day and their high visibility jackets actually make them invisible when they yell obscenities at women. Maybe they think they are above women, because they are literally above them on their scaffolding? Maybe it’s pack mentality, because their prey is alone and outnumbered? Maybe they think women are insecure beings that need this kind of primal, twisted validation?
All of these motives range from ignorant to just plain disturbing. Needless to say, none of them are justifiable.
Hollaback! is an activist group which recognises that “Street harassment is a form of sexual and gender-based harassment that takes place in public spaces”
This movement has trained over 500 activists from over 80 cities around the world. Together, they have produced 7,000 reports of harassment, working alongside policy makers and legislators, including the Scottish Parliament, to find community based solutions.
Their site leaders have also trained over 2,500 students on how to respond to and prevent street harassment, plus educated a wider audience with their fast growing 57k+ strong social media following.
I truly believe that with the likes of Hollaback! and similar campaign groups, catcalling will be taken as seriously as every other form of sexual harassment, and therefore, the guilty party will be subject to investigation and the threat of job loss.
HeForShe is a global gender equality campaign pioneered by UN Women, which aims to take the gender exclusivity out of feminism
The HeForShe website features Nigerian Novelist Chimamamda Ngozi Adiche’s famous quote- “a feminist is a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes”.
Pretty simple idea, right? Hardly a polarizing bone of contention? Surely any man with a wife, a girlfriend, a daughter, a female friend, a moral compass etc will see that this is not something they need to get on board with, because it a basic moral principle that they have been supporting their whole lives?
HeForShe aims to hit this point home, thereby extending the hand of feminism towards men. As UN Goodwill Ambassador and all round legend Emma Watson quite rightly states in her HeForShe campaign speech- “Men — I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too…It is time that we perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals”.
For me, the HeForShe campaign dispels any myths about moral complexities and man hating connotations, therefore making feminism a less controversial concept which is accessible to everyone.
The Everyday Sexism Project
The Everyday Sexism Project has acted as the perfect supplement to the above movements. Thousands of people have shared their everyday experiences, from groping to slut shaming.
This website was founded by Laura Bates in 2012, whose mission statement outlines “The Everyday Sexism project aims to take a step towards gender equality, by proving wrong those who tell women that they can’t complain because we are equal. It is a place to record stories of sexism faced on a daily basis. To stand up and say ‘this isn’t right’, even if it isn’t big or outrageous or shocking. Even if you’ve got used to thinking that it is ‘just the way things are”.
The website now contains over 50,000 entries, plus a Social Media supporting of over 200,000.
At the very least, The Everyday Sexism Project acts as a support group, a community, an advice forum. At the most, it propels sexist behavior into the spotlight and says it must stop.
So there you have it…
Just a few of my favourite moments in Third Wave Feminism. This is all subjective, I personally feel empowered by The Vagenda, The Slutwalks, Hollaback!, HeForShe and Everyday Sexism project, because I can relate to them one way or another. You may agree, you may beg to differ? Either way please feel free comment, share, like or follow.