Shared by a friend.

I wish I had taken the response I made wholeheartedly and then halfheartedly took down and at least copied it.

To me, this advice seems very targeted to undoing the damage of internalized sexism. For something as complex and nuanced as internalized sexism it might require a bit more of a complex and nuanced response than blanket advice (on anything) to be effective.

But, we have known intensely that there is some kind of problem with our society for a very long time. We have understood in various ways that certain groups are not partaking in the wealth of society at an equal rate and that certain people based on a valuable group status are more able to partake in it, for a very long time. I would argue that the length of time is different for different groups but this idea started taking hold as soon as social darwinism fell out of vogue (around the end of the 1800s beginning of the 1900s). I put this date on social darwinism based on the idea it doesn’t seem to have proponants born after the 1900s.

I’m about to lift some descriptions of various waves of feminism from this article:

“The first wave of feminism took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, emerging out of an environment of urban industrialism and liberal, socialist politics. The goal of this wave was to open up opportunities for women, with a focus on suffrage. …

In its early stages, feminism was interrelated with the temperance and abolitionist movements and gave voice to now-famous activists like the African-American Sojourner Truth (d. 1883), who demanded: “Ain’t I a woman?” Victorian America saw women acting in very “un-ladylike” ways (public speaking, demonstrating, stints in jail), which challenged the “cult of domesticity.” Discussions about the vote and women’s participation in politics led to an examination of the differences between men and women as they were then viewed. Some claimed that women were morally superior to men, and so their presence in the civic sphere would improve public behavior and the political process.

The second wave began in the 1960s and continued into the 90s. This wave unfolded in the context of the anti-war and civil rights movements and the growing self-consciousness of a variety of minority groups around the world. The New Left was on the rise, and the voice of the second wave was increasingly radical. In this phase, sexuality and reproductive rights were dominant issues, and much of the movement’s energy was focused on passing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing social equality regardless of sex.

This phase began with protests against the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City in 1968 and 1969. Feminists parodied what they held to be a degrading “cattle parade” that reduced women to objects of beauty dominated by a patriarchy that sought to keep them in the home or in dull, low-paying jobs. The radical New York group called the Redstockings staged a counter pageant in which they crowned a sheep as Miss America and threw “oppressive” feminine artifacts such as bras, girdles, high-heels, makeup and false eyelashes into the trashcan. …

The second wave was increasingly theoretical, based on a fusion of neo-Marxism and psycho-analytical theory, and began to associate the subjugation of women with broader critiques of patriarchy, capitalism, normative heterosexuality, and the woman’s role as wife and mother. Sex and gender were differentiated—the former being biological, and the later a social construct that varies culture-to-culture and over time. …

Whereas the first wave of feminism was generally propelled by middle class, Western, cisgender, white women, the second phase drew in women of color and developing nations, seeking sisterhood and solidarity, claiming “Women’s struggle is class struggle.” Feminists spoke of women as a social class and coined phrases such as “the personal is political” and “identity politics” in an effort to demonstrate that race, class, and gender oppression are all related. 

The third wave of feminism began in the mid-90’s and was informed by post-colonial and post-modern thinking. In this phase many constructs were destabilized, including the notions of “universal womanhood,” body, gender, sexuality and heteronormativity. An aspect of third wave feminism that mystified the mothers of the earlier feminist movement was the readoption by young feminists of the very lip-stick, high-heels, and cleavage proudly exposed by low cut necklines that the first two phases of the movement identified with male oppression. Pinkfloor expressed this new position when she said that it’s possible to have a push-up bra and a brain at the same time.

The “grrls” of the third wave stepped onto the stage as strong and empowered, eschewing victimization and defining feminine beauty for themselves as subjects, not as objects of a sexist patriarchy. They developed a rhetoric of mimicry, which appropriated derogatory terms like “slut” and “bitch” in order to subvert sexist culture and deprive it of verbal weapons. … This is in keeping with the third wave’s celebration of ambiguity and refusal to think in terms of “us-them.” Most third-wavers refuse to identify as “feminists” and reject the word that they find limiting and exclusionary. ….

A writer for Elle Magazine recently interviewed me about the waves of feminism and asked if the second and third waves may have “failed or dialed down” because the social and economic gains had been mostly sparkle, little substance, and whether at some point women substituted equal rights for career and the atomic self. I replied that the second wave of feminism ought not be characterized as having failed, nor was glitter all that it generated. Quite the contrary; many goals of the second wave were met: more women in positions of leadership in higher education, business and politics; abortion rights; access to the pill that increased women’s control over their bodies; more expression and acceptance of female sexuality; general public awareness of the concept of and need for the “rights of women” (though never fully achieved); a solid academic field in feminism, gender and sexuality studies; greater access to education; organizations and legislation for the protection of battered women; women’s support groups and organizations (like NOW and AAUW); an industry in the publication of books by and about women/feminism; public forums for the discussion of women’s rights; and a societal discourse at the popular level about women’s suppression, efforts for reform, and a critique of patriarchy. So, in a sense, if the second wave seemed to have “dialed down,” the lull was in many ways due more to the success of the movement than to any ineffectiveness. In addition to the sense that many women’s needs had been met, feminism’s perceived silence in the 1990s was a response to the successful backlash campaign by the conservative press and media, especially against the word feminism and its purported association with male-bashing and extremism.

However, the second wave only quieted down in the public forum; it did not disappear but retreated into the academic world where it is alive and well—incubating in the academy. Women’s centers and women’s/gender studies have became a staple of virtually all universities and most colleges in the US and Canada (and in many other nations around the word). Scholarship on women’s studies, feminist studies, masculinity studies, and queer studies is prolific, institutionalized, and thriving in virtually all scholarly fields, including the sciences.  Academic majors and minors in women’s, feminist, masculinity and queer studies have produced thousands of students with degrees in the subjects.  However, generally those programs have generated theorists rather than activists.

Returning to the question the Elle Magazine columnist asked about the third wave and the success or failure of its goals. It is hard to talk about the aims of the third wave because a characteristic of that wave is the rejection of communal, standardized objectives.  The third wave does not acknowledge a collective “movement” and does not define itself as a group with common grievances.  Third wave women and men are concerned about equal rights, but tend to think the genders have achieved parity or that society is well on its way to delivering it to them.  The third wave pushed back against their “mothers” (with grudging gratitude) the way children push away from their parents in order to achieve much needed independence.  This wave supports equal rights, but does not have a term like feminism to articulate that notion.  For third wavers, struggles are more individual: “We don’t need feminism anymore.”

But the times are changing, and a fourth wave is in the air. The aims of the second feminist movement were never cemented to the extent that they could survive the complacency of third wavers.  The fourth wave of feminism is emerging because (mostly) young women and men realize that the third wave is either overly optimistic or hampered by blinders. Feminism is now moving from the academy and back into the realm of public discourse. Issues that were central to the earliest phases of the women’s movement are receiving national and international attention by mainstream press and politicians:  problems like sexual abuse, rape, violence against women, unequal pay, slut-shaming, the pressure on women to conform to a single and unrealistic body-type and the realization that gains in female representation in politics and business, for example, are very slight. It is no longer considered “extreme,” nor is it considered the purview of rarified intellectuals to talk about societal abuse of women, rape on college campus, Title IX, homo and transphobia, unfair pay and work conditions, and the fact that the US has one of the worst records for legally-mandated parental leave and maternity benefits in the world.”

See the article for more. I lifted entirely too much from this and there’s still more. Go here:

This article seemed a bit uncaring for third wave feminism. Whereas I recognized third wave feminism as a highly dichotomous continuation within the academy (that this article attributes to second wave feminist movements) while the masses take academy generated information and massacre it beyond recognization. But that’s just my opinion.

This article: is a bit more my understanding of thirdwave feminism.

“With the vote won for all women over 21 in 1928, the feminist movement gradually turned its attention to women’s inequality in wider society. Second-wave feminists coined the phrase ‘the personal is political’ as a means of highlighting the impact of sexism and patriarchy on every aspect of women’s private lives. Prominent feminists such as Betty Friedan (see ‘Betty Friedan – Hero or Villain?’) also made clear that feminism in its second wave was about breaking down gender stereotypes, thus emphasising that feminism was of importance to men as well as to women. Yet second-wave feminists treated women as a homogenous group, without paying attention to the many axes of difference that cleave apart the singular category of ‘women’. Bell hooks’ seminal Ain’t I a Woman noted the devaluation of black femininity, and the sidelining of women of colour within the feminist movement. This, she argued, reinforced racism and classism within the movement, and the only ones who suffered were women themselves. Hooks’ book was pivotal in the development of the third wave of feminism, as it drew attention to the need for multiple feminisms.

Third-wave feminism has been heavily influenced by academic investigations of queer theory. Queer theory posits that gender and sexuality are fluid categories, and do not easily map onto binary understandings of ‘male’ and ‘female’. Increased understanding of bisexual and trans identities characterise the third wave – although as the Moore/Burchill furore shows, this is an ongoing process, with the increasingly visibility of trans people within feminist activism prompting a concurrent rise in discrimination, most notably from within the radical feminist movement. In a more general sense, third-wave feminism has been critiqued for its focus on individual emancipation, in contrast to the ‘personal is political’ debates of the second wave. While the third wave’s focus on micropolitics is in keeping with a well-documented shift towards individualism in the latter years of the 20th century, some argue that this can be depoliticising, shifting the onus for change onto the individual – thus making wide-reaching change more difficult to effect. “

The article looks to the internet to define fourth wave feminism, citing call out culture and the new connectivity of women around the world to exemplify the prior article’s description of fourth wave feminists as recognizing that there are still some serious issues that haven’t been addressed and are persistant despite being addressed.


So back to this. As I had initially thought this reminds me of second wave feminism and a bit of third. Insofaras this image rejects roles based on gendered expectations and encourages women to embrace traditionally masculine defined actions: firm nos, doing what one ‘wants’, etc.

I would argue that this image is harmful to discourse as it exists for us because it is a relic from a former age of feminsim where women were the primary focus of feminism when we have spent our time in the academy in our women’s studies classes learning and defining the issues better and more comprehensively only to learn that it seems like patriarchy is currently and has been harming men and indeed, the whole system seems predicated upon men internalizing this harm so that they can capitalize upon what benefits their male status bequests to them without guilt.

I would argue that we are living in the age where we must face the idea that equality cannot be confered to us by legal aquisition of rights alone… and yet also cannot be confered to us without some legal intervention.

I read once in a class reading about sexism that legislative measures are not effective because they fail to address the sexism, just the effect of the sexism. While I would agree wholeheartedly, and I do: this tidbit of thought has never left my mind; I would also state uniquivocally that I believe in representation requirements. The best way to combat sexism is to get men and women more in touch with each other to realize we are not so different.

And thus I firmly believe that treating women exclusively differently is bothersome to me.

We recognize that patriarchy is harmful to men. And we have these targetted attempts to lift girls up, without providing a positive alternative message for boys… because we assume those boys will have enough of a leg up (in this dominant nasty horrible culture that we recognize is an issue for all). And then get mad at young men for internalizing a system that is sexist without having been offered any kind of alternative to success outside of our flawed system.


It seems like an oversight to me.

And so. I believe in a world where men can be as girly as they want. Where gender is just what you’re feeling like that day and not something that conveys specific benefits of any kind.

I believe in a world where there aren’t systemic disadvantages to overcome but I can’t see how to get there without such huge societal change that we get bogged down on minute details of lessening harm… to the point that we encourage the system to continue.