I’m already getting a lot of questions and “corrections” over my use of the term “third-wave feminism” in my last comic. (Am I going to have to do a disclaimer for every post?) Let me explain. Third-wave feminism did start out as a positive movement in the 90s, but I think its definition has changed. Now it’s a movement still masquerading as “the freedom to choose anything,” but with a catch. Like I said in the comic, it’s become “The choice to choose the ‘correct’ choice.” Let’s stop pretending modern feminism still supports every woman.
At the start of the “third-wave” 20 years ago, politics were trendy and feminism was accessible to anyone. Think about the first season of “The Real World”: the 1992 cast talked about politics and attended multiple rallies, including a pro-choice rally. These days, support for Obama is the closest young Americans as a whole get to being “political.” Today the feminist movement is saturated with aggressive, college-educated white women obsessed with policing the choices of other women. Even the current feminist heroes are women like Tina Fey, who is very vocal about her disdain for strippers, women with tattoos, and anything she thinks “we should all be better than.”
These feminists argue that they’re just trying to get women to look at why they’re making these choices. To them, the correct answer is always “oppression by men.” Basically, “I’m not trying to tell you getting a tit job makes you a bad feminist and woman, but you need to realize that you’re only doing it for men, and not get surgery.” Either way, you can’t win. These women will never believe you’re making an “incorrect” choice for yourself. A woman who says she wears makeup for her own pleasure, or feels empowered by staying home with her children is simply brainwashed by the patriarchy. Again, you can’t win.
But why the pressure to make sure your choices aren’t done to please men? Why does it matter? Those choices can still be healthy. A woman should be able to wear 5-inch heels solely because they make her ass and legs look appealing to men without whispers of “Oh my god, I bet there is some kind of sexual abuse in her past. She obviously hates herself and seeks validation with men!!!”
In the past years I’ve noticed a sharp turn from feminists being sex-positive and very supportive of sex workers to the attitude that “Being a sex worker by choice glamorizes prostitution to vulnerable women and supports sex trafficking!” Being a happy, healthy sex worker is now seen as a sign of “white privilege” and spitting in the face of underage trafficking victims. I think this is a prime example for how drastically feminist views have changed during the third-wave.
This is why young women don’t want to identify themselves as “feminists.” Why would they want to identify with a movement that they see wants to oppress them and their choices? This is what the third-wave has become, and this attitude is hurting women, and turning “feminism” into a joke. I’m not saying the entire movement is like this, but we’re getting pretty damn close to moving backwards.