Third-wave Feminism - History

History

Third-wave feminism began in the early 1990s, arising as a response to perceived failures of the second wave and to address the backlash against initiatives and movements created by the second wave. However, the fundamental rights and programs gained by feminist activists of the second wave - including the creation of domestic-abuse shelters for women and children and the acknowledgment of abuse and rape of women on a public level, access to contraception and other reproductive services (including the legalization of abortion), the creation and enforcement of sexual-harassment policies for women in the workplace, child-care services, equal or greater educational and extracurricular funding for young women, women's studies programs, and much more — have also served as a foundation and a tool for third-wave feminists. Feminist leaders rooted in the second wave like Gloria Anzaldúa, bell hooks, Kerry Ann Kane, Cherríe Moraga, Audre Lorde, Maxine Hong Kingston, and many other feminists of color, sought to negotiate a space within feminist thought for consideration of subjects related to race.

In 1981, Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa published the anthology This Bridge Called My Back, which, along with All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women's Studies (1982), critiqued second-wave feminism, which focused primarily on the problems and political positions of white women.

The roots of the third wave began, however, in the mid-1980s. Feminist leaders rooted in the second wave called for a new subjectivity in feminist voice. They sought to negotiate prominent space within feminist thought for consideration of race-related subjectivities. This focus on the intersection between race and gender remained prominent through the Hill-Thomas hearings, but was perceived to shift with the Freedom Ride 1992, the first project of the Walker-led Third Wave Direct Action Corporation. This drive to register voters in poor minority communities was surrounded with rhetoric that focused on rallying young women.

In the early 1990s, the riot grrrl movement began in Olympia, Washington and Washington, D.C.. It sought to give women the power to control their voices and artistic expressions. Its links to social and political issues are where the beginnings of the third-wave feminism can be seen. The music and zine writings produced are strong examples of "cultural politics in action, with strong women giving voice to important social issues though an empowered, female oriented community, many people link the emergence of the third-wave feminism to this time". The movement encouraged and made "adolescent girls' standpoints central", allowing them to express themselves fully. It was grounded in the DIY philosophy of punk values, riot grrrls took an anti-corporate stance of self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Riot grrrl's emphasis on universal female identity and separatism often appears more closely allied with second-wave feminism than with the third wave. Riot grrrl bands often address issues such as rape, domestic abuse, sexuality, and female empowerment. Some bands associated with the movement are: Bikini Kill, Hole, Bratmobile, Excuse 17, Babes In Toyland, Jack Off Jill, Free Kitten, Heavens to Betsy, Huggy Bear, L7, Fifth Column and Team Dresch. In addition to a music scene, riot grrrl is also a subculture: zines, the DIY ethic, art, political action, and activism are part of the movement. Riot grrrls hold meetings, start chapters, and support and organize women in music. The term Riot Grrrl uses a "growling" double or triple r, placing it in the word girl as an appropriation of the perceived derogatory use of the term.

In 1991, Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas, a man nominated to the United States Supreme Court, of sexual harassment. Thomas denied the accusations and, after extensive debate, the United States Senate voted 52–48 in favor of Thomas.

In response to this case, Rebecca Walker published an article entitled "Becoming the Third Wave" in which she stated, "I am not a post-feminism feminist. I am the third-wave."

In 1992, the "Year of the Woman" saw four women enter the United States Senate to join the two already there. The following year another woman won a special election, bringing the number to seven. The 1990s also saw the first female United States Attorney General and Secretary of State, as well as the second woman on the Supreme Court, and the first US First Lady (Hillary Rodham Clinton) to have an independent political, legal, corporate executive, activist, and public service career. However, the Equal Rights Amendment, which is supported by second- and third-wave feminists, remains a work in progress.

Third-wave feminists have recently utilized the internet and modern technology to enhance their movement, which have allowed for information and organization to reach a larger audience.

The increasing ease of publishing on the Internet meant that e-zines (electronic magazines) and blogs became ubiquitous. Many serious independent writers, not to mention organizations, found that the Internet offered a forum for the exchange of information and the publication of essays and videos that made their point to a potentially huge audience. The Internet radically democratized the content of the feminist movement with respect to participants, aesthetics, and issues

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