Fourth Wave Feminism

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Is It Post Feminism Or The Fourth Wave

The word feminism is defined as referring to political, cultural, and economic movements seeking greater rights and participation in society for women and girls. This word goes hand in hand with the feminist movement, which is aimed at equal rights for women. The feminist movement has had three distinct waves. The first wave took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and granted women the right to vote and practice birth control. The second wave achieved legal equality for women and began in the 1960’s and continued into the 90’s . The third wave of the feminist movement strove for social reform and began in the mid-90’s and some say it is still continuing today, or perhaps it died out silently when the new millennium came. Nonetheless, where does that leave us today? Are we currently in a fourth wave, which some say is primarily on the internet, or have we achieved a post feminist society? In the case of American society we have not done the latter, we are actually in the fourth wave of feminism which thus far has been different from the other waves of the feminist movement because it actually draws on the ideas of a pre-feminist era.

In order for American culture to have reached a place where there can be a post-feminist society, two things must happen. The first is that corporate media must stop reminding women that one of their most important tasks is to police the boundaries of their bodies. By sending the message to women that they need to be a size two who wears Victoria’s Secret, drinks Slim Fast, and uses lipstick on a daily basis, they are encouraging women everywhere to strive to be the epitome of patriarchal ideals for women. Ariel Levy argues in her novel Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture that everywhere she turns, she sees this type of behavior being promoted in the media. Levy says that she “...would turn on the television and find strippers in pasties. [She] would flip the channel and see babes in tight, tiny uniforms bouncing up and down on trampolines. Britney Spears was becoming increasingly popular and increasingly unclothed” (87). Levy says that society justifies portraying women in this way by claiming that it is evidence of how much women have succeeded with the feminist project and that we have reached a post feminist society. Levy learned through research for her novel that these sexy, seductive women on T.V. were actually the new role models for the fourth feminist movement, which showed how empowered women had become. Women no longer had to sit on the side lines as men read Playboy and objectified the women around them, they had now earned the right to do these things as well. This shows that today, culture in America is persuading women to be provocative and scantily clad to gain attention and approval from society, namely our male dominated society. It’s a clear indication that women still have progress to be made, and therefor we have not reached a post feminist society. Once the media stops portraying women as sexual commodities, women will then be able to establish themselves as a respectable, intelligent gender equal to that of men.

The second thing that must change for America to achieve a post feminist society is women's obsession with a version of femininity that includes, but is not limited to, thongs, Playboy bunny logos, and strippers. Levy tells us that “only 30 years ago, our mothers were burning their bras and picketing Playboy...” (88) because back then, the feminist movement was against the objectification of women for means of entertainment or anything else. However today Levy says that women are “getting implants and wearing the bunny logo as supposed symbols of our liberation” (88). Levy has it right, it is just a supposed symbol. There is nothing empowering for women in getting paid to pose naked after getting surgically enlarged breasts. Levy cites Hugh Hefner as someone who would like to make women believe that...
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