The term “Third Wave Feminism” was coined by Rebecca Walker in the 1990s as an attempt to build a bridge between the feminists of her generation and the second wave feminists of the 1960s-1970s, while simultaneously acknowledging the vital differences between the the periods of feminist activity.
I think that now is the time that we, as young feminists active in the 2010s, do what Rebecca Walker did years ago and recognize today’s feminism as its own movement.
I believe that the birth of social media catalyzed the fourth wave of feminism, allowing women from all over the world to connect, share ideas, and empower each other. I feel fortunate to be alive during this time, and my goal is to contribute to the internet revolution by sharing my knowledge on feminism, lgbtqia+ rights, and everything political. Feminists of the past laid the groundwork for feminists today, and my goal is to pick up their torch.
Inspired by third waver Kathleen Hanna’s Riot Grrrl Manifesto, I decided to write my own feminist manifesto for the fourth wave.
By no means do I want this to be the sole declaration of the fourth wave. This is my movement and your movement, and it wouldn’t be a movement without our collective effort. I think that every feminist who wants to should write their own manifesto about what they see the fourth wave as. So, here’s mine.
Because when I voice my experience with sexism I am often silenced by excuses like “women have the right to vote” or “women can run for president,” as if the feminist achievements of the past render today’s feminism useless.
Because I have been conditioned by a misogynistic society to see my body as ugly, my sexuality as dirty, and my thoughts as useless.
Because everywhere I look I am bombarded with images of women being objectified, abused, undermined, mutilated, and raped.
Because all my life I’ve been pigeonholed and categorized. I am not seen as a complex human being, but rather labeled as the angry feminist, the lesbian, the fake, the girly girl, the slut, or the girl who won’t shut up.
Because I’ve been told by society that the gender I’ve been assigned to is unworthy. That only men are human in their own right, that women are inherently other.
Because society says girls are catty drama queens, and to be viewed as a human and not a woman I must be unlike the other girls.
Because I’ve been discouraged from reaching out and forming meaningful connections with other girls in fear of being labeled as a “girly girl” or worse, a “dyke.”
Because when I was born I was forced into a bullshit competition with other girls that I never consented to: a competition for male attention. I should never have had to realize that this competition is a social construct and I can opt out of it. That should’ve been a given.
Because I am still battling against internalized misogyny.
Because my sex is not something to overcome.
Because I need a movement that is unapologetically feminist. Too long have I worried about making men comfortable, too long have I addressed their concerns before my own.
Because patriarchy keeps men, women, and all people from living freely.
Because I know that classism, racism, ableism, cissexism, sexism, colorism, sizeism, speciesism, and all forms of oppression intersect. Society will never be equal unless we address the complexity of oppression and realize that there is no universal experience of sexism.
Because inclusivity is the only way forward. We need as many people awakened and in the movement as possible so that the rest of society has no choice but to listen to us.
Because I am sick of having my sexuality defined for me, and having my worth determined by my sexual availability.
Because I recognize virginity as a social construct that shames women and keeps us from owning our sexuality.
Because I need to wake up to the reality of the world.
Because I know that there is more work to be done in the fight for equality.
Because it’s imperative that feminists honor and study the feminist movements before us while seeking to rectify the wrongs of the first, second, and third wave.
Because I don’t buy into the idea that power structures cannot be brought down, and that patriarchy is just the way things are and always will be. I know that mindsets like that keep society from progressing, and only benefit the oppressors who rule in the status quo.
Because in order to affect change I must alter how I perceive societal norms. I must question everything in order to determine what is truly right and what I’ve been spoon-fed to believe is right.
Because a revolution of the mind on the individual level is the only path to an equal society.