'Waves' of Feminism, III
There has been a good deal of discussion on WMST-L about
so-called "third-wave feminism." Several of those discussions
can be found in the Girls and Young Women section of the WMST-L
File Collection, including Young Women and 'Feminism,' which
appeared on WMST-L in January 2005 and gave rise to the following
discussion. For more WMST-L files available on the Web, see the
WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 08:23:35 -0800
From: Sarah Rasmusson <sarahrasmusson AT YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Seeking Third Wave Colleagues and Collaborators
Hi all, I have been following the high-school/third
wave thread really interested!
I am a self-identified third waver who spends a lot
of time clarifying what third wave feminism might be
(media-based, culture-oriented, consumer politics,
global, addressing interlocking oppressions and also
pleasure, ensuring the visibility of youths, embracing
men feminists, etc.), and what it is NOT (we don't
diss on second wavers, in fact we aren't all young
anyway, we don't just care solely about lipgloss, we
don't just selfishly think about ourselves, etc,).
As we know, third wave feminism hit the activist scene
in the early 90s when young women wanted to address
the invisibility of and condescension towards women
who were then in their twenties. It seems the time has
now arrived for a discussion of third wave feminism's
relationship to the academy, particularly Women's &
Gender Studies (especially since third wavers are now
here as faculty) .
I have been thinking about some theoretical issues and
wondered if anyone would like to work on them as
colleagues/collaborators. Maybe, we could propose a
special issue of NWSA Journal on Third Wavers in
Women's Studies. Maybe some of us might be interested
in an old-fashioned
peer/networking/consciousness-raising group (see,
blending the waves already...!)
Well, I think there is a lot of great work about to
erupt on academic third wave... and I have been
wondering if anyone is examining/wants to examine:
1. The "I'm Not A Feminist, But...." Hype
Are other feminists wrong to cringe when young women
say this? Are young women really distancing themselves
from feminist politics by eschewing the labels?
It seems to me that this apologetic and defensive
preamble before declaring progressive politics has
been more misunderstood and maligned than really
intended. And, criticism of this phrase might just be
the sort of dismissive problem third wave addresses.
Yes, I hear it said a lot (mostly by my students.)
But, when I really listen to what women are saying
they are protecting themselves from punitive social
backlash against feminism. And, sometimes they say
something else, as if trying to negotiate between two
worlds: "My boyfriend reads _Maxim_ , so I'm not a
feminist." Or, "I shop at Victoria's Secret and I know
that's bad so I am not a feminist."
It is as if they know the proverbial feminist ideals
and see a discrepancy in their private behavior, so
disavow with the label in order to not be judged (by
Could they actually be wanting to say, something that
breaks a ^-Not a feminist/But...^- binary, with "I'm a
feminist AND.... I (do this thing that isn't really
My media activist friend Jenn Pozner calls this the
rock-and-hard place of
Are there any communications/rhetoric/linguists/media
folks who are working on or would like to assess this
oft-discussed way that young women refuse to identify
2. Third Wave Feminism and the Academy
Are any of you third wavers in women's and gender
studies also thinking about what the third wave means
for the profession? pedagogy? cultural identification
with your students? issues of
institutional/departmental hierarchy? how a third wave
perspective might approach topics of power, pleasure,
oppression, privilege differently? Are third wavers
changing the way women's studies is taught and
To be sure, I am not 100% sure of this thing called
being a third waver, let alone a third wave educator.
But, I _feel_ like something is afoot out there at the
schools where we are -- especially when I see my Third
Wave friends like me with their 3 adjunct jobs,
waitressing on weekends, commuting in their run-down
Hondas to hold their lives together, caring so much
about relating to students and infusing their syllabi
with references to pop culture where relevant and
In sisterhood of all waves, Sarah Rasmusson
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 11:33:18 -0500
From: Deborah Siegel <dsiegel AT NCRW.ORG>
Subject: Announcing: An Encyclopedia of Third Wave Feminism
Sarah's essay below sounds great. I also wanted to let this list know
about a forthcoming resource on third wave feminism as well:
The Women's Movement Today: An Encyclopedia of Third Wave Feminism, is
a comprehensive, 1200 page 2-volume set containing an A-Z encyclopedia
in the first volume and the primary documents of third wave feminism in
the other. The publication date is late 2005. It will be the most
comprehensive work on third wave feminism to date and is edited by
Leslie Heywood, who co-edited the influential 1997 collection, Third
Wave Agenda: Doing Feminism, Being Feminist.
My essay in Leslie's 1997 collection charts some of the early debates in
third wave feminism, and my essay on "feminist waves" in the forthcoming
encyclopedia explores the continued usefulness, and limitations, of the
wave metaphor, while offering a definition of 3wave as well. I'm also
in the process of translating my dissertation - on changing images and
definitions of "feminism" in popular feminist writing - into a book,
called Fighting Words: The 40-Year Battle for the Soul of Feminism.
Here, I call for the "end" of the current emphasis on generational
divide by pointing to the cyclical nature of internal debates around
personal politics and the meaning of feminism as both culture and cause.
Glad to see there's a hunger for this kind of information out there!
One more interesting resource: Lisa Jervis, the cofounder of Bitch
magazine, has an article in the current issue of Ms., called "The End
of Feminism's Third Wave"
(http://www.msmagazine.com/winter2004/thirdwave.asp). Here she, too,
calls for the "end" of the current focus on generational divide.
Deborah Siegel, Ph.D.
Director of Special Projects
National Council for Research on Women
11 Hanover Square, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10005
dsiegel AT ncrw.org
From: Sarah Rasmusson [mailto:sarahrasmusson AT YAHOO.COM]
Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2005 3:03 PM
To: WMST-L AT LISTSERV.UMD.EDU
Subject: Re: associating with feminism in High School
To all WMSTL-ers intersted in "Third Wave Feminism"
and would like more information:
I wrote the definition of "Third Wave Feminism" for
the _Encyclopedia of American Social Movements_ (ed.
ME Sharpe, Inc., 2004) and would be happy to pass it
on to anyone who would like it -- it is a full length
article that descibes its place in the "waves", what
it is, who it is, and includes short summaries of its
defining texts (Manifesta, Listen Up and organizations
(Third Wave Foundation) etc.
just email me privately at sarahrasmusson AT yahoo.com
and i will send you the link or a copy of the article.
Best, Sarah L. Rasmusson
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 11:38:11 -0500
From: Judith Lorber <jlorber AT RCN.COM>
Subject: Third Wave Feminism
On third wave feminism -- in addition to Sarah Rasmusson's encyclopedia
entry, I highly recommend --
Henry, Astrid. 2004. Not My Mother's Sister: Generational Conflict and
Third-Wave Feminism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Springer, Kimberly. "Third Wave Black Feminism?" 2002. Signs: Journal of
Women in Culture and Society 27:1059-82.
I have a chapter on third-wave feminism in the third edition of Gender
Inequality: Feminist Theories and Politics, which will be out this spring.
If you email me privately, I can send some parts of it.
Judith Lorber, Ph.D.
Brooklyn College and Graduate School, CUNY
Email: jlorber AT rcn.com
How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? None - It's not the
light bulb that needs changing.
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 11:21:39 -0600
From: Hannah Miyamoto <hsmiyamoto AT MSN.COM>
Subject: Reminder about NWSA 3rd Wave group (Re: Seeking Third Wave
> I have been thinking about some theoretical issues and
> wondered if anyone would like to work on them as
> colleagues/collaborators. Maybe, we could propose a
> special issue of NWSA Journal on Third Wavers in
> Women's Studies.
This is a perfect time to remind the members of this listserve that NWSA
has maintained a special interest group on Third Wave Feminisms since 2001.
To learn more, please see: http://www.nwsa.org/thirdwave.html. On that
page, you can subscribe to the "TWIG" listserve, read Alison Piepmeier's
summary of our 2004 meeting, and the CFP we just put out for presentations
at the ambitious roundtable discussion we plan to hold at the NWSA 2005
One of the feelings at the 2004 meeting was that many members felt that
the time for manifestoes on behalf of the generation had passed, and the
time has come to emphasize dialogue with Second Wave women. Another was a
feeling that North American feminism focuses so much on issues like sex,
beauty standards, and career that the movement has become excessively
de-politicized. This is why our CFP responds to the NWSA 2005 theme by
talking about "restoring democratic control over global production, trade,
finance, and health, safety, worker, and environmental protection under a
feminist framework." At least as I see it, this project must focus on
action by American feminists as U.S. citizens and scholars, and avoid
directly interfering in less-developed states. Furthermore, critically
examining laissez-faire global capitalism or perhaps, neo-fascist
corporatism, unmistakingly differentiates this approach to generational
identity in U.S. feminism with that of Katie Roiphe and perhaps Naomi Wolf.
I invite everyone who identifies as a Third Wave feminists or is
otherwise interested in Third Wave-Second Wave dialogue to join the
listserve and participate in our discussions. While I, Alison, and Crystal
Lander of the Feminist Majority Foundation are doing our best to lead the
group, we want to maintain channels of discussion that are as open as
co-chair, NWSA Third Wave Feminisms interest group
hsmiyamoto AT msn.com
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 09:50:05 -0500
From: Karen Bojar <kbojar AT CCP.EDU>
Subject: Re: Third Wave Feminism
I also recommend:
Lisa Jervis' article in the Winter 2004/2005 of Ms "The End of Feminism's Third Wave."
Professor of English
Coordinator of Women's Studies Program
Community College of Philadelphia
1700 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
kbojar AT ccp.edu
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 13:12:07 -0800
From: j.l.tallentire <jltallen AT INTERCHANGE.UBC.CA>
Subject: Re: Third Wave Feminism
Hi - in our editorial in the latest issue of /thirdspace/, Kim Snowden & I
talk about the pressures of negotiating academia as emerging feminist
scholars: "(Third)Waving Not Drowning"
As a journal devoted to the scholarship of senior grads, postdocs, and
junior professionals, /thirdspace/ is a good place to look at what 'third
wavers' are producing - though I would note that many of us would not
appreciate or accept the label, while others would embrace it.
Our listserv, chora-l, is also a good place to look for what thirdwavers are
saying/doing (with the same caveat) - we now have almost 400 members.
jtg AT thirdspace.ca
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 20:38:13 -0500
From: Jennifer Drake <jdrake AT UINDY.EDU>
Subject: Third Wave Feminism Encyclopedia
I'm on the editorial board for The Women's Movement Today: An Encyclopedia of
Third Wave Feminism that Leslie Heywood is editing for Greenwood Press. A
table of contents isn't yet available for the primary documents volume because
it's still being developed; the publication date for the two-volume set is
Associate Professor of English
University of Indianapolis
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