You may have heard about the different waves of feminism online or in various feminist groups. This article will go into the different waves of feminism as they occurred in the US and define some of the lingo I’ve been hearing in different feminist circles.
First Wave Feminism
This wave of feminism happened during the 1800’s and early 1900’s, and seemed to focus on getting women the right to vote, on allowing women to own property, allowing women to execute wills, giving married women the right to control their own income, etc.
Second Wave Feminism
This period of feminist thought and activity took place starting in the 1960’s and lasted until about the 1980’s. Second wave feminism focused on women’s access to birth control, gender issues in the workplace, women’s domesticity, domestic violence, equal pay, marital rape, rape crisis centers, women’s shelters, and led to changes in laws regarding custody and divorce.
Third Wave Feminism
This feminist movement began in the 90’s and lasted up until 2012. Third wave feminism emphasized intersectional feminism, transfeminism, ecofeminism, and sex positivity. This particular wave sought to challenge the idea that feminism was only for white women (a big criticism of second wave feminism), and to discuss the intersection of race and gender. It emphasized the importance of diverse feminism.
Fourth Wave Feminism
This wave started in 2012 and is the wave of feminism we are in now. It addresses issues regarding the wage gap, sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, implicit bias against women, rape culture, domestic violence, intersectionality/ inclusivity, and trans inclusive feminism.
Feminist Lingo / Terminology You Should Know About
-Intersectional: This term was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw as a way to describe how overlapping oppressed minority identities operate in systems of oppression. One example of an intersection would be a woman who is both queer and a PoC. Crenshaw has written about her intersection as an African American woman.
-Transfeminism: Transfeminism or trans inclusive feminism describes a branch of feminism that addresses issues that trans women face. It talks about transmisogyny, that is, the oppression that comes with being a woman and being transgender.
-Ecofeminism: This philosophical view combines environmental concerns with feminist ones. Ecofeminists use gender dynamics as a way to look at how humans treat the environment.
-Sex positivity: This is a social idea that sex is not something to be ashamed of. It promotes ideas of safe and consensual sex, and does not tolerate slut shaming.
-TERF/ RadFem/ Radical Feminism: This acronym stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminism”, which essentially states that trans women’s experiences should not be included in feminism because of the idea that trans women benefit from male privilege. By nature, trans exclusionary radical feminists discredit the experiences of trans women in a very toxic and transphobic manner.
-SWERF: “Sex worker exclusionary radical feminism” is the idea that women should not be sex workers, and often involves discrimination against woman sex workers. The idea being that sex workers are constantly sexually objectified and are therefore participating in their own oppression by working these types of jobs.
-Slut shaming: The idea that sexually active or promiscuous women should be shamed.
-Reclamation of derogatory words: Many feminists think that women using words that have been used to oppress them, such as “bitch”, “slut”, or “cunt” can take the sting away from hearing it used negatively. It gives the oppressed some level of power over the language used to harm them.
-Pop feminism: This terms refers to surface level ideas and understanding of feminism, or feminism that is promoted by brands/ corporations in advertisements that only care about your money. One example would be the “ban bossy” campaign, or those deodorant commercials that feature a woman standing in a bathroom at her office trying to convince herself to ask for a pay raise.
-White feminism: This term describes the type of feminism that only concerns itself with liberating white women.
First wave feminism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-wave_feminism
Second wave feminism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-wave_feminism
Third wave feminism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-wave_feminism
Fourth wave feminism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth-wave_feminism