Fourth Wave Feminists–What’s your observation???
Author Jennifer Baumgardner dated the Fourth Wave as starting around 2008; it “continues the legacy of the Third Wave and moves it into the tech-savvy, gender-sophisticated world of blogs, Twitter campaigns, transgenderism, male feminists, sex work and complex relationships within the media.” Baumgardner believes the Fourth Wave’s use of social media transformed politics and feminism. Because of media advances and globalization, the waves of mass change are coming faster. Some feminists define the Fourth Wave as young people’s renewed interest in women’s rights and the environmental advocacy, strongly influenced by globalization issues. Other Fourth Wave interests are ecofeminism and spirituality, which were also part of the Second Wave (see my Brave: Young Women’s Global Revolution for more about feminism). Feminism reemerged among young women in the UK and US, according to studies by Bellafante, McVeigh, Sheehy and others.[i]
Celebrities like Beyoncé and Emma Watson are making feminism cool again. Young feminist TV actor, Rowan Blanchard, 14, joined activist actor Amandla Stenberg in being awarded a feminist celerity of the year award by Ms. Magazine for her online essay about intersectional feminism.[ii] Blanchard’s essay went viral with more than 97,000 likes on Instagram.[iii] Like Emma Watson who toped the list the previous year, Blanchard spoke at the UN for gender equality. She spoke at the UN Women’s annual summit in June 2015, where she explained how gender inequality affects youth. Her speech included her experiences with sexism, saying she has been a feminist since preschool when she was told she threw a ball like a girl.[iv] She is active in HeForShe, which is led by Watson. She explained that girls her age would rather be liked than be leaders and are judged by their appearance more than their talents. She does outreach to try to change this problem. Many girls tell her they don’t feel safe at school because of harassment and their teachers don’t encourage them to study STEM subjects. Sexism is a problem for boys too, like her nine-year-old brother was disparaged for being like a girl for expressing his emotions.
[i] Tracy McVeigh, “Meet the New Wave of Activists Making Feminism Thrive in a Digital Age,” The Guardian, June 1, 2013.