The Mix

The Fourth Wave

A spate of articles remind me why feminism needs a make-over, again.
It could just be one of those days. But there's something rotten with the state of feminsim, or whatever it is we're calling that thing that acknowledges women's experiences in the world.

On the same day, I got hit by this article in the New York Times, with insipid analysis of why "Ivy League" women are saying they'll put aside their careers when the children come, AND this article in Salon, in which a smart single woman wonders what happens to all the smart, decisive single straight men (yes, I didn't know they they'd ever been around in mass numbers, either, or that this ever stopped anyone), AND it turns out a bunch of young men that I know who are smart (but not by any stretch smarter than the young women I know) are being lauded as the next crew of "public intellectuals." Oh, AND I get hit by a car. By a woman talking on her cell phone while driving.

Even if that last item is a coincidental but true outlyer, that still leaves enough points on my list to make me feel that, despite all this talk of waves of brilliant feminism, we're at low tide.

Lord knows, many smart, energized young women have tried to create a meaningful "third wave" feminist movement. Jennifer Baumgartner, Amy Richards, Rebecca Walker, Eisa Davis, Bamboo Girl, Bust, HipMomma -- and hundreds of others of every color, class, and culture -- wrote and published books and articles about young women wrestling with questions of gender, sexuality, parenthood, race, and class.

But I'm not feeling a groundswell and I'm wondering why John Roberts is going to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court despite saying that women are just "giggling distractions" for the men who are trying to study and I'm wondering why we still don't have state-subsidized daycare, or a male contraceptive for that matter, and why we still have rampant domestic violence. Seems like there's still a lot of work to be done. Are we all too tired to do it?

Perhaps the whiplash from the accident has just messed with my normal optimism. I know women of all ages are doing all sorts of good work right now. I just don't see it coming together yet in anything like the kind of wave we need.

Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.
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