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Monday, August 18, 2014

Fourth-Wave Feminism: Reclaiming the Women's Movement

By now you've probably heard about the #womenagainstfeminism trend, and all the condemnations and refutations it has prompted. (I sure hope so, because it's a bit much to summarize.)

I am a woman. I am not against feminism. I am very much for feminism. Problem is, those statements depend a lot on what you mean by "feminism"—and that definition has been a thorny question for a long time.

In "You Don't Hate Feminism. You Just Don't Understand It," Emily Shire writes:
An April 2013 poll found just 16 percent of men and 23 percent of women in America identify as feminists. The women behind Women Against Feminism aren’t exactly a minority. However, that same poll found 82 percent of all Americans agree with the statement “men and women should be social, political, and economic equals.” That’s the simplest and most accurate definition of feminism, but the movement has come to be seen as anti-men, liberal, radical, pro-choice, and many other things that it is not. . . . 
People do not realize you can be a feminist and pro-life. . . .
I'm on board with that, but significant spokeswomen for feminism are not:
I know that I'm supposed to write 500 words on this subject, but it seems much simpler: You can't call yourself a feminist if you don't believe in the right to abortion. ~Nora Ephron
Considering that few things are more critical to the maintenance of the patriarchy than controlling women's reproduction, yes, I'm happy to say that opponents of legal abortion can't be feminists. ~Amanda Marcotte
The feminist movement has accomplished so much. I'm incredibly grateful to our foremothers; I'm particularly cognizant of the fact that I would never have been considered for law school without their efforts. And there is much work to be done: on affordable child care, on sexual assault prevention, on child support enforcement, and much more.

Those goals are impeded by leaders who insist that feminism is synonymous with support for the legal killing of preborn human beings. You'd think they'd be trying to build broad coalitions to work on issues where pro- and anti-abortion women agree, but instead, they're busy demonizing pro-lifers. (The other day I just about exploded in rage when an acquaintance posted a cartoon on facebook that attempted to link waiting periods for abortion with street harassment. I'm 100% serious.)

And so I rarely just call myself a feminist, full stop. It's always "pro-life feminist," or the clarifier proposed by our friends at Feminsits for Nonviolent Choices, a fourth-wave feminist.


Feminists for Nonviolent Choices has put together a great Buzzfeed post and is encouraging supporters to use the hastag #fourthwave.

I'll close with a personal confession, which I've been wanting to write about for a while, and now seems like a good opportunity: when I see an organization or campaign about "women's health," I always dig to see if it's an abortion group before expressing any support. And that disgusts me. I'm a woman. Women's health is my health!! How did we get to the point where I have to be suspicious of my health?! But my suspicions are justified, because the phrase "women's health," like "feminism," has been hijacked by people with values that are starkly opposed to those of 57% of the female population of the United States.

Yes, it's beyond frustrating, and I understand why some people just throw their hands in the air and reject feminism. But I'm convinced that the better response is to reclaim it!

88 comments:

conversate said...

Yes, gender essentialism is so very feminist.

Crystal Kupper said...

I'm often told by my Christian friends that I can't be a feminist. But then my liberal friends say the same thing because I'm pro-life. It's like I can't win.

Jameson Graber said...

The DB article promotes a form of "feminism" that just doesn't mean anything. Sure, I'm thankful for past accomplishments of feminists. Why does that mean I should call myself a "feminist" today, just for believing what almost everyone currently believes? Celebrating accomplishments is not the same thing as considering oneself as part of a movement. I'm also very grateful to the civil rights movement and what it has accomplished. That does not make me a civil rights advocate.


Movements are supposed to convince people of one side of a particular controversy. Once they've succeeded, they either stop existing or turn to new controversies. Today's feminism is clearly not a unified movement, so I don't see the point of calling oneself a feminist. As this very blog post points out, you're just going to have to be more specific.

JDC said...

"that same poll found 82 percent of all Americans agree with the statement “men and women should be social, political, and economic equals.”

Surprisingly, that leaves a full 18% of Americans who don't agree with that statement. While obviously a minority, it's still a disturbingly high number to not support a fairly basic statement of equality.

Griffonn said...

The problem is defining "equality".

Chris R said...

"That’s the simplest and most accurate definition of feminism"

No. No. No it is not. The feminist movement is NOT solely stating that "men and women should be social, political, and economic equals". MRAs believe the same thing, as do humanists and gender egalitarians. Feminism is a very specific (gynocentric) *approach* to gender equality. Do not try to tell people they are feminists when they are not, and want nothing to do with the feminist movement.

JDC said...

True.

Stormii said...

As a pro-life woman "against feminism" I can say that it, for me, it has more to do than just with abortion. The feminism movement has tried to make women helpless damsels and men forever predators. Feminism has a case of victim complex. Some women don't want to be called a victim because of a simple cat-call. Not to mention, you must agree with everything they say and do. They don't allow you to have your own thoughts, lest you be deemed a "women hater" no matter the fact that you, too are a woman.

Amanda Gun said...

I could not disagree more. Being anti-choice and a feminist are definitely mutually exclusive. If you have personal convictions against choosing abortion there is obviously not an issue with that, but as soon as you start wanting to legislate against other women's right to make that choice for themselves, you lose the right to call yourself a feminist. We're not fighting for "equality for people who I approve of".

LN said...


You mean like only fighting for born people?

LN said...

They don't allow you to have your own thoughts, or they don't agree with your thoughts?

LN said...

Feminism is a branch of humanism which focuses on social discrimination against females. But it still ascribes to the belief that men and women should be equals. And it doesn't prevent people from *also* focusing on discrimination against males.

It's like two scientific disciplines: biology and chemistry. Both believe in the scientific method, but they focus on different issues, and that's perfectly alright. There are plenty of biochemists!

Stormii said...

Don't allow. If anything goes against them, they would say you aren't a real feminist.

conversate said...

Hey, if I think that marital rape should be legal, and that women should be chained to the sink and not have any rights other than as the property of a man, could I still call myself a feminist?

LN said...

But they're not actually stopping you from espousing your thoughts.

Stormii said...

That's different then my point. What you say would smack right into the face of equality, which is suppose to be their point. Men and women should have equal rights.

conversate said...

And since when are men forced to beget children?

Stormii said...

True, yet that would be more a literal translation. Saying you have to do, think this or else you can't be with us would fit into my point.

Stormii said...

If your talking in context of abortion, then there are no similarities. For one, men don't carry a pregnancy. Their bodies aren't made for that. Because men don't get pregnant and can't get pregnant then pregnancy related things don't apply to feminism because it has nothing to with equality between the sexes. Abortion would fall under a women's right issue, strictly tailored to women.

conversate said...

We are talking about equality, after all. It's no secret that pregnancy and child-rearing are essentially what has kept women under the thumb of men for thousands of years. Mere property, to be used as breeding machines.

Stormii said...

I'm not talking of history. In the name of feminism, women should have every right men has been granted. Men have never been granted the right to end a pregnancy. At least not legally. Therefore pregnancy should be under women's rights because it would not effect men. Not in a biological sense. Feminism is essentially tit for tat. What men get women should get, vise versa. It doesn't take in consideration biological differences.

conversate said...

Men should not be forced to breed, and neither should women.

Denying women abortion = forced reproduction.

Men do not have to deal with nine months of being extra-careful what they consume, taking time off from work to go in for regular pre-natal checkups, and possibly losing any jobs that are currently keeping themselves and their families afloat, nor do they have to risk chronic health problems and possibly death caused by pregnancy and childbirth. They can opt out of all the "joys of parenting". For that matter, many simply opt out of the whole business, vanishing off the child-support radar altogether.

Stormii said...

Sexism doesn't come from child bearing. It comes from ignorance, the ridiculous idea that women are weaker than men in mind and body. Therefore that makes them weaker than a man and of less worth. Because that isn't true, I don't believe equality is tied to abortion.

conversate said...

It is tied to abortion and birth control - because if you deny people reproductive freedom you treat them as second class citizens.

Basset_Hound said...

But I'm NOT "equal". I am DIFFERENT!

DIFFERENT! biologically.
DIFFERENT! psychologically.
DIFFERENT! sexually.
DIFFERENT! emotionally.
DIFFERENT! functionally.

Why do I have to become a "quasi-man" to be "free and equal"?

I'm PROUD that I carried life in my womb.
I'm PROUD that I raised children and cared for a family.
I'm PROUD that oxytocin courses through my veins, causing me to BOND with my husband and with my children.



I'm sick and tired of everything feminine; that sets us apart from men being seen as inferior and held up for ridicule.


I'm DIFFERENT and DAMNED PROUD.

Basset_Hound said...

If you go against them they call you a "baby factory", "ignorant", a "religious nutter", and that's just for starters.

LN said...

Feminists aren't looking to LITERALLY make men and women equal...what in the world... They're looking to give women equal opportunity in cases where they're equally capable.

argent said...

I personally don't agree with the "person who believes in equality for women" definition of feminism. I think it's kind of a dishonest attempt to inflate the number of "feminists" by categorizing as "feminists" many people who do not wish to associate themselves with the movement. I think a better definition, one that better encapsulates the common link among people who self-identify as feminists, is "a person who believes that women [and female-assigned people, feminine people, etc.] suffer from significant social inequality, and who believes in eliminating that inequality".


And I am a feminist.

LN said...

Are you saying there's no systematic discrimination against women, at all, anywhere?

conversate said...

"Dear Muslima' just isn't capable, I guess.

ann said...

Hi dudebro or whatever your new name is. What happened to our debate.

Guess you just wanted to keep trolling down the river.

ann said...

Stormii, stop feeding the trolls. It's tuppence a bag.

m said...

or they could just wear a condom.

conversate said...

all forms of contraception including tubal ligation have known failure rates

Stormii said...

I can't help it. I have a problem.

Stormii said...

I disagree, yet I still stand by my point. How does that deal with feminism? Say you're right and its such an injustice, it still wouldn't deal with feminism because like mentioned above "men and women should be social, political, and economic equals" - definition of feminism. Since men can't get pregnant and can only impregnate that they'll never understand the pressure of pregnancy and birth. Men have reproductive freedom, yes, but their jurisdiction (for the lack of a better word) doesn't go beyond sex. Being pregnant/getting an abortion and wearing a condom, in my opinion, are two very different things. That's saying the sex act itself and being pregnant are same. The closet you'll get to being similar would be a man wearing a condom, a woman on birth control. Pregnancy is another realm. A place where men can't go. Abortion is more complex than contraception - that's why its an issue in the first place.

conversate said...

Equal individual rights before the law, ie, women's bodily autonomy cannot be restricted just because they are women

Amanda Gun said...

Lol! No, that is not at all what I mean. Is that what counts for a burn in your community?

Denying a woman full rights to decide what happens to her own body is unfeminist, full stop. I don't understand how anyone can argue differently. Should we also force women to give blood and organs to people who need them? Should rape be made legal? Should women, in fact, have any rights at all or would we be better off going back to the old system where fathers and husbands decided everything for us?

LN said...

So when they did an experiment using identical resumes for a job, and simply changed the name to a female name -- and the male name got far more call-backs, statistically -- that's just "in the eye of the beholder"?

lady_black said...

Yes, you ARE equal. Equal doesn't mean identical.

ann said...

Thank you,
I am very impressed that you can cut and paste.
Is this your final authority on personhood?

Guest said...

A catcaller victimized my mom's cousin when she was driving down a freeway in California. They're married now.

All's fair in love and war.

Clinton said...

If your definition of feminism includes the "right" to kill her own child while the child is still in the womb, then I am happy to reject the label of "feminism." I believe in equal rights for women, but not at the expense of unborn women.

Clinton said...

How does equal not mean identical? If I say that A=B, in what way would B not be identical to A?

conversate said...

Listen, cupcake. Citations are required in any discussion of FACT. The lack of them means one of two things: 1) You're plagiarizing, or 2) You're making shit up. Neither of those are acceptable.

Guest said...

Come again? Which part do you want citation for, the freeway part or the marriage part?

conversate said...

Listen, cupcake. Citations are required in any discussion of FACT. The
lack of them means one of two things: 1) You're plagiarizing, or 2)
You're making shit up. Neither of those are acceptable.

conversate said...

Oops, wrong person.


However, go ahead, cite away if you wish!

myintx said...

Men shouldn't be able to have abortions either... there - all equal now :)


No such thing as full bodily autonomy.

lady_black said...

For Pete's sake, Clinton. Don't you have a dictionary? If you and I both own cars that cost $25K does that mean we have the exact same make and model of car? Equal and identical do not mean the same thing.

Basset_Hound said...

Citation, please....

someone45 said...

So what you are saying is you believe in a woman having equal rights unless she is pregnant. If she is pregnant she no longer is free to the same rights that everyone else enjoys.


So being pregnant makes her inferior I guess...

Amanda Gun said...

Why do you believe in the rights of "unborn people" over already living ones?

conversate said...

Should men be imprisoned and forced to reproduce? This is what a catholic bishop wanted for a pregnant female rape victim
http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/catholic-barbarity-in-europe/

someone45 said...

I never thought I'd be glad to live in Texas...
Ireland sounds like it would be a nightmare to live there and be a woman.

LN said...

....You just completely ignored what I said. Here is the actual study showing this gender bias, if you don't believe it: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/12/04/gender-bias-and-the-sciences-facing-reality/

Piggy87 said...

I believe you're confusing equality with uniformity. Women and men are both equally human. Different does not mean unequal, nor does sameness mean equal. You have exactly the same value as any other human being.

Piggy87 said...

There are differences between unborn children and people who became brain-dead during/after birth. Like the fact that a "permanent vegetative state" is exactly that: PERMANENT!
Unborn children's brains will develop until they are fully functional. If they don't develop properly, the mother will have a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
Undeveloped brains in utero will become fully functional if allowed. Brain death is permanent and irreversible. They are not equivalent states. In summary, a baby in utero will become cognizant or die, whereas a brain dead person will never be cognizant again and is being kept alive artificially. One is natural the other is not. That's why turning off life support of brain dead patients isn't murder, but abortion is.

conversate said...

You are arguing from potential. Not every embryo will develop a brain. There is no garantee.

The point is that no higher brain = no mind = mere living body = death.

Just as the PVS is a mindless animal organism so is the embryo.

Ann Morgan said...

**Undeveloped brains in utero will become fully functional if allowed. **
The same could be said of an ova or sperm. Are you willing to pass laws protecting the right of the ova and sperm to be fertilized? Or is 'potential' only 'really potential' when it lets you inconvenience other people but not yourself?

Ann Morgan said...

**No such thing as full bodily autonomy.**
Translation: People are slaves to myintx's extortion schemes using embryos as hostages.

myintx said...

Translation - Parents have a RESPONSIBILITY to their offspring. That responsibility should start when their offspring come into existence - at fertilization.

fiona64 said...

Parents have a RESPONSIBILITY to their offspring.

Then why are strangers responsible for feral toddlers who break into their garages, instead of the parents?

ann said...

Your response doesn't answer my question.
Is that your final authority on determining brain functionality constituting personhood

conversate said...

That's all I have to say about brain functionality.

I suppose you believe that human DNA alone can be a person?

ann said...

Yeah cuz there's just a hoard of feral toddler terrorising innocent suburbia.

That comment was asinine.

conversate said...

I suspect that you are not familiar with myintx' anti abortion argument. Hint: its to do with feral toddlers

ann said...

I am inclusive. I believe that any human life at any stage of development or decline is a person has the right to life and the dignity to be thus recognised regardlessregardless of how he or she came into existence.

conversate said...

Then you must think that organ harvesting from beating heart cadavers and anencephalic babies is murder, yes?

And that hydatidiform moles are people.

Basset_Hound said...

Gender bias in the science department of the elite halls of academia. That's a pretty narrow swath. The author has a valid point that it's a problem. But that does not indicate that systematic discrimination oozes out of every pore in corporate America.

Ann Morgan said...

**Parents have a RESPONSIBILITY to their offspring.**

No, they don't. People do not have any 'responsibilities' that they have not voluntarily and explicitly agreed to. If you actually understood what the word 'responsibility' meant rather than misapplying it to your having gotten stuck with the results of your ill-advised attempt to extort babydaddy, you would know that.

**That responsibility should start when their offspring come into existence - at fertilization.**



You don't get to decide what responsibilities people 'should' have, or when they 'should' start.

fiona64 said...

You clearly haven't been reading myintx' idea of a clever argument. She maintains that total strangers are responsible for random toddlers entering their yards, their garages, or being near busy streets ... because that's "taking responsibility."

fiona64 said...

I actually agree with your amplified definition, but I don't disagree with the simplified version (if that makes sense).

fiona64 said...

The only persons anywhere are born.

fiona64 said...

Reality says otherwise in a country where it's legal to pay women less money for doing the same work as a man.

myintx said...

The parents are still responsible for their child. They could be investigated by CPS if their toddler wanders off.

myintx said...

If a woman who never realized she was pregnant gave birth in her living room, she could NOT kill her newborn because she didn't 'voluntarily' agree to be a parent. She is a PARENT and has a responsibility to take care of her child - at a minimum, take her baby to the hospital for nearest fire station to hand him or her off SAFELY.

I don't get to decide anything, but I can vote for lawmakers who can decide what the law should be. Laws that will hopefully challenge the horrible SC decision known as Roe V Wade.

Ann Morgan said...

**She is a PARENT and has a responsibility to take care of her child - at a minimum, take her baby to the hospital for nearest fire station to hand him or her off SAFELY.**


And yet you gerrymander your way out of similiar responsibilities, and claim that you should not have to keep a homeless person in your house, even if they will freeze to death otherwise.


Sorry, but no dice, myintx. A homeless person is not less 'human' than a newborn baby. Nor does become a parent somehow reduce your rights. The fact that you want it otherwise, because you don't want to be personally inconvenienced by homeless people while being able to use 'cute tiny vulnerable defenseless' embryos as a hostage in your assorted schemes to extort and control people bears no weight with me. And the fact that you want to pass laws tells me a great deal, it tells me you have the ethics of a murderer, and want a gun pointed at people to get them to comply with your extortion and control schemes, but lack the courage to hold the gun yourself.

myintx said...

PARENT - get the word? With being a parent you have RESPONSIBILITIES. I'm not the parent of the homeless person - different situation. A closer situation would be the woman giving birth in her living room not realizing she was pregnant. You agree that she shouldn't be able to kill her newborn, right? She shouldn't have been able to kill him or her moments before (had she known she was pregnant) when the baby was in utero.

Ann Morgan said...

Sorry, no. You become a parent when the baby is born, because at that point it has rights. Something without a brain does not have rights, no matter how convenient it might be to your extortion schemes to pretend that it does. Nor do said 'rights' of something WITH a brain ever include the right to another person's body. If you can find a way to remove the embryo from someone's body without killing it, or demanding that they 'wait a few short months' when said waiting will always cause damage to their body, I'll be happy to hear about it.

** She shouldn't have been able to kill him or her moments before (had she known she was pregnant) when the baby was in utero.**



Do you have a way for a baby to be born that is gauranteed to cause no pain or injury to the mother? If not, tough, the baby does not have the 'right' to cause said injury to her, merely because it is 'moments' away from being born. Also, you're trying to sneak in your Loki's Neck fallacy again here, and no doubt if someone agrees that you shouldn't kill an unborn baby at 40 weeks, then why not 39 weeks, and 38 weeks, and so on back to the point of fertilization.

myintx said...

It's not 'over', it's EQUAL rights. All innocent human beings should have an EQUAL right to life. If that means a new parent has to miss a party because she cannot find a baby sitter or cannot drop her newborn off at the fire station in time to make the party - does that mean her newborn has more rights then she does?

myintx said...

I said an equal right to life, not an equal right to my body. Also, innocent human beings should not be killed. Me not donating a kidney to you is not intentionally killing you. Having an abortion is intentionally killing a human being - big difference.

Ann Morgan said...

An embryo is not a child no matter how much you pretend it is. There is more involved in being a 'human being' than having 46 chromosomes, or a cute head, no matter how many sad feelies you have about it.

**Your babydaddy comments just show your immaturity.**



So...your assorted acts of rape, extortion, and enslavement are proof of how 'mature' you are. But my discussing them proves that I'm 'immature'.

Amanda Gun said...

But that is what you are ignoring - in order for that zygote to evolve into human life, it needs to use a woman's body to grow. In no other instance is this acceptable, and I don't see why it should suddenly be allowed when it comes to foetuses.

myintx said...

And a child is not an elderly person.... But a child, an elderly person and an unborn child are all human beings. None of them should be killed because they are inconvenient or unwanted.


Not sure what 'assorted acts' you're talking about. Sounds to me like you're making stuff up.

myintx said...

"suddenly"? Unborn children have been in women's bodies for very long time now ;)


We have unique rules for lots of things.... We have laws that make parents responsible for taking care of their born children. Those laws don't include dogs and cats, just children. OH NO "I don't see why that should suddenly be allowed".

myintx said...

Because you could not kill your unborn child if you became pregnant it would be a 'nightmare'? In your mind, no women work over there because they are at home all day crying about not being able to kill an unborn child if they ever got pregnant. I'm sure that many women in Ireland are pro-life, just like over here. I'm sure that more women over there are careful with there partners then couples are over here. Looks like your number one priority in life is having the ability to kill if you ever got pregnant. That's pretty sad.

secularprolife.org said...

Feminism is not compatible with the belief that women should be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against their will.


It is an inarguable basic human right that no one's bodily organs or bodily functions can be used against their will. No one argues that one human must be compelled by law to give up the use of their body or a part of their body to another: not so much as half a pint of blood, which any healthy adult can do with ease and without any long-term affects.


The only exception to this, the only one, is the prolife argument that a woman's uterus, and indeed all of her bodily resources in pregnancy, is somehow outside these basic human rights rules and can be used against her will, regardless of the damage to her health. This is clear discrimination against girls and women, clear violation of female human rights: a prolifer who says she's a feminist evidently hasn't grasped the basic principle of feminism: human rights for all women.