Third Wave Feminism: A Critical Exploration by S. Gillis, G. Howie, R. Munford

By S. Gillis, G. Howie, R. Munford

This well timed, considerate and provocative assortment explores the present interval in feminism, recognized by means of many because the "third wave". 4 sections--genealogies, intercourse and gender, pop culture, and challenges--interrogate the wave metaphor and, via wondering the generational account of feminism, circulate feminist idea past the current deadlock among modernism and postmodernism and point out attainable destiny trajectories for the feminist circulate.

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The trend towards an increased surveillance of youth, the re-discovery of young women in particular as the new consumers, and the cultural fascination with girlhood, have all resulted in a deep suspicion of overt activism as the best method for protest and the creation of social change (13). 6 Committed to cultural production as activism, and cognizant that it is impossible for most Americans to wholly exit consumer culture, third wave feminists both use and resist the mainstream media and create their own media sites and networks, both of which are key components of successful activism in technoculture.

Likewise, in her study of social movement studies of the women’s movement, Stacey Young opens with a discussion of the ‘grammar of liberalism’ (1). Next to the first appearance of liberal feminism in her text is the following footnote: ‘Women’s movement activists and feminist theorists often identify liberal feminism with the National Organization for Women, the National Women’s Political Caucus, and other organizations engaged in electoral politics’ (209). This list makes sense, given Young’s explanation of the relationship between liberalist ideology and government: Liberalism’s focus on government at the expense of other levels of society leads feminists who subscribe to liberalism’s theory of power to prioritize engagement with institutions of governance as the strategy of choice for feminist change.

According to Faludi, the backlash thesis reported on so consistently throughout the 1980s in the mainstream press pits liberation against marriage and motherhood. She self-consciously positions the media as the central perpetrator of the backlash against women through demonstrating the processes by which mass media managers, owners, and producers, who believe the myth of the ‘female crises,’ repackage it to the public so that the public will also believe it. Her primary sources are the plethora of articles, news stories, television shows and Hollywood films throughout the decade that encouraged women to believe their ‘biological clocks’ were more powerful than their ‘selfish’ desires for corporate careers, that childless women were dangerous psychopaths, that women who did not marry by their early thirties were more likely to be killed by terrorists than find husbands and were, therefore, doomed to unfulfilled (for which read: childless) spinsterhood, that women who tried to balance family and career were doomed to be failed mothers, and so forth.

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