Are We Third Wave Feminists?

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This past weekend the Women and Gender Resource Action Center took a trip to vegetarian, feminist restaurant Bloodroot in Bridgeport, CT. There was a lot to celebrate in a space like this- great breakfast food, vegan coconut creamer, bra-less chefs, and a simple elegant decor that felt like home. Our group sat down to a wonderful brunch to celebrate the end of a great semester at Trinity College and the owners of this unique eatery joined our conversation on what it means to be a feminist.

One of the owners, Selma Miriam, came over to discuss her recent trip to Trinity College to talk about the founding principles of Bloodroot Restaurant. She expressed that enjoyed her time at Trinity, but she was disappointed with the lack of argument and confrontation of ideas that were generated by the conversation. A small debate entailed at the table while everyone was finishing their tofu scrambles and SOYsage and this conversation revealed some pretty interesting differences within the ideologies of women-conscious members of our generation and women of second wave feminism.

The conversation started over high heels. Selma was suspicious of high heels because they are popular and the prevent women from running away if they need to. Not to mention, women’s feet are injured from wearing high heels and this is something that can have a serious impact on a woman’s life. On the other hand, the girls and boys that filled our college table seemed to support a woman or man’s choice to wear high heels as an expression of self. Although none of the girls seated at our table were rocking sky high heels, our group seemed to feel that limiting one’s choices was not the name of the type of feminism that we feel comfortable advocating.

In the 1990′s a change came about in the feminist movement as women became frustrated with the androgynous, analytical, judgmental nature of second wave feminism. This ushered in a new style, a third-wave, that celebrated women’s choice and women’s sexuality and promoted a “girlie culture”. Magazines and pop culture that celebrated femininity and looked at womanhood in a new way became anthems for this movement. It seemed like the conversation that took place at Bloodroot on Sunday was a perfect example of the conflicting ideologies of second wave and third wave feminists.

Having a conversation with a second-wave feminist did shed some light on the incongruities of our ideas on feminism. As conscious women of our generation, I think that some of our understandings of feminism need to be challenged. It seems that we are in support of choice and we are constantly working to defend women’s choice. However, what happens when our choices align with what society expects a woman to be? I hear the desire to put on high heels and rock your sexuality because it is fun to do so. BUT- who has defined this as sexy? We are making the choices- but who is providing the options? I think that Selma had some good points about questioning what is “in-style” and following fads. This is not conscious consuming because we are giving money to those that do not have women’s best interest at heart. I am calling for a new conscious consumer in our generation. One that loves the power to make a choice in their life, however, one that makes a conscious choice and an aware choice of how they are spending their money and where their money is going to.

I think that the conversation of second wave feminism and third wave feminism needs to continue. Although there are elements of the second wave that feel outdated and judgmental, there were reasons why women took such a strong stance and got so rigid in their views. Times are different, however, if women are apathetic to the choices we make then we risk falling into a time that is scarier than one where our choices are made for us. It would be a time where we are consenting to the way that society has wanted us to look, work, act, and speak. A time when we are making that choice ourselves because we are making our choices within the means of the options handed to us. I don’t want to see this generation make “false” conscious choices. Let’s talk about this. Think outside the box, we always have the opportunity to reinvent our feminism.

Peace and Love,

Martha

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