Feminism has accomplished so much over the last 180 years. It has gotten a lot right. Equality for all should not be a debate. However, things are changing. Feminism is dying. A movement that has been dedicated to creating equality between men and women is now regressing. But why? What has changed? It is this woman’s opinion that the current wave of feminism no longer embodies the ideas of the previous generations.
First and Second-Wave Feminism
To understand how the current wave of feminism has departed from the feminist ideals, we have to understand previous waves of feminism. After all, it is their accomplishments that are trying to be emulated.
The First Wave began in 1848, with a small organized movement. Their goal? For women to be able to vote; A fundamental right in America. Feminist icons like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott met at Seneca Falls with other women to sign the Declaration of Sentiments. They wanted to change the laws to affirm that women were equals to men. They were also linked to the abolitionism movement, though there was a conflict between white and black feminists. Women won after the 19th Amendment was passed into law.
As for Second Wave Feminism, it wouldn’t bare its teeth until the 1960s. During World War II, women were brought into the workforce to replace the men who were sent to war. After the conclusion of the war, women were taken out of the workplace. It festered until the Second Wave of feminism came crashing down. Texts like The Feminist Mystique showed that women were done being restricted to being housewives and mothers. It was time for a reevaluation of gender roles in society and sexist discrimination. The Equal Rights Act and Roe v. Wade were by-products of this era. Feminism became a strong political force.
Both of these waves succeeded in making changes to systemic issues. Yet, the transformation into a political force is what is causing problems today.
Third Wave Feminism and Its Problems
With the obvious progress made in the original waves, you would think the Third Wave would be just as profound. Yet, it is not. This current generation of feminism does fight for systematic change. In fact, their primary focus is on changing unconscious bias, cultural norms, and heritage. However, they are no longer targeting institutions. The Third Wave is dealing with people’s thoughts. As a result, there is no metric for what is equal and not equal socially. You could look at stats for pay inequality, or laws and see things that are objectively wrong.
However, there is no way to objectively measure social interactions for equality. After all, social interactions are interpreted differently. If someone fires three people and two are women, is it sexist? What if they were horrible employees? That is one of the major issues in trying to calculate sexism. You can’t measure it. This is causing feminism to decline. However, it is dying because it defies the second trait that is the foundation of feminism.
Why Feminism is Dying?
The central idea of feminism is equality for all. However, it is also about choice. With each wave of feminism, there is an inherent choice. The First Wave gave women the right to vote. Yet, it was a choice to actually vote. Women were free not to vote. The Second Wave provided opportunities to have equal pay and play different gender roles in society. However, women were allowed to choose if they want a traditional role or not.
In Third Wave feminism, there is no choice. Instead of promoting and raising women up, they are torn down because they aren’t making the right “choices.” Celebrities that do not identify as feminists are badgered into submission. Whenever women like Ivanka Trump are part of an important summit meeting, people say she can’t be feminist because she is “incredibly ornamental” and is wearing a “girlie” dress. It has turned the label “feminist” into something antagonistic and malicious. It has put women into a box once again.
The current wave of feminism is pulling life out of itself because it is no longer about accepting choices. Powerful women can be girlie and feminine. Women can be housewives if they want. They can choose to have kids. Yet, the tactics of these new groups of feminists want to tell others what they should do or decide who can be a true feminist. It harms women's empowerment by saying that if you dress a certain way or have certain beliefs you cannot be a feminist. It is regressing back to putting people into new defined social roles.