Monday, June 9, 2008

Riding the 3rd Wave...

Last time i mentioned the phrase "3rd-wave feminism, the Stupid Girl i was having a conversation was thrilled i'd mentioned it because apparently it sparked a common interest :(dude, you like to surf, too?). This is, of course, after she pondered on why no one drowned at the time of the Watergate Scandal (seriously, like, weren't there any lifeguards around?). So i'm being more careful this time-round, as to avoid any confusion among those who may fall into said Stupid Girl family. I'm going to assume you know absolutely nothing about what i'm about to tell you, which would follow in line with the first, most important rule of dealing with ignorant people: start from scratch.

Deep breath now. Baby steps. Think baby steps...

I don't really like trying to define 3rd-wave feminism because it always seems like i eventually hark back to the "new direction of social reform" and "modern approach" rhetoric and I end up sounding like something out of Wikipedia.

But if i had to, i'd say it started with Riot Grrrl. With Kathleen Hanna and Bikini Kill, with Heavens to Betsy, Hole, and Huggy Bear; women who were trying to make thrashing,earsplitting noise. With the Zines, the Lady Fests, the D.I.Y-mentality, with Portland Oregon and the women with short skirts, smeared lipstick and "SLUT" written across their stomachs. With the 90's.

Sociologists like to babble on about how the 3rd wave generation are the daughters of the 2nd-wave feminists who are trying, i guess, to perpetuate the movement through our own cultural means. But i don't think so. I think the majority of us don't have mothers who would claim the term "feminist" without hesitation--if at all--and that relation to the movement wasn't biologically conceived, but adopted through some life-altering realization. Like the "click" Ms. Magazine described as the housewife's moment of self-discovery.

We felt that click as girls who wandered into bookstores, stumbling upon the Second Sex and tore through the pages like hungry wolves. We were college girls who, after one Women Studies class, went home to toss all of our shit; high heels, curling irons, bras, make-up, dresses and jewelry into trash cans. Women who listened to Ani Difranco sing, "I am not a pretty girl/that is not what i do" and scratched the lyrics into binder covers and post-its we stuck inside our lockers, on our doors, above our beds. We were women who scolded our mothers for waxing her legs, for wearing lipstick, for saying, "What's wrong with wanting to be feminine?"

We were women who found our way to feminism through some inexplicable pull, and surrendered to its force because it felt it good, and strong, and honest. We're the 3rd-wave. The only few survivors after the 2nd hit; the women faced with the wreckage and smoke of a war that is only half-over and trying to rebuild an entire city from ground zero.

And still, after everything, after Roe V. Wade and the 70's and all of that yelling, we still have to wonder if it was worth it. It's the gritty, awkward aftermath that seems like nothing's changed at all; the backlashes, the terrorfied men who call us lesbos and cunts and man-haters. The hip-hop video hos, the Stepford wives paying thousands to be butchered "under the knife" if it means bigger tits and a tight face. The men and women who hear us talking, screaming, marching and try to come up with reasons for our rage, like: Because we're women scorned, because we're cat-hoarding spinters who need a man, because we're tempermental, we're difficult, we're bitches, we're PMS-ing, or, as the Stupid Girl so charmingly put it: "On the Rag."

1 comment:

Anonymiss said...

I'm still trying to decipher all of the different forms of feminism. It's very interesting.

What's your take on the cultural and class exclusivity of feminism?