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Third Wave Feminism: An Annotated Bibliography
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This summary explains the research I have undertaken to identify who makes up third wave feminism, discover their issues, analyse the tension between second and third wave feminism while shedding light on an up-coming trend of a fourth wave. Using the MLA citation style, I list my ten most credible sources in order of relevance in three parts; identifying third wave, response from academics, and moving forward.
First, I have structured the bibliographic material to begin with “Listen Up” by Barbara Findlen, and “To Be Real” by Rebecca Walker as primary sources since these selections of writings are written from a third wave point of view. Rebecca Walker is also the contributing editor to Ms Magazine and cofounder of Third Wave, a multinational, multicultural organization devoted to initiating young women’s activism, which makes her a respected voice when speaking on behalf of third wave generation of feminists. These two books are included in the bibliographic material because many of the papers cited elsewhere in this bibliography and within my research makes references to these books as primary sources when seeking to define the third wave generation.
Deborah Siegel’s Legacy of the Personal (another paper often cited by academics), roots her analysis in a close reading of Listen Up and To Be Real with the understanding that these writings do not represent “third wave” or “next generation” feminists in total but seeks to capture a general understand of this often misunderstood group of young women. The author notes that next generation feminists seem to see third wave feminism as a historical phenomenon, yet Siegel exposes various historiographical questions, problems, and ambiguities the concept of third wave feminism raises mainly that postmodernist, post-structuralist, and multiculturalist critiques have shaped the form and the content of third wave expressions of the personal, the third wave should be seen as an evolution in feminist thought – not a break from the past.
In Feminism’s Third Wave, authors Lisa Rubin and Carol Nemeroff observes that young feminists’ self-expression have been characterized, by feminists and non-feminists, as “self-obsessed” and “divorced from matters of public purpose”. This makes young women/feminists highly marketable and is often the subject as a target audience with discretionary dollars, but also as a new and highly marketable image that can be profitably exploited. The authors question whether third waves’ self-reflections, their grappling with contradiction and ambiguity, and conscious-raising experiences can be viewed as political expression and; what impact do their confessional tales have on feminism as a movement and as a discipline? I have introduced this paper into the bibliography as it points to the need to monitor the mental status of young feminists and the need for psychological and emotional support especially from feminist therapists to support and guide young women through their conscious-raising experience. Failing to acknowledge the interdependency of the waves and their goals undermines feminism’s transformative possibilities, therefore intergenerational dialogue becomes equally important to defuse generational differences to make way for the fourth wave generation.
The next selection of writings focuses on the response from academia to third wave feminism where authors, Stacey Gillis and Rebecca Munford assert in “Genealogies and Generations: the politics and praxis of third wave feminism“, academia believes having a ‘third wave’ implies that second wave feminism is over, and that ‘third wave’ has often been confused with ‘post-feminism’. As such the paper examines the ambiguous relationship between those who identify as third wave and those belonging to a field informed by post-structuralist, postmodern theories of subjectivity and identity thus creating tension between the two groups. In an effort to understand the third wave phenomena the article examines how theorists and scholars have made the move to finally address third wave feminism as an academic subject.
This lead to a conference, spearheaded by the same authors, which further examined the tensions between third wave feminism and Women’s Studies in an essay “Harvesting Our Strengths” which reports their findings. It seems that identity politics regarding the category of “woman” came into question with the acceptance of Queer, transgendered, post-colonial and Gendered studies. Gillis and Munford write that Women’s Studies is either accused of ‘victim feminism’, not being academic enough and on the other hand “to academic” by feminists outside of the academy. This sentiment is echoed in “Who’s Afraid of the Third Wave Feminism?” where author Jonathan Dean acknowledges the divide that Gillis and Munford writes about between ‘victim feminism and power feminism’. Both paper highlights what place third wave feminism could have within Women’s Studies and what place could Women’s Studies have within the academy in light of third wave feminist thinking. Also added is Clair Snyder’s “What is Third Wave Feminism?” which provides a critical analysis on Stacy Gillis, Gillian Howie, and Rebecca Munford’s “Third Wave Feminism” highlighting a lack of clarity about the nature of the movement and lacks an accurate description of what the movement actually is at this point.
I have concluded my bibliography with essays from Colleen Mack-Canty and Diana Diamond which seeks to explain the next developments and current trends for feminism beyond the third wave. Mack-Canty gives an excellent overview in, “Third-Wave Feminism and the Need to Reweave the Nature/Culture Duality”, of the three groups that make up today’s third wave feminism; youth feminism, post-colonial feminism and ecofeminism and provides an in-depth overview of the contributions from each category. Although these feminisms are reweaving the nature/culture duality by theorizing from the notion of embodiment, the author points to ecofeminism as making the most significant additional contribution in this regard because it works to specifically include nonhuman nature in its theorizing. Diana Diamond’s paper, “The Fourth Wave of Feminism: Psychoanalytic Perspectives, provides psychoanalytical perspectives of the fourth wave generations” highlights goals of global and spiritual interconnectedness which are similar to the goals of ecofeminism. In bringing about this spirituality Diane Diamond observes how psychoanalytic clinicians are uniquely positioned to spearhead the fourth wave which must integrate the unfinished issues and contradictions of the last three waves. This overarching vision combines spiritual practice with political action, economic power and the insights derived from psychoanalytic theory and practice.
Whether one views the feminist movement in an oceanography of four distinct waves or as one fluid and evolving movement toward female equality and empowerment with benchmarks of achievements, it is clear that new themes of spirituality and global inter-connectedness will reinvigorate feminism and heal the generational divides in theory and practice.
3rd Wave Feminism: Annotated Bibliography
This is not so much as the MLA citation style I quoted above. The publication information is highlighted for online media rather than print.
Walker, Rebecca, To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism, Anchor Books, 1995, Print.
To Be Real is an anthology on feminism and female empowerment in the nineties opening doors of understanding and prioritizing political commitment and self-acceptance. The collections of writings refutes the concept of a strictly defined and all-encompassing feminist identity and seeks to explore contradictions and ambiguities of female empowerment and to lay the groundwork for feminist theory that accepts and respects differences. The submissions by different writers are personal, honest and record a transformative journey taken, building empathy and compassion because they believe life experiences are the best basis for feminist theory. Most of the writers speak as daughters and it leaves the reader wondering if third wave is trying to establish their independence and asserting themselves from the feminism of their mothers who fought so hard to win the rights that their daughters are so comfortably enjoying. To Be Real is recommended to a general audience and a good resource for women of all ages who are searching for new ways for feminist expressions.
Findlen, Barbara, Listen Up: Voices from the next generation, Sealpress 1995, 2001. Print.
Listen up creates a visible, public forum for young feminists experiences and to affirm their presences – feminism is not dead. Several write about the ongoing process of integrating their feminists identities with ethnic, racial, religious, sexual, regional and class and other identities and explores their ideas, hopes, struggles, places within feminism and within other social change movements. Findlen asserts there is no single “young feminist” perspective but more to the point there is no one “feminist” perspective either – there never has been. Both To Be Real and Listen Up gives voice to young feminists’ personal experiences making it a good books for anyone who has questions of identity and would like to relate with other young women through a feminist lens, activism, sex, body image, making a living, girlhood, racism, violence, self-defence and relationships.
Siegel, Deborah, “The Legacy of the Personal: Generating Theory in Feminisms Third Wave”, Hypatia, vol 12, number 3 (Summer 1997). Online version.
Deborah Siegel examines two anthologies; Listen Up and To Be Real, which are edited, as noted above, by women who identify themselves as “third wave” or “next generation” feminists. The author argues given that postmodernist, structuralist, and multiculturalist critiques have shaped the form and the content of third wave expressions of the personal, what are the possibilities and limitations of such theoretical analysis for a third wave of feminist praxis. Although their texts seems an appropriate starting point for a discussion of third wave theorizing as an activity, by rooting her analysis in a close reading of these two texts, risks limiting her scope to the expressions of a select group of writers that cannot speak for an entire generation. Yet, anyone wishing to conduct a critical analysis of third wave feminism would benefit from Siegel’s analysis of the cluster of voices that represent young women from different backgrounds articulating their commonalties and differences which could work as a method for “getting at symptoms”.
Gillis, Stacey and Rebecca Munford, (2004) “Genealogies and generations: the politics and praxis of third wave feminism”, Women’s History Review, 13:2, 165-182: online version.
Gillis and Munford examine the ways in which post-feminism and third wave feminism are used interchangeably, both within the academy and in the media. The research analyzes the tensions between the two generation and misunderstandings surrounding third wave feminism which forms the basis of their arguments. Third wavers feel the academy has failed to meet the needs of those women outside of it and has little impact on the material needs of women, which can only be redressed by activist activities. Feminist theorists believe that the wave generation model does not allow for collective memory of female based thought, empowerment and activism. This paper will be useful to those who are seeking to understand the generational divide between second and third wave feminism and helps the reader to forumlate an answer to the question; how does another wave contribute to the future of feminism?’
Dean, Jonathan (2009) “Who’s Afraid of Third Wave Feminism?” International Feminist Journal of Politics, 11:3, 334-352, DOI: online version.
Using quantitative analysis, Jonathan Dean examines issues relating to ‘third wave’ feminism within British contemporary feminist debates especially those that have contested the notion of a ‘third wave’ of feminism. The paper acknowledges the divide between the academy and activism that Ellis and Munroe highlights and wishes not to engage in such debate. Instead the paper focuses on highlighting that this notion of a third wave has caused unnecessary generational divisiveness as young women see themselves separate from second wave feminism. Dean advises others to view ‘third wave’ as a theoretical position instead of a ‘generational paradigm’ and agrees with Ellis and Munroe’s observation that viewing ‘third wave’ feminism in generational terms is problematic as it suggests that second wave is redundant and needs to be replaced. This paper helps readers move to viewing ‘third wave’ essentially as an ‘empty signifier’ or a discursive resource to a substantive entity that calls for more sustained critical engagement with the ‘generational paradigm’ of third wave feminism.
Gillis, Stacey and Rebecca Munford, “Harvesting our Strengths: Third Wave Feminism and Women’s Studies”, Journal of International Women’s Studies; April 2003, Vol. 4 Issue 2
This article is based on a conference that was designed to redress the ‘third wave’ generational divide by rethinking its causes, its divide and possible bridges to help construct positive dialogue between third wave and Women’s Studies. The articles interrogates what it means to be a feminist, both in theory and in practice and testify the possibilities of a constructive dialogue between Women’s studies and third wave feminism by highlighting how the two can unite in terms of their shared politics so that third wave feminism might account for all women and for all women’s conditions. This article will be particularly useful to educators, professors in women’s studies and young female activists who wish to see a women’s studies which is not based on ‘victim’ feminism and doesn’t hurt itself with identity politics.
Snyder, R. Claire, “What is Third-Wave Feminism? A New Directions Essay”, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 2008, vol. 34, no. 1, c2008, University of Chicago, Web.
This essay explores a variety of popular and academic literature on third-wave feminism in an attempt to make sense of a movement that may seem confusing. Of particular note, the author zeros in on Stacy Gillis, Gillian Howie, and Rebecca Munford’s “Third Wave Feminism” providing a critical analysis of the literatures stating the format of these two books plays into the lack of clarity about the nature of the movement and lacks an accurate description of what the movement actually is today. Snyder concludes suggesting to describe third-wave feminism as a tactical response to the conditions of postmodernity rather than to portray it as a new postmodernist stage of feminist theory. This paper would be one of interest to those who are conducting a critical analysis on third wave generation literature although in some areas are unneccearily overly critical of this new generation of young women.
Rubin, Lisa & Carol Nemeroff “Feminism’s Third Wave”, Women & Therapy (2001), 23:2, 91-104, DOI: online version.
Rubin and Nemeroff provide an alternative view of “third wave” expression, seeing young feminists’ as honest in their struggles with various identities as a return to grass-roots activism and a return to “the personal”. Body issues maybe the pivotal point to third wave issues that mobilizes the current feminists and the article seeks to examine the personal and political aspects of third wave feminism by observing young women’s relationships with their bodies. Rubin and Nemeroff shares their findings from a study conducted with young women to share body narratives and also included was an analysis of the circumstances in which these women had come to know feminism and the ongoing backlash against it. Councillors, therapists, psychoanalysts and teachers would benefit most from this reading as it stresses the importance of mental health and spiritual guidance from feminist therapists to support the next generation of feminists through their conscious-raising experience.
Mack-Canty, Colleen, “Third-Wave Feminism and the Need to Reweave the Nature/Culture Duality”, NWSA Journal, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Fall 2004), DOI: online version.
Mack-Canty profiles three types of feminisms: youth feminism, postcolonial feminism, and ecofeminism, and the importance of each that forms ‘third wave’ feminism. Highlighted in their findings is the trend to move toward global inter-connectedness and spirituality through ecofeminism which contributes a crucial additional cluster to third-wave feminism by attempting to reweave the nature/culture duality that also encompasses nonhuman and by including the notion of embodiment in its theorizing. Threaded throughout these ecofemininsts perspectives is an effort to explain how the nature/culture duality occurred and/or how to approach weaving it back together. Mack-Canty reveals how the mental and physical health fields can facilitate the work in theory development expanding concepts of human and nonhuman nature, increasing our awareness of both embodiment and the natural world.
Diamond, Diana “The Fourth Wave of Feminism: Psychoanalytic Perspectives”, Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 10:213-223, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2009, online version.
Forward trends in feminism comes from psychoanalytic thought which has much to offer in understanding the ways in which narratives of gender foretell destiny. Diamond asserts the work as psychoanalysts lies to understand the complex dialogue between internal (mental) unconscious dynamics and external sociopolitical realities for women to recognize when conflicts rooted in social inequalities can be experienced as insoluble individual problems and when conflicts may keep women from attaining the political and economic power to change their realities. The fourth wave insists the use of the interdisciplinary teams with the insights of psychology to assist our understanding of the intersections between large groups and individual psychology for women. psychoanalyst and those that practice in the mental health field will benefit from this essay as it encourages the importance of including a vision of health and human interrelatedness accompanied by a spiritual dimension.