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What is the Fourth Wave of Feminism?

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Feminism has been a part of our social & political agenda throughout time even noted as far back as Ancient Greece.

Since then, feminism has not remained stagnant, it has progressed and developed up to the modern day. As such, feminism progress is defined as waves, and we are currently in the fourth wave of feminism. Due to the complexity of the feminist movement, it is hard to pinpoint exact dates, however a general principle has been applied. Throughout the movement everyone who takes part plays a vital role in the progress made however a few key figures will be mentioned to highlight the contributions given.

First Wave

The first wave of feminism began when women's calls for equality established into a formal movement. This is marked by the creation of the peaceful suffragists and militant suffragettes. This first phase focused predominantly on the rights of white women and was met with some success when in 1918, some women were given the right to vote in the UK. One notable person from this stage of the movement is Millicent Fawcett who was a politician and activist who ran one of the largest women's rights associations.

Second Wave

After two world wars in which women took over a lot of working roles, they felt they had more than proved their worth outside the home and women did not intend to go back. Spurred on by civil rights movements women began to re-assemble in the 1960's. It is also debated that the book 'The Feminine Mystique' by Betty Friedan also helped spark the second wave. This wave focused on social, sexual and reproductive liberation. For example, it saw make-up as an example of patriarchal oppression and the pill was released giving women reproductive control. In addition, the equal pay act was passed in 1970 prohibiting unequal pay and conditions for men and women. This wave also saw the beginnings of expanding the movement to fight for all races, classes and LGBTQ+ rights.

This wave is also where the infamous 'Women's Day off' occurred in Reykjavik in 1975, for more on this event see this Link .

Third Wave

This wave happened around the 1990s. Intersectionality in particular blossomed in the third wave, rejecting the previous sisterhood mentality which excluded the LGBTQ+ community and instead promoted feminism as defined by the individual. Other ideas from the second wave were rejected such as beauty being part of patriarchal oppression and embraced societal beauty standards proving beauty and intelligence are not exclusive. This wave is well known as the wave where women got to choose.

Beyond the UK other calls for action were occurring. During the civil war in Liberia the movement driven by Leymah Gbowee employed various tactics; most notably a sex strike and de-robing to pressure men to partake in peace talks. In addition the Gulabi gang formed in Northern India to collectively tackle social injustice against women like domestic abuse and inspired similar uprisings in the nation.

Fourth Wave

This wave emerged around 2012 and we are still in it today. This is known as the digital wave of feminism. It is fuelled by social media uniting a large group compared to previous waves. This increase in interest in social media has also created a larger focus on international women's rights in countries with a less white female dominant society. It is also the most inclusive, intersectional and gender fluid movement so far. In particular this wave has included men into the movement and how patriarchal oppression is also detrimental for them.

This fourth wave is growing and is more like to a tsunami that won't let up. Progress will continue to be fought for and this wave has a lot more exciting progress to make.

AXIS Network is proud to be a part of the fourth wave of feminism. AXIS Network are a fully inclusive group which utilises its social media platforms to share knowledge and bring together people from across the energy industry. AXIS Network aims to expand progress beyond company-own initiatives and bring change in Aberdeen and beyond.

Found this interesting or have comments? Please message AXIS Network if you're interested in working with us to create a blog post or would like to provide feedback.


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