Diving into the history of feminist theory through Provocations has given me an even greater appreciation for the time I live in, and the movement that I have grown into. Last year, while reading Carrie Brownstein’s memoir Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl (I wrote a review and a reflection on this book due to its impact on me), I started to become more acquainted with the origin story of Third Wave Feminism, which was essentially when “feminist thinkers emphasized a need to acknowledge and appreciate the differences among women” (502). At 18, Brownstein was immersed in the riot grrrl movement through her band Sleater-Kinney. So, her memoir is brimming with intersectional feminism in the most moving way. Prefacing my read of Ashley Bourgeois’s “Identity, Activism, and Third Wave Feminism in the United States” with Brownstein’s memoir definitely enhanced my appreciation for not only the current wave of feminism, but also for the movements that created that wave.
One of those most important advances within Third Wave Feminism was creating a more inclusive movement, which was brought to the forefront when women of color “raised questions regarding the white elitism of the Second Wave movement” (502). Third Wavers also “reject any arguments about the right and wrong ways to be a feminist” (503). These changes are the shift to intersectionality. As Kathleen Hanna wrote in the riot grrrl manifesto, a movement was envisioned that “seeks to save the psychic and cultural lives of girls and women everywhere, according to their own terms” (506).
In addition to addressing existing issues within Second Wave Feminism, Third Wave Feminism works to address new issues that have arisen due to societal changes. For example, Bourgeois cites the issue that “Media images that peddle society’s idea of the perfect woman are inescapable and the expectations they foster, for the most part, unattainable. As a result, more women and young girls suffer from eating disorders and low self-esteem” (504). This issue was entirely relevant when I was growing up as well, although I wasn’t aware of its impact until I was older and engaged with explanations and analysis, such as those in the documentary Miss Representation.
Third Wave Feminism also works to “advocate for all women (and men) who choose to have children, regardless of sexual orientation and social class, they similarly support ‘the choice to be childless’” (506) which is an important development considering same sex couples who adopt and women who don’t want to have children. Both of these situations are increasingly common in society today. This inclusion reminds me of this post by one of my favorite bloggers, Brenna Womer, in which she explores her choice to be childless.
Bourgeois’ essay has been the perfect ending note for my journey with this book. Although I need to revisit the essays I didn’t respond to in order to completely finish the reading, I am still setting this book down (for now) feeling more informed and more inspired.