Editor’s Note: See part I here in Amelia Hamilton’s series exploring the transformations in feminist history and ideology: The Relevant and the Ridiculous: A Guide Through Feminist History
The third wave of feminism got started in the 1990s as a reaction against the second wave fought by their mothers (both figuratively and, sometimes, literally). There were some central tenets at the heart of third-wave feminism, and they can be illustrated in contemporary music. Join me on a walk through ’90s music, and the ways in which these songs illustrate third-wave feminist ideals.
1. Third-wave feminism went beyond legal equality for women, but empowered women to fight for other social issues as well.
One key way in which third-wave feminism differed from earlier waves was that it wasn’t just about women. Take, for example, the Third Wave Direct Action Corporation, founded in 1992. One of the founders was Rebecca Walker, daughter of second-wave feminist Alice Walker. In 1997, the group became the Third Wave Foundation, and was not only dedicated to traditional women’s rights issues, but worked to “explicitly connect women’s issues to issues of race, sexuality, class, and ability.” This was bigger than simply legal equality for women.
Arrested Development’s “Mama’s Always on Stage” (1992)
Mama’s always on stage
Can’t be a revolution without women
Can’t be a revolution without children
1. Early feminism had a point. There were actual societal changes that needed to be made.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, feminism was fairly easy to understand. It was a movement of those who believed that women should enjoy the same freedoms as their male counterparts. This included access to the same level of education and freedom in choosing what they wanted from life–marriage, family, a career. Early feminists were fighting for this equality of status, to be seen as equal to men and, if married, to have rights separate from their husbands. Much of this was a reaction against the “feminine ideal” in Victorian society, which argued that women belonged in the home rather than in educational institutions or the workplace. Hooray for these early pioneers of equality!
It’s Valentine’s Day and romance is in the air. Am I allowed to say that? It would seem that romance is no longer allowed in American society, and I’ve recently figured out why. It’s not because of men, as women like to think. It’s because women ruin everything for women.
I’ve suspected this for some time but, last week, events transpired to confirm my suspicions. It all started with the Audi Super Bowl commercial. For those of you who missed it, a geeky guy is so overcome with confidence at being lent his dad’s Audi that he marches right into the big dance and kisses the prom queen. I loved it and, by the reaction shot, so did she. You know why? Because he was a man. Because it was romantic. No, the political correctness police opined, it was not romantic at all. In fact, it was “rapey.” Rapey.
That was bad enough, but it didn’t end there. The feminist shrews among our population then went after the iconic image of the sailor kissing a nurse in a spontaneous celebration for the allied victory over Japan in World War II. These were, by any measure, extraordinary circumstances. This VJ day kiss, one of the most romantic moments ever committed to film, the image that has made women swoon since 1945? Turns out that’s rapey, too, according to modern-day feminists. Do you know why men think women are crazy? It’s because women act crazy. And that, dear reader, is how women ruin everything for women.