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  1. #1
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    the long-awaited fourth wave feminism

    anyone read this article in the current utne?

    http://www.utne.com/pub/2005_128/cov...y/11573-1.html

    i'd love to hear some thoughts on the subject. think it's true? think the fourth wave is already here? think it has nothing to do with spirituality?

    i see it a few different ways... on one hand, i think the fourth wave will really come when US citizens lose the right to abortion, safer sex ed, etc. it's already been taken away in so many other parts of the world.

    and on the other, i see the spiritual connections too. like how in many churches, women are the ones attending every week, running the service programs, and generally being responsible for the group memory. and men being less and less a part of it. how long until women and in the catholic church and other churches where women are not part of the leadership eventually storm the castle so to speak? will that be the fourth wave?

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  3. #2
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    You know I kind of thought the fourth wave might sort of be a merging of cultural politics and social activism, but I can also see how spirituality might come into play-- was it in Bitch or somewhere about a female rabbi living/studying in Israel? I don't think a lot of these issues have been tackled, and I think they need to be-- we have the right to worship what we want and be what we want without being told we can't because of our biology.

  4. #3
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    Hmmmm. Great topic, Athos! Thanks for posting. I don't subscribe to The Utne Reader, so I didn't see the article and wasn't able to read the whole thing. I'll check to see if the library has it next time I'm there so maybe I can read the whole thing.

    I have to admit the first paragraph of the article makes me wary. I worry about any kind of feminism that posits women as "essentially" or "fundamentally" linked to peace, or somehow more peaceful than men ... which is where it kind of sounded like this article was going, based on that first paragraph. As a feminist, I'm wary of any ideology that ascribes certain fundamental, essential characteristics to women (and, by extension, certain fundamental, essential characteristics to men), even if that ideology is coming from another feminist.

    I also have to say that the following quote makes me uneasy:

    As women assembled near the pyramids in Egypt and held potluck dinners in Alaska, staged candlelight vigils and other rituals in countries around the world, it confirmed Schaaf's gut instinct that an untapped reserve of energy "lies like oil beneath the common ground the women share."
    I worry about any kind of feminism that tries to over-emphasize women's "common ground" and erase the important distinctions *between* women ... like the fact that those women assembling near the pyramids in Egypt live in a part of the world that is being torn up and invaded constantly by the government that those women holding potluck dinners in Alaska pay taxes to. That some of those women in Alaska probably drive SUVs, contributing to the worldwide energy shortage that is creating wars in places very close to where the Egyptian women are gathering.

    In the early 1980's there was an important critique of 2nd-wave feminism from women of color and women from outside the US -- namely, that by ignoring these distinctions between women, and the ways in which women oppress other women, they were creating a movement that was not inclusive and not based on the liberation of all women. Having read only the first paragraph of this article, I fear that it's going down that same path.

    Really, though, I need to read the rest of the article before I comment any further, because maybe it's going in an entirely different direction.

    Also, why does feminism have to have all these "waves"? This isn't directed at you, Athos, or at the article ... it's just kind of a general gripe I have with the way feminism is presented. I use the "wave" vocabulary myself all the time (like in the paragraphs above), but I find it weird. I mean, Marxists are all just Marxists, even though different Marxists have very different approaches, you know? Pacifists are all just pacifists. Environmentalists are all just environmentalists. I worry sometimes that the "wave" vocabulary in feminism breaks up our connectedness to each other -- even though I can critique the racism and classism of 2nd-wave feminism, for instance, I still owe a huge debt to them for my reproductive freedom, my lack of overt employment discrimmination, etc. I am, in many ways, connected to them, even though I'm trying to build on what they started and improve on it. The vocabulary of "waves" seems to me sometimes to de-emphasize these connections among feminists and de-emphasize the fact that we are all in dialogue and working for the same things, even when we disagree.

  5. #4
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    i'm so hoping that whatever the 4th wave is, that a major component is, as my roommate would say, less myopia - more understanding about women on an international scope, and how as xuli points out, how absolutely connected our choices here are to the freedoms women enjoy or are denied all over the world.

    i don't mind the "waves" - though many times it made me feel lost. like i'm not part of the third wave, and that's what's out there now, so there is no feminism for me. to take the image futher, i like how there's the ocean, which is all we have in common, and periodically things shift to gather momentum for a wave.

    i guess i'm bringing all of this up because international women's day is approaching, because of the UN anti-abortion resolutions, and other anti-women rhetoric i've seen latey (esp that coming from the vatican).

    many times posters on this board have said that conscious living/DIY is a feminist value. how does that fit in with any fourth wave?

    also what interests me is that considering so much *positive* social change has been begun by people of faith, like the civil rights movement, the possibilty of tremendous change by women of faith really excites me. a little OT, but just think what would happen if all of the US women who defined themselves as christian suddenly because politically involved in creating a society with more christian values of forgiveness, care for the hungry, etc. i see so much negativity associated with extremist religions, that it really interests me to imagine the future with the liberal faithful.

    wasn't part of the problem with the past elections that democrats ceded to republicans all of the control over god and faith? how will feminism affect that? how will feminism change if church-going women from republican states begin to see feminism as something they can and want to identify with?

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athos
    i like how there's the ocean, which is all we have in common, and periodically things shift to gather momentum for a wave.
    I like that image -- makes me feel better about not being able to escape the "wave" vocabulary.

    Quote Originally Posted by Athos
    what interests me is that considering so much *positive* social change has been begun by people of faith, like the civil rights movement, the possibilty of tremendous change by women of faith really excites me.

    [...]

    wasn't part of the problem with the past elections that democrats ceded to republicans all of the control over god and faith? how will feminism affect that? how will feminism change if church-going women from republican states begin to see feminism as something they can and want to identify with?
    Your train of thought here is really exciting. (And totally different from what I got out of that one paragraph of the Utne article, so I really hope my library has it so I can take a look!)

    I have a long history of struggling with religion, and whether I'm religious or not, but one thing I definitely think is true is that it is very hard to have a movement for social change without some form of moral commitment to an idea of right and wrong. And I struggle often with the fact that I do believe in moral commitments, in right and wrong, but I'm also in an academic program where the idea of moral commitments is often greeted with a lot of skepticism, and where an idea of relativism prevails. I'm very interested right now in finding theoretical perspectives grounded in moral commitment -- grounded in the willingness to say, "I believe this" -- grounded in a commitment to creating a more just social order (rather than just endless questioning about what "justice" means, or "truth", etc.)

    I am excited by the idea of a feminism that would seek to go beyond a sort of postmodern "anything goes" attitude (which I think a lot of so-called third wave feminisms have fallen into) and moves into a more rigorous questioning of what are the implicit moral commitments that all of us have, whether we acknowledge them or not, and what do they mean and how are they affecting the world. And I think that sort of thing is in line with what you're talking about here, and I find it very exciting.

  7. #6
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    Speaking of waves, you know, I've had trouble identifying myself as a third-wave feminist, although I'm technically young enough to be part of, say, the fourth wave movement (if it comes about).

    I used to think it was just a generational thing, and I certainly like the whole thing that happened in the early 90s with the riot grrrl movement, although that fizzled out and we're once again in a world where men are the only ones seen as real musicmakers.

    And I certainly have a problem with "this is how I interpret feminism." That can be severely skewed that a ton of people are saying, "I'm feminist, so I can manipulate people with sex."

    Logically, if this third wave sort of flopped, we have to aim higher then. There are certain things that I do consider morals of mine; they're the things that make me cry, if I think too hard on them. What's really amazing is how great the philosophies of, say, Jesus Christ are and how they could be applied to, I don't know, helping out fellow human beings.

    I don't believe women are inherently these things. I believe we've been socialized to be nurturing, blah blah, etc. I do believe, though, that every human being has the capacity to heal, in some small way, and it wouldn't be a bad thing for feminists to be the one leading the way.

    Because right now, things seem terribly desperate. And depressing.

  8. #7
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    I confess, I haven't thought deeply about this topic in a very long time but the discussion here has called to me to fire up those gray cells and think on it for a piece. I will be back later to post more after I've read the full article.

    I too hope to see a certain spirituality and form of faith strung through the next "wave" of feminism. Athos, are you familiar with the "renegade" Catholic church called Spiritus Christi in Rochester, NY? The entire parish was excommunicated several years ago when the pastor, Fr. Jim Callan, allowed a woman, the Rev. Mary Rammerman, to perform the functions of an ordained priest. The church split from Rome, and Fr. Callan brought in a bishop (I can't remember from where) to ordain Rev. Rammerman. They have a website at http://www.spirituschristi.org/. I have attended services there many times and can tell you that it is like nothing I've ever experienced before.

  9. #8
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    I fear any "spiritual" feminism might quickly be taken over as "Christian" and that's not fair to those of us who see spirit in other forms.

    p.s. Xuli - your location says bay area, if Cupertino is close I've read Utne there several times.

  10. #9
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    the utne article also says'
    "When you get Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi women in the same room...another religion emerges, which is feminine spirituality."

    i think that with all the strife in the world that is a direct result of religious difference, it's key to find ways to erase boundaries between faiths and find common ground in spiritual practice. if women are going to lead the way, all the better.

    the article also mentions that since women are outsiders from the authority positions in institutions, they potentially have more power because they are free from the restraints of having to follow protocol.

    and i'm excited to hear the results of the U.N. resolution that would require women to be involved in all peace negotiations. i know i'll probably get flamed for being unfeminist by saying this, but i feel that women have something very powerful to offer in bringing about the peace process- something which centuries of patriarchal, violent society has lacked and desperately needs.

  11. #10
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    i haven't read the article (i don't have a subscription), but i will say a few things about women, feminism, spirituality, and activism.

    firstly, i think the idea of women across faiths coming together and finding that they share a feminine spirituality is hogwash. that feminine spirituality that they all share is likely a result of the fact that they all shared enough of the same ideals in the first place to be coming together for some women-across-faiths initiative, not because women have some special spirituality in how they practice religion. i think this whole idea about women having any innate feminineness is dangerous and just wrong. i would say that, yes, many women have many characteristics deemed feminine, to the point that these characteristics might be considered inextricable from their personalities/who they are as people, and that these characteristics and values, such as communication, peace, etc...are traditionally devalued in many arenas, particularly that of world politics. i do not however think that these characteristics are somehow innate to women, but rather, that their high frequency in women and high exclusion in men merely speaks to how we socialize children in this modern, "unsexist" age. i think that bringing more women and women's experiences to the table in the political arena would help bring some trad. feminine values into the spotlight, and that overall it would be a good thing...but i primarily think that it would be good not because of some innate differences between men and women (i.e. women bring the yin to the men's yang or something to that effect), but just because of the inclusion of people, who as of now, experience the world and social forces in very different ways and from different perspectives. this is the same reason i want to see more "minorities" of all sorts in the political arena though.

    aside from all of that there is the fact that being a woman in different cultures means different things...for example, when american feminists got together with russian feminists after the cold war ended the russians felt that to be feminist meant that they could exercise their right to be trad. womanly finally (after years of state mandated short haircuts, pants, and scarce make-up)...the american feminists couldn't get it because to them, what the russian ladies had had during socialism was what they'd been fighting for the right to do over in the capitalist world. being a woman means multiple things, both on the intercultural level, as above, and the intracultural level...i myself feel in many ways ungendered, and i think that's an important perspective to consider as well...personally, i thought that's where we were going in feminism with all of this get crafty stuff...that is, to a place where all forms of work, thought, and life were valued to and for all people...that by doing something trad. feminine like knitting while doing something trad. masculine, like wearing pants on the subway on the way to work, you were being an activist by saying, i am a human first, my life is not dictated by ideas of a gendered me.

    as for the faith and activism...i am afraid of that. i respect peoples' right to have their own faith and to express it, but i'll be damned if "people of faith" are going to come into activist movements and choke me out of it with this idea of, "we need to join together in our commonalities!" as a person of no faith, i don't really have commonalities with these people on that level. i speak from experience with this...for whatever reason, i work within the seriously religious/catholic organization of Amnesty Intl. and i see this all the time. i am a good leader. i have strong beliefs in what i do. but i want to walk the hell out of a conference when someone starts with some interfaith prayer. i take my humanist values from the humanist tradition of logical, rational thought and try to comport myself in an ethical and humane way. a group prayer actually ::really:: alienates me because it's presented as somehow necessary to the process of activism...i've even had people say to me, "i don't think you can have a social justice movement without faith...all of the biggest movements for peace have come from religious ends..." well gee wiz, thanks for basically calling me incapable of fighting for social justice and completely negating the validity of my worldview and values. i pointed out that all of the biggest movements for violence have come from religious ends as well, and was promptly informed, "well, that's not the same." (i actually don't find that to be the case, but i thought it was the easiest way to point out the flaw in her logic.)

    anyways, just my 54 cents on this issue.

    (edited because i realized that i can't spell for shit)


 
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