Date of Award
Senior Scholars Paper (Open Access)
Colby College. Sociology Dept.
Mary Beth Mills
I begin by citing a definition of "third wave" from the glossary in Turbo Chicks: Talking Young Feminisms at length because it communicates several key issues that I develop in this project. The definition introduces a tension within "third wave" feminism of building and differentiating itself from second wave feminism, the newness of the term "third wave," its association with "young" women, complexity of contemporary feminisms, and attention to multiple identities and oppressions. Uncovering explanations of "third wave" feminism that go beyond, like this one, generational associations, is not an easy task. Authors consistently group new feminist voices together by age under the label "third wave" feminists without questioning the accuracy of the designation. Most explorations of "third wave" feminism overlook the complexities and distinctions that abound among "young" feminists ; not all young feminists espouse similar ideas, tactics, and actions; and for various reasons, not all young feminists identify with a "third wave" of feminism. Less than a year after I began to learn about feminism I discovered Barbara Findlen's Listen Up: Voices From the Next Feminist Generation. Although the collection nor its contributors declare association with "third wave" feminism, consequent reviews and citations in articles identify it, along with Rebecca Walker's To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Voice of Feminism, as a major text of "third wave" feminism. Re-reading Listen Up since beginning to research "third wave" feminism, I now understand its fundamental influence on my research questions as a starting point for assessing persistent exclusion in contemporary feminism, rather than as a revolutionary text (as it is claimed to be in many reviews). Findlen begins the introduction with the bold claim, "My feminism wasn't shaped by antiwar or civil rights activism ..." (xi). Framing the collection with a disavowal of the influence women of color's organizational efforts negates, for me, the project's proclaimed commitment to multivocality. Though several contributions examine persistent exclusion within contemporary feminist movement, the larger project seems to rely on these essays to reflect this commitment, suggesting that Listen Up does not go beyond the "add and stir" approach to "diversity." Interestingly, this statement does not appear in the new edition of Listen Up published in 2001. And the content has changed with this new edition, including several more Latina contributors and other "corrective" additions.
Feminism, United States, Feminist theory, Women, United States, Social conditions
Recommended CitationAshman, Amanda, "Opting out of oppositionality : toward an informed and engaged "third wave" feminism" (2003). Senior Scholar Papers. Paper 10.
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