Apparently feminism has immortal/zombie/undead/magical abilities because it was declared dead. Again.
This is not a new notion. The history of feminism is often told as a three wave model: first wave = suffragettes; second wave = the picketing bra-less feminists; third wave = the daughters of second-wavers. The wave model inherently implies that between these three waves, feminism was non-existent. Pretty bogus, amiright?
Before we move on, you need to know that there was never any actual bra burning, as is so often claimed when referencing the second wave. It is just a stereotype embarrassingly treated as truth in many places. For example, in the Washington Times article that got me going about all this in the first place:
"Things are not so promising even among those females who grew in the 1960s and 70s when, yes, college coeds burned their bras and followed the teachings of Betty Friedan"
Actually, not at all. They did not burn bras and Betty Friedan was not the only feminist writer or theorist read in the 60's and 70's.
Does anyone remember the same claim in the nineties by TIME magazine? Maybe feminism is a cat with nine lives.
This image also draws upon the wave model of feminism, which is a problem that has to be addressed. The wave model is largely criticized for simplifying the complexity of feminist movements. Notice the "s" on movements -- feminism never was and never will be a singular movement that can be pin-pointed and distilled into a single face, group, or issue. Made glaringly obvious in the picture above, the wave model is also predicated on a problematic racial hierarchy, uplifting White Western feminism as "the" feminism, and ignoring all feminisms of color, queer feminisms, and all other "fringe feminisms," which have been consistently thriving, throughout history, and still today.
The Washington Times article draws on a poll by the Economist/YouGov because suddenly everyone is so concerned about the state of feminism today. Although the write-up is 10 months old, it's worth commenting on because this sentiment of post-feminism is not really budging.
From the article:
“Overall, 28 percent consider themselves to be feminists, 72 percent do not,' the findings report. Among women, 38 percent consider themselves feminists. And men do not appear to be very liberated these days either: 18 percent 'accept the label' for themselves, the poll reports"
Since when does identifying as a feminist make the movement alive or dead? Just because a person adopts the title of "feminist" does not mean they are leading a life charged with feminist ideals. Even if only 28% of American's consider themselves to be feminists, how exactly does that mean feminism is dead? Last time I checked, social justice movements do not rely on majority support. In fact, social justice movements are born out of resistance to the majority. They are not fueled by half-hearted idealogical alignments, but by the dedicated support of intelligent, motivated activists who actually do the work. Label or no label, feminist-minded work has been happening all over the world, lead by women who may or may not adopt the label themselves.
And not for anything, but who exactly makes up the "most Americans" polled? Statistics are rarely as true a depiction of the population as they claim to be. If feminism has taught me one thing, it's to be skeptical of what is presented as "truth."
What the poll really exposes, is how uneducated the population is about feminism:
'"When given a neutral dictionary definition of feminism, as ‘someone who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes,’ 57 percent of Americans proudly proclaim themselves feminists."
*major eye roll*
As I conclude the longest yawn of my life, I ask you to ignore the silly fear-mongering idea that feminism can die. Feminism is, by definition, abrasive to norms. It does not have to be loved to be effective. Also, if you want to laugh and/or get riled up for your workout or lunch break walk, check out the comments. I spared myself after reading this gem:
Internet comments really will be the death of me.
First image via The Washington Times.