One of the most recognized movements in the United States of America is the feminist movement, which fights for the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Since its inception, there have been three main waves of feminism. The first wave emphasized women’s suffrage. Women should not be second-class citizens, and the first wave revolutionarily combatted their lack of legal representation. Second-wave feminism broadened the concept to inequalities women face in all aspects of life, such as workplace discrimination, reproductive rights, domesticity, marriage inequalities, and more. This was a major and necessary expansion. The third wave, which is currently taking place, is about enforcing social change: it was initiated by a slew of sexual harassment cases and with people becoming more willing to talk about “womanly” things, such as periods and birth control. Yet right now, the third wave of feminism is merely a delusion we’re all being forced to endure.
While third-wave feminism makes good points about the normalization of women’s bodies, the problem starts when you beguile yourself into doing the exact opposite of what you believe because of modern feminist culture. I believe in the principal ideals of third-wave feminism, but it has deviated so far from first and second-wave feminism that it no longer serves women. I recognize that first and second wave feminism were not flawless, especially because leaders like Susan B. Anthony were openly racist, but I’m here to address flaws specific to our modern definition of feminism.
To begin with, this wave of feminism prioritizes the wrong problems. One of the most common social media movements I’ve seen is an obsession with body hair on women. People showcase leg hair, armpit hair, and arm hair on women as if we didn’t already know women have those. Why have we chosen to focus on this? The fixation is ridiculous. Nobody really cares if you don’t want to shave your armpit, it is merely your brain telling you to conform to the noxious beauty standard. It’s simply not that deep. Despite all the child brides, female genital mutilation in third-world countries, women forced to cover every inch of their bodies and women whose right to cover have been literally stripped, and rampant sexual violence against women — we choose to address pit hair first. The number of posts I have seen addressing these more serious and global issues is devastatingly small compared to the number of threads tackling body hair. This is not to say the third wave hasn’t touched upon the more significant issues at all, however, more attention has been given to trivial social inconveniences. Third-wave feminism has been, for a large part, blinded to real crimes against women.
Third-wave feminism is also hypocritical to the original definition of feminism in its portrayal of sex work as empowering. Internet personalities have driven home the notion that stripping, prostitution, or OnlyFans is the easy and cool way out. They have been promoting this idea that my body can be monetized, and this is all acceptable because it’s empowering — right? Feminism is meant to be on “behalf of women’s rights and interests,” and seeing myself as an object is totally in my best interests — right? Not too long ago, Cardi B released a very popular music video for a song titled “WAP.” This video contains extremely degrading and explicit lyrics depicting women. The music video begins with bare female body parts hung inside a mansion as if they are some type of casual decor — not to mention that the lyrics devalue women in disgustingly obscene ways. “WAP” is very indicative of how society views women when it comes to sex. This is especially insulting when you take into consideration Cardi B’s history of stripping. You may have also overlooked sex work being encouraged simply because it came from a celebrity and it sounded “woke”. Take for instance, Susan Sarandon’s tweet stating “SEX WORK IS WORK!” This may sound like it is intended to make working conditions better for prostitutes and strippers, but it is misguided. If sex work is just a “job,” why are women and young girls being trafficked into it? Is my vagina a work tool? How have we as a society come so far yet taken so many steps back at the same time? How can such a traumatizing experience be labeled “work”? Sex work is not “work,” it is a last resort that no human being should ever have to consider. Sex work has never been and never will be empowering for women; there are numerous studies on how the industry destroys a person and it results in multiple mental illnesses. Not to mention, the physical toll it takes on your body is undeniable. To label this deeply damaging “job” as a feminist ideal is hypocritical to uplifting women’s interests and rights.
Despite all this, possibly the worst thing about this third-wave is its clear promise to push men away from the movement. There is a prevalent theme of this idea that because men are men, they can’t speak on feminist concepts. Feminism is meant to be equality of the sexes, yet around the same time that third-wave feminism took off, the phrase “Kill All Men” and gender wars became more prevalent. “Women have it harder,” “All of women’s problems come from men so we should just kill them off,” and other ironically anti-feminist phrases arose with the third-wave. If any man ever uttered “Kill All Women,” everybody would turn on him. Why the double standard? Are double standards not what we are trying to diminish? Feminists want men to be champions of the movement as well, yet preach about killing them off. Of course this is not what most feminists believe –– in fact, this is a very miniscule part of the population. Yet these ideas are so popular that we have all heard of them. Claiming that men should simply die will never help feminism truly shine. As humans, men and women biologically cannot survive without one another. We need men on our side to eradicate any and every form of discrimination based on sex, yet we seem to be pushing them away. Third-wave feminism has become a radical fallacy of what feminism was meant to be.
The bad men out there want to be able to objectify women, they want to make us lose sight of our real problems, they want other good men to not be feminists. We are giving these men exactly what they want. So much for “women’s rights and interests.” These aspects of the third-wave deserve nothing but mockery. To the women out there who think themselves righteous for supporting this nonsense — you are in the wrong. This flawed ideology only results in women being hurt further, and we have enough of that in the world. Let’s start focusing on the social problems that will hit the next generation the hardest: how to properly punish rapists and sexual harassers and prevent their actions in the first place; how to illegalize child brides; how to secure our reproductive rights — all these pressing issues before we get to pit hair. And as we do this, we need men to be our advocates as well. So enough of questions like, “Which one is worse, period cramps or getting kicked in the balls?” and more of actually fixing society.
Subscribe to The Phillipian Newsletter!
Read the week’s top stories from The Phillipian, curated for your inbox. Subscribe here!