How Does Contemporary ‘Post-Feminism’ or ‘Third Wave Feminism’

HowDoes Contemporary ‘Post-Feminism’ or ‘Third Wave Feminism’Contribute to the Furtherance of Women’s Rights and GenderEquality?

HowDoes Contemporary ‘Post-Feminism’ or ‘Third Wave Feminism’Contribute to the Furtherance of Women’s Rights and GenderEquality?

Theaspect of post-feminism, also referred to as third wave feminism,became known in the 1990’s (Bailey, 2007). The emergence ofpost-feminism during this time contributed to the continuance ofgender equality and women’s rights in various ways. To start with,the pursuit of gender equality among a group of women who undervaluedthe benefits of the first and second wave was the major reasonresulting to post-feminism. There are vital differences whichdifferentiate women in the three waves of feminism. The third wave ischaracterized by a search for autonomy of experience, individuality,independence, sexual pleasure or flexibility, empowerment, andself-expression (McRobbie, 2009). In a nutshell, in this twenty firstcentury, everything relating to feminist campaigns has changed.

Somescholars view post-feminism as a confusing aspect. According toMcRobbie (2009), during the 1960s and the 1970s, feminists’conditions were not the same as in the periods of 1980s and the1990s. The implication for this was that feminists requiredimplementing different strategies compared to those taken in the pastgenerations. During this time, feminism was thought by some to be adirty notion.

Post-feminismis characterized by various aspects, which are put forth by feministsin their quest for more satisfaction. For instance, Sex and the City(SATC) is an American TV program that represents the feelings ofpost-feminism (Henry, 2004). It features young women who seek toenjoy their freedom and obtain their gains. It addresses the issuesof third wave and provides a medium on female sexuality. SATC supports women control in sex as well as their ideals in different agencies.Their search for complete sexual satisfaction implies that they arewilling to explore all sexual avenues and turn on all sex toys(Henry, 2004). In addition to being attractive and wealthy, theirobsession with men is evident. To satisfy their sexual desires, theyoung women featured in the series are openly seeking out men withdetermination.

SATCwas termed as a feminist series due to various aspects or themesdepicted in it. Firstly, the themes of empowerment, freedom andequality are portrayed. They form a major part of the women lifesimilar to their birthright. Comparing this to the previous feminism,various differences can be noted. For instance, unlike thecontemporary, previous feminism embraced pleasure, materialism, andstressed on individuality (Arneil, 1999). It was characterized bylocal and narrow ideas, while contradictions were also apparent.Instead of using ideology and theory, it made use of practicalsolutions. Focusing on SATC, the women have high status careers whichindicate the aspect of job empowerment. In fact, these women are sooccupied in their jobs that they lack adequate time for husband orchildren. The significance of this is that women are endeavoring toseek high status jobs meant for men, and at the same time, becomingindependent.

Feminismis viewed differently by different people. Some have endeavored tobattle sexualized and idealized pictures of women portrayed in themedia, besides embracing diversity. According to Henry (2004), thesepeople are fighting such TV series as SATC. The TV features storylines which show third wave or post-feminism allegiances. To startwith, the four main characters depend on one another as family,during bad or good times. They do not depend on their blood relativesor close family members for support rather they are the key sourcesof each other’s support. This is evidenced during such times asduring pregnancies, childbirth, as well as disease (cancer). Besides,the way they are talking to one another represents an exceptionalfemale centered conversation. It is a key basis of significance inown lives. Deborah Cameron, a feminist polyglot, puts forward thatwomen’s conversation grows to be revolutionary once significance isattached to it, and it is privileged over other interactions (Henry,2004).

Accordingto Gough-Yates (2003), second wave was characterized by economicbenefits for women. However, this contributed little in fulfillingtheir hopes resulting in the examination of raunch aesthetic as aplatform for accommodation instead of proof of a novel phase ofliberation work. During the 1970’s, the majority of feministscriticized the aspect of fordism. Arneil (1999) puts forth that thecriticism was largely contributed by the fact that fordismincorporated its work with conventionally ideas of gender roles.Gough-Yates also argues that inequality in employment is anotherplatform in which feminists are searching for gender equality.Although post-fordism resulted in the introduction of flexibleeconomies leading to the amplification of women in work place, thereare still major disparities in employment patterns. Most women findthemselves in temporary jobs and those which lack stable benefits.Women are also divided by class. There seems to be a minority-upperworking class and a majority-lower non-working class or thoseemployed in temporary jobs. The minority group secure good positionsin the market with great benefits and rewards, which were previouslyset aside for men (McRobbie, 2009 &amp Arneil, 1999). Nevertheless,the decline in economic positions among the upper working group hasreduced disposable income, thus lowering economic independence. Inthis aspect, Levy (2005) has argued that influential women who haveembraced the raunch aesthetic are symbolizes the desire to endure andthrive. This is not liberation instead it is a type ofaccommodation.

Asput forward by Bailey (2007), post-feminism also comprises a set ofimaginative cultural practices among women such as women’s musicand political zines. Women who generate their publications andcompose their music have a kind of positive spirit that acts as adriving force. These women have an individualistic style ofexpression and a mind-set of self-sufficiency. This indicates a novelphase of feminist work as well as a vitalizing challenge toconventional classes implemented by second wave. The aspects ofpost-feminism initiate with notions of difference, identity, andcelebrate the status of outsiders (Arneil, 1999). This is unlikeother waves characterized by sameness, universality, and celebrationof the status of insiders.

Levy(2005) puts forth that sexual experience is the key basis ofarguments for post-feminism awareness. Implicit recognition of womenbenefits together with good-natured and up-front misuse of sexualityare what Levy describes as quest for post-feminism. Although this isnot a step ahead, failure of some women to embrace sexualrepresentation of others makes them to be seen as old fashioned. Theyare seen to endure from the certainty that putting significance on awoman solely based on her attractiveness is demeaning or filthy.According to Levy (2003), these women still embrace the traditionalideologies and they need to get out of it. They are seen as draggingthe quest for gender equality and women rights backwards, rather thansupporting and fighting for the same. The invasive nature of somegroups of women has made Levy to use the notion “Female ChauvinistPig) to describe them (2005). To her, the term illustrates a group ofwomen staying at home proclaiming similar thoughts condemned by otherwomen amongst men. Such women are described as influential culturalpersonnel, who also helping in shaping the thoughts of other women.Levy asserts that to be successful, women need to be similar to men(2005). It encompasses various aspects including how their act,think, and perceive things among others. In this case, they shouldembrace sexual representation of their counterparts in order toenhance their achievement in quest for sexual pleasure.

Ina nutshell, supporters of post-feminism have focused on variousaspects, while disregarding those put forth by first and secondwavers. The fundamental achievements include sexual fearlessness anda feeling of independence. Certainly, these two aspects arecharacteristic of the male gender, especially in the current periodof cultural know how. However, women’s quest to seek for genderequality has made them to fight using all means possible. Puttingthis into consideration, it is hard to declare that post-feminism ison the edge of promoting female in any specific manner. It appears tobe an indication that the liberation of women has surfaced. Thisimplies that women should act individually, search for their ownmodes of expression and pleasures, instead of trying to join thewider social group. Celebrating individuality in this case and theidea of difference represent self devoid of the wider political andsocial platforms. Focusing on self means endeavoring to meetindividual desires as outlined by third wave feminism.


Arneil,B. (1999), Thirdwave feminism(s): The view at, of and from the border(s)’,in Kathy Bail, Kathy (ed.) Politicsand Feminism: An Introduction.Oxford: Blackwell.

Bailey,C. (2007), Whengirls just wanna have fun: Third-wave cultural engagement identity,difference, and agency.Lanham, Md., Plymouth: Rowman &amp Littlefield Publishers.

Gough-Yates,A. (2003), Post-fordism,post-feminism and the ‘new woman’, in late twentieth-centuryBritain’, understanding women’s magazines: Publishing, marketsand readerships,London: Routledge. pp. 26-38.

Henry,A. (2004), Orgasmsand empowerment: Sex and the City and the third wave feminism’,in Kim Akass and Janet McCabe (eds) ReadingSex and the City,I. B. London: Tauris.

Levy,A. (2005), FemaleChauvinist Pigs: Women and the rise of raunch culture.Melbourne: Schwartz Publishing, VIC., pp. 89-117.

McRobbie,A. (2009). Feminismundone? The aftermath of feminism: Gender, culture and social change.London: Sage Publications Ltd, pp. 25-53.

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