Fourth Wave Feminism

How should a person be?


Audio version read by Sloan Garrett – Right-click to download

This article is available in:

Late in June the Internet was possessed by one of its periodic tizzies, this time over an article in The Atlantic called “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” by Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, professor of international affairs at Princeton, and, as she makes a point of insisting, mother of two sons. Slaughter drew on her privileged experience to revisit the classic problem of balancing motherhood and career, suggesting that what’s needed is a package of European-style, family-friendly workplace reforms.

Though her argument was not terribly original, the response was visceral – amassing over a million views in just a few days, the article swiftly rose to become the most-visited in the magazine’s online history. Most of the debate was mired in the shallows, ripping on the “feminist-baiting” title and back-to-the-past cover image (a coy baby peeking out of a briefcase). Other critics misconstrued Slaughter as “blaming feminism” rather than patriarchy. A few marginalized voices cried that “having it all” depends on the have-nots hired as nannies and maids.

Only four days after the piece came out, Slaughter recanted the “have it all” frame. Yet the title keenly reflects the bankruptcy of previous feminist goals in the present age of austerity … the vacancy of a political ambition expressed in the main verbs of consumerism: having, getting and giving up so as to get and have some more.

Meanwhile, the younger generation of women sidesteps Slaughter’s dilemma altogether. They mostly refuse to bear children at all – perhaps in an instinctive response to cataclysmic overpopulation – and they’re not seduced by high-powered careers. “Neoliberal capitalism is patriarchal to the core … Women are the other 99%,” wrote one anonymous fourth-wave feminist in the early days of Occupy Wall Street, presaging the Feminist General Assemblies that have since become a movement mainstay. Instead of agonizing over how to be both an ideal mother and an ideal worker, emerging feminists are worrying, as the title of breakout writer Sheila Heti’s book puts it, “How should a person be?” Heti’s novel-from-life, like the work of young filmmaker Lena Dunham, mines the personal to disclose, and then transcend, the intimate and universal degradations of life in today’s fully pornified male culture. That same spirited, self-exposing courage propels the naked activists known as Femen in Europe and the Slut Walk marches worldwide. In the public sphere, their bodies’ vulnerability transforms into adamantine solidarity.

While Slaughter and her establishment cohort rent their talent to the one percent for cheap, a counter-tide of women is redefining the direction of the next decade of feminist dreams. From the turmoil may emerge a revolutionary women’s struggle … a tidal wave concerned with how to be, not how much to have … and perhaps, one day, a landmark victory that will outshine even the suffragettes’ triumph.

Chiara Ricciardone, www.chiararicciardone.com

68 comments on the article “Fourth Wave Feminism”

Displaying 41 - 50 of 68

Page 5 of 7


dunno. but I see plenty of radical women fighting the power for no other reason than they're human and would like to see the end to the supremely inhuman power of the u.s.mil. they'd be fools to fight for women's rights over human rights at this juncture in history. the former must wait and the smartest and most courageous women have realized this and adapted early and gladly to this reality. they are anti-military first and foremost because the Military is anti-women first and foremost. everybody wins when the u.s.mil loses.


... also interesting that Chiara Ricciardone is a doctoral student. Seems pretty hypocritical to me: chastising another academic when she herself is pursuing the same path.


What are you talking about? Ricciardone doesn't attack Slaughter BECAUSE she is an academic. That Slaughter is an academic has nothing to do with her argument.


Too many waves of feminism. Already on the fourth wave?

There should be just one main explosive wave and then that's it.


It hasn't escaped my notice that it is the women of Occupy - and at most public protests of the past 12 years - who have been the first to take the blows of cops and first to offer aid to fallen comrades. At least one male, always a male, will say that coming to the aid of the injured is what women do naturally with their maternal instincts and their aptitude for nursing and all the rest of that jive. But why are they taking a disproportionate number of blows from the pigs? Well, their courage and resolve explain most of that, the rest is because cops hate and wish more harm to women who stand up than they do the men who stand up.

Now, I ask that our women of Occupy assume another burden; To delay your disillusionment over reports of attempted male domination inside Occupy until we declare victory. Without you there will be no revolution and, likewise, without a revolution there will be no end to the sex-based inequality we now have in the world. And, if there are any men of Occupy who continue to bull their way - either figuratively or literally - past, through or around the women of Occupy, well then, it'd be time to take names and kick some asses. And I don't mean the cops' this time. Or, maybe I do because maybe the guys who are doing these piggish things to women in the movement really are ... pigs. Can anyone explain more satisfactorily why some male "activists" display piggish behavior to our women? I reckon it's possible the offenders are just immature assholes and not cops, but I hate speculating, so just knock it the f*ck off.

Two things are needed for revolutionary success - one is man the other is woman. Surprise. The two things that will kill our revolution quicker than the pigs are 1) if talented women peel away from Occupy because of outbreaks of attempted male domination and, 2) if certain so-called men don't begin accepting female parity at Occupy, in our revolutions, and in life. Our success(s) can only be measured by the diminishment of the dictatorship's power. Diminishing our women by excluding them cuts the power of Occupy in half making this crap as stupid, destructive, and counter-revolutionary as anything we face coming from the other side. Perhaps there's those among the miscreants yearning for some of them (sic) homo-social/sexual activities LE and Military life affords - you know, the kind, to their minds, anyway - that don't need women around. To those anti-revolutionists I say get the f*ck out and go join your fellow whatevers because Occupy isn't and wasn't built that way.- nor could it ever benefit from your lurid male-only establishment fantasies. So far, the miscreants appear to be a small minority, so let's work to be rid of the fools. Occupy's men and women must continue working, achieving, and celebrating inroads and coming victories together - the way the real men and women of Occupy have been doing so far, so well - and so together. Away with all pigs - the human kind, anyways.


Incorrect. I said women were first to take the blows in comparison to men. So, what's your real problem, dude? You prefer the mens?


Add a new comment

Comments are closed.