Friday, January 2, 2009

Is Feminism Dead or Is This Third-Wave?

Last summer, I spotted three tourists: two teenage girls between 14 and 18 years of age and a woman who must have been their mother. The teens were giggling and trying to pose provocatively as their mother took their photograph in front of Playboy's discreet bronze plaque on its Fifth Avenue office building.

My first thought was, "Why would a mother encourage that? Feminism is dead." My next reaction was, "Oh, here's an example of third-wave feminism, right?"

There are times when you have to go back to go forward. I turned to Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch--a touchstone of second-wave feminism. In it, you can see the seeds of third-wave feminism--including sex-positivity, the reappropriation of the derogatory (reclaiming the female body), anti-essentialism (not advocating any particular prescription for women), and activism.

For more insights into second- and third-wave feminism, take a look at our teaching guide for The Female Eunuch--written by Meg Jay.

I'm still on the fence about the photo-taking mother. What do you think?

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