Rebecca Walker wrote, in 1992, “I am not a post feminism feminist. I am the Third Wave.” At the time we were 8 years old—we hadn’t read Backlash, we didn’t watch the Anita Hill hearings, we probably weren’t even a glimmer in our parent’s eyes when the ERA finally crashed and burned in ’82. No, in 1992, we probably spent more time watching Fraggle Rock and playing on our Skip-Its than worrying about how we would punch through the glass ceiling. Since that declarative declaration of a new wave of feminism the purpose, and even the mere existence, of a so-called “third wave” have been scrutinized by feminists and non-feminists alike, often arriving at disparate definitions and conclusions to further muck the waters.
Women of our post-second wave generation face a tenuous and awkward position: we want to honor our foremothers but also recognize that times have changed since Free To Be…You And Me. We are eternally indebted to the women that came and fought before us—would we be writing about the issues that we are without them?—but the cultural climate we face today is drastically different than the one they encountered forty, even twenty, years ago. The Feminine Mystique is no longer ground-breaking; “Feminist” has now become a dirty word; and the sexism we face is nuanced, having become more subtle and ingrained. This is not to say that women don’t face overt sexism anymore—we recognize and applaud women who have had to combat and overcome blatant and frustrating sexism at home, in the workplace, politically, socially, internationally, or anywhere else, yet often the sexism we face is less subtle than the “women can’t be mechanics” thought process of yesteryear.
We have found ourselves adrift in the waves of Feminism. Are we a part of the Third Wave? From what pulpit do we speak from? Do we even need to label ourselves in order to legitimatize our fight? And every time we make an exciting step forward, another news anchor shoots our triumph down, reporting that “Feminism is dead.”
Wave or no wave, we aren’t dead. It is our job therefore to “buck the wave”— ride it, but challenge it—and keep on going, whether or not we are sitting at the crest of the third wave, in the trough between waves, or somewhere else entirely in the tides of Feminism. As always, we will continue to honor and challenge our predecessors, moving forever onward in our struggle for equal rights and equal voices in our culture and beyond. We would like to continue to create conversations that go beyond the limitations of location via new technology tools that are staples of our generation; in doing so we will create a new type of consciousness-raising group. We will challenge and question each other and the status quo and create connections that will strengthen our beliefs and reinforce our determination.
– Kate and Emily