Is this a Fourth Wave of feminism?
Each wave of feminism in the past was defined (usually posthumously) around a number of unique issues. First wave: equal citizenship rights for women. Second wave: equal access to work and the right to control one’s body. Third wave: deconstructing gender and identity to reveal misogyny and sexism. Now there is a new conversation.
And it’s bigger, broader, more inclusive and much more diverse than previous conversations.
Firstly, men are a part of the conversation in a way that we have never seen before. More men are adopting primary caregiver roles while more women become primary breadwinners. This is throwing up all sorts of questions about identity and the roles we play. What does it mean to be a mother? What does it mean to be a father? How should we be modeling behavior for our children?
Secondly, fertility seems to be a huge part of the conversation. The cost of women postponing motherhood is a hot topic right now. Companies like Google and Facebook have offered to pay to freeze the eggs of their female employees – does this solve the problem? What does it mean to have children?
Thirdly we see growing acceptance of the fluidity of sexuality. Now we ask, what is a woman? What is a man? How do trans-people define their gender?
Finally, we see principles of gender equality being incorporated into the religious world. The Catholics are talking about greater involvement by women in its clergy. The Orthodox Jewish world has embraced female leadership through the Maharat program. Muslims are rallying around equal access to education, employment and equality in relationships. Where should gender fit into conversations about tradition, culture and spirituality.
Fourth wave feminism doesn’t seem to have any clear answers or paradigms. It’s not really a wave, but rather a conversation. And everything is on the agenda – family, identity, sexuality, the workplace, our bodies, household chores… It’s filled with contradictions, complexity and nuance. And it’s not just about women: it’s about gender.
This is why we have titled this program, The Gender Agenda.
Fight for Gender Equality