Social Media has become a powerful tool for activism and advocacy for marginalised groups. Both LGBTQ+ and women of colour, more specifically black women, have found strength in numbers and a community that shares their struggle. As a result, they have been able to cause a change in narratives about women and LGBTQ+ people and demand recourse and justice. Welcome to episode 7! We’re talking “New Wave Feminism”.
Look around you. In the news, social media, television programmes, there’s been overwhelming messages about women’s empowerment, the elevation of women into positions of power, women’s reproductive and sexual rights and, perhaps more ubiquitous, sexual harassment. This wave of feminism focuses on these particular topics but enlists the use of media to push these ideas with a particular goal in mind: justice for women. Women holding people who abuse power accountable as well as demanding tangible redress for this abuse.
As mentioned in the episode, a prominent feature of this wave of feminism is the use of hashtags as an avenue for storytelling, experience sharing and way of demonstrating how exactly long standing systems of oppression affect women’s daily lives. #MeToo, #LifeInLeggings, #SayTheirNames and #YouOkaySis (to name a few) were hashtags used to bring awareness around sexual harassment (including street harassment) but also as a way of demanding justice, starting conversations about bodily autonomy and the tenets of patriarchy that allow men to get away with harassment. Under new wave feminism, digital media has been harnessed and shaped to be a field in which this generation of feminists ideate – basically taking school out of the classroom.
Also important to new wave feminism is the insistence and re-energization of intersectionality as a way of critiquing. While not new (as you would have noticed from previous episodes), intersectionality has seen an uptick in usage throughout this wave.
Like its predecessors, new wave isn’t without its fair share of critique. It has been criticised for being “slacktivism” which is to say that it exists only in the virtual world as the users who are active online don’t exercise this activism in the real world. Others have blamed it for not having much teeth as it tends to “villainize” individuals rather than conceptualising solutions for overarching systems. It has also been labeled as a predominantly Western and global north iteration that hasn’t created space for the global south.
What do you think about new wave feminism? Has it been useful? Does it need improvement? Share with us!
Our next episode will look at how feminism helps/impacts men and boys.