Why Fourth Wave Feminism
Needs To Become Mainstream
By: Rory Schwartz
You hear it all the time. Actors pledging to only be in films with a 50/50 male female ratio among the cast and crew. Campaigns to have a 50/50 male female ratio in every single career field. Politicians proudly proclaiming the future is female. Sounds great right? Well, it is in some ways, but in other ways it’s not.
I’m a staunch supporter of global gender equality. Annie Lennox is my idol and my hero and her call for global feminism resonates with me. I want to see cis women and girls everywhere empowered and in control of their lives. Free from religious and political oppression.
But, it’s not just cis women and girls that I envision this for. I also want to see cis men and boys, transgender people, and gender nonconforming people living their best lives as well. The truth of the matter is everyone can’t live their best lives if we keep looking at things in such a closed off way.
The only way to combat this thought process is to rethink and be willing to learn new information. This is where fourth wave feminism comes in. I think this movement is vital to the future of feminism and humanity. Fourth wave feminist activists have been challenging misandry, transphobia, and the gender binary.
Fourth wave feminists don’t have an us vs. them mentality when it comes to men. They have a bell hooks way of looking at them. It’s not men that are the issue. It’s the attitudes and perceptions they are taught which is the hallmark of toxic masculinity. If we want men to abandon these harmful ideals, we must be willing to show them that we are on their side and we want to help them.
Fourth wave feminists don’t view society as being comprised of 50% men and 50% women. They see men, women, and gender nonconforming people. They see binary trans people as men and women. They see gender nonconforming people in whatever manner that person wishes to be seen. They see us for who we are not what body parts we possess. They have been one of my community’s loudest supporters. They aid in raising awareness about things like Trans Visibility Day and Trans Pride. In a world where trans invisibility is still a very serious problem, this means the world to so many people myself included! They care about inclusion. A really awesome example of this is The London Women’s March coming up with the term ‘menstruator’ to describe everyone who has a menstrual cycle. I love it so much!
Fourth wave feminists proudly acknowledge the future is indeed filled with female empowerment. But the future isn’t only female. They see that the future needs to be inclusive, and that we should be helping everyone. Cis men, trans people, and gender nonconforming people have issues that need addressing too. Sometimes those issues are the exact same ones cis women are facing.
Unfortunately for us, fourth wave feminism isn’t mainstream. In fact, most people don’t know it exists. What people are seeing and perceiving as the norm with feminism is second wave feminists and TERFs. They dominate the media and academia because they have money, power, and well-known voices behind them.
That’s why conversations about sexual harassment, abuse, and violence are cis women centered and focused. But this cannot stand. Sexual violence is a large-scale issue. Something that can happen to anyone regardless of gender or gender identity.
As a sexual assault survivor myself, this exclusion really hurts. I still identified as a cis woman when I first told my story. Now that I’m out as gender nonconforming it’s even more important to keep telling my story. I’m hopeful it’ll encourage more queer people to tell their story for one thing. I’m also hopeful it’ll shine a spotlight on how our language and our rhetoric needs to evolve and be more inclusive.
When we speak about survivors of sexual abuse of any kind, we need to use gender neutral words so that everyone who has been a victim feels free to speak and tell their story. We don’t need bullies online telling anyone that their stories don’t matter or they’re just lying for attention. And we don’t need trans and gender nonconforming people to continue to feel like no one cares and that they don’t belong at all.
Fourth wave feminists, it’s time for us to take the reins. Second wave feminists aren’t doing much to help the equality problem. Cis white feminism is the root of that movement, and in the age of intersectionality we need to challenge it. We need to speak out. We need to show people that feminism isn’t what those types of feminists make it out to be. As bell hooks proudly proclaims: feminism is for everyone. And it helps everyone.
Equality means everyone has the same rights and opportunities. Equality means everyone gets treated with respect, kindness, and decency. Equality means fairness and giving all issues your time and attention. Anything less than this isn’t my idea of equality, and it shouldn’t be yours either.
About Me: Hey everyone, I’m Rory. My pronouns are She/Her. I’ve been out as bisexual since 2014 and I came out as gender nonconforming last year. I’m a blogger and this summer I’m going to become a first-time author. My book, The Legacy Commencement, is the first part in a queer affirming magical trilogy.
Hi, I'm Rory! My pronouns are She/Her. I'm a blogger and the author of the upcoming queer affirming novel The Legacy Commencement. I came out as bisexual in 2014 and gender nonconforming last year. I love talking about all things LGBTQ+. I love celebrating the progress we make and raising awareness about the things that still need to be done. Other things I'm passionate about include: progressive affirming politics, agnosticism and secularism, and human rights issues.