This essay examines the challenge confronting young feminists of finding their place and creating their space in the political landscape. It argues that the conceptual leverage of a "third wave" helps young women articulate a feminism that responds to the political, economic, technological, and cultural circumstances that are unique to the current era. Rather than take the position that the existence or authenticity of third-wave feminism ought be argued, the author asks the more important questions of what are the unique contributions that third-wave rhetoric can make? What is it about the political climate that has given rise to third wave that enables these feminists to make different contributions than second-wave feminists might make? Continuing to articulate feminism as a force to be reckoned with has become increasingly complex in our pluralistic world. It is further complicated by a now sophisticated and prolific postfeminist ideology that has co-opted and depoliticized the central tenets of feminism. The only thing postfeminism has to do with authentic feminism, however, is to contradict it at every turn while disguising this agenda, to perpetuate the falsehood that the need for feminist change is outdated. The author also discusses the rhetorical challenges facing third-wave feminists. She argues that their virtues of pluralism and contradiction could become their vices if they retreat from making arguments about what constitutes feminism, and that third-wave contributions can be made more profound if they refuse to see second wave monolithically. Finally, the author argues that third-wave feminists must meet these rhetorical challenges if they are to avoid the dangerous possibilities of false feminism: personal journey and resistance that are devoid of politics, and weak feminism: working for only as much social change as a patriarchal social order can outrun.


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pp. 124-153
Launched on MUSE
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