A Third Wave?

I have been again hit so forcefully with this ‘I wish I lived in the 70s’ feeling. Young feminists today lack the experience of sisterhood. We no longer know each other. There are no ‘consciousness raising’ groups. There are no marches or campaigns, at least as far as I’m aware – and how would you find them anyway?

Email to The F-Word (2002)

Sisters, by definition, belong to an age set… to expect that political sisterhood include women of both our grandmother’s generation and our granddaughter’s generation is too much… Feminism is as youthist as any other radical movement

Germaine Greer (2000),

The Whole Woman

Many women of my generation feel they have missed the boat on the great political movements of the twentieth century… We are beneficiaries of a movement that ‘is no longer a movement’

Gaby Wood,

The Observer (2001)

It is undeniable that the issues faced by the feminist movement in the 1970’s are very different to those of my generation in the early 21st century. That, among other reasons, is why I feel that there is clearly a second wave and third wave of feminism.

Penny Collins,


young women imagine there was once a glorious feminist movement, lost somewhere in the mists of time back in the early 70s… The truth is, there was no ‘movement.’ There were, to be honest, precious few women involved at all.

Polly Toynbee,

The Guardian (2002)

There are so many manifestations of feminism now that some women of previous generations might not even associate new voices with the feminism they themselves practice.

Lisa Bryn Rundle, Turbo Chicks (2001)

I had just begun to realise that the committment that many young women felt towards feminism was rarely displayed in the media. It felt to me as though there were a hidden desire for feminism…

Natatsha Walter,

On the Move (1999)

The refrain “young women don’t consider themselves feminists” comes at us from all sides… The truth is that a lot of us do consider ourselves feminists.

Barbara Findlen,

Listen Up (2001, second edn)

Even young feminists themselves… are made to feel lonely. They wonder: ‘where is everybody?’

Gloria Steinem,

Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1995, second edn)

We are “post-riot girl”… Riot girl is dead… The riot girl scene no longer exists… I wasn’t old enough for riot girl the first time round. I’ve loved the music for a number of years but now I want to create my own revolution.

Jane Collins,

Electra zine (2002)

Some original riot grrrls are frowning on the new wave: ‘It’s been and gone’ blah blah. What pants!! Who says that Riot grrrl is dead? And who says it can’t be strong again?

Clair, Sister Disco zine (2002)

I was starting to despair I was the only young feminist left in Britain a couple of years ago!!

Email to The F-Word (2002)

The second wave of feminism, rather than having crashed onto the shore, is still far out to sea, slowly and inexorably gathering momentum. None of us who are alive today will witness more than the first rumbles of the coming social upheaval.

Germaine Greer, The Whole Woman (2000)

Feminism is not dead; in fact, it’s on the rise again, but in a new form. We are the 20- and 30-something women who have always known a world with feminism in it. We are putting a new face on feminism. It’s time to move away from the older feminism of the 1960’s and 1970’s and shape a new movement that speaks to women of today.

Third Wave Website,


What young feminists often lack is a coherent declaration that can connect the lives of individual women to the larger history of our movement. We need to transform our confidence into a plan for actually attaining women’s equality. What we need is a Third Wave feminist manifesta.

Jennifer Baumgardner & Amy Richards,

Manifesta (2000)

For many [young women] it seems that to be a feminist in the way that we have seen or understood feminism is to conform to an identity and way of living that doesn’t allow for individuality, complexity, or less than perfect personal histories.

Rebecca Walker,

To Be Real (1995)

I think the idea of a third wave of feminism can be quite useful. Certainly there are differences between the way young women who call themselves feminists tend to talk and the way that their mothers might have talked.

Natasha Walter,

Interview with The F-Word (2002)