Commentary Religion

The Next Wave of Feminism

Charlotte Taft

I believe a new wave of feminism is coming that will be about unfinished business--transformation rather than reform of the very game of life we human beings are playing—-a transformation of gender, ecology, race, fairness, class—-and so much more.

I recently started to wear this piece of jewelry again after many years. It is a silver pendant of Diana, goddess of the moon. 

More than 30 years ago the feminist movement reintroduced a host of goddesses into women’s daily lives. By the 1990’s they had all but disappeared. When women comment on my necklace I say that women need goddesses in our lives again, and they invariably agree.

I have been devastated about the daily reports of woman-hating legislation all across the country. I have been haunted, wondering how women could seemingly have lost all our power. In searching for an answer I have gone back to my old feminist library.

It is challenging to write about the women’s movement without appearing nostalgic, or seeming to suggest that we should do what we did then. I know we are in a new era and there is a lot that remains unfinished. I’m looking for the ‘bones’ of a movement—the underpinnings that act as a springboard to the next level of change. Learning about the women who came before us was part of what lit women on fire in the seventies. When I feel discouraged it is helpful to remember that all social movements including feminism have times of rapid, active change and times of glacial almost imperceptible change.

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One of the first women’s rights gatherings was in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. It took 30 years after that meeting for the 19th Amendment (votes for women) to be introduced into Congress (1878). For more than 30 years the legislation went nowhere. Then in 1910-11, energy began again and it was finally adopted in 1920 after another decade of activism.

Fifty years later what has been called the Second Wave of the women’s movement took hold of the mainstream in the 1970’s. That extremely dynamic period of change lasted a little more than a decade, ending with the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1982.

That was 29 years ago. Are you ready?

Just lately I’ve moved from discouragement to hope. It’s as though I have my ear to the ground and I can feel the earliest tremors of an earthquake. I’m thrilled by the sense that these tremors are also being felt by women and men all over the world.

I believe a new wave of feminism is coming that will be about unfinished business–transformation rather than reform of the very game of life we human beings are playing—-a transformation of gender, ecology, race, fairness, class—-and so much more. The artificial separation of childbirth from abortion from childcare from adoption from birth control from infertility, etc. will be revealed and healed. Feminism will be understood as a philosophy of life that benefits all humans as well as the planet, rather than a movement to give women a bigger piece of a pie that was poisoned long ago. On our way to the quake, we’re going to go through some hard times that invite us to find creative ways to reach out to each other. And once again each of us will know that we are part of something much, much bigger than ourselves.

Perhaps we should think of this as the continuation of the Third Wave that has been percolating for last three decades. I don’t know what we will call it, but it is going to be a tsunami.

1,000 amazing feminist books are available on Amazon’s “Feminist Journal.” A few of my favorites:

Going Out of Our Minds—Sonia Johnson

The World Split Open–Ruth Rosen

When Everything Changed—Gail Collins

The Creation of Patriarchy—Gerda Lerner

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