Fourth-wave of feminism

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The fourth wave of feminism is a recent development within the feminist movement. Jennifer Baumgardner identifies fourth-wave feminism as starting in 2008 and continuing into the present day.[1] Kira Cochrane, author of All the Rebel Women: The Rise of the Fourth Wave of Feminism,[2] defines fourth wave feminism as a movement that is connected through technology.[3][4] Researcher, Diana Diamond, defines fourth wave feminism as a movement that "combines politics, psychology, and spirituality in an overarching vision of change." [5]

Fourth wave feminism is often associated with online feminism, especially using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, and other forms of social media to discuss, uplift, and activate gender equality and social justice.[6] According to NOW Toronto, the internet has created a "call-out" culture, in which sexism or misogyny can be called out and challenged immediately with relative ease.[7] This culture is indicative of the continuing influence of the third wave, with its focus on micro-politics and challenging sexism and misogyny insofar as they appear in everyday rhetoric, advertising, film, television and literature, the media, and so on.[8] This online feminism aspect of the fourth wave has impacted how companies market to women so that they are not "called out" for sexism in their marketing strategies.[9]

Though the Fourth wave of feminism often draws comparisons to the Third wave of feminism, as with the past waves of feminism and their successors, Fourth-wave feminism will stand "on the shoulders" of the past wave. The addition of more advanced technology along with broader ideas of equal rights set the newest wave apart from the former.

Besides online feminism, the fourth-wave has been associated with the increased focus on intersectionality, including the repudiation of trans-exclusionary radical feminism and a focus on solidarity with other social justice movements.[6]

Other aspects of fourth-wave feminism include individuals who are uncomfortable with the word feminism, because of "assumptions of a gender binary and exclusionary subtext: 'For women only,'" according to Martha Rampton, director of the Centre for Gender Equality at Pacific University Oregon. "Yet the word is winning the day," she wrote in 2015 [10]

Impact of Technology

In a 2009 interview with the New York Times, feminist author and icon Jessica Valenti was asked whether or not she considered herself a third wave feminist. Her response was as follows: "I don’t much like the terminology, because it never seems very accurate to me. I know people who are considered third-wave feminists who are 20 years older than me." After the Interviewer's suggestion that perhaps we had moved forward into a Fourth wave of feminism, Valenti retorted that maybe the fourth wave is online.[11]

The fourth wave of feminism is often said to have started in 2008,[1] and many social networks were finding their footing not long beforehand. Twitter, a social network that is most popular with the 18-29 age group [12] was created in 2006, and has made feminism more accessible to the general public. When Wendy Davis staged her 13-hour filibuster to prevent an abortion bill from passing, many women showed their support by rallying around the Texas State Capitol. But for those who couldn't, they were still able to show their solidarity through using the hashtag #StandWithWendy. Similarly, girls of all ages protested the often sexist questions directed at female celebrities by tweeting the hashtag #askhermore.[13] While some may mock this relatively new concept of Twitter activism and call it a cop-out,[14] it can also be seen as a way to get more young girls involved in issues, and a means to give women a voice when they would otherwise be silenced. Social media like twitter allows women to spread awareness of issues much farther than was ever possible in the past.[15] Although neither technology nor feminism are new to the world, the efficient and fervent use of them in unison is a defining factor of the fourth wave.

Problems with the fourth wave of feminism

Aside from speculations that the Fourth-wave of feminism may not even exist, there are many problems that present themselves with the new dependence on technology. An article from Blue Stockings Magazine states that "The key problem that this '4th Wave' will face will be the disproportionate access to and ownership of digital media devices." The Fourth wave is then left with the "inherent classism and ableism" created by giving the biggest voice to those who can afford and use technology.[16]

Many people also believe that when people participate in twitter activism, they don't feel the need to do anything else to help the effort. In an article for, the author argues that after contributing their say, people just "continue on with their day, liking other posts or retweeting." some may think of themselves as activists while never bothering to attend a single rally or extend their message beyond their twitter fan base.[17] Fourth-wave feminism can therefore get a reputation as being lazy, be it true or not.

Jennifer Simpkins of The Huffington Post argues that Fourth wave feminism has created a hostile, "Mean Girls" like atmosphere where women are more likely to tear each other down. "I've actually never once been belittled and attacked by a man for believing in the cause of feminism" she states, "but women are just about lining up to take a whack at the shoddy piñata of my personal tastes and opinions." [18] The highly publicized nature of the fourth wave of feminism can lead to women attempting to out-feminist each other,while also policing every statement and belief put out into the vast world of social media. After Suzanne Moore wrote an article which featured a "problematic" comment comparing the perfect female body by today's standards to a "Brazilian Transsexual", her friend Julie Birchill claimed Moore was forced off Twitter by a "gaggle of transsexuals".[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Baumgardner, Jennifer (2011). "Is there a fourth wave? Does it matter?". Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  2. Cochrane, Kira (2013). All the rebel women: the rise of the fourth wave of feminism. London: Guardian Books. ISBN 9781783560363. OCLC 915373287. 
  3. Baumgardner, Jennifer (2011). F 'em!: Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls. Berkeley CA: Seal Press. p. 250. 
  4. Cochrane, Kira (10 December 2013). "The fourth wave of feminism: meet the rebel women". The Guardian. 
  5. Diamond, Diana (2009). The fourth wave of feminism: psychoanalytic perspectives. pp. 213–223. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Martin, Valenti, Courtney E, Vanessa. "#FEMFUTURE: Online revolution" (PDF). BRCW. Barnard Centre for Research on Women (BCRW). Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  7. Zerbisias, Antonia (16 September 2015). "FEMINISM’S FOURTH WAVE IS THE SHITLIST". NOW Toronto. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Munro, Ealasaid (September 2013). "Feminism: a fourth wave?". Political Insight. Political Studies Association via Sage. 4 (2): 22–25. doi:10.1111/2041-9066.12021.  Pdf via ReadCube. Also available online.
  9. Hamilton, Alex (28 October 2015). "How to package brands for the fourth wave of feminism". Packaging News. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  10. Rampton, Martha (25 October 2015). "Four waves of feminism". Pacific University Oregon. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  11. Solomon, Deborah (13 November 2009). "The Blogger and Author on the Life of Women Online". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  12. Brodzky, Brandon (18 November 2014). "Social Media User Statistics & Age Demographics for 2014". LinkedIn Pulse. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  13. Chittal, Nisha (26 March 2015). "How social media is changing the feminist movement". MSNBC. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  14. Guardado, Alex (3 March 2015). "Hashtag Activism: The Benefits and Limitations of #Activism". New University. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  15. Bennett, Jessica (10 September 2014). "Behold the power of #hashtag feminism". Time. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  16. Jóns, Ragna Rök. "Is the "4th Wave" of Feminism Digital?". bluestockings magazine. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  17. Guardado, Alex (3 March 2015). "New University". Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  18. Simpkins, Jennifer. ""You can't sit with us!" - how fourth-wave feminism became 'mean girls'". The Huffington Post. UK. Retrieved 16 March 2016.