Second and third wave feminism

How is "third wave" feminism different from "second wave?"

Hi Amy,

I found out about this Ask Amy site while I was reading "Grassroots: A field guide for Feminist Activism" and I was hoping you could perhaps answer some questions which have been plaguing me.

I am a first year university student and I am writing a paper on the "third wave" of feminism. I need some clarification though, how does this differ from the "second wave"? I am also curious to know how is the "third wave" better suited than the "second wave" to our current historical moment?

As a female, this topic of feminism sparks my interest, and I am thirsty for knowledge on subject. I would greatly appreciate any help you are able to give.

Please reply at your earliest convenience

Thanks a bunch!


Angela -

Thanks for reading Grassroots!

In general, I use Third Wave feminism to describe feminism today and with an attempt to give some attention to the contribution of younger women, which is sadly often overlooked. I think the main reason younger women get overlooked is that they express feminism differently - for instance, in the mainstream rather than solely through explicitly feminist organizations. This leads many to believe that there aren't any younger feminists, but contrary to that, I see tons, I just see them doing more than majoring in women's studies, working at NOW, Ms., etc..., which is traditionally where people look for feminism.

All of that said, however, I don't really think there is much difference between Second and Third Wave feminism. The First Wave ended up having the goal of earning rights of citizenship for women - most symbolic through women winning the right to vote. The Second Wave has been identified as the current movement struggling for formal equality, which would be most synonymous through women being included in the Constitution, but also included other legal rights. It's still ongoing and thus premature to be really calling for a Third Wave.

Third Wave thus is about lending new proposals for reaching this same goal. Also, though I say that Third Wave is about giving attention to younger women, it's also a mentality more than a strict age requirement.

There is tons more on this subject already posted at I hope those answers help, too. Thanks again for reaching out and let me know if you need further clarification


Distinction between Second Wave and Third Wave feminism? | Yahoo Answers

Second Wave Feminism is largely the result of women trying to get back into the workforce after they returned to life as housewives (i.e., the idyllic nuclear family of the 1970s). The big fight of Second Wave Feminism was being accepted into the workforce (again).
Third Wave Feminism is the current wave (and somewhat of a misnomer). Third Wave Feminism has continued the ideals of the original movements by asking for equal wages and equal opportunities. Since the 1980s, we've seen the Third Wave begin to pick up speed, hoping to bring women reproductive freedoms (such as access to abor…

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