In Defense of Second Wave Feminism
Felicity Koba Sharpe (Communism)
I define ‘feminism’ as the movement to liberate women from both patriarchy and capitalism. Ultimately it’s a class-based analysis that says men and women are separate classes treated as such under capitalism (an economic system that exploits the working class).
Now for a slight history lesson as I see it. Feminism started as a movement to gain women the right to vote - the First Wave, then it progressed to a movement to give women equal rights and birth control (bodily sovereignty) - the Second Wave, and now we see the Third Wave which is a liberal view on sex relations. It is important to note that unlike the two first waves the Third Wave has encouraged men to get involved, with the “he for she’ mind set. The First Wave had male allies, the Second Wave had men who would fight for the same things, but ‘men being feminists’ is a new idea.
Thus the feminist movement has become far more male in focus. Now the feminist movement is pro-porn, pro-sex work and now believes men can be women. All three of these stances feminism did not have before the 1980’s. It’s hard to say if it’s because men have had a say, or, because capitalism has become far more aggressive. Either way, I believe that although women can now vote and work outside the home, in many regards women are far more oppressed now because they do not have a movement that is just for women. The gay rights movement is run by, and for, LGB people and no one would ask them to include straight people. The current Black Lives Matter movement is run by, and is for, black people so no one would ask them to include white people. But apparently feminism needs to care about what men think and also to include men in the process.
I’ve been a Second Wave Feminist, or Radical Feminist, for now 10 years. I read Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch when I was 15 and I was sold. I then went on to read Andrea Dworkin’s Letters from a Warzone, Intercourse and Kate Millett's Sexual Politics, to me these texts are feminist bibles. This is because they look at the conditions that women find themselves in - not because they ask for them or because they put themselves in those situations, but because we’re born with a vagina, and we’re oppressed by capitalism because of our birth. Women learn very quickly that ‘we’re pretty’, that you look ‘oh you so cute in that dress’, and quickly given baby dolls/kitchen sets so we are trained to accept male violence via the ‘boys will be boys’ mantra.
Being blunt, pornography is sexual terrorism (violence for a political and/or religious gain) where men are shown women being bashed up, cum on, hurt, spat on, degraded, even made to bleed. And in most pornogrpahy the male is shown to be in control (even in lesbian and gay porn these roles are supported).
If your brain is being conditioned to get a sexual high to the opposite sex being oppressed, what does that say to how men grow up to seeing women? The common age for boys to start watching porn is 11, even before they start puberty, yet they are being brainwashed to accept women as lessor, this would be disgusting enough, but Third Wave Feminists are not only supportive of porn...they lift it up! Never before has this been a feminist view.
If you’re a women who is against sex work, as it is a degrading job, you are called a ‘SWERF’ (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist) a slur to shut up women who are against it. A Green Party candidate named Kathleen Maltzahn was attacked for suggesting the adoption of the Nordic Model (a model that makes the PURCHASING of sex work illegal, not the sex worker herself). To learn more visit their site and observe how this is hardly a radical view. Regardless, she was attacked despite her progressivism while running to support progressive views. And because she does not support women being abused she is labeled a ‘SWERF”. Modern feminism does not support women, it supports capitalism and it supports mens rights to women's bodies.
I support trans people’s right to not be sacked for being who they are, or not be attacked on the street. Both of those things are very sad, but as of late trans issues are becoming ‘feminist ones’. I support women using their voices to control who uses female spaces like in post-secondary institutions, female bathrooms, and how we use the english language. It’s sad how modern feminists denied women their voices (Posie Parker a British feminist put the definition of woman ‘Adult Human Female’ on a billboard) and the very next minute Trans Rights Activists (TRAs) called her “a female Hitler”. Really? Is this genuine liberation for Posie and other women like her? Women are being told to agree with a man who believes he is a she or be attacked with the threat of losing her job, or physically harmed. How is this feminism? Or is it another case of men imposing their wants/needs on women?
Porn, sex work, and the modern transgender movement are three key differences between Second Wavers and Third Wavers. There are other views that separate the waves, but I’ve focused on these issues more.
It would be great if Third Wavers would do the following: Let women define our own terms, stop forcing women to agree with you, support the Nordic Model, and fight against pornography. I know this seems really basic, but the feminism of today has really lost its way.
Germaine Greer once said “Women really love men, but what hurts is that men don’t love us back” and she could not be more right. Watching women being abused, paying to have sex with them, and to forcing them to share their long fought for spaces with men, is not love. It’s oppression.
For the love of women I ask men to leave feminism and start being allies again.
Felicity Sharpe is an International Relations student in Melbourne Australia, a Marxist-Leninist, &
a long time activist. Her passions include anti-war activism and fighting for union rights.
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