The 3rd WWWave: What's all this, then?

by Sidra M. S. Vitale

You know what? I didn't study feminism in school. Not elementary school, not high school and not college.

How can I say what a 3rd Wave feminist is supposed to be, in comparison to this mythic 2nd Wave I know next to nothing about?

All I can say is what I am, and that I consider myself a feminist, fighting for a moral, ethical and legal system where women have the same opportunities and rights as those other human beings.

You know.

Those men people.

I want to live in a world where my not having children doesn't leave people

  1. Feeling sorry for me
  2. Feeling I'm not an adult
  3. Trying to set me up with 'some nice man who'll take care of me'
Geez, I know plenty of parents who apparently aren't adults. So, there's something wrong with that criteria, if having kids is supposed to to hit you with the adulthood stick.

I want to live in a world where my having children doesn't leave people

  1. Assuming I don't, or didn't, want a career
  2. Looking down at me for betraying the cause and giving into the pressures of the patriarchy
  3. Or, telling me I've achieved my destiny and fulfilled my God-given biological role as nurturer, care-giver and mother. How happy I must be!
I want to work in a world where my second X chromosome does not mean to a male executive or guest to the company that I
  1. am some form of secretary
  2. do work requiring little intellectual ability that can be done by any other woman with little or no training.
You know, I quit my last job for many reasons. True, I wasn't working in my field (I have a technical degree). But you'd be amazed how the problem-solving techniques from physics carry over into corporate America. So, yes, I wasn't planning on working there forever.

But what self-respecting human being wants to work for someone who thinks they are nothing? Not me. I left.

And if you won't treat me properly, then guess what? I won't give you the benefit of my problem-solving skills, my years of experience, or my specialized training. I'll find an employer who will do those things, and I'll fight anyone who looks at me and assumes I'm the office secretary, assumes I don't know what I'm doing, assumes I am not as good as a man. A good idea is a good idea, regardless of who it comes from.

I want to go home in a world where I don't have to wonder about getting raped, or killed, in the parking lot. I want to drink in a pub where "no" means "no", not "yes, but you'll have to work for it".

I want a decent paycheck, a decent home, and decent protection under the law, just like a man. I want my creature comforts and social justice.

And, by gum, if you won't help, then you'd better get out of the way. If you want to yell and say I'm not a feminist, that I've got it all wrong, that I have to do it your way, go yell somewhere else, because I've got work to do. Because you brought me up to believe that I can change the world, that I can make a difference.

I'm not into protests, I'm not into sit-ins, your doing that created the chances to do what I'm doing right now. We're the next logical step forward, not the same one over again. We're the next wave.

Copyright 1997 by Sidra M. S. Vitale