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What Is Third Wave Feminist Movement?

Starting in the 1990s up into current day, the feminist movement grows every day. This is everything you need to know about the third wave feminist movement.

By April DemarcoPublished 5 years ago 4 min read

So, what is third wave feminism? In simple terms, third wave feminism is the act of feminism that began in the 1990s and has lived up until current day. Because there are many different portrayals, outlets, angles, and beliefs of feminism today, it is easy to lose the true concepts of what third wave feminism stands for.

Some of the most important values of the feminist rights movement are gender equality, identity, language, sex positivity, breaking the Glass Ceiling, body positivity, ending violence against women, fixing the media's image of women, and environmentalism.


This is the idea that there should not be a universal identity for women and that women come from many backgrounds. This includes religion, nationality, culture, sexual preference, and women of color. The problems of women within each of these backgrounds deserve to be heard and second term feminism ignored this. A white middle class woman was the representation for all women, and that is what the third wave feminists stand to change.


Modern feminists want to change the way that language is constructed through culture. For example, the words “bitch,” “pussy,” and “cunt” are some of the worst profanities in the United States and in the English language. What do they have in common? A female association. This is hardly ever seen for words that have male connotations. It is believed that language is a tool to create binaries. What is third wave feminism? The fight to fix the way linguistics are used to portray women in our society.

Sex Positivity

Sex positivity can also be referred to as pro-sex feminism or sex-radical feminism. Though this is a third wave ideal, sex positivity began in the 1980s, 10 years prior to the third wave. Sexual freedom is the number one component to this concept. Though it is much bigger than just freedom. Anti-censorship, LGBT support, reproductive rights, and porn support all fit under this umbrella. Most importantly, sex should be seen in a more positive light.

The Glass Ceiling

The concept of the glass ceiling is important to third wave feminists because it is important to reinforce the ideal is still relevant. It has been pushed under the rug because feminists have been fighting for change for so long, yet they are still deemed as the "weaker sex." What is third wave feminism? The final fight against the Glass Ceiling.

A great read on this topic is written by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO. She encourages her fellow sisters to reach through the ceiling with aid of her advice in Lean In. "No one can make you inferior without your permission," Sandberg tells her readers. With statistics like 18 out of 500 Fortune CEOs are female and that 22 out of 197 global heads of state are women, this concept is hard to ignore as a third wave feminist.


Eco-feminism is the combination of feminism and ecology. Though environmentalism is not commonly linked with feminism, it is advocated by third wave feminists today. And because it is not as spoken about, doesn't mean it hasn't been around for a while. Ecofeminism was coined in the 1970s when feminists decided to take saving the environment into their grasp.

The Media

As we are sure you are aware, the media does a lot of injustice to women by constantly backing stereotypes. This is seen countless times on all different forms of media like fashion magazines, newspapers, and television. This goes without saying that the portrayal of women on these networks are sparse and limited.

A white, young, slender, beautiful woman is what every person who picks up a magazine will see plastered over every page. This impacts young women drastically, making the ideal woman something that they will strive to see in the mirror. This can even cause something called body anxiety. Advertisers are being attacked by feminists to change their ways and their images.


What is third wave feminism? The fight to end violence against women. Women around the world are being married as children, victims of domestic abuse, trafficked into sex slavery, raped, or forced into labor. Believe it or not, rape within marriage is not a criminal offense in all parts of the world. Women are still dying due to pregnancy or labor, or being denied birth control.

These are just some of the many reasons why third wave feminists are fighting to end the war on violence against women. Otherwise called gender-based violence, any type of violence that specifically targets women simply due to the fact that they are women lies in this category.

Body Positivity

Body positivity embraces the woman’s natural body. Body positive feminism can also be referred to as fat feminism. This comes from the fat acceptance movement which highlights sizeism and anti-fat bias. This began in second-wave feminism and is still expanding through the third wave. Sizeism includes opinions that are solely critical on those who are overweight. Opinions include types of clothing that they should wear, the idea that they are lazy, and eat unhealthy.

Thin privilege is also an ideal of third wave feminists. This is the idea that people who are thin have privileges like walking into a clothing store and not having to worry about finding their size, never having to worry about being denied in the dating world because of their weight, or simply have never experienced discrimination about their body.

The other aspect to body positivity exemplifies the media and entertainment industry. Overweight people are never seen in popular media, fashion magazines, runway shows, television, and the list goes on. Third wave feminists are fighting to put this to an end.

And finally, the idea that yes, women can be beautiful, but they can also have brains at the same time. Feminists want society's view of women to be not constricted to one thing. It is possible to be beautiful enough to be a model, but also be the CEO of a company.


About the Creator

April Demarco

Proud mom of three chinchillas, hard core Justin Bieber fan, watches Unsolved Murders religiously

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