A Damsel’s Guide To Third Wave Feminism

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Madeleine K. Albright

Major Premise

While the line between second and third wave feminism is practically non-existent (bleeding into one another like the mixing of paints), by the time third wave feminism began, women knew that a change was well deserved. Feminism was slowly turning sour. It was spiraling into a white-women pity party rather than a women’s rights movement. Third Wave feminism changed with the slow but sure integration of minority women: women of color, of lower social classes, and of differing sexual orientation. Third wave feminism begins to rectify the past wrongs, as these women have long been ignored by the feminist movement altogether.  It also focuseed on body positivity, gender violence, the linguistic nuances of feminism, and redefining what feminism means.

When Was Third Wave Feminism?


Major Events

  1. Introduction of the word ‘Intersectionality’ (1989)

Intersectionality was a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw back in 1989, describing the idea of compound discrimination. Intersectionality, in brief terms, is the idea that we cannot focus solely on one issue at a time, but must look at each case with the lens of multiple views and standpoints.

Ex. Samantha, a white, middle class woman living in Utah, brings in a salary 15% less than her husband, a white middle class male. However, her friend, Ava, a black blue-collar worker, will ultimately get paid even less than Samantha. This system of injustice spirals downward as each minority factor is calculated. Heaven help the black Muslim handicapped LGBTQ+ woman who looks for a job.

  1. The creation of Riot grrrl

Many feminist scholars attribute the commencement of third wave feminism to Riot grrrl. Riot grrrl was a feminist punk music movement that began in Washington in the early 80’s. It derived from the anger of female rock musicians who felt that the media and society overlooked them in favor of their male counterparts. This movement dealt with issues such as rape, the patriarchy, sexuality, and racism. No issue was too taboo to talk about and these ‘angry women’ proved that their voices deserved to be heard.


  1. Anita Hill Case (1991)

Today, almost 30 years later, the Anita Hill case is still a highly controversial issue with no clear answer. Anita Hill brought forth allegations against Clarence Thomas right before he was appointed to succeed Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court. She claimed that he had sexually harassed her as her boss. Though the case was ‘ultimately unknowable,’ feminists were outraged at the flagrant disregard for Hill’s accusations by the men in government. This scandal caused Thomas’s appointment as the next Associate Justice to occur by an incredibly narrow margin.


  1. “Year of the Woman” (1992)

After the controversial case of Anita Hill, many feminists were disenchanted by the current government’s dismissive nature of the case of Anita Hill. Embittered voters rectified their losses in 1992, by adding four new women Senators to the Senate, tripling the size of the female representation in the Senate that year.

  1. Violence Against Women Act (1994)

For those of you missing the beautiful bromance between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, this will give you yet another reason to love our former VP, Biden. Joe Biden drafted the Violence Against Women Act, which was approved under the Clinton administration. This act provided $1.6 billion toward the efforts of exposing and investigating rape cases, imposing mandatory restitution on those convicted.

Important Feminists

  • Emma Watson – Renowned for her role as Hermoine in Harry Potter, now a major activist, actress, and all-around fabulous human being.
  • Condoleeza Rice – first female African-American Secretary of State under the Bush administration
  • Naomi Wolf – author of The Beauty Myth, a book discussing the problems of the beauty industry and modern women
  • Alice Walker – author of The Color Purple and Intersectional feminist
  • Madeleine Albright – First woman to become Secretary of State
  • Kimberlé Crenshaw – Civil rights activist, coined the term ‘intersectionality’


Thanks for sticking with it, damsels and gents! I hope you feel more educated about the different waves of feminism and this helps in the future to distinguish between them! 

What do you want to learn about next? Leave a comment below about any issue you’ve been wondering about 🙂


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