Long live feminism 4.0!

8 Oct

Making yourself known as a feminist is no walk through the park, as I know from experience. The reactions to such a coming out vary from stupid (‘do you actually shave your armpits?’) to scary (‘feminazi’s like you should shut up’). But mainly, as a feminist, you have a lot of explaining to do. Whether that whole ‘women’s thing’ is still necessary. What I think about the debate for gender quota for positions of power. Whether I believe women are better. And what all of that means for men. Not to mention the reactions from feminists themselves. Because just like any other ideology, feminism has liberals and orthodox too. Who, just like the Remonstrants and the Contraremonstrants in the history of Dutch Protestantism, love to tell each other who is right and who is wrong.

An older lady once told me I was a hypocrite for wearing nailpolish and lipstick, and calling myself a feminist at the same time. Of course those were mutually exclusive. Was that what she and her sisters had been fighting for all those years? What was I thinking!

Today, self-proclaimed feminists such as Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé are being blamed with the exact same hypocrisy. Performing in a sexy outfit, dancing in front of a sign that says FEMINIST in huge neon letters? According to the orthodox that’s like cursing in a church.

But I think it was exactly what feminism has been lacking for years: a popularised version, a translation in everyday language, which has made its ideas and legacy – unfortunately still relevant as ever – accessible for a much wider audience.

And that audience is eager for a new feminist sound, as was proved once again at De Balie in Amsterdam this week. I got to interview Naomi Wolf, rock star of the so called third feminist wave, during a programme called Feminism 4.0, which sold out in no time. There even was an online black market for tickets. A full house with enthusiastic young women (and a few brave men) proved it once again: feminism isn’t dead. It’s very much alive and kicking.

It was touching to see them waiting in line, collecting names and emails after the show, to hold on to the energy of that evening and turn it into action. Inspiring to see how a new generation of women is making femimism their own, with lots of room for difference.

Interesting questions were asked, that evening. Whether transgenders are allowed to join the conversation about the female body. How we get men on our side. And whether there is enough space for other stories than those of white, western women.

If there is one thing that the new feminists have in common, it’s the fact they don’t want to be put into a box. They make a strong case for intersectionality: thinking about different forms of exclusion at once. And they’re right, those feminists 4.0. Because it’s no longer about who’s right. It’s about people still not having equal rights.

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