Feminism’s fourth wave screams for thinking outside the box 

A society where there is not only diversity but more importantly, the awareness that we are all diverse. We as human beings have different identities. As a Kurdish woman born and raised in the Netherlands, I often get stereotypes thrown at my face. On the one hand, it is because of my appearance. I have dark curly hair with both dark eyebrows and eyes. When I get asked the question where I am from, most of the times I reply with the Netherlands. “Huh, but you do not look Dutch.” Yes, I know that I do not look like a typical Dutch person. Indeed, my roots are rooted somewhere else. But I am from the Netherlands. If you want to know my origin, you could ask it in another way. Other times I do reply with that I am Kurdish. “Wow, your Dutch is very good.” What does this even mean? To come back to the stereotypes. On the other hand, it is because of I am a woman. And a feminist.


There are so many people with a perspective that suits with what feminism is, but because of feminism being regarded as another “F word” they relate it with something negative. Women who hate men. This is a thought that I have heard when I have conversations about subjects related to feminism. And not necessarily from men. It is common that when a woman considers herself a feminist, she will have the feeling to always add some disclaimers to show that she is not the image most people have in their minds when hearing the word feminism. I have caught myself doing that. No, I do not hate men. Actually, men can be feminists too. No, I do not let my armpit hair grow. And if I did, that is totally up to me. Yes, non-Westerns can be feminists too. It is not only a Western thing to be a feminist [1][2]. I totally understand the curiosity. However, it is in the way someone asks a question or gives a reply to your reply. It is easy to assume on beforehand or to get judgmental.


Within feminism, several approaches can be distinguished. The approach I have made my own is intersectional feminism. The concept of intersectionality has been introduced by the American professor Kimberlé Crenshaw. It is the view that women experience unjust treatment in varying ways and in varying degrees of intensity. Patterns of oppression that can be found within societies are both interrelated and interconnected. Examples of this are race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity [2][3].

There are several waves that can be distinguished to describe the course of feminism. The intersectional approach comes forward in both the third and the fourth wave. The first wave emerged at the end of the 19th century wherein the strive was mainly to establish electoral right for women. From 1960 the second wave emerged wherein the strive was to mainly establish sexual and financial possibilities for women. The third wave emerged from 1990 wherein the realization was that inclusivity needs to be established [4].


The views of today’s feminism are different. For some, there is still a dominant view of mainstream feminism which is mostly white and middle class. For others it can be viewed as to be the woman you want to be and that everyone can be a feminist: men, the LGBTQ community, non-Western women, black women, religious women. Until today, there are also still a lot of barriers to overcome. Although the three earlier mentioned waves are not completed because the goals have not been completely accomplished yet, we are currently in the fourth wave. This wave distinguishes itself from the other waves because it does not have one overall goal. In this wave, the awareness of different experiences by women is being highlighted [1][5][6].


It is interesting to notice that this wave finds its emergence outside the Western world. A starting point for this wave can be found during the protests consisting of both men and women in India in 2012. The motive was the rape and murder of a student. Another example is the men in Iran who posted photos of themselves with a hijab on social media. This was to protest against the strict dress code women in Iran must adhere to [5]. How I view the fourth wave is as to think outside of the box. As can be applied to many things in life, to keep moving on and being effective, listening to and trying to see through different perspectives is needed.




[1] Law, B.M. (2006). “What feminism means today”, https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2006/09/feminism. Accessed 21 December 2019.


[2] Vidal, A. (2014). “’Intersectional feminism’. What the hell is it? (And why you should care)”, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10572435/Intersectional-feminism.-What-the-hell-is-it-And-why-you-should-care.html. Accessed 21 December 2019.


[3] Justine (2019). “Wat is intersectioneel feminisme eigenlijk?”, https://stellingdames.nl/wat-is-intersectioneel-feminisme/. Accessed 4 December 2019.


[4] Heithuis, S. (2019). “Huh? Zitten we kniediep in de vierde feministische golf?”, https://www.womeninc.nl/nieuwsbericht/blog-sander-heithuis-huh-zitten-we-kniediep-in-de-vierde-feministische-golf. Accessed 21 December 2019.


[5] Cornelissen, M. (2019). “Hierbij roepen we de vierde feministische golf uit!”, https://vrouw.nieuws.nl/2019/03/04/hierbij-roepen-we-de-vierde-feministische-golf-uit/. Accessed 21 December 2019.


[6] Feili, M. (2019). “In de vierde feministische golf doet nog niet iedereen mee”, https://www.parool.nl/kunst-media/in-de-vierde-feministische-golf-doet-nog-niet-iedereen-mee~b8969ba2/?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F. Accessed 21 December.

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