Communicating Gender Advocacy

Riding the fourth wave of feminism

Authored by: Sarah Jane Blithe , Mackenna Neal

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Communication

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138329188
eBook ISBN: 9780429448317
Adobe ISBN:


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Feminism as a social movement has oscillated between periods of high activity and lulls in activity work, commonly depicted through the wave metaphor. Based on a recent surge in feminist advocacy, we argue that gender advocates have created a fourth wave of feminism, which presupposes intersectionality but also calls for justice for “women” broadly defined, prioritizes social justice, relies on social media, and has significantly influenced the political scene in the United States. Grown through the ashes of postfeminism and from the seeds of third-wave feminists, fourth-wave feminism has taken a particular turn to focus on reducing sexual harassment and gendered violence in multiple organizational spaces. In this chapter, we review relevant advocacy in the first three waves of feminism and post-feminism, arguing that each wave has taken arguments and efforts from previous advocacy. As such, fourth-wave feminism is deeply connected to previous advocacy and crests from the strength of previous feminist work.

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