A friend and I decided to start an online feminist book club. She and I were discussing Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone where she made comments about the author creating situations for the character that showed fat-shaming. As we went back and forth on our opinions, we realize our positive discussion should go to another level.
I came up with the idea that we began an online Facebook feminist book club to continue our feminist discussions. Once before, another friend and I created an online Google group feminist book club, but it did not work out well. Many of us got busy, and we were unable to discuss our book club selections like we did before.
I wanted to try again because I love discussing books. However, I especially love discussing books about feminism…and everything in particular. One reason why I miss attending college classes is because I miss the discussion. Now, since I am a decade more mature, I can contribute to intellectual discussions better.
What is the benefit in creating a feminist online book club?
For starters, let’s talk about why I decided to create an online feminist book club due to the feminist waves.
I call myself a Generation XYer. I feel like I am in between Generation X and Generation Y. I know all the ways of most typical Generation Xers. Most Generation Xers are characterized as being independent due to most of our parents working. Even though I come from a poor working, welfare family, my behaviors I characterize as being Generation X behaviors. I am quite independent and resourceful. Pretty much, I like figuring things out myself the majority of the time. I use a lot of common sense as well. I also want to maintain the history of certain methods that I’ve learned from my parents and others who are the same peer age as them (learning about history, learning to write well, proving to others that I am skillful and resourceful).
But I am also a part of Generation Y. In elementary school, my peers and I were introduced to technology…using computers. We would usually, go weekly or bi-weekly, to a Mac computer lab (when Apple products began to really take off in new ways) to do arithmetic. We also started becoming aware of the emergence of technology and how fast it started evolving. The majority of us have embraced it because many of us utilize it in our daily lives.
Where does feminist fit in with being a Generation XYer? Well, I am also a part of Third Wave and Fourth Wave Feminism.
Third wave feminism particularly deals with:
First, third‐wavers emphasize that because they are a new generation, they necessarily have to have their own distinctive version of feminism: “We are the first generation for whom feminism has been entwined in the fabric of our lives; it is natural that many of us are feminists. … This country hasn’t heard enough from young feminists. We’re here, and we have a lot to say about our ideas and hopes and struggles and our place within feminism” (Findlen 2006, 6–7, 9). While many second‐wavers bemoan the invisibility of feminism among young women, Baumgardner and Richards assert that “feminism is out there, tucked into our daily acts of righteousness and self‐respect. … For our generation feminism is like fluoride. We scarcely notice that we have it—it’s simply in the water” (2000, 17). Unlike their mothers’ generation, who had to prove themselves, third‐wavers consider themselves entitled to equality and self‐fulfillment—“the legacy of feminism for me was a sense of entitlement” (Findlen 2006, 6)—even as they recognize continuing injustices.
Third‐wavers want their own version of feminism that addresses their different societal contexts and the particular set of challenges they face. For example, young women today face a world colonized by the mass media and information technology, and they see themselves as more sophisticated and media savvy than feminists from their mothers’ generation. A lot of third‐wave literature emphasizes the importance of cultural production and critique, focusing particular attention on female pop icons, hip‐hop music, and beauty culture, rather than on traditional politics per se.Bitch, for example, advocates “thinking critically about every message the mass media sends; it’s about loudly articulating what’s wrong and what’s right with what we see” (Jervis 2006b, 263). In the newly published bitchfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of “Bitch” Magazine, the editors argue that “anyone who protests that a focus on pop culture distracts from ‘real’ feminist issues and lacks a commitment to social change needs to turn on the TV—it’s a public gauge of attitudes about everything from abortion … to poverty … to political power. … The world of pop culture is … the marketplace of ideas” (Jervis and Zeisler 2006, xxi–xxii). (http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/588436) from What Is Third Wave Feminism: A New Direction Essay by R. Claire Sydner
It is true; I do possess a certain entitlement, but it is the entitlement of busting my ass and expecting rewards for busting my ass for I’ve taken advantage of many of opportunities that have came my way in the 32 years I’ve been so far. However, because I was raised in a poor working welfare family, the type of survival skill set I have has let me also realized that entitlement can vanish like cotton candy quickly in your mouth.
Yet, I am also part of being fourth wave, the new wave, which is how social media is being used as another tool for good and for evil. The way I define fourth wave feminism is that:
1) The way feminists are communicating for one. We are fully fledged into the technological world now. We have advanced Smart phones that are mini-laptops basically, and we have tablets now. It is not just desktops and laptops now. We have tech devices that fit in the palm of our hands…and in the back pocket of our jeans. The way we read…is different now. Instead of lugging around ten books in my back pack, I just need a few tablets with thousands of books at my disposal.
Instead of communicating on my telephone at my office or my cell phone, I can text you, email you, or Skype you. If you look at all the waves, look at the communication of all the waves. This is one of the differences between the waves. Third wavers communicate by using the media to their advantage. Yet, now, fourth wavers can communicate by these advanced devices…and WEBSITES. Our media has involved into social media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are the ways we communicate with each other primarily now. And the upcoming generations…Y and Z have embraced this communication. In order for feminists to keep our eyes on the prize, we all must embrace these new ways of communication.
2) The issues:
Fourth wavers issues are social media…and media itself. No, we still have the old issues from the other waves (like women having it all, like women being educated, like women trying to be working mothers, like women trying to have equalitarian relationships, etc.) , but because of our advancements on how we communicate, we have new issues arise. Our news reportings…well, celebrity news has dominated news entirely. We know more about celebrity lives because most websites are bombarded with news about their lives. Due to knowing about their lives, viewers and readers are starting to see in full front the feminist politics of the entertainment business and how it has treated women for a very long time. We are also seeing beauty standards becoming worse because the online media is bombarding all of us with celebrities getting into shape, glamorizing “baby bumps,” and how celebrities look great or terrible with their sense of appearance and clothing style.
3) The type of entitlement that exists: What also defines fourth wave feminism is the entitlement card. There are many young women I see who feel entitled because they went to a good school and graduated from a good college that they will instantly get a job. I also see with many young women believing that they will have everything. Job security, children, and a devoted husband…and great friends. Since entering my thirties, I thought that I could have it all, too. Maybe that’s passed on from third wave feminists. From our second wavers, we believed that we should fight to have everything. Yet, I certainly believe that some feminists or even women…believe that. In my twenties, I thought that I would have everything as well. Yet, it did not happen that way. I discovered that women cannot have everything at once. And sometimes, due to education and how you plan things, you sometimes don’t get everything in your life time. It can be a difficult lesson for a feminist to swallow, but I had to swallow it…and the truth that went down my throat was rough. However, the burn lessen and lessen as I realize that we all pay a price for experience for it gives us wisdom. The reason why I wanted to start an online book club again because I will always be an educator no matter what kind of job I do. As an educator, you have to get with the times in order to reach the students. How are you supposed to communicate with them if you can’t even relate to them? It is the same thing with feminism. As we move forward, social media is here to stay. If you are resistant in using it, then, you are stunting your purpose…your calling. An online feminist book club is helping my friend and me with the times. We want to continue to have feminist discussions about literature. We want to connect those thoughts. You never ever stop learning wisdom. Wisdom is the key to spiritual success and a liberating life. Wisdom empowers us to help ourselves so we can help others. Already, our online feminist book club has taught us the power of what we know with experience. We are discussing Alice Walker’s The Third Life of Grange Copeland. After reading that novel, it made a strong impact in making me realize who I am. The novel communicates feminist and existential elements to me that I’ve been searching for…and a found many answers in this novel. I will be writing an essay about it as well. Our feminist online book club has already achieved what I’ve been searching for… Self-realizations and lessons about myself. And the continuing thirst for being an activist and making a different in my community…and myself.