I’m a feminist in my late teens (19).
But I consider myself as a second-wave feminist. How could this happen?
Well, I just don’t like the way third-wave feminism is going, but that’s another story. What’s more interesting, for Russia, where I live, the rising wave of feminism is the second one.Only now we discover for ourselves foreign feminist classics. I myself already have translated over 50 articles (most of which are Phyllis Chesler’s), two chapters from different books and Jean Kilbourne’s films Killing us Softly 4 and 3. (But, unfortunately, my English still isn’t good enough.) I’m one of about 100 people who translate feminist texts (I hope there are more, who I didn’t notice).
There are not so many of us in Russia. We are disorganized, disoriented and savagely criticized. Sometimes sexists even threaten us. Most of Russian-speaking feminists live in other countries (mostly former USSR republics and Israel).
And, to be honest, I don’t even know will Russian men and women ever wake up and see, that hatred towards women in Russia is going too far. Every day we see dozens of sexist ads, many Russian man see themselves as gods and all (!) women as sluts (and no, I’m not a sex-positive feminist), they think everything a woman (every woman, not only their girlfriends) does is for them.
In Russia, slut-shaming has very serious consequences (thus, I see the concept of ‘reclaiming the word’ as extremely stupid). In rural Russia, once being called a slut and then being raped ends in lifelong rape (modified ‘prostitution’). A girl sitting next to such ‘slut’ is considered a ‘slut’ too (yes, that’s all close to the prison customs). Well, that’s better than being honour murdered as a result of someone’s slut-shaming (but one may argue).
Wife-beating is also very widespread in Russia. In some regions it’s even considered ‘strange’ if a man doesn’t beat his wife or girlfriend (by women themselves!)
In runet (russian internet) you can see various blogs and resources where sexists argue that women are subhuman and must be subjugated or even exterminated.
It’s hard to tell about everything in one entry.
So, you see, that we have to work very hard to achieve something. As a young radical feminist I hope, that in 10-20 years everything will radically change. And that there is no place for post-colonial, sex-positive, ‘liberal’ feminism, that focuses on everything except truly feminist goals.
What has become of the feminism I once knew? The feminism that once took incest, sexual harassment, rape, pornography, prostitution, and trafficking very seriously?
We are all (almost, but not quite) gone with the wind, and in our place we have pro-sex feminists like Katie Roiphe and Naomi Wolf, who have both been rewarded for mocking and rejecting the works of their Second Wave foremothers, especially in the areas of sexual violence. Psychologically, this is a mother-daughter rebellion, an historical pendulum swing, a need to strike out differently, to mark one’s own territory, cast one’s own shadow.
But it is also an act of timidity, a retreat, an attempt to turn what the late Andrea Dworkin described as “feminism, not the fun kind” into a more pleasing, appeasing burlesque of what it once was, and should be.
Thus, the “girl power” feminists are sexy, love men, love sex, are given to wearing “fuck-me” shoes, lots of lipstick, high fashion—and consider their “right” to do so liberatory. (See the above paragraph about mothers and daughters; read up on the endless Sex Wars among Second Wave feminists as well).
(с) Phyllis Chesler