is a multi-faceted thing
, with second-wave feminism
, third-wave feminism
, the Mujerista/Feminista Movement
, riot grrls
, et cetera
, and neofeminism is yet another aspect of this wild and ever-evolving movement
One of the essays in the "neofeminism defined" area of neofeminism.org explains:
Why "neo-feminism?" It's the semantics game. Lately, we've been hearing about this new movement, the "post-feminist" movement. Feminism is passe, an outdated movement, they say. Feminism sucked, because feminism was about not doing your hair, and not doing your makeup.
Well, yeah, if it was really all about hair and makeup, it would suck. But what's the point in arguing about it, when with the wave of the magic prefix wand, post-feminism becomes past tense, and a new movement (re)emerges. Neofeminism. Because post-feminism sucked.
Strong words. But with that out of the way, neofeminists go on to explain that their movement is partly a response to the criticisms of earlier waves of feminism.
In previous decades, feminism has been guilty of seeming to be largely a movement of white, middle-class women. This is partly because the mainstream media focuses on those members of the feminist movement, and their voices are the most privileged and listened to, so the movement looks different when presented from the outside in TIME Magazine than when publishing in Ms. It is also a matter of the more privileged members of at least North American society (where this particular "is feminism dead" type of dialogue tends most often to take place) not making, or knowing how to make, spaces accessible to others - whether the space is dominated by people whose first language is English, or able-bodied people, or college-educated people, who don't realize that there are different feminist issues affecting women with less racial, physical, mental, or economic privilege.
The editors of neofeminism.org, therefore, state that "Just as neo-Marxism weaves race, gender, sexuality, and other caste systems into the economic, class-based analyses of Marxism, neofeminism brings an awareness of these issues into feminism."
To some, the term "neofeminism" reflects a seeming resurgence of feminist politics and ideas in the 1990s. As such, it also refers to third and the emerging fourth wave feminism. To others, feminism never went away.
Eli Bartra, for example, describes in her paper "Neofeminism in Mexico" (http://www.duke.edu/web/las/workingpapers/neofeminism.pdf)
how the feminism of the 1970s in Mexico was characterized by autonomy, spontaneity, by a struggle for reproductive rights and against rape and other forms of abuse. She sees neofeminism as arising in the 1980s with the rise of the Movimiento de Liberacion de la Mujer (which actually formed in 1975). describes how it has been characterized by greater communication within the movement, more self-reflection as history and theory become more accessible, and coalitions between the urban and rural working classes, middle-class women, and men supporting equal rights.
Andrea Feldman's essay on "Feminisms" (http://www.zinfo.hr/engleski/pages/publishing/breadandroses/br9/9feldman.htm) similarly describes a continuous but changing series of feminisms in Croatia. She differentiates the suffragist movement of the mid-20th century (Croatian women got the vote in 1945) from the very intellectual women's movement of salons and debating clubs in the 1970s, and the "new-neofeminist robe" of diverse cultures and classes it is trying on there today.
And Susan Jane Gilman, in a review of a book called "Kiss My Tiara," (http://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/genwom/tiara.htm) refers to "Some unconventional, empowering common sense. Some smart, neofeminist rules," envisioning a feminism that includes nutrition and other practical everyday issues as well as traditional women's issues, connecting all the aspects of life. Perhaps neofeminism is a return to the idea that the personal is political, with the equality, inclusion, and awareness of all that that means.