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Fourth-wave feminism is a wave of feminism that began around 2012 and is associated with the belief that all humans are equal. It heavily focuses on intersectionality, pushing for greater empowerment of traditionally marginalized groups in society, including women and girls. Fourth-wave feminists advocate for greater representation of these groups in politics and business, and argue that we would have a more equitable society when we incorporate the perspectives of all citizens. Whereas earlier feminists fought for and earned women greater liberation, individualism, and social mobility, the new wave furthers the agenda by calling for justice against assault and harassment, equal pay for equal work, and the freedom to make individual choices over own bodies. Fourth-wave feminists collaborate and mobilize, often using modern technologies, to publicly speak against abusers of power and to provide opportunities for girls and women to be properly recognized and compensated for who they are and what they offer. In addition to advocating for women's issues, feminists point out that boys and men should have greater opportunities to be engaged parents to their children, to express their emotions and feelings freely, and to present themselves and their individualities in the ways they wish.
Fourth-wave feminism is the resurgence of interest in feminism that began around 2012 and is associated with the use of social media. According to feminist scholar Prudence Chamberlain, the focus of the fourth wave is justice for women, particularly opposition to sexual harassment and violence against women. Its essence, she writes, is "incredulity that certain attitudes can still exist".
Fourth-wave feminism is "defined by technology", according to Kira Cochrane, and characterized particularly by the use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, and blogs such as Feministing to challenge misogyny.
Issues that fourth-wave feminists focus on include street and workplace harassment, campus sexual assault and rape culture. Several scandals have galvanized the movement, including the Delhi gang rape (2012), Jimmy Savile allegations (2012), Bill Cosby sexual assault cases (2014), Isla Vista killings (2014), trial of Jian Ghomeshi (2016), Harvey Weinstein allegations (2017) and subsequent Me Too movement and Weinstein effect, and the Westminster sexual scandals (2017).
Examples of fourth-wave feminist campaigns include the Everyday Sexism Project, Ni una menos, No More Page 3, Stop Bild Sexism, Mattress Performance, 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman, #YesAllWomen, Free the Nipple, One Billion Rising, the 2017 Women's March, the 2018 Women's March, the Me Too movement, and Time's Up. In December 2017, Time magazine chose several prominent female activists involved in the #MeToo movement, dubbed "the silence breakers", as Person of the Year.
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Journalist Pythia Peay argued for the existence of a fourth wave as early as 2005, one focusing on social justice and civil rights, and in 2011 Jennifer Baumgardner dated the start of the fourth wave to 2008. Twitter, the social network most popular with the 18–29 age group, was created in 2006, making feminism more accessible and giving rise to "hashtag feminism". Cochrane wrote in 2013 that many of the fourth-wave's leaders were teenagers or in their 20s.
By 2013 it was obvious that a new wave of feminist protests was taking place. When Wendy Davis staged her 13-hour filibuster in Texas in 2013 to prevent an abortion bill from passing, women showed their support by rallying around the Texas State Capitol, and those who couldn't be there physically used the hashtag #StandWithWendy. Similarly, women protested the often sexist questions directed at female celebrities by tweeting the hashtag #askhermore.
Cochrane describes the fourth wave as focusing on sexual harassment (including street harassment), workplace discrimination, body shaming, sexist imagery in the media, online misogyny, assault on public transport, and intersectionality, relying on social media for communication and online petitioning for organizing. Events and organizations included the Everyday Sexism Project, UK Feminista, Reclaim the Night, One Billion Rising, and "a Lose the Lads' mags protest".
Books associated with the new wave include Men Explain Things to Me (2014) by Rebecca Solnit (which gave rise to the term mansplaining); The Vagenda (2014) by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and Holly Baxter (based on their online feminist magazine, The Vagenda, launched in 2012); Sex Object: A Memoir (2016) by Jessica Valenti; and Everyday Sexism (2016) by Laura Bates (based on Bates' Everyday Sexism Project). Cosslett's and Baxter's book aims to debunk the stereotypes of femininity promoted by the mainstream women's press. Bates, a British feminist writer, created the Everyday Sexism Project on 16 April 2012 as an online forum where women could post their experiences of everyday harassment.
One criticism of fourth-wave feminism is that it depends on technology. As Ragna Rök Jóns argued in Bluestockings Magazine in 2013, "[t]he key problem that this '4th Wave' will face will be the disproportionate access to and ownership of digital media devices." The fourth wave is left with the "inherent classism and ableism" created by giving the biggest voice to those who can afford and use technology.
It is also argued that when people participate in Twitter activism, they may not feel the need to do anything else to help the effort. In an article for Newuniversity.org, Alex Guardado argues that after contributing their say, people just "continue on with their day, liking other posts or retweeting". Some may think of themselves as activists while never bothering to attend a single rally or extend their message beyond their Twitter fan base.
Jennifer Simpkins of The Huffington Post argued in 2014 that fourth-wave feminism had created a hostile, Mean Girls–like atmosphere, in which women are more likely to tear each other down. "I've actually never once been belittled and attacked by a man for believing in the cause of feminism", she states, "but women are just about lining up to take a whack at the shoddy piñata of my personal tastes and opinions".
|16 April 2012||Laura Bates creates the Everyday Sexism Project for women to report sexist encounters.|||
|Aug 2012||Lucy-Anne Holmes starts No More Page 3 to stop The Sun in the UK publishing images of topless women.|||
|Sept 2012||Eve Ensler founds One Billion Rising to end sexual violence against women.|
|Sept 2012||Allegations lead to the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal.|||
|Alissa Quart coins the term hipster sexism.|||
|16 Dec 2012||The 2012 Delhi gang rape sparks protests in India and global outrage.|
|2014||Free the Nipple argues for women's right to show breasts in public.|
|Feb 2013||Cao Ju (pseudonym), first woman to bring gender-discrimination lawsuit in China, wins 30,000 yuan and apology from the Juren Academy.|||
|7 March 2013||Anita Sarkeesian launches Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.|
|December 2013||Kira Cochrane's book All the Rebel Women: The Rise of the Fourth Wave of Feminism published.|||
|22 Jan 2014||President Barack Obama launches the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.|
|April 2014||Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, criticizes UK's "boys' club sexist culture".|
|24 May 2014||#YesAllWomen begins in response to the 2014 Isla Vista killings.|||
|Aug 2014||Gamergate begins, leading to sexist harassment of female video-game developers and widespread condemnation.|
|14 Sept 2014||Female graduate student at the University of Miami reports Colin McGinn for sexual harassment, sparking debate about sexual harassment within academia.|
|20 Sept 2014||Emma Watson launches HeForShe at the UN.|
|Sept 2014||Emma Sulkowicz begins Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight) to highlight campus sexual assault.|
|27 Oct 2014||Release of 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman.|
|Nov 2014||First women speak out about the sexual assault by Bill Cosby.|||
|Oct 2014||Kristina Lunz starts Stop Bild Sexism to stop the German Bild newspaper from objectifying women.|
|31 Oct 2014||#BeenRapedNeverReported tweeted millions of times in response to the Jian Ghomeshi sexual-assault allegations in Canada.|||
|Dec 2014||Comic book Priya's Shakti features an Indian girl who is gang raped.|
|23 Dec 2014||Time magazine writes that 2014 "may have been the best year for women since the dawn of time".|||
|22 Sep 2015||Launch of blog "Breasts Are Healthy", to assist women to appear in public bare-chested without police interference.|
|1 Feb 2016||Trial of Jian Ghomeshi begins in Toronto.|||
|21 Jan 2017||2017 Women's March supports women's rights and protests inauguration of Donald Trump.|||
|5 October 2017||Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations first reported by The New York Times.|
|10 Oct 2017||#MeToo campaign, based on a slogan created in 2007 by Tarana Burke, begins in response to the Weinstein allegations.|||
|30 Oct 2017||The first 2017 Westminster sexual scandals appear on the Guido Fawkes blog.|
|6 Dec 2017||Time magazine names #MeToo campaign as Person of the Year.|||
|1 January 2018||Time's Up, a movement against sexual harassment, is founded by Hollywood celebrities in response to the Weinstein effect and #MeToo.|||
For Isla Vista killings, see Bennett, Jessica (10 September 2014). "Behold the Power of #Hashtag Feminism". Time.