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It’s a Pussy Riot: 4th Wave of Feminism

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“Grab them by the pussy,” he said. What about over 3 million women marching together in solidarity? That’s what I call a pussy riot.

For all those individuals who are under the impression that feminism is a man-hating sport or an excuse to whine; they have been misled! The feminist movement is a humanist movement. The fight for women’s rights is not about taking away men’s rights, it is about maintaining an equilibrium between all genders and sexes. It is about providing women with basic rights: the right to equal pay, the right to contraception, the right to deciding the outcome of a pregnancy.

Various strands of feminism may represent extreme ideals, however, feminism as an ideology, philosophy, and movement is ultimately, egalitarian, liberating and 100% justified.What people don’t understand about the feminist movement is that women have been fighting for basic rights for decades – rights that have not been granted to women for centuries. And still, in the year 2017, we are continuously being stripped of our rights. We have made strides and taken numerous steps forwards. Now, suddenly, with Trump in charge, we’ve been shoved 5 steps backwards. This January, women put their foot down. Resistance awakened.  ​

​​​​The Power in Numbers

Historical movements are shaped by ordinary people, and it only takes one individual to ignite the masses and bring people together. The January 2017 Women’s Marches adopted this approach. Kick-started by former lawyer, Teresa Shook, who created a Facebook event after the Presidential elections, inviting women to protest Trump’s inauguration. Within one evening, thousands of responses came strolling into her inbox. “Revolution only needs good dreamers who remember their dreams” (Tennessee Williams). Teresa Shook’s dream was soon realised and a revolution began to brew.

The Personal is Political

With the introduction of the Everyday Sexism Project, spearheaded by Laura Bates in 2012, women and feminists have become as outspoken as ever. With the project supporting the notion that the “personal is political,” a universal consciousness is elicited through the means of expression, vocalisation and bringing the ‘private’ (stories of rape, harassment, opinions on anti-women’s rights laws) out into the public sphere. The Women’s Marches embodied this same ideal. This is the 4th Wave of Feminism. A feminism which takes form on online platforms, and is then pragmatised on the streets. Feminism, today, is about transparency, inclusion and humour.

The Carnival, Reclaiming Stereotypes & Staging the Body

The Pussyhat Project is the ultimate carnivalisation of feminist ideals. A performance of feminine identities which aimed to provide individuals (attending the Women’s Marches in Washington D.C.) with the opportunity to make a visual statement through creative and humouristic means.

Mikhail Bakhtin described the ‘carnival’ as having free and familiar interaction between individuals and eccentric behaviour. These key notions are essential to the 4th Wave Feminist atmosphere. The celebration of femininity and the carnivalesque image of the pink sea of pussyhats brought socio-political issues to the forefront, inviting all individuals – on a local, national and global level – to recognise marginalised attitudes and regimes. Secondly, the carnivalesque enables communities to perform their private experiences and opinions in a public-setting. The public space, the host city, street, or square, becomes the platform for ‘visible-isation’, celebration, equality and resistance to sexist attitudes and patriarchal patterns. Activists have seized the important of space, creating an interactive and inclusive realm of opinion, experience, and action. And thirdly, through the pussyhat spectacle, women and feminists of all walks of life are reclaiming the word pussy (a derogatory term which has been used negatively to describe women’s genitalia) as a means of empowerment.

In performance, there is always a spectator and a spectacle. One form of spectacle is the carnival. The carnival, as opposed to other forms of spectacle, embodies a sense of ‘by the people for the people,’ bringing communities together in harmonious protest. The carnival lends itself to a liminal time and place where popular culture can be inverted, deviance is encouraged, and norms reversed in a parodied and extravagant fashion. Richard Harvey Brown argues that every culture undergoes a crucial moment which pertains to the “construction of the body,” where identity is formed and articulated through various rituals. Cultures construct and reflect narratives and stories, create images and support ideals which all contribute to the construction of personal and collective identities. The carnival creates a liminal space where these collective identities may be explored, deconstructed and resisted through empowerment, freedom and agency.

Even an artistic protest has taken shape in response to Trump’s inauguration in January. People are outraged. As many have taken their concerns to the streets, others have revolted through artistic means. Twelve artists have collaborated in New York (The Creators Project) to create provocative, humorous, and sensual art to stand up for women’s rights. Creating “erotica to save our souls,” these artists have expressed their anger, taken a stand, and combined “witticism and liberalism” in the exhibition,HOTTER THAN JULY: Hands Off My Cuntry.

To get to the root of the problem one must start from the surface and make their way inwards. By dominating private and public spaces, the individuals marching and protesting are addressing issues of sexual harassment, destabilising normative ideals surrounding female sexuality, and calling out modes and patterns of sexism and inequalities that are created and affirmed through patriarchal means and societal/governmental structures. Through networked action, powerful urban interventions and protests, the Women’s Marches, the Everyday Sexism Project, the Pussyhat Project contributors, the Creators Project, as well as feminist groups alike are changing the face (and body) of the feminist movement.

“We believe Gender Justice is Racial Justice is Economic Justice.”

What marks the Women’s March as one of the most influential feminist movements of the decade is its intersectional nature. Its focus on all matters which concern women, and its inclusion of all races, genders, sexual identities, ages and religions is what has brought millions of women around the world together.

The Women’s Marches not only liberated individuals from social constraints, but furthermore acted as the platform for challenging social inequalities and injustices with regards to the performances of gender and sexuality. These marches, henceforth, functioned as liminal spaces, speaking out against gender inequalities, challenging and transgressing hegemonic social practices and patriarchal structures. Protests, ultimately, symbolise empowerment and the desire to spark social change.

Beginning in 2013, One Billion Rising, comprising thousands of people in hundreds of countries around the world, campaigned against the sexual exploitation of women in order to put an end to cultures of violence. This tradition has continued for four years now, and every February people “rise through dance to express joy and community and celebrate the fact that we have not been defeated by this violence. We rise to show we are determined to create a new kind of consciousness – one where violence will be resisted until it is unthinkable.” The aim of the One Billion Rising campaign, as well as the Everyday Sexism Project, Pussyhat Project and the Women’s Marches, is to rise, disrupt, revolt and connect. Revolution survives on the power of numbers.

Solidarity brings all people together, instigates change and fuels hope. When people come together, power comes to the people.

Our pussies. Our rights. Freedom and justice for ALL.

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About Author

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Dominic is a Greek/American writer & editor; English and Theatre Studies Graduate

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