Third Wave Feminism: What’s The End Game?

“What the heck is this ‘patriarchy’?”

“Men and women are already equal, feminism is stupid.”

“So what’s the point of feminism, anyway?”

Skeptics of feminism pose these questions every day. We announce we are feminists and they challenge us with questions or put us down with insults.

And really, can we blame them?

All they see is a bunch of frustrated people yelling “Screw Patriarchy!” Does this seem fun? No. And why in god’s name are they so mad? Who knows.

I understand why people question Third Wave Feminism. We no longer deal with straightforward issues; the solutions are not right in front of us. For someone who does not actively follow the movement, this ‘thing’ might not make much sense.

First Wave Feminism, from the late 1800’s until the 1920’s, centered around the right to vote and own property. Second Wave Feminism (1960′s-80′s) oriented its goals on coverture, abortion, and freedom beyond the kitchen. These movements gained widespread support throughout North America, and rightfully so. Historical feminism dealt with concrete problems and finite solutions. Cut and dry. There was a problem, a path, and a resolution in sight.

But today, the era of third wave of feminism, is a whole different ball game. We throw around terms like rape culture, patriarchy, and sexual empowerment. What do they mean? What even is feminism today?

The end game of Third Wave Feminism is not a vote, a right, or a single law. Feminism today is fighting for a change in the embedded ways society sees and treats women; the notoriously vague ‘gender equality’.

I agree, let’s define gender equality.

Equality does not mean the same. Equality is treating people with the same amount of respect. Equality is giving justice to those who are born into lifelong disadvantages. Equality is not organizing each person to start a race at the same starting line. Equality is setting those people in a staggered line, giving every participant an equal chance at success by taking into account the varied obstacles they will encounter.

You are going to argue this unfair. ‘That’s not equal if people are given special accommodations!’ Well, if a person is less likely to succeed in life due to societal constraints, then it actually is. Affirmative action exists for a reason.

But to achieve this all encompassing term of gender equality, there are two fundamental goals for which (my) Third Wave feminism strives.

First it aims to erode the value disparity between men and women.

In almost every aspect of society women are undervalued. As caregivers women are undervalued; we are still often expected to run the household and do not receive monetary compensation or tax breaks. As productive citizens women are undervalued; we make up the vast majority of informal economy and have limited access to/within the formal economy. As basic humans women are undervalued; in the language we use it is clear females are seen as ‘lesser’.

‘Don’t be such a pussy’: because being scared or emotional, i.e. a girl, is always undesirable.

‘You throw like a girl’: because negative attributes are always associated with being female.

‘God, you’re such a cunt’: because the very idea of having female reproductive parts is horrifying.

My feminism strives to create a society in which women are valued: a world to foster self-esteem in women, promote respect, and provide choices.

Second it strives dismantle the power gap between men and women.

Men have more power in today’s society in every sense of the word; economic, political, and social. This is as a direct result of the value disparity.

Beyond the numbers, where 79.2% of countries are currently run by men (UN Women) and 95.2% of Fortune 500 companies have male CEOs (Forbes), men dominate every corner of society. Men are able to pursue a meaningful career without others questioning their familial love. Men have the power to voice their opinions in a direct manner without fear of dissent. Men have the ability to wear what they want without doubt or harassment.

My feminism strives to create a society in which women have power: a world to foster leadership in women, promote autonomy, and provide opportunities.

The end goal of feminism is a world in which women do not start every day a hundred meters behind.

The end goal is to give women a real chance to win the race.






  1. Excellent, Paula, way to grab the bull(shit) by the horns.

  2. Herbert Walker · · Reply

    In order for women to win, men must lose? That’s a very short-sighted solution. You should call it the final solution.

    1. Herbert, thank you for your comment.
      I certainly don’t believe that, nor did I say men must lose. There is no opportunity limit, so why is it that you assume that if women increase their opportunities (and ‘win’) men automatically ‘lose’?

  3. As far I know there are no laws and regulations preventing women for actually ‘running the world.’ If they want to become CEOs and political leaders then they have to complete with men on equal terms. What’s wrong with that?? Competition is always needed for progress. It’s part of evolution. What’s bit needed are female only Shortlists and gender quotas for parliament. It’s quite a pathetic situation if the best suited person for the job cannot get it because he’s a man. I’ll start having respect for feminists (and women) when they start acknowledging that men have serious gender issues such as suicide, homelessness, education, healthcare, DV, rape, unemployment and so on.

    1. What’s not needed are female only Shortlists and gender quotas. Excuse the typo.

  4. […] feminists are needed more today than ever before. As I discussed in a past post about the point of Third Way Feminism, there is far less consensus and understanding surrounding the feminist movement today than during […]

  5. […] Third wave feminism is anchored by its overarching goal of achieving gender equality. It fights to erode the value disparity between genders and dismantle the power gap pervasive throughout all societies. This can only be achieved if the feminist movement integrates itself with all of the other ‘isms’. Feminism is not feminism without studying and advocating against racism. Feminism is not feminism if it remains ignorant towards ableism. Feminism is not feminism if it continues to ignore transphobia. […]

  6. So feminism is fighting against a few trivial epitaphs? That’s what the big deal is?

    Meanwhile, baby boys are being cut so women can apply their foreskin to their faces to stay young.

    If women aren’t valued, then males are below un-valued.

    Oh! Oh! But some people still say, “You throw like a girl!” or call people “bossy”! Oh the humanity!

  7. Tl;dr: The reason people don’t like third wave feminism is twofold. First it is rare that a real fact based debate is part of the discussion. It’s typically just railing against the patriarchy, or broad sweeping statements without evidence or, even worse, looking everywhere for the boogeyman of gender inequality. Second it’s because of people like you who think that the answer to these problems (which you rarely bother to really try to substantiate the existence of in any meaningful way) is to give the disadvantaged a head start. The problem with that approach is that it’s counterproductive. Discrimination can’t be offset by discrimination in the other direction. All it does is give the other side legitimate complaints, which undercuts your (hopefully) end goal of equality of respect and equality of opportunity. It turns from a “gender equality” movement into a “equality of gender inequality” movement. Which is bullshit on the face of it. That’s what third wave feminism is, by and large. Or at least that’s what those of us on the outside see of it.

    Regarding insults:
    If you’re a man, yes being (called/compared to) a girl is always (not always, but mostly) undesirable. Just like if you’re a human, being called a slug is undesirable. Who wants to be equated to something they’re not? Besides, comparing a woman to a man is also considered an insult.

    Dick/dickhead/cock/chode/etc. Being referred to as reproductive parts, whether male or female is an insult. You don’t really have a leg to stand on with this one.

    Insults are insults, and there’s no gender bias. Women are physically weaker typically (not as a rule, just typically/on average) and as a consequence weakness is generally signified by feminine insults. Men are more aggressive (insert similar caveats here) and as a result uncool aggression is signified by masculine insults. Generally. Insults are like stereotypes, they’re not nice and not fair, but they’re usually rooted in reality. Sometimes outdated reality, and sometimes in a false perception of reality that is very widespread, but more often than not, it’s just plain reality. For the record, I mostly just call people assholes, and since everyone’s got one I don’t really have a horse in this race. Just calling it like I see it.

    Regarding your analogy to a race with each participant staggered. Poor analogy as the purpose of the staggering in a race is to ensure each racer has an equal distance to travel. With the curve of the track, the inside lane has a shortest distance around the track, so they start further back. If you took the lanes and straightened them out, the runners would be starting side by side. It actually prevents people from having unequal starting positions, whereas you’re advocating for the opposite. The equivalent of what you’re talking about is letting the women start the race from the halfway mark rather than the staggered starting line. That’s called cheating. Just saying, it’s a poor analogy choice. Doesn’t really affect your argument, just your choice of analogy.

    Regarding the rest, eg. your main points:
    You talk about men running the countries and the companies. Here’s the thing, women got the vote in my country. If you want to fight for women to get the vote in the countries where they don’t have it, go for it. Once you have the vote, though, you don’t get to complain if the government is still run by men.

    For one thing, its sexist. What matters to me is that the people in charge do the right thing. I’ll vote for a women if she convinces me she’ll do the righter thing than the man. To say gender should factor into our voting would be to say we should let sexism counteract, to a degree, our idea of who will do the job best. I will admit, that background matters, so to the extent that being a female gives a woman a different background than a man, that can be a valid consideration. But that’s really got nothing to do with her genitals, just with her experiences.

    Roughly the same goes for corporations. Boards of directors are voted on by shareholders, and officers, ie. CEO, are hired by the board. You want female CEOs, buy stock and vote. Run for the board. The mechanism is there, women have chosen thus far not to use it. Not to mention, gender distribution is meaningless. You can’t say that because women are “underrepresented” that they lack access. Maybe women are far less interested in running for government or running businesses. Show me data that implicates lack of access, or it doesn’t exist.

  8. […] questioning the end goal for intersectional feminism, many claim it is “equality” of the sexes. Others state that there is no end goal, as feminism is constantly evolving. Many hope […]

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