THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE – Audrey Niffenegger

I ALREADY HAVE THREE COPIES OF THIS BOOK AS IT IS MY ALL TIME FAVOURITE BOOK!

It’s hard for me though, to put into words why I love this book so much, because the book contains so much.

On the surface it is the love story of Henry DeTamble and Clair Abshire who have to deal with the fact that Henry is chrono-impaired; he randomly travels through time. This fact is what makes them meet, but also something that’s a very big impact on their relationships.

Underneath that veneer, lies a whole world though. It’s a coming-of-age story, a story about the pain we inflict on our significant others, about the randomness of our world, but also its fate. The story contains side-notes on the painful and loving and beautiful relationships we have with our parents. It is an ode to books, always books and a treatise on longing and patience. A book written more eloquently than any other I have ever read. It’s a thriller and page-turner and romance and literary novel. A book that yields something new every time I read it.

It’s my solace, my book to read when I am happy, my book to read when I am sad. Reading the first lines always makes me feel better and reading the last lines make me sigh because it means the book again has ended. I never want it to end – not in the way it does. But the end is what is supposed to be the end and it is perfect in all its pain.

This book, is a book unlike anything I have read before or after and I still long for the day that I find a book like this again so that I may again have that feeling of encountering it for the first time and being left in awe of the story, the language and the skill of the author. I fear that day may never come and so I’ve read this book again and again and I will read this book again and again and again.

My favourite quote of the book is actually one the is a quote from a poem itself: “had we but world enough and time”. (I am actually considering having this as a tattoo!)

The quote written by the author I love best, is this: “There is only one page left to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love.”

And then finally, just because the book also contains so much love for books, my favourite poem in the book:

“The time will come

when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.”

Derek Walcott

Sigh, I just love it!

 

 

 

 

OBJECTIFICATION AND INTERNALIZATION, TWO DIFFICULT ISSUES

Last week, feminist actress Emma Watson was confronted with questions about her boobs with regard to her feminist views. It might seem ridiculous – it does to me – but at the same time this gave me a reason to think about two difficult issues – especially their intersection.

Objectification

Shortly put, this is the idea that a person is seen as an object as opposed to a full human being – insane as that may sound.

Looking at history, it is hard to deny that women have not been seen as full human beings. In medieval times we were either pure virgins or witches – or prostitutes – but never actual human beings. We then became merely virgins, mothers or whores, but had no function beyond that. After both world-wars (where it was proven women could do all kinds of jobs) the myth of the housewife came into full play. Women ought to be women and women cooked and cleaned and kept house – it is the one thing that always annoyed me about Annie in the adventurous five!

Although you’d never hear me say that these were good times, it is debatable if women were objectified during that time. I’d say seeing a women as a mere cleaning womb would be objectification, but I wouldn’t push the point as semantics are not what I am after today.

The objectification I want to address here came after the second feminist wave. When women began to free themselves from the traditional roles they were forced into, a new myth about women began to emerge. I can’t describe it as well as Naomi Wolff – read her “the beauty myth! – but shortly put a new view of women began to emerge and become dominant. Women as primarily beautiful objects. Women who should not be prized for what they do – at least we were prized for giving birth or cleaning and raising children, sad as it is to claim only that – but for how they look.

Beauty became the one defining thing that made a woman worth something – or so plenty of people would claim. Now I do not like to generalize, but it does seem to me that this statement contains a kernel of truth.

Examples

Examples can be found in many places. From the one female party leader in the Dutch elections first being asked which male party leaders she likes the most – as opposed to the questions regarding the actual election the male party leaders were asked – to female anchors being judged on their legs, not their skills in presenting the news. From Amal Clooney fighting to make sure war crimes committed by IS are punished, only to get a storm of criticism – about wearing heals as a pregnant woman – to the scandal of the US Marine closed of Facebook group displaying and asking for nude pictures of their female colleagues. And last week Emma Watson’s boobs that were the subject of gossip.

Sadly, women’s appearance still comes first, not their incredible achievements.

Internalization

The above may be regarded as stupid and ridiculous. I certainly find it astonishing that what a woman is wearing or who she might fancy is more important that her fight for human rights! However, clearly, it still happens every single day.

The issue becomes a bit more complicated once we factor in internalization. This means that a person – or a group – comes to believe external views of themselves to the extend they start to believe it. It would be what we’d call it if men only saw themselves as objects of beauty after having been told that is all that they are for decades.

Now of course, there is a fine line between free will and internalization.

What I mean is, there is a fine line between you simply believing your greatest value lies in your beauty because you just believe it and you believing it because it is what society has told you to believe from the moment you were born.

I certainly don’t want to claim that wanting to be perceived as beautiful is wrong. But it is striking to see how as a group, most women in the public – and I am assuming therefore also in private – are displayed as first beauty and only second – or more like tenth – as capable.

Sexual objectification and sexual freedom

Taking these issues, one can see why Emma Watson’s true response to Beyoncés visual album was so perfect (on my part leaving out any further comments on society bend on believing women can only fight against each other, not with each other).

Since the sexual revolution of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, we have seen women becoming not just objectified for their beauty, but more and more as sexual objects. What I mean is, they are more and more seen as objects for men’s sexual pleasure while at the same time appearing to come to terms with their own sexual pleasure.

It is why music video’s by female artist are so ambivalent to me. On the one hand I fear that their sexiness as adhering to the internalization of being a sexual object – men like to watch sexy women and I want to sell records and am at my best being sexy – and on the other I applaud women who say fuck it! I have just as much a right to sexual pleasure as a man.

Objectification is fucked up

And that is where I stand now. Aware of the issues of objectification in this sense and stuck. Because as women, we are dammed if we do – perceive ourselves as beautiful or sexy, because it becomes all we are – and dammed if we don’t – fighting to be taken seriously for our skills because how can a woman achieve anything without being pretty first?

So here’s my wish. Can we please, PLEASE, just recognize that women are more than one thing. We are not objects to be given a single adjective. We are human beings, same as men. We are rounded characters, different from each other and the same in many ways. And all I want, is to be seen as all that I am. I am guessing it is what most of us want.

And if we could then put that into practice in both media and the upbringing of girls coming into this world, that would be perfect! Thanks.

ON THE CROSSROADS OF SHOULD AND MUST – Elle Luna

FOR ALL THE SEEKERS AND SEARCHERS. FOR HAPPY PEOPLE AND UNHAPPY PEOPLE. FOR THOSE TRYING TO FIND THAT PATH TO IT, AND THOSE STILL FIGURING OUT WHAT ‘IT’ IS. FOR ALL OF US WHO ARE LOOKING FOR A WAY TO LIVE AUTHENTIC LIVES – WHATEVER THAT IS – THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU.

Based on a viral essay, Elle Luna provides a low-key, deceptively easy way to answer the age old question: how can I find and follow my true calling? Of course, asking the question, and even answering it in general terms, are much, MUCH easier than actually finding and following your true calling.

Elle Luna however, makes it sound attainable. If we are willing to listen and put in the hard work – and it will be hard work – we all can follow a life that resembles us. That is filled with those things we must do – regardless of how weird it may seem to others – and not with things our surroundings or society feels we should do (although there will always be things we should do, like go groceries shopping or filing our taxes).

For me, this book was recommended when I was talking to a friend about some question I have in this regard. Call it a small quarter-life crisis (assuming I’ll live to be at leas 91) or the eternal restlessness of a travelling feminist foodie who loves books, but either way, this book brought me some peace of mind. Or more accurately, a way to focus my scattered thoughts into a way to live that authentic live!

Feeling like following that path as well? Read this book!

THE PERKS OF (SOMETIMES) BEING A SOLO-TRAVELLER

When I was twenty, I really, REALLY, wanted to go to Paris. I’d been there before with a friend and had loved it and here I was, seeing these train-tickets on a massive sale and nobody wanted to come with me!

I felt lonely for a bit, but then my travelling-streak won out and I just went to Paris for the weekend. Completely on my own. For the first time ever.

The experience was transformative. I finally realised I wanted to travel, because I WANT TO TRAVEL, not because other people had told me I was the type of person who’d like to travel – yes, my rebellious side knows some ridiculous moments.

The trip was great and amazing and made me hungry for more! Paris will do that to you.

I’ve travelled some places on my own since then and each time people have asked me if it wasn’t scary to go travelling alone – especially as a white female. Now to me, neither my skin colour nor my gender have anything to do with whether or not I should go travelling on my own (other than maybe how I behave in certain places). To me, being a woman – white or otherwise – should NEVER EVER be a consideration if you want to go travelling.

So for everyone out there who is thinking about embarking on a solo-trip I wanted to tell you about the 3 absolute amazing perks that come with travelling alone every once in a while.

1. Doing what you want to do, when exactly you want to do it

Never before had I had this whole stretch of time where I was not accountable to someone else, not even to someone I loved. I didn’t have to ask whether or not the other person wanted to go to the Louvre or would rather see the Eiffel tower. Would they mind if I sat down for a long lunch or went to the ballet? Would the other person also enjoy looking at Monet’s paintings, or do they greatly dislike the impressionists – or even museums in general?

Every single moment of every single day I only had to answer one question: what do I want to do right now. No explanations, no compromises, no nothing. If I want it, that is enough to go out and do it.

This freedom is intoxicating and addictive. How could I ever go back to keeping other people’s likes and dislikes and energies and expectations in mind?

Of course I did, but for those few days, for the first time ever, I felt what it was like to be truly free and responsible for my own happiness. I can’t help but want that feeling again. Perhaps it is the thing I long for the most on random rainy Wednesday afternoons at my job. The freedom to not do what I should do, but only what I want to do.

2. Discovering who you are without any pre-set expectations

Going out by yourself for a while in a new environment with new people can teach you something about yourself. I always knew I was a chatty know-it-all who likes books and new discoveries and new people. But going travelling on my own has taught me that there are plenty of times where I don’t like to chat. I don’t always like to meet new people and at some point I have had enough of books and new places.

I discovered I quite enjoy alone and quiet times to reflect. I am kinder than I thought I was, enjoying to take care of people who are lonely or unsure of what to do and I am tougher and harder than I thought, not caring as much about what annoying people think of me and no longer afraid to just let these people not like me if that is the consequence.

I’ve again seen that I am very opinionated – as this blog surely shows-, but enjoy seeing new viewpoints if I have enough calm in me to discover it. I am restless at times, but constant travel makes me weary. I am an extravert with introverted tendencies.

All in all, I am what I am and travelling solo may or may not have changed that. But one thing is certain: I learned many of these things – or was reinforced in my knowledge – because I could discover it without the fear of disappointing other people’s expectations.

3. Becoming more confident

Perhaps the most important thing solo-travelling has given me is more confidence. When there is nobody else who can pick up the slack, you are confronted with the innate ability we all have to take care of ourselves. Sure, some of us may be more prosperous than others, but in the end, we all have what it takes to survive in this world, both physically and mentally.

However, solo travelling has given me confidence beyond merely being capable of surviving on my own in different countries/cities (I am definitely not capable of surviving in the wilderness for any extended amount of time!).

I’ve learned I can make new friends – who don’t think I am a total weirdo (at least not in a negative way). I have learned to trust my own feelings because I only had to ask “what do I want”. I’ve grown confident in communicating with anybody in any languages – nothing like a stoic Chinese woman blankly staring at your well-intentioned dictionary and refusing to budge to teach you a thing or two about how to communicate when you speak no communal language!

Moreover, I have grown confident I can be on my own. I am strong enough to be my own companion and to be enough. I am enough – if I want to be, or if I need to be.

Want to become more confident? Take the scary plunge and get out of your comfort zone and just go on that solo-journey. You will not be disappointed!

Writing this has made me realize I haven’t been out travelling without a companion (be it with my best friend or my boyfriend) in a long time. It would explain why I am starting to get the itch to go exploring on my own again and hoping Erik will go on a city-trip with his friends sometime soon, so I have a good reason for again stretching my solo-travelling muscles! Time to start planning!

WANDERLUST – Rebecca Solnit

A BOOK CALLED WANDERLUST, HOW COULD I NOT READ A BOOK WITH A TITLE LIKE THAT?

Except it turns out that the book doesn’t really say all that much about the feeling the word portrays. The subtitle is the more accurate one: a history of walking.

Getting over my slight disappointment – where is that book that deals with the true wanderlust? – I started to read the book anyway.

The book beautifully describes the history of – you’ve guessed it – walking. From the ancient Greek philosophers to Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet and modern activists, she tackles it all.

I loved reading about people walking, why they walked, how walking came to be so eminent in the previous century and then started to disappear. Keeping in mind that since the book was written in 2003, a more subversive take on walking is starting to come about, with both young and old people trying to find their way back to nature and walking – just think about all the biographies of people walking the PCT, like Wild and Girl walks into the woods.

I loved reading about this, because I feel I should walk more. In my urban environment – that I love – I sometimes feel I should be out and about more. Not to shop and be bombarded by flashy commercials triggering all kinds of feelings that just make me want to get the quick fix consuming brings, but to be out in nature and work my body. To feel more like I did on top of Mt. Rinjani.

I thought this would be the perfect book to get me through the Dutch winter – let’s face it, not really walking weather.

Sadly, the book disappointed me. The amazing and great parts notwithstanding, the book was too academic for what I needed it to be. The reviews and back cover made it sound like a more subversive and life-affirming book, but what I got was a book with many great parts and many tedious ones. The subversive nature of it hidden in the background stories of people who took to walking, when walking was not considered an enterprise worth undertaking, of people who walk to write, to question, to challenge.

All in all, if you are prepared for an academic book with plenty of amazing great engaging parts, this is the book for you! If not, read another book first, before you find the peace an quiet for a book like this. Perhaps after a long walk.

My favourite quote (and let me state, there were many!):

I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour.

 

 

 

VICTIM BLAMING: A RECENT EYE-OPENER

I consider myself a feminist. I consider myself a feminist who is somewhat knowledgable about a few feminist issues – and a complete dumb-ass on most other issues. So I am educating myself and taking you along for the tour (if you want of course, otherwise you should probably just read something else). This week I had a bit of a wake-up call about my own ignorance and it has to do with women and the streets.

Victim-blaming
When I started looking into feminist issues of this day and age – to read about issues relating to earlier times, check out my waves of feminism blog here and here – and one of the many pressing issues that came up is “victim-blaming”. Essentially it is the idea that if a woman gets raped, she must have somehow be to blame. Wether it is because she was drunk or wearing a short skirt or didn’t say no to some kissing, somehow she must have made the attack possible. After all, men will be men and they cannot be helped for their actions, so women should – and more crap like that.

I’ve always found this idea completely ridiculous. How can anyone believe that deep down any woman would want a man to enter her body without her consent? I wouldn’t shove a cup of tea down your throat if you were not in the mood for a cup right? But sadly, this believe permeates our society.

From the mayor of Keulen who claimed that women should keep unknown men at arm’s length to prevent an attack, to video’s of frat boys shouting “no means yes, yes means anal”, from only letting a woman go out in public escorted by a father or brother or husband, to asking a victim what they were wearing, how drunk they were and wether or not they’d had intercourse before. Somehow, a victim is never blameless when it comes to sexual assault.

Streetwalking
Last week, I was finishing a book by Rebecca Solnit called “Wanderlust – a history of walking”. In it, she traces the history of walking, from ancient Greek philosophers to modern day activists. The history of male walking that is. Men, who were allowed the time and safety to walk out. And then she comes to women.

Women walking the streets have had a bad rep for centuries. It’s not safe for a woman to walk about the streets – what with all the men wanting to be with her – so a woman on her own, must have been a streetwalker – a prostitute. Thank god we do not believe this anymore. Thank god women today – in the Western world that is – can just walk outside, whenever they want, where-ever they want.

Except maybe at night. And in certain areas.

Back to victim-blaming
And then I got my eyeopening. I was talking to a girl who is battling street-intimidation because I am looking into the “safe cities” concept. I was giving her examples of how a city could be safer – well lit streets, busy foot traffic, camera’s maybe – and she stopped me. Saying that what bothered her most about this, is that we are thereby making it the responsibility of women to only walk in areas that are safe. And if we don’t… we must be stupid? In part to blame for whatever happens?

And I had to think about it. As much as I believe that safer cities for women, mean safer cities for everyone, I was confronted with how deeply rooted victim blaming really is. Even I had taken the “avoid dark alleys and streets to prevent getting raped” so far, that I didn’t even question my own assumption: that to make the streets safer, we need to make them more accessible.

But all the accessibility in the world are not going to make the difference we need, as long as we keep on blaming victims of sexual assault for what happened to them. Nobody has a right to infringe in that way upon anyones body. Not when you are drunk, not when you are wearing a short skirt. Not even when you are walking on a dark street.

MILK AND HONEY – Rupi Kaur

I FINALLY READ A BOOK OF POEMS – AND LIKED IT! A LOT!

Like many boys and girls that go through puberty and have an inkling for writing, I used to love writing “poems”. Believing my thoughts and feelings to be of deep importance, I’d keep a journal-like notebook filled with poems. Cringeworthy ones if you’d ask me now. And as a result, I didn’t like reading poems as they only reminded me of my own inabilities.

However, milk and honey seemed to call out to me. For a while I’d see the book everywhere, take it off its shelf and then decide not to buy it. I started following Rupi Kaur on Instagram and little by little, she drew me in. Perhaps like any good poem draws you in.

I became curious. Curious enough to read a few poems. Read the words so perfectly balanced. And then I just went ahead and bought the damn book!

Not having really learned how to read poetry, I struggled a bit at first. I googled how to read poetry and the best advice I found was this: you do not necessarily have to understand the poem at the first reading. Find what speaks to you and engage with the poem. It is a conversation that was started by the poet and you get to continue it.

Now, as a talkative person, I understand conversations. As such, I was able to decide which poems/conversations to engage with. And there were many! About love, about hurt and heartache, but also about strength, feminism and sisterhoods. To me, that blend makes Rupi Kaur an amazing poet. It feels neither to militant nor to soppy. It feels real. And beautiful and complex. As women are. As life is.

So, for anyone who is willing to try their hand at poetry or for anyone who wants to read a new kind of beautiful poetry: READ THIS BOOK! It’s truly wonderful!

My favourite poem:

what am i to you he asks
i put my hand in his lap
and whisper you
are every hope
i’ve ever had
in human form

Especially that final line “you are every hope i’ve ever had in human form” gives me chills and butterflies at the same time! Love it.

 

 

 

5 THINGS TO DO IN PARIS

Paris, city of love. City of the best food in the world and city of blinding lights. City filled with meandering cobbled roads, filled with culture and the city we’ll always have. Paris is so great it has become a cliché to say so. I really should not like this city, just to proof I AM A REBEL who will not let other people’s likes be her likes.

But I do love Paris. Ever since I first set foot under the Eiffel tower back in high school, I knew this would be a city I’d return to over and over again. And I did. I went with friends, I went on the first – and only – road trip there with my mum, I went there the first time I ever went travelling completely alone – oh my what a joy! – and the first time Erik and I went on a holiday, we came my beloved Paris.

After multiple visits – but never enough to really get to know the city – I have my favourite spots picked out, that I just have to visit if I can. However, I am also always looking for new places to see. And eat and shop at. For now, these are my all-time favourite things to do in Paris - as they change every time I go there.*

*yes, these are very much touristy places. I am a tourist in Paris, not a Parisienne – sadly – and so my top things to do are touristy ones. To find out how to locals live, find another blog (and let me know what it is so I can read it too!)

1. Browsing the books at Shakespeare & Co.

Now as a travelling feminist who loves books, this should come as no surprise. This famous bookshop is a true Walhalla for the true book-addict. The old building is stacked to the brim with English language books (sadly my French is not good enough to actually be able to read French books) and boasts being visited by Ernest Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald amongst many writers. I could honestly literally – “literary” – spend hours here – and I usually try to every time I visit Paris.

Are you as much of a book addict as I am? Then be sure to visit this lovely quaint old fashioned bookshop on the south bank just across from the Cathedral Notre Dame. And be sure to be hospitable to strangers, lest they’d be angels in disguise – as quoted in the bookstore!

2. Dream an hour away at L’Orangerie

Monet. In 3D. Need I say more? Honestly, if I do, you are either a barbaric person when it comes to culture, or you just don’t like impressionism. Otherwise, this small museum where Monet’s most famous water lilies adorn the walls, is well worth the visit. Try and come early as a quiet atmosphere attributes to the beauty – and hordes of tourists are just annoying wherever you go.

3. Eat a baguette with cheese at the Eiffel tower

Granted, this may be even more of a cliché than actually visiting Paris, but to me, eating a picnic at one of Paris’ many parks is something you just have to do when in Paris. If you are going to visit the Eiffeltower anyway – or one of the many amazing sites surrounding it – why not have lunch in it’s vicinity? I do recommend getting your food beforehand as tourist prices are no joke – though they are ridicules – and also to find a spot well away from the actual tower. You’ll have a lovelier view and less tourists gaping and taking pictures of themselves.

4. Visit the Église Sacré Coeur and stroll about Montmartre

I like visiting the white church on top of a hill for many reasons. One of them is the anecdote my mum always tells about how I took her there when we visited Paris together. In my memory, I simply took her to see one of the sights. According to her, I took her through all these dodgy back allies only to have the vista opening up to her. She performed the same trick on my dad when they visited Paris together, so it’s become kind of a family tradition.

It was only last time I went to Paris – a recent college-trip – that I started to actually appreciate the surroundings of it. Montmartre has had a bit of a bad rep – perhaps at times rightly so – but it is beautiful once you get away from the annoying street vendors and seems to provide you with a feel of Paris you only read about in books. The small back streets, the tiny restaurants where you get the best wine available, the slight rebel feel intermingled with a definite sense of style. Visit this area if you have the chance. I know I will next time I go!

5. Take a trip to Versailles

Choosing just five things to do in any city is hard – in Paris, it is simply impossible. However, listing every single amazing thing to do, is too much trouble – not to mention impossible – so I am sticking to my goal!

And for that, I advise you to get away from the city and get yourself over the Château Versailles. King Louis XIV was such an arrogant piece of sh*t that he named himself the Sun-king and had an immense castle build to show everyone he was the one and only king – by divine right.

I don’t really like the castle all that much, but I really enjoy the gardens. During the summer, this is a lovely and beautiful retreat from the city. Especially the gardens made by the maligned Marie Antoinette are very pleasant and feel like you are walking in nature just a short drive away from the hustling and bustling from the busy Parisian streets. Get some nature in here, to recharge yourself for more time spent in the city.

So, these are my 5 favourite things to do in Paris. What are yours? Tell me in the comments and maybe we'll visit them some day!

TALKING AS FAST AS I CAN – Lauren Graham

LORELAI GILMORE WROTE A BOOK!… SORRY, I MEAN LAUREN GRAHAM WROTE A BOOK!

Either way, it’s not a coincidence that this book came out exactly when the revival of the noughties hit-series of “Gilmore Girls” came to Netflix. And being the huge Gilmore Girls fan that I am – I mean, Ooy whith the poodles already! – I of course had to read this book!

I’d asked for it as a holiday present and my sister – not a fan of the series – immediately recognized that I had to have this book. Even the fact that its release was postponed till after our celebration of Sinterklaas – with soot Pete, not Black Pete – she kindly got it for me.

Now of course, the book was never going to be a literary highpoint or even the memoir we can all relate to and learn to be a better humanity from. I knew that. Still, I had to get into Lauren Grahams way of writing, which is very reminiscent of the way Lorelai was portrayed on screen. I am not sure if this is because Lauren Graham was a perfect fit for the role, or if she meant to channel her inner Amy Sherman-Paladino – don’t know who that is? Shame on you! – but after getting used to it, I enjoyed this read.

Obviously I loved reading about the original series and what it was like to return to the revival and I even enjoyed the parts in between. But let’s be honest, this was always going to be a book written for fans. As such, I greatly enjoyed it and would recommend it to fellow enthusiasts. If, however, you are like, Gilmore who, I’d say, leave this book be and read something else.

 

 

 

WAVES OF FEMINISM II

Have you ever had that moment in a conversation about feminism where someone casually drops something like "that is classical for second-wave feminist" or read something along the lines of "third-wave feminism focusses on a whole new set of issues" and not really understood what it was all about? Well I have, and it has bugged me tremendously the past few weeks. How can I claim to be a feminist if I don't even know anything about the waves at all?

So, I did what I always do when I am bugged. I Googled. I Googled and researched and I found that the basic idea is not all that hard to grasp. Basically in feminist history three (by now maybe four) major rises of the feminist are recognized. These rises are called waves and so we have four waves. Each wave has it's own characteristics, and their own celebrities, but like anything related to history much MUCH more can be said about each period and all the intermittent time.

However, I wanted to learn more about the waves to start with and take you with me on a little tour. Last post I wrote about the first two waves and today I dive a little deeper in the most recent waves.

Necessity

Before I get into the third and forth wave, I would like to address another issue. Ever since the second wave of feminism, people have been asking if feminism is still necessary. Haven't women achieved equal rights? Aren't they allowed to vote, and work and decide about their own bodies?

These same questions are still being asked today. If women do not yet hold about half of all positions of power, is that not their own fault? Aren't women just complaining because they are incapable? Isn't feminism something that only needs to happen in third-world-countries?

To me, this always seemed like a weird question. How on earth could anyone believe that over 2000 years of patriarchy would just be overcome in a few short decades? We still have obstacles, both external but definitely also internal ones, to overcome. And for anyone who still believes women are viewed equally, just look at what Google suggested when I did my research. Apparently "3rd wave feminism is cancer" is sought THAT often, that even with a drive full of cookies from pro-feminism sites, the Google-algorithm sees this option as one I would be looking for. We clearly still have a very long way to go!

Third wave

Where the first and second wave of feminism mainly focussed on legal rights - though, admittedly, not only - the third wave of feminism focusses more on social constructs that potentially keep individual women back - even if a lot a legal battles are still going on. A myriad of issues came up and were taken on that focus on society: women and sexuality, LGBT-rights, intersectionality, objectification, the way women are portrayed in media, how to raise boys vs. girls etc.

The great thing is, that this is the period where women really started to own individuality and the view was taken on that - like men - women have different interests; we may not all want to be CEO's, but we still all want the option should we so choose. The hard part is, that this makes the feminist agenda harder to define. Do we want to battle rape culture, genderstereotyping, objectification; are we for or against porn and prostitution; what about women in lesser economically developed countries? 

Even more difficult in my opinion, is the issue of intersectionality - about which I will write a blog post later - which (in a very teeny-tiny nutshell) is the idea hat queer women and women of colour face discrimination based on them being women, coloured and/or queer. These issues are interconnected and might need a cohesive approach, but may also need different tactics to combat.

As such, some critics even say that the third wave really isn't a wave. It's more like lose sand and therefore unable to reach the goals. It may also be one of the reasons why - in the Western world at least - the very word feminism went out of fashion, with many women stating they are pro-equality, but not feminists (now that is definitely a topic for another blog!).

Fourth wave

If the third wave was vague and criticised, the fourth is downright contentious. The definition is not yet determined, the issues are still expanding (intersex, male feminism, plus-size support etc.) and really, the question could be posed if we can speak of a new wave or if it's still the third wave, that has simply been updated to match the digital age.

Because if anything is clear, it is that social media plays a huge role in getting people organized and activated - as it does with other issues. Memes are spreading like wildfire, marches are organized on Facebook, Twitter is used to fight sexism whenever it rears it's ugly head and Etsy is selling "pussy-heads by the dozen".

One thing that is clear for this wave, is that people are engaging in large numbers again. It is no longer bad to call yourself a feminist. We can take on issues with a smile - the pussyhats, the awesomely funny signs and even the way "free the nipple" was popularized - and at the same time tackle serious issues with the seriousness they deserve - slutshaming or victimblaming, domestic violence, rape as a weapon of war, female genital mutilation etc. The fight is still one, online and offline, you with me?

Keep checking this blog, because after learning about the waves, I've have seen we still need to fucking fight these issues and I still have a lot - A LOT - to learn. You with me?!