Third wave feminists

Published On: Dec 05 2012 09:07:45 PM EST
Updated On: Dec 05 2012 10:40:00 PM EST

First, women fought for the right to vote and own property. Then, the issues turned to sexuality, family and the workplace. Now, women are joining a third wave of feminists.

The battle for equal rights continues for women. Leading the charge: third wave feminists -- teenagers who want to make a difference.

“I think a lot of people think feminism is dead because the issues are not as prevalent, but I think people are just not looking,” said Sariel Friedman, a 16-year-old feminist. “Feminism is taking a different shape.”

“Feminism looks like everyone,” said Maliaka Taylor, a 17-year-old feminist.

“People say, ‘Oh you’re a feminist, so your anti-men,’ but that’s not what we are,” said
Meredith Hess, a 16-year-old feminist.

“Bra burning. Bitch, bitch, that’s a huge one,” Friedman said.

“We are not anti-men. We just want to raise the issue and question these inequalities. We need to change it,” Hess said.

These teens are fighting for equality. They’ve replaced burning bras and protest posters with the Internet -- reaching millions with a touch of a button.

“It’s taking on a new persona. It has a new face and new way of delivering the message,”
said Emilia Delgado, a 17-year-old feminist.

The same technologies used to disrespect and demean women are being used to raise awareness for them. A main concern: the media. American teenagers spend 31 hours a week watching TV, 17 hours listening to music, three hours watching movies, four hours reading magazines, and 10 hours a week online. They are inundated with images of who and what they should be.

“One of the biggest problems is over-sexualization from a very, very early age in every kind of media a girl might see,” Delgado explained.

“Women are growing up not knowing who they want to be because they lost their identity as a girl, and they feel like they have to conform,” said Jenny Sim, a teen feminist.

Even the women who have made it to the top cannot dodge sexism.

“It’s really interesting that all female politicians get asked who’s at home taking care of the baby, but none of the male politicians get asked that question,” Friedman said.

The latest numbers show women earn on average 82 percent of what men in the same position earn. That number is down to 65 percent for personal financial advisors, 80 percent for female surgeons, and 80 percent for police officers and lawyers.

“If we have unequal pay, then we are unequal. I’m sorry,” Friedman said.

While working to close the gap, these teens will also face the same problems their mothers and grandmothers faced. Will they change their name when they get married?
Will they choose a career over kids?

“I don’t think I’m going to have to make that choice. I think I can compromise between the two things. I think times have changed,” Sim said.

They’ve changed so much that one young man is part of his school’s feminist club.

“I can’t sit back and be idle. It’s not OK for me to leave it up to the women to fix this problem. What I’ve learned, is when women feel equal, everyone benefits,” said Alejandro Argueta.

“Just by the nature of being a woman, they should be a feminist. If you’re not a feminist, if your pro-sexism, then you’re basically a bigot,” Friedman said.

“You can be a short-haired Asian like me and still be fantabulous and glamorous,” Sim said.

Smart, independent and courageous -- a good motto for the third wave.

According to a study out of Occidental College, at age 7, the same number of boys and girls want to be president. By 15, a massive gap emerges. November, 2012 was history making for women in politics. A record-breaking 154 women were on the ballot vying for a place in either the U.S. House of Representatives or U.S. Senate.

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