“Movements” can be hard to spot at first. They tend to be diffused, swelling like a wave until they break on our collective conscience. The Women’s Marches that brought millions of women (and supportive men) onto the streets worldwide, the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump, appeared to come from nowhere. In fact, many feminist activists had been talking about the so-called “fourth wave” of feminism for several years.
Earlier waves had been clearly recognizable; the suffragette movements of the turn of the century, the reproductive and work rights movements of the 1960s. The most recent wave has been subtler. Borne of the internet, it is broken into myriad subgroups with diverse goals and grievances. But in the last year, as #MeToo and Time’s Up gained momentum and a record number of women prepared to run for office, it’s clear feminism was reaching a level of cultural relevance it hadn’t enjoyed in years.
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