Posted in Interesting News & Commentary

Third Wave Feminism: 1990s to the Present

To better facilitate connections between student interests and McCain’s collections, we are providing our student workers, via the library’s blog and social media accounts, with a platform to explore and share areas they would like to highlight. The following entry is the first in a series by Rachel, a first year student at Agnes Scott.

I wanted to do this project not only because of my interest in Third-Wave Feminism as a movement, but because I am interested in doing research about what McCain Library has to offer on the topic. My contributions will connect McCain’s resources and the topic of Third-Wave Feminism and the Riot Grrrl movement.

From Riot Grrrl to the March for Women: The Rise of Third-Wave Feminism


Third-Wave feminism broke out in the mid 1990s with the intention to redefine ideas about beauty standards, gender, sexuality, and femininity and masculinity. Riot Grrrl started in Olympia, Washington with an underground punk, feminist music scene which gave rise to bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. These bands gave women a place to control their voices and express themselves. For this movement, sexual liberation, a major goal of Second-Wave feminism was about being able to express themselves in any way. It lead to the belief that gender is a spectrum and both men and women can fall anywhere on that spectrum.


Even though expression is still an important part of Third-Wave Feminism, within more recent years, an emphasis has been put on intersectionality within the movement. This means that for feminism to be intersectional, all races, ethnicities, and gender identities must be included. The needs and equality of all women must be taken into account. This wave of feminism also says that feminism can take many forms. For instance, just because a woman is a stay-at-home mom does not make her inherently not feminist. Furthermore, just because a woman expresses herself in a feminine way does not make her less of a feminist.

Third wave feminism has also seen the rise of a more open dialogue of women’s issues in men’s sphere with the launch of the HeforShe campaign in 2014 through the United Nations. The campaigns aim is to get more men and boys involved in women’s issues. 2017 also saw the Women’s March on Washington which involved 500,000 women marching in Washington and over 5 million women worldwide.

Even though Third-Wave Feminism has made important moves toward equality, one critique of the movement is that it lacks cohesion. Where the first and second waves had clear cut goals, the third wave lacks a clear cut goal and clear cut leaders. Even with great icons like Beyoncé, Malala Yousafzai, and Emma Watson, the movement has far to go, and to get the most done for equality, as a people there must be a common goal.

Helpful Sources:

The Riot Grrrl Movement (New York Public Library)

Encyclopedia Britannica: The Third Wave of Feminism

Huff Post: The Third Wave of Feminism is Here and It’s Intersectional

Everyday Feminism: Feminism Now: What the Third Wave is Really About

Sources Involving Third-Wave Feminism at McCain Library


Title: Third Wave Agenda: Being Feminist, Doing Feminism

Author: Leslie Heywood and Jennifer Drake

Location: Stack 1/ HQ1421 .T455 1997

The Essential Feminist Reader

Author: Estelle B. Freedman

Location: Stack 1/ HQ1154 .E77 2007


Title: Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia

Author: Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs

Location: Stack 2/ LB2332.3 P74 2012


Title: Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism

Author: Edited by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman

Location: Stack 1/ HQ1161 .C65 2002


Title: The Riot Grrrl Collection

Author: Edited by: Lisa Darms

Location: Ground Floor/ ML3534 .R563 2013


JSTOR: Check out JSTOR for a great article entitled: What is Third-Wave Feminism? by R Claire Snyder.


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