Sunday 8 March 2020

Part V: Reflections on the Second Wave: A Feminist Journalist Remembers Herself

Neither Feminist Acts nor Inside Broadside bring the story of the women's movement up to date. Both publications were shut down before, or as, the Second Wave was supplanted by the Third. And much later, the Third gave way to the Fourth. These publications were also gone long before gay marriage became legal, and the Government of Canada apologized for the way it had treated gay men and lesbian women in the armed forces, before Canadian women flew fighter jets, captained ships, won Nobels in literature and physics, floated around in the international space station, before the Prime Minister of Canada called himself a feminist, made sure his cabinet was 50% female, and appointed as the second most powerful person in his government Chrystia Freeland, a woman raised in part in a feminist collective in Edmonton.

Yet it is the writers of the Second Wave who may best explain what troubles us still--the awful hinge that ties women of ambition to predatory men. This is where the Fourth Wave, better known as #MeToo, enters the narrative. I've lost track of the number of cases of powerful men (like Cosby, Ghomeshi, Schultz, Ailes, O'Reilly, Epstein, Prince Andrew, Trump, etc. etc.) who have been made to answer the accusations of once ambitious women (both of colour and white skinned privilege) who turned to them to advance their careers and found themselves being raped, groped, or threatened instead. As Brownmiller showed us so long ago, abusers enabled by Patriarchy take particular pleasure in putting women of ability and ambition back in the old place, the subjugation and silent place, by means of verbal and physical assault, followed by non disclosure agreements.

Just as mainstream publications featured the works of the ambitious female journalists who led the Second Wave, the Fourth Wave now gathers momentum from the published stories about talented women, many of them journalists, who decided to take on those predatory men in the public sphere and in the courts. The abused female journalists of Fox News decided to sue the bastards. Others told their stories in public with the help of reporters and major media. These include Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey of the New York Times; Ronan Farrow and the New Yorker; Jesse Brown of CanadaLand, and Kevin Donovan at the Toronto Star. These reporters and publications gave ambitious, but silenced, women, a platform to call out the powerful men who'd used their determination to contribute to the world as the means to lure them in. After the newspapers and magazines ran their stories, the police and prosecutors got involved.

This is why Mr. Weinstein is now sitting in the medical ward of an American prison in New York having been found guilty of rape. More charges await him in California

Maybe sisterhood will make a comeback too.


  1. Thanks Elaine, shared at the blogger in town here.. was just thinking about you again this month and hope you are well.

  2. Thanks Elaine... feminism always made me think that someone was trying to divide men and women for an agenda.. I think I was right.

  3. Glad to hear feminism made you think, however the only agenda at work was that women get up off our knees, force institutions to treat women equally to men, and in general stand up for ourselves and our interests. Try it sometime.

    1. I think assuming I don't stand up for myself is your mistake.. you're allowed sweetie.. punch up, not down. I'm a nobody, remember?

  4. Thanks Elaine ... Cloak of Green is still a really important book .. found this listening archive .. for your readers and those who are still discovering your important work: