CM/WS 380 - Fourth Wave Feminism

Amongst the contemporary movements challenging traditional views of the world, there has been a new upsurge of feminism, designated the “4th wave”. 4th Wave feminism is understood as a series of activist practices and values, spread mainly through social media, which address issues still affecting women in the 21st Century such as abuse of power, harassment, gender-based violence and feminicide, the gender pay gap, sexual and reproductive rights and equal access to public space. Unlike many previous feminist movements, this wave has democratized and universalized debate and activism, assuming a clear intersectional approach.

Social media is the megaphone through which this globalized movement mobilizes civil society and the political sphere to women's causes. The impact of this resurgence on feminism is visible in most regions of the world. At the same time, a call-out culture has emerged, facilitated by the World Wide Web and by the growing number of female internet users who feel impelled to engage in discussions and activism .

This course is structured in three main blocks: The first will provide a historical overview of the key tendencies of preceding waves of feminism, with a particular focus on the US and Europe, but also presenting alternative forms of feminism related to intersecting social concerns. Key theoretical perspectives and essential historical documents from the 18th Century to the 2000s will be analyzed.

The second block will examine the historical roots of the 4th wave feminist movement, and explore contemporary issues such as #MeToo, the Women’s March and Time’s Up as expressions of current feminist concerns.

The final block will address the specific practical ways in which 4th wave feminism is expressed, focusing mainly on analyzing rhetoric and content in social media discourses, discovering how the message is transmitted and how the debate is shaped. We will also explore some of the critiques of 4th wave feminism, which are inherent to its globalized media platform, such as the tendencies of the call out-culture, the limits of hate speech in social media, the fake-news phenomenon and how they affect feminism. The course aims to build the basis for improving students’ capacity to engage in an informed debate on feminist issues that can be applicable to their daily lives.

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Women's Studies

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