Generations Later, Retelling the Story
As the half-century anniversaries begin, study of the Second Wave is in vogue in both print and visual media as it has never been before. In this chapter, Sara M. Evans reflects on some of the ways the story is being told now, the power of iconic representations, and new questions arising from the experience of new generations. Addressing many of the myths and generalizations about the movement, Evans counters the oversimplification of the Second-Wave feminists as uniformly white, middle class, selfish, and anti-sex. This characterization, Evans argues, misses the role of minorities, the poor, and other feminist perspectives on sexuality that were a growing part of the Second-Wave feminist movement. Thus, as opposed to seeing themselves as a continuation of the Second Wave, many Third-Wave feminists saw themselves as a completely new “rupture with the past.” Evans then reviews more recent historical work, some of which takes a broad international view, while others explore a narrower context and examine the history of feminists and feminism within a particular community. These studies clearly show the multiracial, international, multiclass, and selfless actions of many feminists and feminist groups. Rather than being a monolithic American movement of white middle-class women, led by only a few visible leaders, the women’s movement continues to be a patchwork of groups, many not even aware of one another, and many who disagree with one another on various topics, but all working together for improving some aspect of women’s lives. Ultimately, Evans insists that viewing the women’s movement in “waves” that seem to begin and end at specific points in time obscures the fight that many Second-, Third-, and multiple-wave feminists continue to wage.