chapter  1
Gender Research with ‘Waves’: On Repositioning a Neodisciplinary Apparatus: Iris van der Tuin
ByIRIS VAN DER TUIN
Pages 14

Developments in feminism are generally narrated according to a model of two or three waves. The waves function as metaphors for feminist movement in which crests and undercurrents alternate. A ‘crest’ then refers to heightened or intensifi ed feminist movement. It refers to ‘the’ feminist movement at a certain time and place. Feminist waves are successive (they presume a progress narrative) and are supposed to respond to one another in a dualist way (they imply a pattern of sequential negation). The fi rst feminist wave crested around 1900 and concerned the struggle for North American and Northern and Western European women’s right to vote, for women’s access to education, and for changing matrimonial law. The second wave of feminism is generally dated between 1968 and 1980 and again was located in the United States and Northern as well as Western Europe. Second-wave feminists are supposed to have objected to the equality feminism of the fi rst wave; the rights gained had not changed the minds, and practices of men (and women). During the second wave, theories of the body, sexuality, and relationships were revolutionised (‘the personal is political’). The third wave is supposed to have started in the US in the 1980s and has a strong relationship to popular culture (e.g., music and on-line fanzines). This last wave is still in the making; despite the fact that an encyclopaedia of third-wave feminism has been published (Heywood 2005), Anglo-US and Western and Northern European feminists under thirty struggle to re/ claim the term ‘feminism’ for their activities. Notwithstanding the overlap between the third-and second-wave feminist agenda (proponents of third wave also politicise the personal), third-wave feminism is often questioned owing to its seemingly individualistic and populist methodologies. If we look at the ways in which the term ‘feminist wave’ is used nowadays in popular as well as academic discourses, we see that feminist movements seem to be taking place along the ‘trans-Atlantic dis-connection’ (Stanton 1980). Also, the movement itself is usually narrowed down to second-wave feminism. In other words, when using the wave model, feminism appears spatiotemporally fi xed.