What We Believe
A world without violence.
As FFNVC we promote the belief that all people, by virtue of their human dignity, have a right to live without violence from conception to natural death.
FFNVC derives its core values from the charge of Susan B. Anthony to “organize, agitate, and educate” from a nonviolent feminist perspective.
Organize. Structure opportunities for authentic feminism to be heard.
Agitate. Move hearts and minds to counter the culture of violence.
Educate. Recognize the intersectionality of publicly sanctioned lethal violence.
FIRST WAVE FEMINISM:
The First Wave of feminism (1840-1920) was focused on getting the vote for women. It was won by the suffagists’ holistic inclusion of equal rights. Women not only sought legal equality with men, but also supported the rights of other unemancipated segments of the population.
Suffragists supported abolitionism, child labor laws, worker and immigrant rights, and the right of the unborn. No one said it clearer than Elizabeth Cady Stanton in her famous quote to Julia Ward Howe about abortion: “When we consider that we [as women] have been considered property, it is degrading that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”
This wave of feminism is represented by Susan B. Anthony and The Revolution, the newspaper she owned and published In it and other women’s rights journals, abortion was called “Child murder,” “prenatal killing,” and “feticide.”
The Second Wave (1970s), represented by Gloria Steinem, was the push beyond getting the vote for women by gaining equal opportunity in education and employment. This required getting women out of the home, which then required the option of motherhood, or rather the option of non-motherhood and the corresponding push for widespread availability of contraception and abortion rights.
Ironically, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan did not promote abortion rights. Rather the idea of abortion rights was introduced into the activist world by Bill Baird and abortionist Henry Morganthaller, who made the point to Friedan and later Steinem, that women needed abortion if they expected to maintain positions in the workforce. They found tenuous alliances with those embracing an anti-war sentiment, who felt women were underrepresented in government and corporations, particularly those in the war industry.
In order to appease the pacifist faction of the movement, who saw killing a human being as against nonviolent principles, the language evolved in the mid-1980s to the term “pro-choice.” This term embraced the civil right of privacy, but at the same time allowed those who “would never do this themselves” the “bandwagon” anti-war activists needed for the emerging global nuclear arms race threatening “mutually assured destruction.”
The Third Wave of feminism (2000) is primarily represented by contemporary women associated with academia in the dawning of the 21st century. These young women feel secure in their rights concerning reproduction. However, they have found through dialogue with a more diverse population of women that the language of “choice” is not a reality for those too poor to have a choice. To poor women on university campuses, abortion felt more like a need than a choice because they lacked the social support necessary to carry their children to term. Feminist language changed to “reproductive justice,” or the striving for economic equality needed to be able to make a free choice.
The Third Wave embraces a broader justice agenda, one that includes environmental rights, gay rights, workers rights, and immigrant rights. In addition, they “create a space” for dialogue about the freedom of the feminine body to love itself. This sometimes takes the form of supporting pornography, embracing public nudity, and legalized prostitution as it regards the right of sex workers to unionize, etc.
Unlike the Second Wave who used face-to-face confrontations like public protest, group meetings, and civil disobedience, Third Wave feel less of a need for a defensive posture and embraces more impersonal and isolated methods of communication (blogs, personal websites, e-mail, Facebook, etc.). It is represented by women like blogger Rebecca Walker and others.
The Fourth Wave is what we see as an emerging feminism that progresses beyond justice for women, the poor, ethnic groups, to also include justice for the unborn. They see this not in contradiction of the rights for women, but rather in support of women’s rights. Their numbers include women like the Third Wave feminists who feel abortion was never a “choice” for poor women.
Many are Second Wave Feminists who believed in the 70s that abortion would remedy single motherhood, the feminization of poverty, child abuse, and equal pay for equal work, but who have found that non only have these social ills not been eradicated with almost 40 years of abortion rights, but in some cases have worsened. Moreover, many have had first hand experience with abortion and see or live with the negative effects of abortions, particularly post traumatic stress, the same disorder seen in soldiers who have faced war.
Other Fourth Wave feminists bypassed the Third Wave altogether and understand through the science of ultrasonography, genetic science, and embryology, the humanness of the unborn. They see themselves embracing “inclusive justice” which the Fourth Wave see as violence to both mother and another human being. Therefore they see contraception, the preventing of conceiving a life, distinct from the right to take a life in abortion. In this regard they fit squarely with Susan B. Anthony and First Wave feminists who, without the assistance of science, also made the distinction.
Feminism has come full circle.
This explanation was originally published in the first edition of our newsletter, The Fourth Wave. To see a full copy of the newsletter, click here.