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Is Third Wave Feminism a Fleeting Fad?

02/10/2014 10:34 BST | Updated 01/12/2014 10:59 GMT

When Queen Bey stands in front of a 10ft tall feminist sign (both figurative and literal) then, sure, others will follow. What was once considered a dirty word has now become the height of fashion, but how long will the fad last? Like all fashions I fear that by the end of the year feminism will be out and something else will be in.

The so-called third wave (the first being in the in the late 19th century and the second being in the 1960's) of feminism came surging over us this year. With heroines such as Beyonce, Katy Perry and Emma Watson the wave became tidal. In the space of just a few months it felt as though everybody wanted to jump up and declare themselves the biggest feminist of them all. In a world that still isn't equal, we need more people to stand up for the rights of individuals. That is the equal rights of every person in the world, regardless of their gender, skin colour, beliefs or sexuality. On a superficial level, the fact that feminism is en vogue is brilliant news, but does the trend go any deeper?

If, a year ago, you'd asked anyone on the street whether they considered themselves a feminist, you'd get a wide variety of answers. I fear, that many people would reply the classic "No, I don't hate men", whilst others would claim that they believe in equal rights but think feminism is a little extreme. Twelve months later, I am sure most people would take a heartbeat to reply "Yes, I do" to the same question. That's how fashion works, you see? The collective loves or hates things at the same time. An industry is built on that notion. The point is not whether people claim to be feminists or not; the point is whether it will make a difference.

One thing that the trend has done successfully is dispel any misguided definitions of feminism. I've seen the feminism is "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes" quote so many times online now that it is etched on my brain for eternity. The fact that Emma Watson said it in her magnificent UN speech meant that nobody could ever claim not to understand the word again. Thank you, Emma, that's called progress.

But is a basic understanding enough? The main thing that I find troubling about the current feminism trend is that it was so sudden. I'm no fashionista and don't claim to understand the market, but I do know one thing to be true. When trends appear from nowhere, they tend to disappear just as fast. From an outside perspective, the current wave looks like a case of everybody jumping on the bandwagon. Annie Lennox recently suggested that Beyonce (and similar stars) were using the word as a means to promote their own career. It is true that any celebrity who so much as breathes the word feminist is shoved into the limelight in an instant. Not to be a cynic, but claiming to be a feminist seems to be an easy way to get some much-needed media attention.

Still, if celebrities are endorsing equal rights, regardless of their reasoning, that is a positive step. There was a time when admitting that you were a feminist would get you abuse from internet trolls and cause fans to disassociate themselves from you. The fact that people want to be known for their feminist perspective means that the word has become what it should be; empowering and strong, rather than scary and misunderstood.

Despite what we'd all like to believe, society is not equal. Many people, not just women, face discrimination on a daily basis. What I (am many others) hope is going to come from this is that people continue to fight for equality. I hope people don't forget the definition of feminism and I hope that society moves forward as a result of the current state. More than anything I hope I'm wrong; that this is a genuine movement rather than a fleeting fad.