Ever since the third season premiere of Inside Amy Schumer, social media has been buzzing about the rising star turning her from an unknown comedian to a full-fledged feminist icon. Without a doubt Schumer is a feminist comedy genius, but what makes her so darn special is that she is pioneering a new, radical brand of feminism that speaks to Millennials and is even getting young guys on board.
Feminism has gone through waves since the inception of the concept. The first wave of feminism in the 19th and early 20th century focused on women’s suffrage characterized by abolitionist and socialist movements. Second-wave feminism from 1960s to the 1990s advocated for women’s legal rights (think Equal Rights Amendment) and emphasized issues surrounding reproduction and the objectification of women. Since the mid-1990s, feminism has drastically changed from how it was characterized previously. This movement flipped the tables on misogyny and objectification by embracing women’s sexuality with upfront dominance rather than rejecting it as submitting to the patriarchy. Yet this controversial feminist approach severely butts heads with more traditional forms of feminism. Growing up in a Third-wave feminist culture with a Second-wave feminist mom, I constantly found us arguing about how Beyoncé could strut her stuff onstage and still identify as a feminist.
Today’s fourth wave of feminism is often characterized by web activism. The advances in technology have allowed today’s feminists to easily connect and build an effective movement online. While the online feminist community is certainly gaining momentum, offline a new set of feminist ideals is emerging that is fundamentally changing how women project themselves and in turn how society sees women.
In relation to the Third-wave’s take on women owning their sexual power and the increasingly popular body-positive movement, Schumer is part of a new group of feminists recreating the media’s image of a woman as a totally human, natural and average person rather than some idolized, hypersexualized and super-skinny beauty queen.
For so long, men were the only acceptable ones who could talk about their penises, masturbation and how badly they wanted to have sex, while the media always depicted women as uninterested in sex and never ever caught with their hands down their pants.
Schumer is bravely reversing these obnoxiously inaccurate assumptions by openly talking about her sex life, her vagina and yes, even masturbation.
Male comedians are allowed to be crass with their jokes, and audiences don’t even blink an eye anymore at the crude humor. But farting, pooping and God forbid, periods, are taboo subjects off-limits to women because these normal bodily functions would make us seem less pure. We are not treated as humans, but rather robotic goddesses incapable of even letting out a belch.
Schumer doesn’t give into the mainstream’s shaming of women and actively sticks in the gross subject matter in her skits.
And finally, what makes Schumer so incredibly awesome is in a sea of celebrities, she represents what an average woman looks like. Furthermore, Schumer’s appearance tied with her outrageous success defies the assumption that you have to be a stick-thin model to make it as an actress.
Schumer is not the only entertainer redefining the modern woman. Comedy Central's Broad City creators are also shaking up how the media portrays women by showing women in the same sexually free and often traditionally unladylike way.
This new feminist image of the current woman as someone who is not conventionally hot, farts, likes to have sex and regularly masturbates is resonating with our generation for not only honestly showing what a real woman is like, but also that a person doesn't need "balls" to be comfortable enough with themselves to take control of their sexuality, not feel body-shamed by unreasonable standards and not feel restricted to a prescribed delicate version of femininity. The "Schumer" woman is confident enough to stick up here middle finger and be her shameless, real self.
And the best part is Schumer spreads her feminist message so hilariously, that our culture doesn't even question the changing dynamics.