By Rosa Morales,2014-03-29 15:43
8 views 0

History of feminism

    The history of feminist movements has been divided into three "waves" by feminist scholars. Each is described as dealing with different aspects of the same feminist issues. The first wave refers to the feminism

    movement of the 18th through early 20th centuries, which dealt mainly with the Suffrage; /ˈsʌfrɪdʒ/ the right to vote in political elections 选举权;投票权

     movement. Writer such as Virginia Woolf are

    associated with the ideas of the First Wave of feminism. In her book A Room of One‟s Own

    (book), Woolf “describes how men socially and psychically dominate women". The

    argument of the book is that “women are simultaneously victims of themselves as well as victims of men and are upholders of society by acting as mirrors to men” She recognizes the social constructs that restrict women in society and uses literature to contextualize it for other women.

The second wave (1960s-1980s) dealt gender

    inequality in laws and culture. It built upon the

    established goals of the First Wave and began to adapt the ideas to American culture. Simone De Beauvoir is very much associated with this wave because of her idea of women as “the other”. This idea was touched upon in the writing of Virginia Woolf and was adapted to apply not only to the gender roles of women in the household or at work, but their sexuality as well. Beauvoir set the tone for later Feminist

    [1] The Third wave of Feminism theory (

    (1990s-current), is seen as both a continuation and a response to the perceived failures of the Second-wave.[3]

    In addition to “responding” to the Second Wave, the Third Wave was less of a reaction to current events and more a focus on developing the different achievements of women in America. The Feminist Movement grew

    during the Third Wave of feminism to

    incorporate a greater number of women who

    may not have previously identified with the dynamic and goals that were established at the start of the movement. Although criticized as purely an addition to the Second Wave, the Third Wave very much holds its own additions to the Feminist Movement as a whole. In order to explore the history, events, and structure of the Feminist movement it is imperative to explore different figures, specific protests and demonstrations, as well as the transformation in American culture as a whole. The feminist movement is essentially one that has worked and continues to work against the status quo in American society. According to bell hook, “Feminism is a struggle against sexist oppression. Therefore, it is necessarily a struggle to eradicate the ideology of domination that permeates Western culture on various levels, as well as a commitment to reorganizing society so that the

    self-development of people can take

    precedence over imperialism, economic

expansion and material desires.” [4]

    America‟s culture is one that is measured on a patriarchal scale. Countering these standards is part of the Feminist Movement‟s agenda and, although differing during the progression of waves, it was a movement started to also challenge the political structure. In thinking of a social movement as a collective, organized, sustained, non-institutional challenge to authorities, power holders, or culture beliefs or practices it can be said the Feminist Movement in all aspects a large and long lasting social movement. This is assuming that a social movement must exist with more than one person and by all means the Feminist

    Movement is one that is multifaceted

    incorporating the efforts of individuals who may not have affiliated themselves with the movement yet helped the goals of the

    movement become attainable. There are examples of different groups who were part of the movement that rejected the institution of

    the American system of capitalism, however, the agenda of the First and Second waves worked with the American political system in order to gain more rights.

    The feminist movement reaches far back before the 18th century, feminist movement were planted during the late part of that century. Christine de Pizan, a late medieval

    writer, was possibly the earliest feminist in the western tradition. She is believed to be the first woman to make a beautiful piece of writing. Feminist thought began to take a more substantial shape during The Enlightenment

    with such thinkers as Lady Mary Wortley

    Montagu and the Marquis de Condorcet

    championing women's education. The first scientific society for women was founded in

    Middelburg, a city in the south of the Dutch

    republic, in 1785. Journals for women which focused on issues like science became popular during this period as well.[citation needed]

    The period of feminist activity during the

    nineteenth century and early twentieth century in the United Kingdom and the United States

    is referred to as the first wave of feminism. It

    was sometime in the 1920's when feminism died in the US. It focused primarily on gaining

    suffrage. The term, the right of women's

    "first-wave," was coined retrospectively after the term second-wave feminism began to be

    used to describe a newer feminist movement that focused as much on fighting social and cultural inequalities as further political inequalities.[5]

    In Britain, the Suffragettes campaigned for the women's vote, which was eventually granted ? to some women in 1918 and to all in 1928 ? as much because of the part played by British women during the First World War, as of the

    efforts of the Suffragists. In the United States

    leaders of this movement include Elizabeth

    Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who

    each campaigned for the abolition of slavery prior to championing women's right to vote.

Other important leaders include Lucy Stone,

    Olympia Brown, and Helen Pitts. American

    first-wave feminism involved a wide range of women, some belonging to conservative Christian groups (such as Frances Willard and

    the Woman's Christian Temperance Union),

    others resembling the diversity and radicalism of much of second-wave feminism (such as

    Stanton, Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage and the

    National Woman Suffrage Association, of

    which Stanton was president). In the United

    States first-wave feminism is considered to have ended with the passage of the Nineteenth

    Amendment to the United States Constitution

    (1919),granting women the right to

    vote.[citation needed]

    The women who made the first efforts towards women‟s suffrage were those who came from the more stable and privileged backgrounds. In order to create change one must be in a position to dedicate time and energy into making change. The women previously

    mentioned worked very hard to attain the personal and collective goals. Their intentions benefited women in America, but not all women. The developments made for women were for those who belonged to the middle and upper class and were part of the White race. This was the dynamic of the beginning of the Feminist Movement in America. It was a specific agenda for a certain group of women. The second wave of feminist activity began in the early 1960s and lasted through the late 1980s. What helped trigger this second wave was the book written by Betty Friedan. "The key event that marked the reemergence of this movement in the postwar era was the surprise popularity of Betty Friedan's 1963 book The Feminine Mystique.Writing as a housewife and mother (though she had had a long story of political activism, as well), Friedan described the problem with no name the dissatisfaction of educated, middle class wives and mothers like herself who looking at their

    nice homes and families wondered guiltily if that was all there was to life was not new; the vague sense of dissatifaction plaguing housewives was a staple topic for

    women'smagazines in the 1950s. But Friedan, instead of blaming individual women for failing to adapt to women's proper role, blamed the role itself and the society that created it" (Norton, Mary Beth, A people A Nation pg 865. 2005 Houghton Mifflin Company New York.) During this time feminists campaigned against cultural and political inequalities. The movement encouraged women to understand aspects of their own personal lives as deeply politicized, and reflective of a sexist structure of power.If

    first-wave feminism focused upon absolute rights such as suffrage, second-wave feminism was largely concerned with other issues of equality, such as the end to discrimination.[5]

    The feminist activist and author, Carol

    Hanisch coined the slogan "The Personal is

    Political" which became synonymous with the second wave.[6][7] Second-wave feminists

    saw women's cultural and political inequalities as inextricably linked and encouraged women to understand aspects of their personal lives as

    sexist deeply politicized and as reflecting

    power structures.

    In the early 1990s, a movement arose in responses to the perceived the failures of second wave feminism, it has been termed the "third wave". It is also described as a response to the backlash against initiatives and movements created by second-wave feminism. Feminist leaders rooted in the second wave like Gloria Anzaldua, bell hooks, Chela

    Sandoval, Cherrie Moraga, Audre Lorde,

    Maxine Hong Kingston, and many other

    feminists of color, called for a new subjectivity in feminist voice. They sought to negotiate prominent space within feminist thought for consideration of race related subjectivities. This focus on the intersection between race

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email