Updated: Nov 15
By Krush Sood
The Feminism Movement has changed since our great grandmothers and their mothers were fighting for their rights. Like all movements, it has slowly evolved to accommodate the changing times.
The rebellion began with suffrage and has turned into something that has many moving parts, including the wage gap, #MeToo, and many more.
The First Wave: Suffrage
The start of feminism is rooted in the fight for women to vote alongside men. The Suffrage movement began around 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. At this convention abolitionists, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott stated their Declaration of Sentiments, according to History.com.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal,” Stanton said.
Eventually, the 19th Amendment was passed in the 1920s and women had the right to vote.
This empowered women to fight for more rights, eventually causing them to enter the workforce. During this time, they were encouraged to do “women’s work,” but with World War II, women began to take control of work that was mainly reserved for men. This brought on the feminist imagery of Rosie the Riveter.
An issue women faced back then and still do today is the wage gap. The first piece of legislation to combat this was the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
The key themes that run through the first wave of feminism are still important themes that we can see throughout the entirety of the movement. The conversations that began in the 1840s opened the box for women to find a voice to speak on the inequalities now.
The Second Wave: The Overthrowing of “Women’s Expectations”
This wave of feminism was mainly concerned with issues of equality and discrimination. Including topics such as sexuality and reproductive rights, according to Pacifica University.
With the introduction of women entering the workforce and contributing to work usually meant for men, feminism began being referred to as “women’s liberation,” according to History.com.
This term was coined after a protest at the Miss America Pageant in 1968 and 1969. Feminists believed that these pageants were a “cattle parade” for men to enjoy and objectify.
During this time, many women were degraded to traditional roles like homemaking and childcare. This brought on the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, which banned discrimination on the basis of sex. But this amendment was never ratified due to conservative backlash.
A win the feminists did receive was the decision of Roe v. Wade, which set the precedent for a woman’s right to choose an abortion.
Though these issues were battled over 50 years ago, they still affect the feminist movement today.
The Third Wave: I am Still a Women
The last defined wave of the Feminist Movement accomplished the issues that the second wave didn’t. This particular wave is known as modern feminism. It tackles issues such as #MeToo and the idea that a woman can be feminine and still intelligent.
The second wave had the intention of rejecting femininity to please men. Instead, it resulted in the stereotype of femininity as the incapability of being intelligent, according to Pacifica University.
This third section of the movement specifies that women can dress and be as they choose because it isn’t a representation of their capabilities. Though many of the stereotypes that exist began in the earlier periods of feminism, they still find themselves in today’s society, but less extremist.
This wave includes the #MeToo movement which highlights the sexual harassment and abuse women face, but do not speak about. #MeToo helped many women come forward about their experiences and caused men to experience the consequences of their treatment of women. The importance of consent has become a highlighted topic nowadays, which is all thanks to the #MeToo Movement.
Many of the themes that are prevalent in the past years of the Feminism Movement have translated into the current view of feminism. The steps taken by the first feminists have paved the way for women to stand tall next to men instead of behind them. But the movement continues.
Many issues have not been addressed, for example, women’s reproductive rights are still up for debate and the gender pay gap is still an important concern of the movement. Though the movement is far from over, the progress made over the years is monumental and will continue to inspire change.