Feminism in Development

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth.  These are women that we learn about during schooling who headed the feminist movement of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  What is not highlighted in school is that this is only the first of three primary waves of feminism.  The feminism of Stanton, Anthony, and Truth focused upon suffrage, female education rights, and the abolition of gender double standards.  Their fight is termed first wave feminism.  First-wave feminism’s end is marked, historically, by the passage of the 19th amendment.

The second wave of feminism, historically speaking, begins in the 1960s.  Between Stanton and the women who participated in second wave feminism, the world saw the right to vote given to women, feminist science fiction which challenged the cultural restrictions placed on women, a world war where women were pushed into prominent positions in the working class, and the beginning of debates into reproductive rights.  Second wave feminists focused upon cultural equality issues, ending discrimination, and encouraging women to understand aspects of their life as deeply political and reflective of a sexist power struggle.  Second wave feminists were highly influenced by The Feminine Mystique which discussed the drastic change faced by women who must transition from essential to the workforce to housewife after the conclusion of WWII.  We started using the phrase “Women’s Liberation” during this period and saw an increase in women enrollment in higher education!

During the second wave of feminism, feminism diversified as the multiple lenses of such a complex issue began to rise and become a focus for different “sects” of women.  In the early 1990s, the third wave of feminism began as a response to what we believed was a failure of the second wave.  Feminist of the third wave focus upon race as an issue, sexual identity, and reproductive rights.

Feminist.  It has a mixed connotation, and I’ve seen many women in younger generations shy away from allowing the word to be utilized to define their views.  When looking at why there are negative connotations we need to look at the entirety of feminist history.  If you ask me, the second wave of feminist focused upon the perceived plight of the white female and focused upon anger and force when working toward what they believed to be juste.  

There is currently debate among historians revolving around should we consider that there is currently the birth of a fourth wave of feminists.  Those who support an official fourth wave of feminism believe that the fourth wave focuses upon how the broadening of the world (primarily through the internet) has increased the negative image of females and that social media will be instrumental in reaching the goals of the newest movement.  On Social Media recently, you may have seen the speech given by Emma Watson at the United Nations.

This post, that may (my apologies) seems rambling, was actually devised after I watched the video a few weeks ago.  Since my initial viewing, I will admit, that I have not gone back to the video.  Why? I’m not sure if I can.  I’ve always viewed myself as a feminist, but recently, I have been afraid to use that word.  I’ve reflected upon it to no results - had my personal views changed?  Had the movement itself changed?  I was a previous member of the National organization of Women and even helped start a college chapter at my undergraduate in Jackson, Mississippi.  I’ve protested the closing of women’s health organizations, and have recently found myself afraid to use the “F” word!  I thought I might be able to come up with the words to express what has changed about the movement, about the word Feminist, but I realized that I could not do it any better than Emma had. The movement isn’t just about women anymore, it’s about men standing up for their daughters and women not being afraid to stand up for themselves.  Since I’m not sure I can come up with more succinct words, at least not without a paid writer, I’ll just leave Emma here to say what I couldn’t put my finger on.

On a mobile device? Watch the video here.

History continues to develop around us; don't miss out on it!  Until next time, stay exceptionally chic and exquisitely geek!

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