The Waves of Feminism

The first wave mostly regarded suffrage, and Susan B. Anthony’s fight for the right to vote for white women. She published “The Revolution,” and the authors divulge into several victories and setbacks of the first wave. The authors mention that before the first wave, women were strictly confined to domestic duties around the home and did not have any political involvement whatsoever. They had no legal rights, no formal education, and were considered property of their husbands. With industrialization and urbanization, women created a “republican motherhood,” that many of them adhered to. Before the Seneca Falls Convention, Stanton wrote “Declaration of sentiments and resolutions” in 1848, and thus began the 72-year battle to get right to vote through protests, civil disobedience, marches, lectures, and writings. They were often feared by the Catholic church, big businesses, and political machine bosses. One main factor of the first wave was that the movement was not yet inclusive to all women, and mainly comprised of white wealthy women.

The second wave began in the 1960’s. During World War II, women took over the jobs that were left open when all the men went away to war. When the men came back, they had to leave these jobs. Many women found this to be unfair. “The Feminine Mystique,” by Betty Freidan led to many women agreeing that they felt trapped in their lives just doing domestic work and found they had no real identity. This led to an uproar in involvement and victories such as Title 9 and Roe V. Wade. Lobbying groups such as NOW protested for the passage of the ERA. It failed to meet the 1982 deadline. Conservative women such as Phyllis Schlafly spoke out against feminism. Rumors of radical feminism were greatly exaggerated, and a negative stigma began to develop towards the movement.

Next was the third wave. This focused more on gender and sexuality. The movement became more aware, inclusive, and diverse by incorporating intersectionality into their main goals. This movement mainly worked to start grassroots political activism. The book then insinuates that many believe there is a fourth wave, focusing mainly on the wage gap, workplace discrimination, parenting, and the harmful effects of the media.

I would thrive as a feminist in the second wave. I agree with much of what radical feminists have to say, but I do not think that many of their goals are attainable. I recently went to the Women’s March in D.C., and I felt like I was at home. Being surrounded by people who all are working towards a common goal really made me feel politically involved for the first time in my entire life. I finally understood the impact that resistance can have on a nation. As a journalism and women’s studies major, I would have loved to witness the events that led to the creation of the second wave and been able to report and document it.

I am not afraid to show my resistance, and I think that is what a lot of the second wave was about. I think that every single voice counts and sometimes one person can make a huge difference. I’m fully prepared to protest again if any abortion laws are reversed, and I am not ashamed. Sometimes I feel as though we are slowly sliding back in progress we have made both politically and socially, and it almost feels as if we are back in the second wave. It’s no wonder radical feminists developed in this time, because everything was so messed up. I would not be surprised if a new category of feminists arise with extreme ideas to try and counter balance all the hate, discrimination, and oppression in the world today.

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