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Feminism & Women's Rights Movement

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Feminism "is:

  • The advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes
  • The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
  • The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities
  • The doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men" (Caprino, 2017).

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people

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Women's Rights Movement

The Feminisms Waves & Women's Rights Movements:

The First Wave: 1840s-1920s

"A term that came into use in the late 1960s feminist movement (the second wave) to refer to activist women in the UK and US during the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were seeking the right for women to vote, to higher education, to birth control, to employment rights, to married women’s property rights, and to equitable marriage laws. First-wave feminists in the US and UK did not refer to themselves as ‘feminists’. The term was not widely adopted until second-wave feminism. First-wave feminists by and large were focused on the needs of middle-class educated women" (First wave feminism, 2007).

The Second Wave: 1950s-70s

"During the 1960s and 1970s, a large sector of American women demanded better pay, more job opportunities, reproductive rights, the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and the end of the patriarchal system. This movement is known as “second-wave feminism” (the first wave referring to the battle for women's suffrage from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century). By the late 1970s, as second-wave feminism suffered dissension between traditionalists and radicals, social conservatives were leading a backlash in the name of family values" (DeMonte, 2013).

The Third Wave: 1990s

"Third wave feminists are concerned with a multiplicity of issues that affect women and other oppressed groups. For example, they provide critical analyses of whiteness, body image, media, sexuality, prostitution, job outsourcing, gender categories and cultural imperialism. An aspect of third wave feminism that is distinct from second and first wave feminism is that third wave feminism theorises about itself, considers how it is different from second wave feminism and seeks to understand its place in the twenty-first century" (Third wave feminism, 2007).

The Fourth Wave: 2012-2018

"The fourth wave is the first feminist uprising of the technology age. Explosive as it was, the #MeToo movement encouraging women to share their experiences of harassment and assault, was just the latest feminist social media activism that academics back-dated to 2012. In April that year, London-based activist Laura Bates started the website Everyday Sexism as a safe space for women to share their experiences of daily, normalized sexism – from street harassment and workplace discrimination to sexual assault and rape. Tens of thousands of women have now posted to the site and it’s spawned versions in 25 countries" (Clarke, 2019).

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Caprino, K. (2017). What Is Feminism, And Why Do So Many Women And Men Hate It? Forbes. This link opens in a new window

Clarke, Prue. (2019). Stuck on the third? A guide to fourth wave feminism. Future Women. This link opens in a new window

DeMonte, A. (2013). Feminism, second-wave This link opens in a new window. In R. Chapman, & J. Ciment (Eds.), Culture wars in America: An encyclopedia of issues, viewpoints, and voices (2nd ed.). Routledge.

First wave feminism This link opens in a new window. (2007). In N. McHugh, Feminist philosophies A-Z. Edinburgh University Press.

Third wave feminism This link opens in a new window. (2007). In N. McHugh, Feminist philosophies A-Z. Edinburgh University Press.