Feminist Movement across the times

The feminist movement (also known as the women’s movement, or simply
feminism) refers to a series of political campaigns for reforms on issues such as
reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women’s
suffrage, sexual harassment, and sexual violence, all of which fall under the label
of feminism and the feminist movement. The movement’s priorities vary among
nations and communities, and range from opposition to female genital mutilation
in one country, to opposition to the glass ceiling in another.

Feminism in parts of the Western world has gone through three waves. First-wave
feminism was oriented around the station of middle- or upper-class white women
and involved suffrage and political equality. Second-wave feminism attempted to
further combat social and cultural inequalities. Although the first wave of
feminism involved mainly middle class white women, the second wave brought in
women of colour and women from other developing nations that were seeking
solidarity. Third-wave feminism is continuing to address the financial, social and
cultural inequalities and includes renewed campaigning for greater influence of

women in politics and media. In reaction to political activism, feminists have also
had to maintain focus on women’s reproductive rights, such as the right to
abortion. Fourth-wave feminism examines the interlocking systems of power that
contribute to the stratification of traditionally marginalized groups.

Feminism in the United States, Canada and a number of countries in western
Europe has been divided into three waves by feminist scholars: first, second and
third-wave feminism. Recent (early 2010s) research suggests there may be a fourth
wave characterized, in part, by new media platforms.

The women’s movement became more popular in May 1968 when women began
to read again, more widely, the book The Second Sex, written in 1949 by a
defender of women’s rights, Simone de Beauvoir. De Beauvoir’s writing explained
why it was difficult for talented women to become successful. The obstacles de
Beauvoir enumerates include women’s inability to make as much money as men
do in the same profession, women’s domestic responsibilities, society’s lack of
support towards talented women, and women’s fear that success will lead to an
annoyed husband or prevent them from even finding a husband at all. De Beauvoir
also argues that women lack ambition because of how they are raised, noting that
girls are told to follow the duties of their mothers, whereas boys are told to exceed
the accomplishments of their fathers. Along with other influences, Simone de
Beauvoir’s work helped the feminist movement to erupt, causing the formation of
Le Mouvement de Libération des Femmes (The Women’s Liberation Movement).
Contributors to The Women’s Liberation Movement include Simone de Beauvoir,
Christiane Rochefort, Christine Delphy and Anne Tristan. Through this movement,
women gained equal rights such as a right to an education, a right to work, and a
right to vote. One of the most important issues that The Women’s Liberation
movement faced was the banning of abortion and contraception, which the group
saw as a violation of women’s rights. Thus, they made a declaration known as Le
Manifeste de 343 which held signatures from 343 women admitting to having had
an illegal abortion. The declaration was published in two French newspapers, Le
Nouvel Observateur and Le Monde, on 5 April 1971. The group gained support
upon the publication. Women received the right to abort with the passing of the
Veil Law in 1975.

The Women’s movement effected change in Western society, including women’s
suffrage, the right to initiate divorce proceedings and “no fault” divorce, the right
of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy (including access to
contraceptives and abortion), and the right to own property. It has also led to broad
employment for women at more equitable wages, and access to university
education.

In 1918 Crystal Eastman wrote an article published in the Birth Control Review,
she contended that birth control is a fundamental right for women and must be
available as an alternative if they are to participate fully in the modern world. “In
short, if feminism, conscious and bold and intelligent, leads the demand, it will be
supported by the secret eagerness of all women to control the size of their families,
and a suffrage state should make short work of repealing these old laws that stand
in the way of birth control.” She stated “I don’t believe there is one woman within
the confines of this state who does not believe in birth control!”

The United Nations Human Development Report 2004 estimated that when both
paid employment and unpaid household tasks are accounted for, on average
women work more than men. In rural areas of selected developing countries
women performed an average of 20% more work than men, or 120% of men’s total
work, an additional 102 minutes per day. In the OECD countries surveyed, on
average women performed 5% more work than men, or 105% of men’s total
work—an additional 20 minutes per day. However, men did up to 19 minutes more
work per day than women in five out of the eighteen OECD countries surveyed:
Canada, Denmark, Hungary, Israel, and The Netherlands. According to UN
Women, “Women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of
the food, but earn 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property.”

The feminist movement’s agenda includes acting as a counter to the putatively
patriarchal strands in the dominant culture. While differing during the progression
of waves, it is a movement that has sought to challenge the political structure,
power holders, and cultural beliefs or practices.

Although antecedents to feminism may be found far back before the 18 th century,
the seeds of the modern 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
living out 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 that focused on issues like science became
popular during this period as well.

The women who made the first efforts towards women’s suffrage came from more
stable and privileged backgrounds, and were able to dedicate time and energy into
making change. Initial developments for women, therefore, mainly benefited white
women in the middle and upper classes.

1 reply

  1. Crazy to think that although women work more than men, men still claim that women shouldnt be in top paid jobs or are less likely to due to maternity leave. Interesting and informative post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person