Feminism, the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Starting from the early eras of human civilization, feminism can be separated into time periods aimed to elevate women's status.
The first wave of feminism, during the early 20th century, dealt with property rights and the right to vote. The second wave of feminism, in the 1960s, focused on the issues of equality and discrimination. Then, in the 1990s, the third wave fought for the reproductive rights for women.
The history of feminism is endless and iconic, and if you don't support it, you support objectifying and oppressing women, which is quite outdated.
The first wave of feminism was dedicated to gaining basic, legal rights for women, which today, we could not live without. It started in the late 19th/early 20th century in the western world. At the time, politics and business were dominated by men who didn't even consider women capable enough to be a threat.
Women were restricted to their households with no control of their own life. Single women were seen as property of their fathers, and married women the property of their husbands. They didn't have the ability to file for divorce or be granted custody of their children. Can you imagine?
Women who did work had low positions and worked largely in factories controlled by men. Additionally, they had no right to vote in elections. Closely related to the abolitionist movement, both movements aimed for social reform and liberation from oppression.
Then, during the Second Great Awakening in the United States, women became moral advocates, while most women joined the Temperance Movement others were attracted to the abolition of slavery and expanding rights for women. In 1844, the Seneca Convention, led by the Quakers, another group of leading abolitionists, was the first organized convention to discuss the social, civil and religious condition and rights of women.
Prominent women from this convention include Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Brownell Anthony. After the Civil War, Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Anthony created a newspaper called The Revolution to help rally support for the right to vote, which helped to launch the suffrage movement in the United States.
In 1869, John Allen Campbell, the first Governor of Wyoming, granted women the right to vote, making Wyoming the first state to do so. Congress passed the 19th Amendment in 1919, and enough states ratified the amendment making the right for women to vote legal in the United States by 1920.
But, the fight didn't end here, it was just beginning.
The second wave of feminism began in the 1960s. Women were not happy with resuming their roles as housewives, especially after all their jobs had been replaced with male workers after the Second World War. The second wave started in the United States before it spread to Western countries and focused on the injustices of reproductive rights, domestic violence, rape and workplace safety.
Women began to create their own culture in a way that the movement spread through feminist films, music, books and even restaurants. They began to accomplish a lot. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped achieve greater equality for women. Supreme Court rulings like Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Later, as many women began to finally enter the workplace in 1974, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act became a law. It banned discrimination to access credit between the sexes and was later ratified to include age, religion and race. This came to be because many women, despite their earnings, were being denied credit in their own name. Usually, they needed a male cosigner before they could get loans or credit cards.
Gloria Steinem was prominent during this time as a journalist reporting on political campaigns and progressive social issues, including the women's liberation movement. She was the first to speak publicly in 1969 at a speak-out event to legalize abortion in New York State, where she shared the story of the abortion she had at 22 years old. Her life had soon been dedicated to the cause of women's rights, as she led marches and toured the country as an in-demand speaker.
Starting back up in the 1990s, the third wave of feminism changed everything, as it focused less on laws and politics and instead on self identity. There were lots of improvements in political representation and equality for women. 1991 was referred to as the "Year of the Woman."
By 1993, five women had joined the US Senate. The first female Attorney General and first female Secretary of State took office at the time, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the second woman in the Supreme Court. The Violence Against Women Act, which improved justice for women who faced abuse passed in 1995, making it a significant achievement in the Third Wave.
But, when the Supreme Court upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act with restrictions on abortion, there was a massive protest called the 'March for Women's Lives' in Washington DC in 2004. Nonetheless, the act was not repealed. Transfeminism was also brought more into the mainstream in the Third Wave and redefined women as powerful, assertive and in control of their own sexuality.
This gave rise to some pop culture icons we know and love today like Madonna and Mary J. Blige. The media also followed suit with television shows like Sex and the City, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or children movies like Mulan and The Incredibles, which all focus on the independence of women.
Although much has changed since the first wave, the fight for feminism is not over. Some women are still oppressed in today's society, and sometimes, it seems as if they are inferior to others. Together we must fight for equality and the women who clearly run the world. Some may argue that there was a fourth wave of feminism that began in 2012, but we are the fourth wave. It is up to us to stand for what's right and pave the way for our new nation.