Feminist scholars and historians have found it useful to divide the history of the feminist movement in the West, especially the United States, into three waves. Each wave is a distinct movement with different goals and ideologies.
The beginning of the feminist movement in the 19th century was the first wave of feminism. The struggles of the suffragettes to win the vote and gain political and legal equality dominated the early feminist movement. The main feminist movement at the time was mostly confined to upper- and middle-class women, with many of them purposely excluding African Americans and other minorities.The second wave of feminism was a movement within the larger civil rights movement beginning in the 1960s. Women at this time, though they had won the vote, were still largely confined to domestic roles. Second wave feminists fought for social equality.Third wave feminism is said to be a movement that began in the 1990s and continues to this day. There are many disagreements by scholars and feminists over exactly what the definition and ideologies of the third wave are.
The modern feminist movement began with a women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York. This convention, which was held on July 19th and 20th in 1848, is said to be the first where women gathered together to demand the right to vote. The organizers of the convention, including famous suffragettes Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, presented a document called the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. One of the tenets of this document was that women should have the right to vote, which was a very radical idea in the mid-19th century. Newspapers criticized the document and the meeting, calling it "the most shocking and unnatural event ever recorded in the history of womanity."The first wave of feminism was about women's political equality and their representation in government. As such, the first wave is considered by scholars to have ended when women won the right to vote with the passing of the 19th amendment in 1920.
While first wave feminism addressed legal inequalities, second wave feminism focused on social and cultural inequalities. Betty Friedan gave voice to women across the country when she published her book The Feminine Mystique in 1963 about her dissatisfaction in being confined to the role of wife and mother. Though women were more educated than they had been in the past, the only socially acceptable role for them was to get married and have children.A slogan coined by Carol Hanisch, "the personal is political", defined the second wave of feminism. It meant that women's private lives are politicized because they reflected the gender inequality in society. The second wave addressed these issues of equality in education, careers, and the workplace, and issues of family and the right to choose not to have children.Other issues raised and addressed by second wave feminism were women's health issues and reproductive rights. Many laws were passed in this period including Title IX, Women's Educational Equity Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the criminalization of marital rape, and court decisions like Roe v. Wade.
Third wave feminism began in the early 1990s as a reaction to second wave feminism. Those who define themselves as third-wave feminists tend to be more global and multicultural, and include elements from many different movements such as anti-racism, womanism, and transgender politics. They combat issues such as women's greater influence in politics, and stereotypes about and media portrayals of women.Feminists and scholars disagree on definitions of third wave feminism. Some use the term to label any kind of feminist activism from the 90s to today. Others use the term for specific ideologies, especially those that disagree with tenets of second wave feminism. Many third wave feminists believe that everyone can define feminism for themselves. Some are labeled third wave feminists by others while they refuse to use the label "feminist" for themselves.
Though some say that the terminology of waves of feminism is no longer useful for the modern feminist movement, it has been a useful framework to understand the women's rights movements of the past. Each wave of the feminist movement, though very different in era and ideology, has addressed issues of gender inequality, whether legal, political, or social.
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05.24.2014 Southwest Sound Fest
Live Music, Food Trucks and Beer Garden.
Held at the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.
A kick off event to summer with LIVE MUSIC, FOOD TRUCKS & BEER GARDEN held at the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.
For more information & tickets visit swsoundfest.com
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