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The evolution of feminism

Evolution of Feminism and rights of women (1848 – present)

The evolution of feminism. Before we start, let us look at what feminism represents. Feminism has an integrated belief in political, cultural, and economical equality for all genders. Starting from the women’s suffrage movement to the #MeToo movement. Feminism has come a long way with its enriched history of accomplishments and continuous struggles, striving for its beliefs. The history of feminism is a history of assorted goals in feral contradiction.

Here are four waves of the evolution of feminism that will help you understand the journey of our predecessors. This will give you the ongoing chaos amongst the second-wave feminist with contemporary feminists. The realization of inequality and inequities amongst gender was made long before the first wave. The essence of feminism goes as back as, the 3rd century BCE. When Marcus Porcius Cato’s government was faced with women protesting equal rights in public life as men. Though Cato refuted the protest claiming, “As soon as they begin to be equal, they will have become your superiors.”

The beginning

The protest was just the beginning of the feminist journey and struggles demanding equality for women in all spheres. In the early 15th century, a female feminist philosopher, Christine de Pisan, made a brave call. Women’s education in France. This was followed by several female feminist writers who argued for the virtue and rights of women. They questioned misogyny and boldly called for equality for women. During the Enlightenment, the voice of feminists finally merged and synced together where they demanded together for liberty, equality, and natural rights for all genders.

Feminist intellectuals from Enlightenment released their publications in response to misogynist philosophers. Jean-Jacques Rousseau described women as silly and frivolous creatures, inferior to men. The notion was challenged by Mary Wollstonecraft in her “ A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)”, in which she asserted that women are just as intellectual. The Age of Enlightenment saw many revolutions in France, Germany, and Italy, carving ways for abolitionism. Feminism reached the United States, where female abolitionists applied ideas of freedom and equality to their current status in the country.

The first wave of feminism

The first wave happened in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, at the Seneca Falls convention in 1848, by the abolitionists Elizabeth Cady and Lucretia Mott. Three hundred men and women came together demanding equality for women, they wanted to change the society’s narrative about women being confined to the domestic sphere. The movement focused on equal access and opportunities for women, it also carved the way for the suffrage movement.

Although the movement was backed by black women abolitionists, such as Maria Stewart, Sojourner Truth, and Frances E.W. Harper. There was discreet frustration amongst the white, middle class, and educated women for the rights of Black women. The first feminist wave was successful in achieving the right to vote for women through the 19th amendment 1920, passed by Congress. New Zealand was the first country to grant the voting right to women in 1893, followed by Australia in 1902, Finland in 1906, and the UK in 1918 ( Only women 30+).

The second wave of feminism

The second wave started in the early 1960s through the 90s, two decades. It initiated from a rebellion in the 1968 Miss America Pageant, opposing the degrading patriarchal views of women. So, in this wave, the feminists brought their focus on women’s sexuality, workplace harassment, marital rapes, domestic violence, reproductive rights, etc. The movement also seems to have an impact on divorce and custody laws.

The second movement objected to the ongoing male-dominated practices, passed down from generation to generation. The success of this movement can be measured by the number of laws it changed or added in the constitution for women. The Equal Pay Act, making each organization obliged to equal pay for men and women. Married and Unmarried women were granted the right to use birth control, Title IX allowed women educational equality.

The third wave of feminism

The third wave has an association with the feminist ventures that began in the US in, the 1990s. The movement was also called ‘grrl feminism’ in America, and ‘new feminism’ in Europe. The local/national/transnational activists link the evolution of feminism being against women facing violence in body surgeries, human trafficking, self-mutilation, and pornification of the media.

However, till the third wave, women now had a stronger hold in society. The third wave highlights individualism in women, celebrating their diversity with pride. From this movement ideologies like sex-positivity, intersectionality, vegetarian ecofeminism, postmodern feminism, and transfeminism arose.

The fourth wave of feminism

The majority are under the dilemma that the third wave of feminism still prevails in society. This is because no big shift in ideas and theories has popped up in the fourth wave. Yet, the #MeToo movement marked the beginning of the fourth wave of feminism, when the attacks on women’s rights rallied back in the 2010s. The movement finds its base from the third wave’s priorities in inclusiveness and digging into the deeper and broader meaning of empowerment, equality, and freedom, for women.

The fourth-wave feminists continue to battle the exclusive attitude towards women of colour, and transwomen. The movement undertakes many movements that complement and contradict each other, which may cause chaos, but multiple voices also make feminism broad enough for everyone to fit in.

The journey continues

However, one can wonder about the probable evolution of feminism, in what direction is the fourth wave directed, and will it be able to hold on to its ground? Feminist movements have always been a wild mixture of ideologies and theories, contradictions and unity. Political, social, and intellectual feminist movements have never been peaceful, which means the movement gradually flourishing.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

About the Author:

Saniya Ahmed

21 years old, an aspiring writer. Her work includes short stories, articles, and business writings. Currently residing in Karachi, Pakistan, doesn’t eat pork!

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