This does not mean feminists are man-haters, it means we want basic human rights equal to men. Feminism in the 20th and 21st century has been categorised into different 'waves', with different elements defining each one. Here, I will explain each wave of feminism and what it is known for.
The heroic fight of the Suffragettes is known as the first wave of feminism. This is when women realised that actually they do have a voice, and can fight back as individual human beings.
Second wave feminism: 1960's-1970's
The second wave of feminism occurred during the 1960's and 70's as a result of the Second World War. Whilst the first wave of feminism focused on the political liberation of women, the second wave focused on the economic and social aspects of liberation. This is where we see the split between types of feminists -Equal Feminists and Radical Feminists. The former fought for social justice and the latter focused on the deconstruction of gender roles in society. Second wave feminists saw their own successes, with the introduction of reproductive liberation leading to the contraceptive pill being made available for women in 1961. They also saw the introduction of the Married Women's Property Act revision in 1964 which gave women a little bit more financial freedom. One other law they fought for was the Abortion Act in 1967. This legalised abortion for women up until 24 weeks. For the first time, women were gaining more choices when it came to their bodies.
One of my favourite moments of second wave feminism is the fabulous story of the Ford machinists strike in Dagenham. A whole 850 female machinists went on strike as they disputed the unequal pay that they faced. They argued that the company called their work unskilled, even though they did the exact same work as their male counterparts. Their strike led to the change in law and the introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970, which came into effect in 1975. This movement meant that thousands of women could earn the money that they deserved for their skilled work.
Third wave feminism: 1990's-2000's
The third wave feminist movement began in the early 1990s and focused on reclaiming what it means to be a woman. They looked to redefine ideas about womanhood, gender, femininity, sexuality and masculinity. There was a shift in gender roles - they recognised the stereotypical masculine and feminine traits and tried to challenge them. This means the third wave feminist movement aimed to help people become more aware of how one’s own gender identity has been shaped by a society structured on rigid stereotypes.
Fourth wave feminism: 2008-present
Lastly, fourth wave feminism is a sort of continuation of third wave feminism but in a more modern, developed sense. The movement came to light in 2008 and is digitally centred. They focus their ideas on body positivity. They are very accepting of the LGBTQ+ community and are transgender inclusive. However, misandrists are not welcome in the fourth wave feminist movement. A misandrist is a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against men. This is because one of the most basic principles of feminism is that they fight for equal rights for everyone, and this is not achieved through hate and prejudice but through acceptance and love.
This blog has only touched the surface of discussing the extraordinary history of women’s liberation! However, upon researching this blog I came across this quote by American feminist writer Kate Millet, who said: