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The waves of Feminism.

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Introduction

INTRODUCTION

        Feminism means different things to different people. According to the dictionary definition, it is ‘the full social, political and economic equality of men and women.[1] Not differently, feminists identify themselves as people who support political, economic and social equality for women. Feminism for much of the mass culture has become equated with lesbianism and male hating. Yet, those views contradict feminist history. From the beginning, women have differed in their approaches to change in their worldviews. Ideologically, feminists have always been divided into ‘equality’ and ‘difference’ feminism. Today the movement is more varied than ever, with feminists also identifying themselves according to race and ethnic heritage as well as to political or social agendas. Feminism is often discussed in terms of eras or ‘waves’ and this paper will focus on the three waves of feminism and at the end will provide the reader with a conclusion.

First Wave Feminism

The feminists who fought for suffrage in the US and beyond, beginning with the meeting in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848 and resulted in the right to vote in 1920, are today called the ‘first wave’.

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Middle

As mentioned above, the most important feature of second wave feminism is its challenge to traditional political concepts. Kate Millet was one of the first women to assert that ‘the personal is political’ in 1970 with her book Sexual Politics. She redefines politics as any ‘power-structured relationships [or] arrangements whereby one group of people is controlled by another’.[2] She further claims that in our society, ‘sex is a status category with political implications’.[3] The slogan ‘the personal is political’ clearly explains that second wave feminism did not only fought for the extension of the range of social opportunities open to women. Rather, it aimed to change women’s domestic and private lives through intervention within the spheres of reproduction, sexuality and cultural representation. Lastly, we can say that second wave feminism did not just make an impact upon Western societies, but also continued to inspire the struggle for women’s rights across the world.

Third Wave Feminism

There is no formal definition of Third Wave Feminism. It started about the early 1990s and has worked to continue the work of the second wave and also now to prove that ‘women can do what men can do’.[4]

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Conclusion

The third wave started about the early 1990s and has worked to continue the work of the second wave and also now to prove that ‘women can do what men can do’.  Many second wave feminists are a part of this third wave.  Some of these third wave feminists are challenging the older feminists saying that they  have too much focused on the victimization of women.  Much is different for the third wave and their self-image is also different from that of the second wave feminists. Many third wavers see women as fundamentally strong, confidant and brave individuals.

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[1]Brooks, Ann. 1997 Postfeminisms: feminism, cultural theory and cultural norms. USA: Routledge, p.15

[2]Le Gates, Marlene. 1996 Making Waves: a history of feminism in Western society.  Toronto: Copp Clark Ltd., p.115

[3]Le Gates, Marlene. 1996 Making Waves: a history of feminism in Western society.  Toronto: Copp Clark Ltd., p.115

[4]Heywood, Leslie&Drake, Jennifer.1997 Third Wave Agenda: being feminist, doing feminism. Minnaepolis: University of Minnesota Press, p.205

[5] Brooks, Ann. 1997 Postfeminisms: feminism, cultural theory and cultural norms. USA: Routledge, p.192

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