Basically, feminism encompasses concepts and movements that have a mutual goal, which is defining, developing, and advocating for equal cultural, political, economic, and social rights of women. Moreover, it involves advocating for educational and employment opportunities for women. The feminist theory which rose from the feminist movement seeks to define and illustrate the form of gender inequality by evaluating the social roles assigned to women and their lived experiences. However, some areas of feminism have been criticized because of solely considering the white, middle-class, and educated aspects (Pollitt 54). Consequently, this caused the formation of multiculturalist types of feminism. Actually, the feminist activists advocated for the women’s rights in such areas as voting, contract law, and the right to property. They also highly promoted the reproductive rights, self-sufficiency, and bodily integrity for women.
Consequently, feminism advocacy is held accountable for the societal modifications, especially in the western countries. It is attributed to the achievement of gender impartiality in England, women’s suffrage, the liberty to enter into contracts, reproductive rights such as the right to use contraceptives, and equal wages for women. Moreover, some of these feminists also focused on working to prevent women and girls from domestic violence, sexual assaults, and harassments (British Democracy and Women’s Right to Live Free from Violence 37). They also campaigned for the other women rights, such as maternity leaves and workplace rights. Furthermore, they fought the other types of discrimination against the female gender. Generally, the major issue surrounding feminism over the years till today has been fighting for the equal rights for women in the society. The feminist movement focused on advocating for the rights of women in the society, because they were extremely undervalued. In the past, there were numerous issues affecting the life of a woman, and women were actually motivated by their problems to raise their voices against discrimination. However, based on nations and communities, the priorities of these movements are different.
Feminism is a concept that was first established in the western countries during the late 19th century (Carmon 45). It has continually developed over the years in three different waves. The first wave was actually concerned about the state of the middle-class or the upper-class white women, and it focused on the political impartiality and suffrage. Moreover, the second and third waves continued to combat women discrimination, though differently. The second wave focused on the further fighting against cultural and social variations. The third wave has continued to pursue the objective of handling social, cultural, and financial discriminations, and has modified its campaign strategies in order to enhance the impact of women in media and politics.
The second wave and the third wave movements actually broadened the debate and the campaigns against women discrimination compared to the first wave movement. Clearly, these movements pertained to all women despite their cultural and social backgrounds. The second wave movement initiated in the early 60s in America and spread out to the other western countries. This movement expanded its campaign on more issues that affected women such as family, workplace, sexuality, official legal disparities, reproductive rights, and de facto discriminations. The second wave movement elevated opportunities for the conventional women to acquire job gains in the professions, sports, media, and the military (Mcgrath 31). This movement continually highlighted the other issues such as marital rape cases and domestic violence that were highly affecting the self-esteem of women. It further pushed for modifications in the divorce and custody laws, and also focused on thrashed women’s shelters. One of the major actions of the second wave movement was the attempt to pass the Equal Rights Amendments to the constitution of the United States of America. Although the motion was defeated, these feminists in the second wave illustrated their potential in combating women discrimination.
According to historians, the second wave seemed to have died in the early 80s due to intra-feminism conflicts regarding sexuality and pornography issues. Consequently, this brought about the era of the third wave during the 90s (Stein 2). Basically, this wave has persisted on until today and it attributed to different challenges of feminist study and activity. Historians state that the movement was established as a form of response to the acknowledged setbacks of activities and initiatives of the second wave. During this era of the third wave, women in the western countries gained political and economic equality. Therefore, the third wave feminists actually decided to expand their objectives in order to focus on concepts such as sex-positivity, combating gender-role prospects and beliefs, reproductive rights, pornography, and preserving sex work. The third wave movement set itself apart from the second wave regarding the concepts of sexuality thus overpowering the idea of female heterosexuality. It advocated for embracing the concept of sexuality as a form of female empowerment. Nevertheless, the primary programs and rights established by the feminists of the second wave, such as the development of domestic-abuse havens for women, right to use contraception and other reproductive services, enforcement of sexual harassment laws in the workplace, funding of educational and extra activities for girls, and study programs, have also been effective for the foundation of the third wave movement.
Clearly, these are two different waves, but have also been able to work together, because, initially, they fight for the rights of women. There are numerous challenges that have been affecting the well-being of women over the years till today. These feminists in the two waves had different perceptions on women discrimination, but the similar issues affecting women were their foundations. Unlike the first wave, the second and the third wave movements focused on women despite their colors, religions, social status, and cultural backgrounds. The two movements have differing perceptions regarding sexuality. For instance, the third wave movement advocates for sex-work and pornography unlike the beliefs of the second wave movement that believed that women were exploited in sex-work and pornography. However, despite their different perceptions on sex-work, the two movements fought against sexual abuse and harassment against women. Moreover, the two movements have continually supported the Equal Rights Amendment (Dunphy 43). Basically, these movements have shown differences and improvements over the years and they managed to work together till the present, because they share fundamental rights and programs. Their main focus of feminist movements is to achieve women empowerment in the society. Actually, the two waves have handling almost the same issues affecting women over the years.
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Generally, there are numerous changes that have occurred in the transition from the second wave to the third wave. One of the major transitions made over the years between the two movements is the mode of campaigning. Clearly, the third wave has continually been present even with the development of technology. For example, the third wave feminists are able to reach out to a greater audience due to the use of advanced media such as the Internet. The movement employs the Internet and the other forms of advanced technology to spread information and create awareness to a greater audience. Women are able to access information from the movement through electronic magazines and even blogs. Consequently, the Internet has fundamentally liberalized the data of the third wave movement in regards to the issues, participants, and aesthetics. Moreover, the issues handled in the second wave increased in the third wave movement and were perceived differently. As stated earlier, the issue regarding sexuality changed in the third wave movement. Actually, the issue regarding heterosexuality was challenged in the third wave and the feminists believed in the power of enjoying sexuality among women. It is in the third wave movement that pornography and sex-work was actually embraced. The third wave feminists actually modified the customary concepts regarding sexuality, advocated for the exploration of women’s emotions regarding sexuality such as vagina-based issues as diverse as orgasm and rape. The third wave feminists also focused on more issues affecting women that were not in the second wave. Some of these issues included offering support to single mothers through welfare and child care. These feminists focused on working mothers and also in cases where these mothers would opt to leave their jobs and take care of their children full-time. This means that the third wave feminists also advocated for issues surrounding motherhood. Moreover, they also combated unjust maternity leave programs. Actually, the third wave feminism is believed to have established a raunchy culture because of the numerous feminisms they promoted. These illustrations of femininity and sexuality have become a problem to objectification. This movement has actually liberated women in terms of dressing, acting, and even expressing themselves.
Biologically, men are different from women and this limits the extent to which precise equality can be achieved between them. Generally, these movements have just empowered women over the years and have elevated the sufferings bestowed on them by the society. Basically, there are no issues from the second wave movement that have been omitted in the third wave. The third wave movement has just expanded its research and campaign against issues affecting women in the society. The third wave movement still deals with issues that were established in the second wave and continues to handle more issues in the present world. As years pass by, women are faced with emerging issues and the third wave feminists are relentlessly combating them.