Feminism is defined as social, cultural, and political movements that are concerned with inequalities that discriminate against women. Feminist activists typically campaign for autonomy on reproductive rights, protection from domestic violence, against sexual harassment and rape, and for workplace rights including maternity leave and equal pay. Some of these battles have waged on for many, many years which is apparent if one looks at feminism history.
Feminism history is categorized in three waves. The first wave in feminism history emerged around the late nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century. The movement had members in both England and the United States. In England, novelist and essayist Virginia Woolf, wrote A Room of One’s Own. This essay spoke of the authors need to have her own space to create fiction. In the United States, women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked on the suffrage movement. Women such as these two fought to have the right to vote extended to women. The fifty year battle for woman’s suffrage ended in 1920 with the passing of the nineteenth amendment. Women at this time really began to make their voices heard. They organized marches and rallies for their cause. The onset of the war, however, brought the movement to a halt.
During World War II, women took on a many roles normally done by men. Rosie the Riveter was a well known poster that illustrated that women could in fact do the same jobs as men. Women also replaced men to form a baseball league during the war. This was documented in the film A League of Their Own. However, when the war ended, women were displaced and men took over where they left off. This eventually led to the second wave. The second wave of feminism history is said to have taken place in the 1960s – 1980s. Women at this time, including activist Gloria Steinem, were concerned with inequalities in the law. Feminists attempted to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This amendment meant to guarantee equal rights under the law for all Americans regardless of sex. The amendment failed.
The third wave of feminism history is said to have begun in the 1990s and continues on today. The third wave was thought to be a continuation of the second wave, but it more so a response to the failures of the second.
Throughout history women have been fighting for equal rights. These battles continue to wage on today. While much has been accomplished in this area, feminists believe there is still work to be done.