Feminism's 20th-century expression

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The term "feminism"

The term "feminism" refers to the chronological accounts of initiatives and ideologies that support the need to handle women's problems and concerns while also defending their legal rights. The goal of this phenomenon is to free women from all kinds of gender-based oppression. In an effort to combat gender-based discrimination against women, feminists employ legal and sociological concepts and ideas. Such concepts might entail holding public lectures to inform women of their rights.

Early Feminist Movements

Even though feminists engaged in a variety of activities prior to the 1970s, feminist movements actually began in the early 19th century. A majority feminism activists are women, however, some men have come up to fight for women's rights as well. Individuals who advocate for the promotion of gender equality and rights of women are called feminists. They champion for women's involvement in platforms such as leadership, right for inheritance and ownership of property, democratic rights, protection from physical and abuse on marriages, matters of sexual harassment and many others. These issues are brought into light and feminists have stood together to voice their grievances with a common goal to improve their status and better their lives (Chodorow 101).

Explanation of Feminism

Maggie Humm and Rebecca Walker have attempted to explain the account of feminism and believe that one can trace the origin of the campaign in three waves. The pioneer wave can be traced to have started in the late 19th century to the early 20th century. The next wave is approximated to have taken place between 1960 and 1970s and the last wave is estimated to have started from the 1990s to date.

The Pioneer Wave of Feminism

The first wave of feminism is the age of women right campaigns dated between late 19th century and the early years of the 20th century. The movement took place in America and the British territories only. It was first meant to advocate for issues of equal job terms and rights for women to possess assets equally as men did. The movement also aimed at aiding the rejection of marriage unions in which women were legally owned by their husbands together with every possession they had before marriage. The primary goals of the movement were, however, changed in the early 20th century as the focus now shifted on political empowerment of women. In 1918, the British approved the voting rights for women who were thirty years and above as long as each owned a house by an act of the constitutional amendment called the Representation of the people act 1918. In 1928, It was protracted and was changed to the women above 21 years old, thus, marking a significant achievement of feminism.

Americans feminists such as Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan Antony also fought hard for the rights of women, and they also won the voting rights for the women in the United States. Other outstanding feminists in the United States included; Frances Willward -a Christian who was a member of the Conventional Religious assemblies, and others like Matilda Joslyn Gage-who individually and with the aid of radicalized organizations fought for the democratic rights of the women in the United States. In 1919, their efforts bore fruits after the constitutional amendment that allowed women to participate in polls (Parry and Johnson 23).

The Second Wave of Feminism

The second wave of feminism dates between the 1960s and 1980s. Scholars such as Imelda Marco assert that the second wave of feminism was merely a perpetuation of the pioneering activism comprising of the fights for more than the voting rights of the women. The second wave of feminism voiced matters of women such as gender discrimination that are still a concern up to date. Moreover, activists such as Simone de Beauvoir used literature to voice their concerns about the world's perception of women through writing books and other reading materials. An example of such literature is The Second Sex, a novel describing the tyranny of women and an original strip of the women rights activism. It was written in French in 1949 but interpreted in English and published in 1953.The book argues that females exist but have been ignored. The author also tries to point out the need for ethical insurgency for women where she believes that real women build themselves but are not born real women. The author focuses on the building of women and eradication of the chauvinistic-mindsets of the society about women.

Betty Friedan, an American feminist, confronts the idea that women purpose was solely for baring children handling of the home affairs. She voiced her views in the New York Times which was titled The Feminine Mystique in 1963. She urged women to find an identity and quit living a life of falsehood. In 1964, Women Liberation surfaced in the United States in the printed press and denoted the entire women activism. These activities continued even to the 1980s in attempts to establish equal rights for women (Burt 1881).

The Third Wave

The third wave of feminism began in the 1990s and came to rectify the failures of the second wave. It was also meant to counter the effects of the opposition movements against feminism. The third wave emphasized matters pertaining to the understanding of femininity. Activists such as Gloria anzaldua, Bell Hooks, Chela Sandoval and Cherrie Moraga took center-stage in voicing the concerns of women around the world. Notably, the trend that such women set decades ago has been the foundation on which women movements formed in the 21st century are based.


Feminism has seen women come together to air their grievances collectively as the oppressed. This action has had great benefits to their lives as they have been able to make significant strides in as far as political representation is concerned. Liberia, for example, has had a female president and many others have expressed women as great leaders in the present. One may attribute such an achievement and much more to the efforts made by the activists during the 20th century. Currently, gender issues are no longer the main concern of the society, given that measures for achieving gender equality have been integrated into most countries' constitutions and international conventions. Therefore, one would be right to argue that feminism has gained a lot of traction since the 20th century. Moreover, the feminists have achieved so much in as far as women empowerment and gender equality is concerned.

Works cited

Burt, Elizabeth V., ed. Women's press organizations, 1881-1999. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000.

Chodorow, Nancy. "Psychoanalysis and Women. A Personal Thirty-Five-Year Retrospect”." The Annual of Psychoanalysis, V. 32: Psychoanalysis and Women 32 (2013): 101.

Parry, Diana C., and Corey W. Johnson. "Theoretical perspectives for social justice inquiry." Fostering Social Justice Through Qualitative Inquiry: A Methodological Guide (2016): 23.

July 07, 2023
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