Feminism History: the “Boring” Part

Feminism history??!! We often associate history with loooong and complex documents which are time-consuming. But this article is different! It will give you simple summary of feminism journey (first, second, and third wave). Let’s begin!

Why does it matter to know about this?

Knowing the feminism history and issues will help you identify and evaluate the movement’s struggles. This, in turn, helps you to decide which issues are closest and most feasible for you to participate in.

First Wave

The first wave happened during 19th to early 20th century in UK and US. The main issues are including (1):

  • promotion of equal contract and property rights for women;
  • opposition to chattel marriage (ownership of married women by men); and
  • political power through women’s suffrage.


Second Wave

The second wave of feminism began in 1960s and continued until 1990s. The major issues are inter alia (2):

  • sexuality and reproductive rights (rape, domestic violence, abortion and access to childcare) (3);
  • social equality regardless of sex (including gender equality in the workplace and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment) (4);
  • personal is political (what is happening in women’s personal lives is a political issue) (5)

Miss America 1968 ProtestMissAmericaProtester


Third Wave

This wave began in mid-1990s and arose as responses to perceived failures of second wave. Some big issues in this wave are:

  • challenge second wave’s definition of femininity which it perceives as over-emphasized the experiences of upper middle-class white women (6);
  • re-adoption of of the very lip-stick, high-heels, and cleavage which the first and second wave associated with male oppression (7);
  • ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, etc. are celebrated as dynamic, situational, and provisional (8).

third wave


Hopefully you’re encouraged to do something on the issues that are closest to you!



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