What Are the Main Theoretical and Political Differences Between ‘First' and ‘Second' Wave Feminism

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 633
  • Published : June 9, 2007
Open Document
Text Preview
What are the main theoretical and political differences between ‘first' and ‘second' wave feminism Feminism is both an intellectual commitment and a political movement that seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all forms. However, there are many different kinds of feminism. So some have found it useful to think of the women's movement in the US as occurring in "waves" . On the wave model, the struggle to achieve basic political rights during the period from the mid-19th century until the 1920's counts as "first wave" feminism waned between the two world wars, to be "revived" in the late 1960's and early 1970's as "second wave" feminism. The concept of 'waves' is not meant to imply that organised feminism disappeared in the intervening years, but to emphasize periods when women's movements are most visible in terms of their activities and degree of support . Feminism is a cross cutting ideology, encompassing three principle traditions: liberal, socialist and radical Although there are many different and sometimes conflicting approaches to feminist philosophy, it is instructive to begin by asking what are the main theoretical and political between ‘first' and ‘second' wave feminism. One of the more obvious differences between the ‘first' and ‘second' waves is time. First Wave Feminism: EQUALITY

Feminist aspirations developed a political theory with the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft's ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792-1985). Early feminism, particularly the ‘first wave' of the women's movement, was deeply influenced by the ideas and values of liberalism. (Freedom, Justice, Individual, Tolerance & Reason) Liberals express this belief in the demand for equal rights. First wave feminism stresses equality, rights, liberation and emancipation. Mary Wollstonecraft argued, that women should be entitled to the same rights and privileges as men. On the grounds that they are ‘human beings', claiming the ‘distinction of sex' would become unimportant in political and social life if women gained access to education, and were regarded as rational creatures in their own right. These were the women who broke through the barriers of their day to speak in public, to demand property rights and to claim a political voice: beginning with the First Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848 and culminating in the right to vote in 1920. The key concerns of First Wave Feminists were education, employment, the marriage laws, and the plight of intelligent middle-class single women. They were not primarily concerned with the problems of working-class women and they, largely, responded to specific injustices they had themselves experienced. The major achievements of First Wave Feminism were the opening of higher education for women; reform of the girls' secondary-school system, including participation in formal national examinations. The widening of access to the professions, especially medicine; married women's property rights, recognized in the Married Women's Property Act of 1870; and some improvement in divorced and separated women's child custody rights. Active until the First World War, First Wave Feminism ended with the achievement of suffrage introduced first in New Zealand in 1893, USA 1920 and the UK in 1918, but they did not achieve equal voting rights with men for a further decade. Female suffrage was it's principle goal because it was believed that if women could vote all other forms of sexual discrimination or prejudices would quickly disappear. . Second Wave Feminism: DIFFERENCE

It was not until the 1960s that the women's movement was regenerated with the emergence of feminisms ‘second wave', taking up the cause of women's rights, they founded feminist organisations and raised the consciousness of the women and men of the country. In this ‘second wave', feminists pushed beyond the early quest for political rights to fight for greater equality across the board focusing on winning pay...
tracking img