Feminism Definition and Its Waves and Movements
August 25th marks Women’s Equality Day. This celebrates when women received the right to vote, thanks to the relentless willpower of the suffragettes and the great women who came before them. In today’s blog, we’ll explore the feminism definition. Plus, some more history about this important day in 1920.
Feminism is a range of social and political movements and ideas that aim to define and establish the political, economic, personal and social equality of the sexes. It takes the position that societies prioritise the male point of view, and thus the unjust treatment of women exists. Efforts for change include fighting against gender roles and establishing educational, professional, and interpersonal opportunities and outcomes for women that are equal to those of men. These can appear in dress standards and activities as well as in voting rights and laws to protect women against violence.
What’s more, feminism fights for the inclusion of men’s liberation within its aims. Because, men are also harmed by traditional gender roles, too.
There exist different waves of the feminism definition, each with its own ideology and aims.
- 1: The Suffragette Movement (19th-early 20th century) promoted women’s right to vote.
- 2: The Women’s Liberation Movement (1960s) campaigned for legal and social equality for women.
- 3: Around 1992, this wave focused on individuality and diversity.
- 4: Born from social media in 2012, it fights violence and harassment against women. It’s best known for the “Me Too” movement.
Other Movements and Categories
What’s more, traditional feminism definitions are divided into three main categories also known as the “Big Three”:
- Liberal: Looks for equality of men and women through optical and legal reform within a liberal democratic framework, without totally changing the structure of society. It works within mainstream society to add women into it.
- Radical: calls for a huge reordering of society to eliminate male supremacy. It sees male-controlled capitalist hierarchy as the defining feature of women’s oppression. Thus, the total uprooting and reconstruction of society is necessary.
- Socialist/Marxist: critiques capitalism as the root of women’s oppression. Therefore, the discretion against women in domestic life and employment is an effect of capitalist ideologies.
Other movements and feminism definitions include:
- Ecofeminism: sees men’s control of land as responsible for the oppression of women and destruction of the natural environment.
- Black and Postcolonial: challenges the premises of Western feminist thought — especially that led predominantly by middle-class white women from Western Europe and North America.
- Social Constructionist: argues that gender roles are socially constructed. Thus, it is impossible to generalise women’s experiences across cultures and histories because gender is performative.
Women’s Equality Day
Women’s Equality Day was first recognised in 1971, following the 1970 nationwide Women’s Strike for Equality. It occurred annually thereafter in 1973, as the battles over the Equal Rights Amendment continued. As of 2018, every president since Nixon issues a proclamation designating August 26th as Women’s Equality Day.
“Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of this hard-won achievement and pay tribute to the trailblazers and suffragists who moved us closer to a more just and prosperous future, we resolve to protect this constitutional right and pledge to continue fighting for equality for women and girls”.President Barack Obama, August 25th 2016