Feminism is an inclusive term, as it always shall remain. However, this is sometimes questioned and many take their own ideology of what feminism means to them.
Throughout history women have been a man’s subordinate. Whether is was because of body shape, a curtious male allowing a woman to do ‘light work’ and he do the ‘heavy jobs’, or because women birth children therefore they should stay at home and look after it, after all, it did come from her. Any of these reasons are not valid.
Before the bible there was less division between gender roles, it was the Victorians that inspired their values within their excavations. That being said, Eve is considered the original feminist as she betrayed Adam in the bible and did the opposite of what she was told. What a woman. However, as a non-believer, I have little right to pin point the origin of such an iconic movement on somebody whom nobody really knows ever existed.
Up until today there have been, or are recognised, three waves of feminism.
The first wave was during the 19th to early 20th century where the main objectives were women’s suffrage, control of their finances, right to vote, being able to inherit her late husbands inheritance, legal custody of their children and equal, or more, job opportunities. The Suffragettes went through hardship fighting for equality. They suffered starvation, chained themselves to gates and, ultimately, many died. This has been featured in film; Mary Poppins. As a child I had never noticed it as I had no idea surrounding a suffragette and my mother wasn’t the type to indulge me in important social aspects, but recently I noticed that the mother, Mrs. Banks, was indeed a suffragette. In this clip you see how she tells of one the women chaining herself to the Prime Ministers carriage, and how another lady was taken to prison. Having such an iconic film portray what was a taboo topic at the time is astounding, especially as toady we still see how women are undermined.
The second wave took place from the mid 60’s to early 80’s and they broadened feminism to include sexuality, reproductive rights, family rights, domestic violence, rape and so on. In this time women and men whom were doing the same job, women would receive half that of a male wage packet, and this is when the term the ‘glass ceiling’ was coined.
Simone de Beauvoir was a French writer whom wrote a book called The Second Sex. She theorised women could not be wholly liberated until the ‘system of patriarchal society itself was overthrown’. I identify a lot with Simone both as a woman and as somebody whom has never agreed with ‘traditional’ womanly roles. As I grew up in a home where my dad was a househusband and a carer for my brother, I learnt a lot through mirrored parenting and I see no correlation between a ‘right upbringing’ being with your mother.
Margaret Thatcher was seen somewhat as a feminist icon, and I use that term in the loosest way imaginable. Some argue she was a rewardable feminist as she made it to the top of a male dominated industry and became the first ever woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but then it was overshadowed by her bad decisions and economy ruining leadership. She also wasn’t keen on helping other women rise to the top of their professions either, she enchanted herself in the male dominated parliament and settled there, not very feminist-like in my humble opinion.
The third wave has been disputed time wise, but this wave seeks to include other minorities and issues such as gender, identity, violence, rape, reproductive rights, queer and non-white women.
In the 90’s came Riot grrrl; a punk rock subculture of feminism that focused on feminist consciousness and politics.
In the late 90’s to early 2000’s there was the ladette phase. Women would grossly talk about sex as though they were trying to compete with men on a sexual level to show they were equal and could enjoy sexual encounters just as much as a man could. There was a TV show that counteracted this movement, taking ladettes and turning them back into ladies. It consisted of women wearing dresses, learning how to do house work, walking with books balancing on their heads and learning to cook. This just goes how to show that no matter what women do, there is always going to be a preconceived ideology of how we should act.
Today there is a solidarity emerging between women of all walks of life. No matter whether you are black, gay, transgender, poor, etc, you are a woman and we need to unite. To think that people in the 60’s thought we would have levitating vehicles by now but we can’t see one another as equal is an interesting thought.
One thing both the first and second waves of feminism lacked was an inclusive stance. It was a majority of white, middle-class women that were fighting for an equal right, but those women whom were black, LGBTQ+, poor, transgender, etc. did not have a second thought. I’m glad I was born during the third wave of feminism as it’s a lot more inclusive, but if it wasn’t for the first and second waves there would be a huge injustice still so, as a woman, I will be ever grateful for the struggle they put themselves through for our generation and those to follow.