Feminists Have Accomplished a LOT
The roots of feminism, in terms of activism, go back to the early nineteenth century. During this early period of first-wave feminism, like-minded activists in Europe and America joined forces and began building a movement. They started by codifying their philosophy through a vast network of publications that made radical ideas accessible to women and progressive men. It wasn’t until the twentieth century that the fruits of the first-wave’s efforts materialized – most famously the 19th Amendment in 1920.
Women’s international (and essential) participation in the war effort against the Axis powers in World War II provided feminists with national legitimacy and political capital. This formed the foundation of the second-wave. The second chapter of feminist activism shared the political focus of the first-wave but was far more ambitious in its pursuit of equality of the sexes. The latter half of the twentieth century was packed with meaningful legislation that opened up opportunities for women across society, including government. Society is indebted to second-wave feminists for their efforts.
The third-wave of feminism began around 1990 and continues to this day (some historians claim there is a fourth wave of feminism today, but that is somewhat controversial). The first two waves of feminism were focused on ensuring that there was equality of opportunity among the sexes: a woman is her own master and can do as she pleases – without limitation by prejudice or tradition, legal or otherwise. The third wave of feminism is/was rooted in academic criticism and was heavily influenced by post-modernist French philosophers like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucalt and others. The practice of critical theory, a product of the socialist German Frankfurt School in the 1930s, inspired American feminist philosophers, such as Judith Butler, to analyze patriarchal power structures though deconstruction and comparative literature. The focus of third-wave feminism has been less about gaining tangible rights than about subverting traditional gender roles and diagnosing tyrannical hierarchical social institutions.
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