Feminism simply refers to the thought that women and men should have similar and equal rights in all fronts, be it sexually, politics, economics or civil amongst others. Though feminism efforts can be traced back to the late 19th century, intense activism can be placed at the upper quarter of the 20th century where there arose feminist movements, philosophy, theories and literature supporting equality between the genders. Indeed these movements and efforts bore fruits and are credited with the revolution that would see a flurry of laws enacted and policies aimed at opening more opportunities implemented.
The recent past years have seen this change and feminist movements have become dormant and almost irrelevant, many agree that this has been brought forth by the mere fact that their grievances were addressed. Indeed feminism had genuine grievances. A look at the traditional society, and also the prevailing circumstances up to the world war period, indicates that the society was highly patriarchal. Both the unwritten and the written rules were aimed at subjugating women while elevating the position of men in all aspects.
Job opportunities, politics and economics were wholly dominated by men. Women leadership was looked down upon and women roles were only limited to household chores. The Declaration of Sentiments, a document detailing grievances of women as published in 1846 during the Seneca Falls Convention, has clearly outlined these concerns indicating how inequality raged in the male dominated society be it in the marriages, economics and also in the workplaces (Estelle, 2003). The key grievances ranged from the role of women in marriages and also the pursuit of equal opportunities in the workplaces.
The first wave of feminism was concentrating its efforts in rooting out inequality aimed at property rights and universal voting rights. These were accorded by the law by the first quarter of the 20th century. The second wave of liberation was radical and was pursuing injustices meted out against women revolving around cultural and political inequalities. These grievances were touching on the very foundation of marriage and sought to ensure that a woman’s voice and rights in marriage were respected and ensured by the law.
Consequently, legislations recognizing marital rape were enacted and women’s rights in regard to divorces were also put into place. Abortion was also a key concern and resulted to intensified activism demanding for women to be allowed to take control of their sexuality and also the fate of their pregnancies. The Roe v Wade landmark court ruling that outlawed abortion was seen as a major success for feminist movements. Political and social rights were advanced. The third wave of feminism became referred to as the Women’s Liberation and took place from the late 1970s to 1990s.
This was aimed at rooting out sexism and all forms of discriminations especially in the workplaces. Women demanded laws aimed at tackling sex discrimination and abuse. This was a wave that was also aiming at rooting out the perception that feminist movements were pursuing the upper class women, it is for this reason that this movement began focusing at the issues that generally affected women such as gender based violence and the removal of gender based connotations and stereotypes (Estelle 2006).
With the accomplishments of the ideals that feminism sought to achieve, there is now a general feeling that feminism has become irrelevant. As Anita (2004, 96) contends, “years and years ago this feminist thing was really big and people did fight for women’s rights, and that was good. But we are equal now, so there’s not that need. ” This is indeed the prevailing situation; feminism has ceased to be relevance. Women have acquired rights and although still disadvantaged, have equal rights to men.
The angry bra burning and men bashing activists are no longer around as their common objectives were met and the modern woman is unencumbered by the traditional feminist ties (Estelle 2006). The popular media is said to mirror the society bringing into perspective all the held perceptions and norms. A comparison of the movies that cropped up a couple of decades ago and today’s movies for example indicates a stark contrast. Whereas the 80s movies gave women subtle and supportive roles, modern movies are according men and women equal roles and are portraying women playing the roles that were regarded as the preserve of men.
They are also no longer seen as sex toys and objects to provide comic relief in movies and magazines but are rather playing active roles. Today’s women are seen as assertive in their own right but not mere props to support men, they are holding executive roles and have plunged deep into the cutthroat executive and political affairs if the recent Hillary Clintons candidature is anything to go by. They possess charisma and enough magnetic pull to carry out demanding political tasks as their men counterparts.
Though sexism is yet to be eradicated, the rigorous feminist movements no longer enjoy the huge membership like they used to in the 80s, today they have taken a more integrative approach. References Anita H. (2004). All about the girl: culture, power, and identity. Routledge. Estelle B. F. (2006) Feminism, sexuality, and politics: essays. UNC Press. Estelle B. F. (2003) No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women. Ballantine Books.
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