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Feminism: Women’s Suffrage and Early Twentieth Century Essay

The feminist movement can be broken into 4 waves; first-wave which spans from the nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, second-wave which spans from the early 1960’s through the late 1980’s, third-wave which started in the early 1990’s and extended into the twentieth century, and the fourth-wave which started in the early twentieth century to our present time. Each wave is connected and provides a foundation for the next wave to build from.

The first wave focused primarily on gaining women’s suffrage (the right to vote). Susan B. Anthony was one of many prominent leaders from the United States at this time. She faced charges for casting a vote prior to it being legal to do so. She later became the president of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The end of the first wave is often linked with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution granting women the right to vote. Susan B Anthony was one of the woman to draft the amendment and it was first introduced in 1878 but not actually submitted until 1919 (Libresco 1995).

The second wave focused on a wider range of issues that included sexuality, family, workplace, reproductive rights and legal inequalities. During this wave, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. This would prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace and provide equal opportunities for women.

The third wave of feminism addresses multiple sources of oppression which include: race, ethnicity, social class, and sexual orientation. Global feminism (movement of women’s rights on a global scale) is another characteristic of this wave. One example of this can be seen in India.

According to a United Nations report, women of India are being treated unequal despite that the Indian constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Women in India are seen as an economic burden to families due to the high dowries. This has caused increased rates of sex-selective abortions (“Governance in India: Women’s Rights,” 2013).

The fourth wave incorporates the second and third wave’s focus of equality and global inequality. This wave has been described as a movement without one cohesive cause, leader or platform (Leon-Guerrero 2011).

From a male perspective, I humbly approach this subject. I respect the courage that it has taken to fight the oppressive policies that society has placed on women. I am thankful for the heroic women that have sacrificed so my wife and future daughters can live in an equal society. I believe that women should be equal to men. However, I think there are feminists that are “man-haters” that give feminism a negative connotation. They act in the spirit of equality but in my opinion are hypocritical due to their anti-male statements. If you truly believe in equality, you must be consistent in all areas.


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