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First Wave Feminism Of The Earlier Twentieth Century (Essay Sample)


The module it's American History, so the feminism wave must be focus on the US only.


Name of Student
What distinguished the second-wave feminism of the 1960s and 1970s from the first-wave feminism of the earlier twentieth century?
Feminism refers to a string of different political movements that originated in the United States to put an end to gender inequity as well as achieve equal opportunities and rights for women (Reger, n.p.). While it began as a political movement, the reality is that feminism actually addressed all aspects of women's existence. This is to imply that feminism addressed not only the political but also the sociocultural and economic rights of women. It aimed at establishing a level playing ground for both genders in all spheres of life, but in particular agitated for the rights of women.
Similarly, beginning with Martha Weinman's article of 1968 “Second Feminist Wave” published by the New York Times Magazine, the “waves” metaphor was used to describe feminism at different points in the history (Nancy, n.p.). However, there is a consensus regarding the characterization of the waves or women's movements before and after the 19th century (Ritzer and Ryan 224). These women movements/waves are broken down into several successive feminism waves. However, the definition takes into account the three common waves as well as the emerging fourth wave which is taking shape on the horizon.
First wave feminists were the pioneers who prepared the field with their achievements and their questioning of the capacities of the female gender that led to the beginning of debates about gender roles. The second-wave feminism of the 1960s and 1970s in the US distinguished from its predecessor first-wave feminism of the earlier twentieth century in a wide range of factors that range from the main focus of their claims, the context they developed their arguments from and the self-awareness of a woman as an individual. Feminism is not a homogeneous movement through the United States, therefore, a monocausal or simple attempt to distinguish one wave form another would be insufficient in addressing this issue.
Therefore, as an attempt to focus on the main explanation, some generalizations must be made. While the first wave of feminism centers their strife in the female suffrage and the female role in public spheres, the second wave feminism can be described in general term as “women's liberation,” where the development of the female sex as an individual step to the foreground Ritzer and Ryan, 224). This meant the questioning of women sexuality and their role not just in public, but in the domestic spheres which brought into light new concerns about the society.
The first wave feminists fought against the constitutional/official inequalities while the second wave fought against unofficial inequalities (Ritzer and Ryan 224). The first wave of feminism was an offshoot of politics that bordered on socialism and industrialism, with a great influence of liberalism. The first wave issues were property and voting rights which were constitutional concerns. It was about breaking off the chains of the so-called “gender slavery.” On the same subject, the second wave of feminism fought against social inequalities. The inequalities were more general to the society such as sexuality, family, reproductive and workplace rights.
The first wave addressed issues such as voting rights for women. By then, the general debate was that women were assumed to be more morally correct compared to men (Ritzer and Ryan, 224). Considering that voting entailed choosing people to represent even more people in a public office, it meant that such a representative was expected to be of high standards of integrity and values. Women were therefore taken to be more likely to vote for such individu...

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