First-wave feminism was a period of feminist activity and thought that occurred during the 19th and early 20th century throughout the Western world. It focused on legal issues, primarily on securing women’s right to vote. The term first-wave feminism itself was coined by journalist Martha Lear in a New York Times Magazine article in March 1968 entitled “The Second Feminist Wave: What do these women want?”First wave feminism is characterized as focusing on the fight for women’s political power, as opposed to de facto unofficial inequalities. While the wave metaphor is well established, including in academic literature, it has been criticized for creating a narrow view of women’s liberation that erases the lineage of activism and focuses on specific visible actors.

The second wave of feminism is a women’s movement for equality in Western Europe and the United States, which began in the 1960s, by analogy with the suffragist movement at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. (first wave of feminism – see Feminism). The revival of the women’s movement was served by: the struggle for the civil rights of the black population of the United States, the leftist student movement in the West as a whole, the campaign against the Vietnam War. A significant role was played by socio-economic changes in Western society in the middle of the twentieth century: 1) the invention of effective contraceptives, which gave women control over reproductive function; 2) a significant increase in female employment; 3) increase in the number of women in higher education.

Photo collage of second wave feminism protest.

Third wave feminism is a term that has been identified with several branches of feminist activity and research, the exact historical scope of which is a matter of debate, but usually refers to the period from the early 1990s to the early 2010s. The term “third wave feminism” was coined by Rebecca Walker in a 1992 essay. Third-wave feminists believed that further changes were needed in stereotyping, media portrayals, and the designation of women in language. The ideology of the third wave focused on a more post-structuralist interpretation of gender and sexuality. Third wave feminist theories included elements of queer theory, antiracism, womanism, postcolonial theory, existentialism, transcendalism, postmodernism, transnationalism, cyberfeminism, ecofeminism, individualist feminism, transgender issues, etc.
Since about 2013, the next phase has begun – the fourth wave of feminism.

Thank you for your attention, Yulia


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