Changes believed that feminist ideas must have

Changes in feminism and what it means today.

Feminism is the range of movements and ideologies that share the common goal of not only achieving political and social equality for women, but also to achieve personal, economic and cultural rights for women. It is without a doubt the most successful political movements in recent history and refers to this current age as a post-feminist era.  The usual and most basic definition that is known to everyone is the belief that women should be treated equally to men. It  commonly refers to any actions that promote changes to society to end patterns that causes disadvantages for women.

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This movement has largely originated in the west and has manifested worldwide and is represented by various institutions committed to activity on women’s rights and interest.Throughout history, women were typically confined to domestic environments whereas the public life was reserved for men. In medieval Europe, women were denied the right to own property, to study and to participate in public life. In 19th century France, women were compelled to cover their heads in public, devote their lives to their husbands and were considered “failed men”.

In some parts of Germany a husband still had rights to sell their wife and considered them as “negotiable property”. It wasn’t until the constitution of 1949 that declared women and men to be equal.  Even up until the early 20th century women could not vote or even hold elective office in Europe and in most of the United States, where several states had already granted women’s suffrage before the federal government followed through. Women were also unable to conduct business without a male representative such as a father, husband, brother, legal agent and even son.Origins of feminismIt is believed that feminist ideas must have flourished in Ancient Greece, using the example of the Amazon, a semi-mythical tribe of fierce women warriors. Aristophenes’ play about Lysistrata is described as a metaphor for the potential power of women from the same era. Originally performed in Athens, it is a comic about a woman’s mission to end a war by convincing the women to refuse sex with their husbands until a treaty for peace has been signed. Others have suggested that the French Revolution and the Enlightenment period  as the inspiration for the early ideas that women might enjoy equal rights with men.

The first well known work on women’s rights was A vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) written by Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97).  Within the work she doesn’t strongly support equality for women but she urges that they be offered a good education and that they should have the right to be considereed useful members of society and not just ornaments. For Wollstonecraft, being a good mother and wife was a worthy aspiration, but at the same time she bleieved that women should become indepandant from their husbands and develope their own minds to the fullest extent. She bellives that:”To be a good mother—a woman must have sense, and that independence of mind which few women possess who are taught to depend entirely on their husbands.

Meek wives are, in general, foolish mothers; wanting their children to love them best, and take their part, in secret, against the father, who is held up as a scarecrow.”Mary Wollstone was not a feminist in the modern sense of the word but she was pioneer of the movement. A majority of the attention on the issue of women being in an inferior position to men moved to the USA in the 19th century. However, these early signs of feminism are still fragmentary and did not emerge seriously as a political and social movement until the middle and second half of the 19th century where there were concerns about the legal and social position of women. In the USA Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860- 1935) was writing extensively in both fictional and scholarly writings about the lack of opportunities for independent women but it was the issue of franchise about votes for women that attracted the most attention.In 1890 the National American Woman Suffrage Association was founded which was then followed by the National Woman’s Party led by Alice Paul. By 1920 an amendamant to the US constitution was passed which allowed equal voting rights for women.

On the other hand, in Britain the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was formed in 1903. The union was found and run by the Pankhurst family and it was Emmeline Pankhurst in particular who led the suffragette movement to secure votes for married women over the age of 30 in 1918, during the year where women were allowed to stand for parliament, as well as their equal voting rights with men in 1928. it was the suffragettes and their American counterparts that  formed the earliest example of a well organised womens movement. This period of time is to be known as first wave feminsim.

The first waveThe first wave took place in the 19th and early 20th century. The main goal of this wave was to open up opportunites for women with the focus on suffrage and the right to vote in political elections. The first wave in the USA began with the Seneca Falls Convention in New York, 1848 where more than 300 men and women rallied to the cause of equality for women. This was the nations first womens right convention where the Seneca Falls Declaration was outlined by Elizabeth Stanton (1815- 1902) she calimed natural equity  of women and outlined the political stragtegy of equal access and and opportunities.

The first wave was also interwoven with with other movements such as abolition and temperance, and closeley involved women of the working class. Furthermore, it was also supported by black women abolitionist such as Maria Stewart (1803-1879), Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) and France E. W. Harper (1825-1911) who fought for the rightd of women of colour. Stewart is best known as one of the earliest female ublic speaker on political issues.

She is known for her 4 powerful speeches delivered in Boston in the early 1830s – a time when no woman, black or white, dared to address an audience from a public platform. Sojourner Truth was a powerful and impassioned speaker who is best known for her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech which was delivered at a womens convention in Ohio 1851. Harper who was known in her lifetime as ‘The Bronze Muse’  passionately strove for the human rights of American citizens during the 19th century thorugh her literary expertise. and  helped co-found the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1896 for black American women’s voices.In Britain organised campaigns for women’s suffrage began to appear in 1866 and from 188 women could vote in local council elections. in 1867 when parliamentray reform was being debated, John Stuart Mill proposed an amendament that would have given the vote to women to have “a voice in determining who shall be their ruler.” HOwever this was rejected by 194 votes to 73. It then became that the issue of the vote would be the main focus of womens struggle for equality.

The movement for women to gain votes had two wings, the suffragist and the suffragettes. The suffragists had their origins in the mid nineteenth century, while the suffragettes came into being in 1903. In 1897 the National Union of Womens Suffrage Societies was formed by by various local womens suffrage societies and under the leadrship of Millicent Fawcett. The NUWSS wanted the vote for middle class property-owning women and belived that they would achieve this by using peaceful tactics such as non-violent demonstrations, petitions and the lobbying of MPs. Fawcett belived that if the organisation was seen as intelligent, polite and law-abiding then women would prove to be responsible enoguh to fully participate in politics.

The suffragist was exlusively middle class but some of the more radical memebers realised earlier on that the movement needed support from the working class women. The movement brought together various sections of society and gave them an identity which they had lacked until that time. By 1900 there was already evidence that many Mmembers of Parliament had been convinced that women should gain the vote. Several Bills in favour of women’s suffrage gained considerable support in Parliament but unfortunately not enough to pass.The Suffragettes, born out of the suffragist movement, was a name  given to them by the Daily Mail.

Emmaline Pankhurst grew impatient with tthe middle class and the respectable tactics of the NUWSS. It was in 1903 that she decided to break from the NUWSS and set up a separate society known as Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Emmeline Pankhurst believed that to draw attention to the cause it would require an active organisation consisting of young working class women, hence the motto of the suffragettes as ‘deeds not words’. From 1912 onwards they became more militant and favoured violent methods in their campaign. Law-breaking, violence and hunger strikes became a part of the suffragettes campaign tactics.In 1907 the Womens Social and Politicial Union (WSPU) split into two groups after Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel came into conflict with other members of the WSPU’s executive body. Those that left formed the Womens Freedom Leagye whilst the Pankhursts and their supporters fixed and even tighter grip on the workings of the WSPU.

Despite the three groups disagreeing over tactics, their message was always consistent and they regularly worked together. The argumet fro womens suffrage seemed to be winning support and by 1909 the WSPU had branches all over the country and published a newspaper titled Votes for Women which sold 20000 copies each week. Meanwhile the National Union of Womens Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) was also doing considerably well with a rising membership and an efficient nation-wide organisation. The suffrage also gained sympathy and support from the public as a result of the rough treatment of the many suffragettes that were arrested and jailed during the course of their protest. Furthermore, both World War I and World War II meant a severe backlash for women’s rights, as the focus then became demands of national unity and patriotism, protests were suspended for the sake of national unity and proved that the women were far from unreasonable. The Second WaveThis wave refers mostly to the radical feminism of womens liberation movement of the 1960s and roughly around the 1980s.

The movement was also known as the Womens Liberation movement and expanded the feminist movement to equality in marriage and in the workplace, sex and sexuality and also violence against women. This wave unfolded in the context of the anti war and civil rights movements and the growing self conciousnes of a variety of minority groups around the world. In America,  many women were involved with the Black Civil Rights Movement, Anti Vietnam Movement, Asain American  Civil Rights, Gay and Lesbian and many other groups also fighting for equality. Much of this movements energy was focused on passing the Equal Right Amendment to the constitution that would gaurantee social equality regardless of sex.The phase began with a protest against the most publicised in the United State against the Miss America Pageant in Atlanta City 1968 and 1969.

The many complaints about the pageant was that it judges women on impossible standards of beauty which the protesters called “Ludicrous “, it objectifies them and they also disliked the hypocrisy of the pageant which doubled the standard of the Madonna/Whore fanstasy, where men demanded that women were to be innocent whilst also satisfying the men’s lust. The Redstockings , The Newyork Radical feminist and other significant feminist groups joined the 1969 protest to show how women in pageant competitions were being paraded around like cattle. They amrched down the boardwalk and staged theatrical activism such as crowning a sheep Miss America and throwing “oppressive” gender artifacts such as bras, girdles, makeup and heels into rubbish bins in front of reporters. they also carried posters reading “cattle parades are degrading to human beings,” “boring job: woman wanted,” and “low pay: woman wanted.” these women made their messages loud and clear: women were victims of patriarchal, commercialized and oppressive beauty culture. The demonstration also gave birth to the myth of bra burning.

Protesters tossed brass, girdles, nylons and any other pieces of clothing that was regarded as constricting as well as Playboy magazines into cans. It was the symbolic act that meant a serious critique of the modern beauty culture which valued women for their looks rather than their whole self.  In London, 1970, women organised a protest at the Miss World Beauty contest.

The final was held in the Royal Albert Hall and was being televised to nearly 30 Million vieweres – the highest rated televison prgorame that year. There were two separate protests at the Royal Albert Hall. One was the iconic flour bomb demonstration diredted at the miss world contest and the second was a more serious event.

A group of young people had gathered aound the outside of the BBC’s outside broadcast lorries parked on the side of the Royal Albert Hall and slid a home made bomb unter the lorry before quickly running off.  A small amount of TNT that was wrapped up in a copy of The Time exploded a few minutes later, waking up the residents nearby. The explosion was mentioned in the press the next day, however it didn’t compare to the publicity that the Women’s Liberation protest had received. In the middle of the contgest about 50 women and men threw flower bombs, stink bombs, ink bombs and leaflets onto the stage  It was arguably an iconic moment in history in terms of what the Women’s Liberation was about.

The first national Women’s Liberation conference demanded for equal pay, equal education and opportunity, 24 hour nurseries, free contraception and abortion on demand.The Third WaveThis wave began in the mid 90’s. Although women benefitted from the legal rights and the protection that came from the first and second wave, the third wave was seen as unfiinished work from the second wave.


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