The Three Waves of Feminism Essay

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The Three Big Waves of Feminism


First-Wave Feminism: Women’s Right to Vote

In 1776, the then First Lady of the United States was the first to raise her about women’s rights, telling her husband to “remember the ladies” in his drafting of new laws, yet it took more than 100 years for men like John Adams to actually do so. With the help of half a dozen determined, and in this case white upper-middle-class, women the first-wave feminism, which spans from the 19th century to the early 20th century, finally led to their goal after 72 years of protesting. The Nineteenth Amendment, which secured the rights for women to vote finally passed in 1920. This grand victory brought other reforms along, including reforms in the educational system,
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In the early 1980s the biggest strength of the second wave, the grand diversity of feminism and organisations, suddenly became its biggest weakness as the media started the so called “feminist sex wars” by pitting women, especially two of them, against each other, trying to destroy the image of sisterhood pointedly.
Even though the Women’s Liberation movement clearly refused to pick a leader, the media singled out Gloria Steinem as the leader of this movement. Gloria Steinem was a single and childless career woman, who compared marriage to prostitution and insisted that “if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament”. On the other side there was the media’s darling Phyllis Schlafly, who almost single-handedly brought down the Equal Rights Amendment. Also known as the ERA, this amendment demanded that the “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied nor abridged by the United States or any state on the account of sex”. It was first introduced by Alice Paul in 1923, a woman truly ahead of her time, but didn’t get ratified by enough states to get legalized. Whether this happened because of Phyllis Schlafly herself or the way media presented the feminists of that time is debatable.
In the end the ERA may not have gotten legalized and women were still oppressed, but sisterhood was very much alive and blooming. In sisterhood women found strength and with