The Feminist Movement
The feminist movement or feminism is a sequence of political agitation or campaigns aimed at influencing and achieving reforms on issues that face women and their place, challenges, and success in the society. These issues include domestic violence, reproductive rights, sexual abuse/harassment, equal pay with men, and maternity leave (Goertz & Mazur, 2008). The principles of the movement have varied widely across communities and nations, depending on the issues that women face and their ambitions in the local setting. As a theory, feminism is an ideology that focuses on an attempt to analyze women’s social position, explain their apparent subsidiary role in the society, and provide a basis for reforms and women’s advancement in all areas of the society. Harrison and Boyd (2013) note that a critical belief among feminists is that there exists a fundamental power struggle between women and men that is potentially revolutionary, in the same way as the struggle around race and class.
From a historical perspective, the feminist movement has undergone three waves. The first wave revolved around suffrage and political equality for upper and middle-class white women in the West, while the second focused on combating cultural and social inequities, including among women of color and those from developing countries. The third wave is the current campaign that focuses on addressing the social, financial, and cultural inequalities that women face and a campaign for the greater influence of women in the media and in politics. Towards the end of the 18th Century, The Enlightenment and the French Revolution influenced the prospects of equality and liberty among women in Europe. Women writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft argued that women ought to have similar legal rights as males based on moral worth, freedom, equal humanity, and rationality (Harrison & Boyd, 2013). The idea that sex should not be a basis of the definition of women took hold as a central principle in feminism, influencing campaigns against the denial of legal, educational, political, economic, and other rights to women.
Goertz, G., & Mazur, A. (2008). Politics, gender, and concepts. London, UK: Cambridge University Press
Harrison, K., & Boyd, T. (2013). Understanding political ideas and movements. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press