A Brief Summary Of The Second Wave Of Feminism (2022)

Read the first part here: A Brief Summary Of The First Wave Of Feminism

The Second Wave of feminism is usually demarcated from the 1960s to the late 1980s. It was a reaction to women returning to their roles as housewives and mothers after the end of the Second World War. The men that had to leave the workforce to join the defence forces had returned and women were fired from their positions and replaced by men.

38 percent of American women who worked in the 1960s were largely limited to jobs as teachers, nurses or secretaries. Women were expected to quietly resume their lives as loyal and subjugated wives. Housewives were estimated to spend an average of 55 hours a week on domestic chores. However, after having worked and been independent of male dominance during the war, women didn’t want to resume these roles and this brought about the Second Wave of feminism.

This movement was initially concentrated in the United States of America and then spread to other Western countries. While the First Wave was largely concerned with the suffragette struggle for the vote, the Second Wave focused more on both public and private injustices.

Issues of rape, reproductive rights, domestic violence and workplace safety were brought to the forefront of the movement and there was widespread effort to reform the negative and inferior image of women in popular culture to a more positive and realistic one. Women created their own popular culture and the movement spread through feminist films, music, books and even restaurants.

A Brief Summary Of The Second Wave Of Feminism (1)

This movement was triggered by the publishing of Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, a renowned feminist text credited for daring to break social conventions regarding the portrayal of women. Friedan was inspired by Simone de Beauvoir’s book, The Second Sex, first published in Paris in 1949.

This text was considered ground-breaking and became a landmark in the history of feminism. The Feminine Mystique discussed “the problem that has no name”: the general unhappiness of American women in the 1960s and 70s.

(Video) The Women's Rights Movement (Second Wave)

Friedan highlights the fault of the advertising industry and education system in restricting women to the household and menial tasks that result in a loss of identity and individuality. This book reached women all over the United States of America who were touched by it. Thousands of white middle-class women were thus drawn to the feminist cause, marking the start of the Second Wave of feminism.

Another demarcation of this stage was through legislative measures. The Food and Drug Administration approved an oral contraceptive pill, made available in 1961 that was an important step towards letting women develop careers instead of being forced into family life.

The Kennedy administration also set up a Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, which was chaired by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. A report released by the commission on gender inequality recommended paid maternity leave, access to education and good childcare to help women. An organization called Women Strike for Peace mobilized 50,000 women in 1961 to protest against nuclear bombs and tainted milk.

A Brief Summary Of The Second Wave Of Feminism (2)

Women became more involved in protests and advocacy for equality by creating local, state and federal feminist organizations. Legislature like the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were significant measures taken to achieve greater equality for the sexes. Supreme Court rulings like Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade also furthered the feminist cause.

In 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) was created, with Friedan named the first President. The founding statement of NOW demanded the removal of all barriers to “equal and economic advance” and declared “the true equality for all women” as its aim.

The NOW, under Friedan, tried to enforce more work opportunities for women but there was fierce opposition to this demand. The opposition argued that at that time, male African Americans, who were heavily discriminated against by the white population were in greater need of employment than middle-class white women. As a result, Friedan stepped down from the presidency in 1969.

The legal victories of the movement post-NOW creation were extensive. A 1967 Executive Order gave full affirmative action rights to women. A 1968 order made sex-segregated help wanted ads for employment illegal, thus drastically decreasing female exclusion from the workforce.

(Video) The Missing Waves of Feminism Symposium Series: The Second Wave

The Women’s Educational Equity Act of 1972 and 1974 provided greater educational equality. Title X of 1970 addressed health and family planning, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 and Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 were all notable reforms.

The outlaw of marital rape by all states in 1993 and the legalization of no-fault divorce greatly reduced the dependence of wives on their husbands and gave them the tools to live healthier lives. In 1975, a law requiring military academies to admit women was passed and the image of women as simply “domestic goddesses” was altered.

All these successes were impressive, and many believed that the objective of female liberation had been achieved. A massive let-down came in the form of the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution’s failure to be ratified by 38 states in order to be implemented.

Many ambitious and resourceful feminist leaders like Friedan arose during this wave. A young journalist, Gloria Steinem, became a feminist leader when her writing about the Playboy Club and its chauvinist elements gained popularity with women. She was a staunch advocate for legalizing abortions and federally funding daycares.

Like Friedan and Steinem, there are other feminists who were forerunners of the Second Wave. In 1969, feminist writer Kate Millet wrote Sexual Politics about how patriarchy invaded sexual discourse and led to gender oppression. She stated that discrimination began with gender and then occurred between race and class.

A Brief Summary Of The Second Wave Of Feminism (3)

Another writer that had an impact still felt today was Carol Hanisch. Her essay, The Personal is Political, argued that even the most private aspects of life like housework and gender roles are politically relevant for women and must be brought into the public sphere. The slogan, The Personal is Political is used often today at rallies and demonstrations advocating women’s rights.

As a whole, the Second Wave can be characterized by a general feeling of solidarity among women fighting for equality. It also saw the creation of several types of feminism. Radical feminism was prevalent, which involved the complete elimination of male supremacy and challenging of all gender roles.

(Video) Women's History: "What is "second-wave" feminism?"

Socialist feminism was also a form of feminism created post the Second World War. Like Marxism, it acknowledged the oppressive nature of a capitalist society and saw a connection between gender and racial discrimination. It differed from radical feminism in that it didn’t see gender as the exclusive basis for all oppression. Eco-feminism was widely recognized. It related environmental justice and care with women’s rights and liberation.

While the Second Wave was a hugely successful movement that comprised many legal and cultural victories leading to greater equality, it had its shortcomings. At the time in the United States, the movement against racism was active too. Women of colour found themselves to be under-represented by the feminist movement.

Prominent feminists were white middle-class women who wrote feminist theory centred around their own experiences and troubles. While there were many black, Latina, Asian and Native American members of the movement, they felt excluded from the narrative and ignored. The agenda of the leading white feminists were often a contrast to theirs.

Many women felt that it was unwise to discuss gender equality without taking into consideration racial inequality too. This gap between white and POC feminists motivated women of colour to form their own organizations to represent their interests in the movement. One such organization was the Third Women’s World Alliance.

A Brief Summary Of The Second Wave Of Feminism (4)

In India, the feminist movement is significantly different than in the USA. India’s movement for gender equality was closely connected with the nationalist struggle for freedom. During the 19th century, those advocating for the protection of women’s rights were male reformers who made important advances by fighting for legal safeguards against social evils such as child marriage and sati.

A rise in consciousness about the oppression of women and their societal status was interlinked with a desire to escape the discrimination carried out by the British. The 20th century then saw the growth of women’s groups for empowering women in pre-Independent India, such as the All India Women’s Conference and National Federation for Indian Women.

Also Watch:Watch: A History Of International Women’s Day

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Women were participating in the freedom struggle, and independence promised freedom from imperialism and their marginalized role in society. While the feminist movements in the West and India fought for the ultimate goal of equality, the problems they tackled and obstacles they hit were vastly distinct.

While the Second Wave was invaluable to broadening the scope of the feminist cause, it had flaws and failures. It is from issues of racial discrimination within the Second Wave that rose Intersectional Feminism. Intersectionality is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect.”

In feminist terms, it means taking into account disparities in discrimination and sexism faced by different ethnicities and races and thus making feminism not selective, but all-inclusive equality. The Second Wave was pivotal to the feminist movement and brought women into the mainstream in many spheres, but it had its mistakes. Learning from these is what will determine what shape the movement takes next.

Read the third part here: A Brief Summary Of The Third Wave Of Feminism

References:

  1. NOW
  2. The New Yorker
  3. Racism Review
  4. Slate

Also read in Hindi: सेकंड वेव ऑफ फेमिनिज़म : नारीवादी आंदोलन की दूसरी लहर का इतिहास

Featured Image Credit: Feminist Current

FAQs

What is the main idea of 2nd wave feminism? ›

Second-wave feminism was a period of feminist activity that began in the early 1960s and lasted roughly two decades. It took place throughout the Western world, and aimed to increase equality for women by building on previous feminist gains.

What happened in the second wave of feminism? ›

The second wave feminism movement took place in the 1960s and 1970s and focused on issues of equality and discrimination. Starting initially in the United States with American women, the feminist liberation movement soon spread to other Western countries.

What were the major accomplishments of the second wave of feminism? ›

In addition to the abortion victory, second-wave feminism accomplished many other things. Avenues opened up for women in both education and employment. Women broke into “non-traditional” jobs and became electricians, plumbers, machine operators and more.

What does the second wave of feminism stress? ›

While the first wave defined equality around the idea of sameness between women and men, the second wave stressed on equality on the basis of the difference between women and men. The second wave was shaped and dominated by what has come to be known as radical feminism.

What were the important features of the second wave of feminist movement? ›

Women became more involved in protests and advocacy for equality by creating local, state and federal feminist organizations. Legislature like the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were significant measures taken to achieve greater equality for the sexes.

What were the goals of the second wave of feminism quizlet? ›

What were the main goals and accomplishments of the second wave of feminism? The main goals were to attain equal opportunities and rights for women. This especially pertained to women's right to work and their equal treatment in the workplace post-WWII.

When was the 2nd wave of feminism? ›

The women's movement of the 1960s and '70s, the so-called “second wave” of feminism, represented a seemingly abrupt break with the tranquil suburban life pictured in American popular culture.

Who influenced the second wave of feminism? ›

The Instigator

Ten years after “The Second Sex” was published in the United States, American feminist writer Betty Friedan helped ignite the second feminist wave with her book “The Feminine Mystique.” Released in 1963, Friedan builds on the foundation of Simone de Beauvoir's work.

Who coined the term second wave feminism? ›

The second wave of feminism begins with Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, which came out in 1963.

What is first second and third wave feminism? ›

September 21, 2021 Posted by Sethmini. The key difference between first second and third wave feminism is that the first wave feminism was mainly about suffrage, and the second wave feminism was about reproductive rights, whereas the third wave feminism was about female heteronormality.

When was the second wave of feminism UK? ›

The 1960s may have brought the pill and the sexual revolution but as the 1970s dawned equality of the sexes was still a long way off. Women could be paid less than a man for doing the same job, posts were advertised by gender and 'sexual harassment' was an unknown term.

How many waves of feminism are there? ›

Because of these generational differences, it's common to hear feminism divided into four distinct waves, each roughly corresponding to a different time period.

How did the feminist movement impact society? ›

The feminist movement has effected change in Western society, including women's suffrage; greater access to education; more equitable pay with men; the right to initiate divorce proceedings; the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy (including access to contraceptives and abortion); and the ...

What is the goal of feminism? ›

Feminism is descried as a movement that aims to establish equal rights and legal protection for women. Feminism advocates for women's rights and gender equality.

Which has been a major goal of the feminist movement? ›

The major goals of the feminist movement include creating equal opportunities and new freedoms for women. The purpose of the feminist movement has shifted over time. However, in all four waves, feminists have sought to end discrimination and violence by pursuing social and legal reform.

What were the goals of the women's movement? ›

In the early years of the women's rights movement, the agenda included much more than just the right to vote. Their broad goals included equal access to education and employment, equality within marriage, and a married woman's right to her own property and wages, custody over her children and control over her own body.

Why did so much time elapse between the first and second waves of feminism? ›

why did so much time elapse between the 1st and 2nd waves of feminism? After women won the right to vote, there was little activity or progress toward social equality because the limits of suffrage were not yet clear.

What are the causes of feminist movement? ›

It was based on gender issues, women's sexual liberation, reproductive rights, job opportunities for women, violence against women, and changes in custody and divorce laws.

What is one of the ongoing goals of the second-wave of the women's rights movement? ›

Second-wave feminism focused on the areas of life in which women were still treated as second-class citizens. After finally getting the vote, women wanted greater representation in government, as well as legislation that would address gender-based issues.

Which of the following accurately compares first and second-wave feminism quizlet? ›

Which of the following accurately compares first- and second-wave feminism? Both movements made access to birth control a central issue. Second-wave feminism sought political equality and voting rights, whereas first-wave feminism sought to honor a woman's role as a mother.

How many waves of feminism are there quizlet? ›

4 waves of feminism Flashcards | Quizlet.

What are the types of feminism? ›

  • Kinds of Feminism.
  • Liberal Feminism.
  • Radical Feminism.
  • Marxist and Socialist Feminism.
  • Cultural Feminism.
  • Eco-Feminism.
  • I-Feminism new wave? http://www.ifeminists.net/introduction/

What are the 4 types of feminism? ›

Introduction – Feminism: The Basics

There are four types of Feminism – Radical, Marxist, Liberal, and Difference.

Who created feminism? ›

Mary Wollstonecraft is seen by many as a founder of feminism due to her 1792 book titled A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in which she argues for women's education. Charles Fourier, a utopian socialist and French philosopher, is credited with having coined the word "féminisme" in 1837.

When did the feminist movement start? ›

The first attempt to organize a national movement for women's rights occurred in Seneca Falls, New York, in July 1848.

When was feminism created? ›

In 18th-century England Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman became a seminal work of English-language feminist philosophy. Feminism in the United States had a number of prominent activists during the mid- to late-19th century.

What is the difference between feminist and feminism? ›

Feminism refers to the various movements aimed at defending equal social and economic rights for women. It also consists in establishing equal opportunities for women. On the other hand, the word 'feminist' refers to a person whose beliefs and behavior are based on feminism.

What are the three phases of feminism? ›

Elaine Showalter's three phases of feminism: the “feminine” (women writers imitate men), the “feminist” (women advocated minority rights and protested), and the “female” (the focus is now on women's texts as opposed to merely uncovering misogyny in men's texts).

What role did Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique play in the development of second wave feminism? ›

What role did Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique, play in the development of second-wave feminism? It raised awareness among women that they still faced significant hurdles to equality.

When did the women's movement take place? ›

women's rights movement, also called women's liberation movement, diverse social movement, largely based in the United States, that in the 1960s and '70s sought equal rights and opportunities and greater personal freedom for women. It coincided with and is recognized as part of the “second wave” of feminism.

How was the second-wave of feminism different from the first? ›

Whereas the first wave of feminism was generally propelled by middle class, Western, cisgender, white women, the second phase drew in women of color and developing nations, seeking sisterhood and solidarity, claiming "Women's struggle is class struggle." Feminists spoke of women as a social class and coined phrases ...

What is the difference between 2nd and 3rd wave feminism? ›

Second-wave feminists grew up where the politics intertwined within the culture, such as "Kennedy, the Vietnam War, civil rights, and women's rights". In contrast, the third wave sprang from a culture of "punk-rock, hip-hop, 'zines, products, consumerism and the Internet".

What do you understand by the waves of feminism? ›

Three main types of feminism emerged: mainstream/liberal, radical, and cultural. Mainstream feminism focused on institutional reforms, which meant reducing gender discrimination, giving women access to male-dominated spaces, and promoting equality.

What was the second wave of feminism UK? ›

The second wave: Women's Lib (1960s -1980s)

Second wave feminists espoused social, sexual and reproductive liberation, helped along by the commercial availability of the pill in 1961. They lived by Carol Hannish's motto, 'the personal is political,' and advocated for a universal sisterhood.

What were 3 major events in the women's rights movement? ›

Here are just some of the many important events that happened as women gained the right to vote.
  • 1848. First Women's Rights Convention. ...
  • 1849. The First National Women's Rights Convention. ...
  • 1851. “Ain't I a woman?” ...
  • 1861-1865. The Civil War. ...
  • 1866. Formation of the American Equal Rights Association. ...
  • 1867. ...
  • 1868. ...
  • 1870.
10 Nov 2020

Where does the word feminism come from? ›

The word feminism itself was first coined in 1837 by French philosopher, Charles Fourier (as féminisme). It originally referred to “feminine qualities or character,” but that sense isn't used any more.

When was the 2nd wave of feminism? ›

The women's movement of the 1960s and '70s, the so-called “second wave” of feminism, represented a seemingly abrupt break with the tranquil suburban life pictured in American popular culture.

What is first second and third wave feminism? ›

September 21, 2021 Posted by Sethmini. The key difference between first second and third wave feminism is that the first wave feminism was mainly about suffrage, and the second wave feminism was about reproductive rights, whereas the third wave feminism was about female heteronormality.

What did first wave feminism focus on? ›

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.

Who coined the term second wave feminism? ›

The second wave of feminism begins with Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, which came out in 1963.

When was the second wave of feminism UK? ›

The 1960s may have brought the pill and the sexual revolution but as the 1970s dawned equality of the sexes was still a long way off. Women could be paid less than a man for doing the same job, posts were advertised by gender and 'sexual harassment' was an unknown term.

What is the goal of feminism? ›

Feminism is descried as a movement that aims to establish equal rights and legal protection for women. Feminism advocates for women's rights and gender equality.

How many waves of feminism are there? ›

Because of these generational differences, it's common to hear feminism divided into four distinct waves, each roughly corresponding to a different time period.

How was the second-wave of feminism different from the first? ›

Whereas the first wave of feminism was generally propelled by middle class, Western, cisgender, white women, the second phase drew in women of color and developing nations, seeking sisterhood and solidarity, claiming "Women's struggle is class struggle." Feminists spoke of women as a social class and coined phrases ...

What is the difference between 2nd and 3rd wave feminism? ›

Second-wave feminists grew up where the politics intertwined within the culture, such as "Kennedy, the Vietnam War, civil rights, and women's rights". In contrast, the third wave sprang from a culture of "punk-rock, hip-hop, 'zines, products, consumerism and the Internet".

What is one of the ongoing goals of the second-wave of the women's rights movement? ›

Second-wave feminism focused on the areas of life in which women were still treated as second-class citizens. After finally getting the vote, women wanted greater representation in government, as well as legislation that would address gender-based issues.

What do you understand by the waves of feminism? ›

Three main types of feminism emerged: mainstream/liberal, radical, and cultural. Mainstream feminism focused on institutional reforms, which meant reducing gender discrimination, giving women access to male-dominated spaces, and promoting equality.

Who founded feminism? ›

Mary Wollstonecraft is seen by many as a founder of feminism due to her 1792 book titled A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in which she argues for women's education. Charles Fourier, a utopian socialist and French philosopher, is credited with having coined the word "féminisme" in 1837.

What are the 4 types of feminism? ›

Introduction – Feminism: The Basics

There are four types of Feminism – Radical, Marxist, Liberal, and Difference.

How did the feminist movement impact society? ›

The feminist movement has effected change in Western society, including women's suffrage; greater access to education; more equitable pay with men; the right to initiate divorce proceedings; the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy (including access to contraceptives and abortion); and the ...

What is the feminist movement fighting for? ›

Activists fought for gender issues, women's sexual liberation, reproductive rights, job opportunities for women, violence against women, and changes in custody and divorce laws. It is believed the feminist movement gained attention in 1963, when Betty Friedan published her novel, The Feminine Mystique.

When did the feminist movement start? ›

The first attempt to organize a national movement for women's rights occurred in Seneca Falls, New York, in July 1848.

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