Why are feminist movements categorized as waves? Certainly there have always been individual female innovators and small groups that have accomplished great progressive acts. But the wave signifies a momentous involvement by the feminist population. And just as a wave collects sand and particles, the feminist wave picks up and includes multiple issues important to women in each particular time period.
There is an easily identifiable first wave of feminism during the late 1800s and early 1900s, when women joined the abolitionist movement and suffragists rallied for women’s right to vote. Although women before this time were making strides to become a “first” woman in many areas such as literature, the first wave is recognized as the first large-scale organized movement.
The second wave occurred during the 1960s and 1970s, and was intricately intertwined with the civil rights movement. This time in history is when women’s liberation was becoming more accessible as women were increasing their numbers in the work force and at colleges. Gendered inequalities and pro-choice/pro-life issues were brought to the attention of mainstream America.
Some feminists are hesitant to embrace a distinct and unique third wave of feminism.
Let’s face it. It is easy to remain in the safe harbor of familiarity. But change has come and women today face unique topics relevant to this modern environment.
Technological advancements in recent decades have made theworld theoretically smaller. This worldwide unity has created an all-inclusive sisterhood for women. Many women’s issues that were formerly more geographically separated, such as the practice of female genital cutting and the international sex/slave trade, are now able to be addressed by an international audience of women.
The ability to network internationally allows female activists to engage in employment opportunities, research and academic achievements across oceans and continents.
Women are now on the brink of outnumbering men in the work force, and females are becoming more prominent in political positions. The sheer magnitude of this third wave may be more appropriately categorized as a tsunami. Join the fun and catch the wave.
Dianne McDonald is a working mother who lives in Marshfield with her husband and five kids.