After selling her home, Emmeline Pankhurst, pictured in New York City in 1913, travelled constantly, giving speeches throughout Britain and the United States

Feminism is a social and political movement. Feminism is about changing the way that people see male and female rights (mainly female), and campaigning for equal ones. Somebody who follows feminism is called a feminist.

Feminism began in the 18th century with the Enlightenment. The controversy over the differences between the genders led to the discussion of equality.

History of feminism

Mary Wollstonecraft

The word "feminism" comes from the French word "féminisme". This medical term was used to describe masculine women or men with feminized traits. When its use became popular in the United States of America, it was used to refer to groups of women who "asserted the uniqueness of women, the mystical experience of motherhood and women's special purity [1]". [2]

General history

Feminism started with the idea that human rights should be given to women. This idea was put forward by some philosophers in the 18th and 19th centuries such as Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill. Later feminists in the early 20th century also said that women should be allowed to vote in a democracy. Many women felt very strongly that they should be allowed to vote and there were many protests. These women were called Suffragettes. This is because they were fighting for Universal suffrage which means everybody is able to vote. The Suffragettes staged many protests for their rights. Some women even committed suicide to show how wrong it was that they could not take part in politics. After women received the vote, feminism worked to make all of society more equal for women.

Not all female politicians have been welcomed by feminists, with Margaret Thatcher, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann being clear examples.

Feminism is generally acknowledged to have "waves" as different time periods focused on different aspects of feminism, often working off the ideas presented by the wave before.

First wave (approx. 1830s – early 1900s) 

In technical terms, the first wave of feminism could be dated earlier to include pre-nineteenth century women's rights movements. In particular, the French Revolution of 1789 is often attributed as the beginning of the first demands for women's rights. This went on to inspire Mary Wollstonecraft, whose book A Vindication of the Rights of Women was published in 1792. It is widely recognized as one of the earliest significant works of feminist literacy. However, first wave feminism is usually dated as occurring between the mid to late nineteenth century and early 1900's. During the first wave, women began to realize that they must first gain political power before they could bring about social change. This wave focused on gaining the right to vote (universal suffrage). Later, the focus shifted to include sexual, economic, and reproductive concerns. [3]

During the inter-war years, the feminist movement declined. Anti-feminism was on the rise, focusing on the issue of women and work. Women were being 'persuaded' to return to their traditional roles in the home and give up their war jobs. There were also issues within the organized ranks of feminism itself. The ideologies and priorities of certain groups were changing. Some felt that equality with men had been reached and shifted their focus onto the needs of women as women, such as the subjects of birth control, family allowance, and protective legislature. This caused the split into the dominant groups of equality feminism and new feminism. New feminists focused on the role of traditional women in the home and as mothers. Equality feminists encouraged women to look beyond the home and fought for equality with men in every aspect of life. Equality feminists opposed protective legislature, such as maturity leave, purely on principle.

The topic of protective legislature eventually led to the divide of first wave feminism. Middle-class feminists tended to oppose protective legislature, whereas working class feminists largely supported it. This split between the previously dominant equality feminism and the rising new feminism marks the end of the first wave of feminism. [2]

Second wave (1960s-1980s)

Second wave feminism is marked by the rise of political concerns. Where the first wave of feminism dealt with women in the workforce, as well as the right to own property and vote, the second wave of feminism lobbied for 'liberation' from a patriarchal society. The key to second wave feminism was the struggle over the female body itself - how it was represented and the significance attached to the reality of biological differences.

The famous "One is not born, but rather becomes a woman" declaration made by Simone de Beauvoir led to new thinking on the way gender was perceived as a construction, rather than something inherent.

Second wave feminism was also characterized by the problematization of equality. Questions arose about what gaining equality would achieve, due to the societal roles men and women were still expected to fill. This led to the call for extreme change in order to revolutionize the very fabric of a patriarchal society. This was the beginning of the radical, Marxist, and socialist feminist groupings. It also marked a shift in the politics of liberal feminism, focusing more on 'sexual politics', such as the family, abortion, rape, domestic violence, and sexuality. [2]

Third wave (1990s – present)

Third wave feminism is generally described as the feminism of a younger generation who acknowledge both the effect and the limitations of the ideologies presented by second wave feminism. This new generation argues that the conditions which prompted second wave feminism no longer exist and therefore, feminism needs a revamping in order to be applicable to modern day. It is also argues that second wave feminism catered too much to a small group of people, namely white, middle-class, heterosexual women.

Third wave feminists largely seem to have grown up with feminism as a strong concept in society, thus influencing them from a young age. It is taught in schools and is also prominent in the media.

Third wave feminists largely focus on issues surrounding individual self-expression. This includes how identity is formed and communicated through things such as appearance, sexuality, and intersectionality. Third wave feminism was also created in order to include a larger grouping of people, recognizing women from different cultural backgrounds, religions, sexualities, ethnicities, and abilities to name a few. [2]

Fourth wave (approx. 2008 – present)

Some say that a fourth wave of feminism is already upon us, prompted by the increase in internet culture. This wave is similar to the third wave but is distinguished by more advanced technology and broader ideas of equality. This wave stands more in solidarity with other social justice movements.

Fourth wave feminism uses the internet and its "call-out" culture to challenge misogyny and sexism in popular media such as television, literature, advertising, etc. This has caused companies to change how they market to women in order to avoid being "called out".

Another part of fourth wave feminism is the existence of people who reject the word feminism because of "assumptions of gender binary and exclusionary subtext: 'For women only' [4]". [5]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Feminisme
Alemannisch: Feminismus
العربية: نسوية
aragonés: Feminismo
asturianu: Feminismu
azərbaycanca: Feminizm
تۆرکجه: فمینیزم
বাংলা: নারীবাদ
Bân-lâm-gú: Lú-sèng-chú-gī
башҡортса: Феминизм
беларуская: Фемінізм
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Фэмінізм
भोजपुरी: नारीवाद
български: Феминизъм
Boarisch: Feminismus
bosanski: Feminizam
brezhoneg: Gwregelouriezh
буряад: Феминизм
català: Feminisme
čeština: Feminismus
dansk: Feminisme
Deutsch: Feminismus
eesti: Feminism
Ελληνικά: Φεμινισμός
English: Feminism
español: Feminismo
Esperanto: Feminismo
estremeñu: Feminismu
euskara: Feminismo
فارسی: فمینیسم
Fiji Hindi: Feminism
français: Féminisme
Frysk: Feminisme
Gaeilge: Feimineachas
galego: Feminismo
گیلکی: فمنيسم
한국어: 여성주의
Հայերեն: Ֆեմինիզմ
हिन्दी: नारीवाद
hrvatski: Feminizam
Ilokano: Peminismo
Bahasa Indonesia: Feminisme
interlingua: Feminismo
Interlingue: Feminisme
íslenska: Femínismi
italiano: Femminismo
עברית: פמיניזם
ქართული: ფემინიზმი
қазақша: Феминизм
Kiswahili: Ufeministi
Kurdî: Femînîzm
Latina: Feminismus
latviešu: Feminisms
lietuvių: Feminizmas
Limburgs: Feminisme
magyar: Feminizmus
मैथिली: नारीवाद
македонски: Феминизам
مازِرونی: فیمینیسم
Bahasa Melayu: Feminisme
Mirandés: Femenismo
မြန်မာဘာသာ: အမျိုးသမီးဝါဒ
Nederlands: Feminisme
नेपाली: नारीवाद
नेपाल भाषा: मिसावाद
нохчийн: Феминизм
norsk: Feminisme
norsk nynorsk: Feminisme
Novial: Feminisme
occitan: Feminisme
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ନାରୀବାଦ
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਨਾਰੀਵਾਦ
پنجابی: فیمینزم
پښتو: فیمینزم
Patois: Feminizim
Piemontèis: Feminism
polski: Feminizm
português: Feminismo
română: Feminism
русиньскый: Фемінізм
русский: Феминизм
саха тыла: Феминизм
Scots: Feminism
shqip: Feminizmi
sicilianu: Fimminismu
slovenčina: Feminizmus (hnutie)
slovenščina: Feminizem
کوردی: فێمینیزم
српски / srpski: Феминизам
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Feminizam
suomi: Feminismi
svenska: Feminism
Tagalog: Peminismo
татарча/tatarça: Феминизм
తెలుగు: స్త్రీవాదం
Türkçe: Feminizm
українська: Фемінізм
اردو: نسائیت
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: فېمىنىزم
Võro: Feminism
walon: Feminisse
Winaray: Feminismo
吴语: 女权主义
ייִדיש: פעמיניזם
粵語: 女性主義
Zazaki: Feminizm
žemaitėška: Femėnėzmos
中文: 女性主義