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waves of feminism

Watch these for a bite sized guide to the history of modern Western feminism.

Susie Anderson

2018 marks the hundredth anniversary of British Women’s Suffrage. To honour this significant milestone of the feminist movement, All About Women looks back at the history of feminism from suffragettes to social media. Where did feminism begin? Where has it been? And where does it still need to go?


The First Wave

In the late 1800s women began to mobilise around concerns they’d had for years. The right to hold property. To keep their money. The right to vote. Women like Mary Wollstonecraft, Catherine Spence, Vida Goldstein and Sojourner Truth were early trailblazers, with their individual contributions foreshadowing the worldwide suffragette movements that soon followed. 


the second wave

After securing the vote, there was still work to be done. With writers Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir carving a path for female expression in the twentieth century, new forms of feminism evolved with Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer and Kate Millet at the helm. Through the sixties and seventies the Women’s Liberation movement gathered speed, women marching in their thousands. The call to arms this time? Equal pay and sexual freedom. 


The Third Wave

Enter the 1990s. Girl power and riot grrl take the stage. But the feminist movement needed to expand, with emphasis on identity, cultural representation and power. Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality and Rebecca Walker declares herself ‘third wave’. Theorists Luce Irigaray and Judith Butler called for gender norms to left by the wayside. Feminism spoke to more people than ever before.

That’s where we’ve been. So what’s next? Is there a fourth wave?


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