How Far Have We Come in Feminism Today? Are We Really Close To Equality?

It’s Hard To Say When The Feminist Movement Truly Began

There are so many questions we can ask today of both ourselves as women and of the public as to how far we have come in our progress in liberation within the world where we have so long been considered a secondary or submissive partner or class among the males who commonly rule our ever-evolving world. For hundreds, even thousands of years now many women have been bringing their voice and words to the forefront to speak their minds of the independence and equality to which they are not only allowed but which they much deserve as an equal half of the human race. Now, feminism may not be recognized historically until “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” by Mary Wollstonecraft in 1792 or the Seneca Falls Conference in July 1848 organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. These two major points in history and these three women voiced their opinions openly toward women’s rights in a time when it was clearly not an open topic for discussion in the public forum. These women were definitely originators and leaders for other women who were thinking the same things during a time when they were held back from equality in their homes and marriages, from getting higher education, from speaking in public, from voting in any elections, or from any basic decision making rights or higher employment at all.

It Wasn’t Just About Gaining The Vote…

During that first wave of feminism and the women’s movement, American women were able to gain critical advancements in their liberation and equal rights within our world, while also providing a standard of hope for women around the world still living under oppression and even mutilation. After 70 years of activation and movement women were finally granted the vote across the board equally in 1928 in the United States, moving the women’s rights movement and feminism onto a whole new playing field. So, it’s hard to say exactly when feminism moved into its second wave exactly, but there were some changes in the ideologies and goals of the women looking for changes and forward movement going into the 1940’s and 50’s. As many men left the factories and industry and went overseas for the second world war and Korea, women entered the workforce in much greater numbers and were forced to take a greater stand for things like equal pay for equal work, a place within the labor unions that would protect not only their pay but their benefits and long-term positions as well as issues like legal protection for minimum wage nation-wide among other things. While so many men were gone during a great amount of time of two decades many women took on both roles of their homes, as both bread winner and caregiver, something they had rarely been required to do before, at least not in middle class white America.

And Into The Second Wave Women Gained More Strength

With this sense of both in-home and external independence instilled in many American women there was a much more activist instinct to be taken into the 1960’s, I guess many could say militant as the women of the feminist movement marched alongside those of other social, cultural and political movements that poured through the streets for decades. Now, the second wave of feminism was definitely much more radical and increasingly critical of traditions they felt held them down in every stage of their lives. This second feminist wave is often defined by lesbianism, radicalism, eco-feminism, raising the fight for equal pay for equal work along with equality in the workplace, reproductive rights, fights for legal protection against sexual and domestic violence as well as violence against women around the world. This wave became an outright social and cultural battle that was taken very public among the media during the time of the Vietnam War and Civil Rights battles and many very political issues around the nation. Women rose to their own feet and created their own battle with a “Sisterhood” prepared to fight against men if need be for the protection of themselves and the earning of their much needed rights within a country from which they felt long-rejected. Slightly different to the first wave of the women’s movement when those people, a first conference of both men and women who were willing to stand side-by-side with abolitionists, this second wave of feminists were more in competition with Civil Rights activists for the attention of the media for their issues and rights to make it to the forefront of national policy. These feminists felt a need to separate themselves from everyone and make sure that their own voice and movement and activity was simply theirs to be heard alone in the wind with the issues of women’s rights to be only theirs.

So The Definition of ‘Feminist’ Becomes More Powerful As Time Passes

With those hardcore, postmodern actions and definitions of the word and movement “feminism” through the 80’s there was definitely left behind a sort of backlash for the women of today who still have plenty of issues to conquer for ourselves. And I say “ourselves” because as an independent woman I do consider myself a feminist within today’s third wave and our new culture and technology as it has evolved from the 1990’s into the present. Women today are still left with many issues and concerns in the world to face including equalities in the workplace while we still on average only receive 77% of the pay for the same work of a male employee. Although it is a wonderful fact that we have come so far today that many women in this world have moved into leadership positions in both corporate and political fields, a majority of industries and companies are still held back by patriarchal standards and biases and leave so many women looking up underneath the glass ceiling.

Into The Third Wave There Is Progression

This third wave of feminism and the women’s movement is a sort of vague existence within today’s technology, with the definition and ideology of the word still living under the overwhelming shadow left behind from the militant, activist women of the 60’s and 70’s. It is understandable that those women had other groups to compete with in order to get their message out to the public and the media, but the impression left behind has been very negative in some respects to the women of future decades. Therefore many women today, especially famous personalities in the light of the media including actresses and musicians, do not want to identify themselves as feminists because of the image left behind by the second wave considering the connotations of lesbianism and female power, all including a certain level of hatred or separation from men indicated with the second wave of feminism.