The change of feminism in the 21st century occurred due to the long struggle that occurred in history by women for their rights. In order to know the effect of feminism in the 21st century one should know its history beginning with the definition. Feminism is the fight for women's right either socially, economically and politically. The fight began in the 19th century in countries such as France, USA, England and later the rest of the world. According to history, the fight for women's right is divided into four waves. The first wave was in the 19th century where women were fighting for education rights. The second wave was in the 20th century where women were fighting for equality in both law and culture. The third wave was in the mid 20th century and the fourth wave was in the 21st century where women continued to fight for equality in either social, political and economical.
The first wave of feminism began in the 19th century and continued until the beginning of the 20th century. In the first wave the women were fighting so that they can be educated and wanted to be treated with respect. In the US, the women fought for the abolition of slavery and women's rights. Among the first women who defended women's rights was Christine de Pizan in the 1400s. She wrote books where it stated that women should be appreciated and respected in the society. Margaret Cavendish who was a duchess of Newcastle a poet of the 17th century was deeply upset about how women were given inferior jobs. During the French revolution, Mary Wollstonecraft was inspired to write a book that was to fight for women's rights (Head 2010). In this book, she called for women to be educated and treated in a civilized manner that will make them more mature and strong.. In Russia 1718 women, discrimination was abolished. While in US, the women who were married are allowed to own their own property. In 1772, the Russian government also abolished forced marriages
The second wave of feminism began in 1960 until the 1980s where the movement was observed more in the USA and thus spread throughout the world. The movement was about women's right to have good health, jobs, childcare, education, abortion and have equal rights socially and culturally. The feminine mystique that was written and published by Betty Friedman talked about how women were being made into homemakers while they are well educated thus, they can work. Due to Betty’s expose it led to the formation of women's liberation that caused them to write more inspiring books about change for women in areas such as political and sexually.
The first women's liberation organization was founded in 1966 and was called NOW or the National organization for Women. In the 20th century, the first wave for fighting for lesbian rights began in 1970. This was because they felt like other movements were sidelining them because the gay men were already having rights (Wooten 2012). In Canada, women were fighting to be able to participate in elections without any restriction. In 1975, women in Sweden South Africa and USA they were able to have abortions if necessary. In 1980, Swedish government made it possible by having laws that condemn sexual discrimination.
The third wave of feminism was mainly for enhancing and increasing more effects of the second wave. This wave began early in the 20th century especially 1990. This movement concentrated in sexual harassment of women in the work place. The case of Clarence Thomas and Anita hill brought about debates among women on how to handle this case of harassment (Hughes 2004). Thomas could be found not guilty and thus brought outrage among women. The women who were involved in the third wave were Gloria Anzaldua, Audre Lorded and Luisa Accati. In 1991, both Wales and England abolished rape in the marital home.
The fourth wave was used in the 21st century that looked at issues that the third wave was not able to accomplish. This wave focused on political, social and economical aspects where there were some loopholes. Countries such as Great Britain perfected the discrimination of sex act while in New Zealand the women in the armed forces their rights was increased (Head 2010).
Impact of feminism in the 21st century
Feminism in the 21st century has improved compared to the last hundred years where women were oppressed economic, social and political. This has made many government laws to have rules that indicate the need for women to participate in political rallies and socially. This change has also been experienced in the Islamic countries where they are allowed to vote and educate. Although many countries have abolished slavery, this has not stopped some people to engage in sex slavery among girls. This has also led to prostitution because the girls have no way out of that lifestyle (William 2011). Although there are people who are doing prostitution in order to get income so that they can survive this tough economy.
The women in this century should be able to oppose dictatorship that suppresses human rights without fear. Years back women fought for the right to work, this has enabled many women to have jobs in fields such as doctors, lawyers, engineers and architects. This was a major accomplishment for feminism movement but they get a lot of harassment in the workplace. The traditional ways of women being the mothers of the house will never change but the only difference is that are doing double work of the homemaker and as a working mother. This will cause them to have not enough time for their families thus will be blamed for any mistake that works.
In conclusion, feminism movements began due to the oppression women were being subjected to by men. They fought for equal rights in areas such as political, economical and social. This has made women over the years to come up and speak out their outrage through books, poems and art. This led to a movement throughout the world. Through the movement women were able to stand for the presidency and won. The first woman president was in Argentina elected in 1974 her name was Isabel Martinez Peron. In the 21st century the list of women who are presidents has increased tremendously and they are Chandrika Kumaratunga of Sri Lanka, Mary Mcaleese of Ireland, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia who is currently still in office.
Wooten, K. (2012). Make Your Own History: Documenting Feminist and Queer Activism in the 21st Century. Seattle: Lyz Bly.
Head, T. (2010). Feminism in the United States. about.com .
William, Z. (2011). Feminism in the 21st century. The guardian .
Hughes, P. C. (2004). Feminism in The 21st Century. the washington post , b07.