Politics in Minutes (2016)

Second- and third-wave feminism

The history of feminism is often described as a series of waves. The first wave covered the period 1850–1920 with campaigns for legal and political rights, including the vote. Initially known as the Women’s Liberation Movement, the second wave emerged in the 1960s, influenced by books such as Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. Second-wave feminists, organizing around a view that the personal is political, broadened political concerns to reflect women’s lived experiences. They sought to liberate women from conventional and discriminatory roles within marriage, the family and work, and put issues such as reproductive rights and control over their own bodies onto the political agenda. Campaigns focused on healthcare, abortion, rape, domestic violence, pornography and abuse. In the 1980s there was a backlash against feminism, but from the 1990s a new, so-called third wave emerged. Including young women and women of colour, third-wave feminists have radically challenged heterosexuality and conventional gender roles.