Feminism refers to the social economic and political equality of the sexes. It had been established in the world and receives representation by various institutions dedicated to preserve women’s rights and interests. During the emergence of the western history, men were reserved for the public life while women were left to carry out domestic chores. They had no right to ownership of the property, getting education or even take part in the activities of the community. Towards the end of the 19th century some part of the western world required women to cover their heads while in the community. These restrictions went further to an extent that women were not allowed to carry out any business activities without the presence of a man to represent them. In addition to this, women who were married could not control their children unless their husbands permitted them (Dubois, 2013).
These activities were heavily criticized. Betty Friedan alongside other female rights activists joined hands against this discrimination. In 1966 they formed the national organization for women (NOW) which had a goal of overturning the sexist attitude which was prevalent in the American society. The challenged regressive laws, sued business for discriminations and educated American people on the need to have gender equality. They urged women to stand up for their rights of liberty and equality. They wanted the natural rights to be carried out for both sexes. In the United States activists who advocated for feminism, wanted to pertain the issues of equality and freedom to political and social matters. These activities paved way for the emergence of waves that supported women in their liberation. It brought about movements that supported women and fought for their rights. These movements had three waves that advocated for feminism (Hollows, 2013).
The second wave feminism was formerly known as the Women’s Liberation Movement that saw its way to the early parts of the 1980s (Burkett. 2013). The second wave feminism movement mostly advocated for rights such as family, sexuality, reproductive rights legal inequalities just to mention but a few. Female rights activist especially NOW, defined and stumped against sexual aggravation, which had been legally defined as a desecration of the rights of women in 1980. They also redefined abuse within marriage as not a custom but a crime, petitioned for legal alteration, and built up shelters for victims of domestic violence. It also focused on encountering violence with plans that would advocate for laws on marital rape, building up shelters for women who had been involved in rape cases or even battered. They also fought for adjustments on the laws against custody and divorce.
The women's health undertaking resulted in the setting up of new goals to create a female centered health system to replace the existing system which was seen to be insensitive to the needs of women. NOW facilitated for education on female body; began administering classes in churches, homes and day cares and set up clinics for women. As a result of the second wave movement, women also started getting jobs in professional sectors such as the military, media, sports and so on. Although, women had been granted equality in employment, there were still prejudices when it came to pay. Being a major factor which resulted in the second wave movement, women were salvaged from the shackles of modesty; ensuring that they received equal pays with men.
The second wave feminism was faced with a lot of criticism from all parts of the world. Many argued that women were not fit to be given these rights. They also face the challenge of discrimination against minority. The minority people in the community did not receive an audience as compared to the majority (Hewitt 2012). Therefore their advocacy for their rights was quite difficult. The white feminists were more vigilant as they were perceived educated and had more chances of being heard. The other communities for instance the blacks or Hispanic faced challenges of recognition (Hewitt, 2012).
There was also discrimination against the low-income earners during the advocacy for the movement. They did not receive much recognition as people thought they were not influential enough to fight for the rights. Another challenge that emerges is that women were really undermined by their men counterparts due to the fact that men had always been in charge of the most influential positions in the community. Women were isolated from decision making regardless of the efforts to fight for political mandates. This would hinder women from getting their way in most sectors. In addition to this, there was the issue of homosexuality among the women. This act was not acceptable and thus received a lot of criticism (Burkett. 2013).
The second wave feminism advocated for the rights of women's rights in terms of equality. However, on the second wave the feminists pushed too far and this was alarming. The main controversy within the movement was that the wave would have disrupted basic relations between men and women. This would have affected the way they interact in that women wanted to be treated equal to men and this would have affected the way viewed each other. As the saying goes two bulls cannot stay in one shed. This controversy was solved in such a way that women had to drop some of their activities and comply with patriotic work. They had to settle for lower positions for a better existence. Although, their participation was highly encouraged as they would be very conscious of what was happening (Burkett. 2013).
In conclusion, by early 1980s, nearly all the battles to have the rights of women upheld had been conquered. Women were acknowledged as equals to men, it was now illegal to discriminate against women in any social place, including workplace, schools, hospitals and access to abortion and birth control and abortion was safeguarded by the courts. Majority of the women felt they were living in an age of post feminism. My contribution during the wave would have been ensuring that women get the natural rights that they were being denied. I would have been on the front line urging women to claim their rights on issues of liberty. Similarly, I would have ensured that women were treated with respect and given the freedom to carry out activities in the community.
Burkett. E. (2013) Feminism (sociology) :: The suffrage movement -- Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/724633/feminism/216007/The-suffrage movement
Dubois, E. (2013) Feminism Old Wave and New Wave. (N.d.). Retrieved from http://www.uic.edu/orgs/cwluherstory/CWLUArchive/wave.html
Hewitt, N.A. (2012). Feminist Frequencies: Regenerating the Wave Metaphor. Feminist Studies, 38 (3), 658-680.
Hollows, J. (2013). Spare Rib , Second-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Consumption. Feminist Media Studies, 13 (2), 268-287.