Let’s talk about the history of feminism and how it first started.
Feminism (noun). The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
Origin: Late 19th century, from the French “féminisme.” [Oxford Dictionary]
So no, dear friends, I’m sorry. Feminism isn’t a thing just recently made up by the ones you call “feminazis” to try and promote the idea that every man is the devil or to worship abortions.
Feminism had its origin in the French Revolution when universal equality was proclaimed. Still, girls and women were left away from all the civil and political rights that every man and boy were about to get. Why weren’t we considered citizens? Good question!
So that’s when women started to become aware of themselves as an oppressed group, and clubs of revolutionary women started to spread, indicating that they were not going to let men leave them aside from politics.
Here come the first two names every feminist needs to know: Olympia de Gouges and Mary Wollstonecraft.
In 1791, Olympia wrote the “Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen,” and Mary gave us “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” which included the very famous and beautiful quote, “I do not wish women to have power over men but over themselves.”
Entering the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution made women realize that factory owners were not only oppressing them as workers but also as women by men. They worked the same amount of time in jobs just as physically exhausting, yet factory owners preferred women.
Why? Is it because they were better? No! It’s because they could pay them less! Just about $2 more than actual children who were also working the factories! (Yay for this, factory owners!). Flora Tristán said it better: “The woman is the proletarian of the proletariat.”
Even the poorest man had someone to oppress: his wife.
Now comes the time of the suffragettes at the beginning of the 20th century. The suffragettes were a group of women who raised their voices against the fact that women were not allowed to vote because it was not clear if women were people yet (I mean, what reasoning could be behind us not voting?). They were most important in the UK, and they tied up with the abolitionist fight in the US. They were willing to break the law, and some of them even risked and lost their lives so that today, we have the right to vote in every election. After Saudi Arabia allowed women to vote in 2015, there’s only one country left in the world were women can’t vote: the Vatican City.
We have to wait until 1949 for Simone de Beauvoir to publish “The Second Sex,” where she analyzes women’s oppression, shortly after becoming a fundamental piece to understand history of contemporary feminism.
Simone gave us quotes as important for gender role awareness. For example, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” She also spoke on the realization on how is romantic love one of the key’s to women’s oppression: “On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself — on that day — love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.”
It’s in 1970, with Kate Millet and her “Sexual Politics,” that the slogan “The personal is political” became famous. This feminism current, named Radical Feminism, is not another way of saying “feminazi” (which, by the way, means you’re comparing a person who fights for equal rights to a person who aims to exterminate all Jews! Hooray!). Wikipedia said it best: “Radical feminism is a perspective within feminism that calls for a radical reordering of society in which male supremacy is eliminated in all social and economic contexts. Radical feminists seek to abolish patriarchy by challenging existing social norms and institutions, rather than through a purely political process. This includes challenging the notion of traditional gender roles, opposing the sexual objectification of women, and raising public awareness about such issues as rape and violence against women.”
So, to summarize, feminism has three main waves. The first one started in the nineteenth century, and its goal was to open up new chances for women (focusing on suffrage). The second wave began in the 1960s and focused on sexuality and reproductive rights. The third one strives to end with the “universal womanhood” and the body and gender normativity and to work towards women empowerment.
This whole trip through history comes to prove WE’VE COME A LONG WAY (cheeeeers)… but we’ve still got lots of things to do (uuuuuuh).
That is a short recap of the history of feminism. Keep working, girls. We will get there together.