What is the Feminist thinking and what are the different phases of the feminist thinking?

 What is the Feminist thinking and what are the different phases of the feminist thinking?



Feminism is fundamentally the idea that women should have complete social, economic, and political equality. Western traditions that limited women’s rights essentially gave rise to feminism, yet feminist ideas have global applications and variances. Women were restricted to domestic life for the most of Western history, while males were expected to participate in the public arena. Women were prohibited from owning property, going to school, and taking part in public life throughout medieval Europe. In France at the turn of the 20th century, they were still required to cover their heads in public, and in some regions of Germany, a husband could still legally sell his wife.

In most of Europe and the United States, women were still unable to vote or occupy elective office as late as the early 20th century. Without a male representative—a husband, father, brother, or even a son—women were unable to conduct business. Married women were unable to manage their own children without their husbands’ consent. Women were also denied access to education and excluded from the majority of occupations. Such limitations on women still exist in various regions of the world.

Phases of feminist thinking

One of the first movements in human history is feminism. There is no single definition of feminism, but it essentially means putting an end to gender prejudice and promoting gender equality. There are various forms of feminism within this objective. Feminism can be described in terms of “waves” as opposed to describing each one separately.

The wave metaphor is frequently used to explain the movements of feminism, however it has certain drawbacks. It may oversimplify a complex history of beliefs, principles, and individuals who frequently disagree with one another. With this simplification, one would assume that the history of feminism follows a simple progression. There are numerous little movements that interact and build upon one another. Having said that, the wave metaphor is a helpful place to start. The story is not fully told, but it is outlined.

The First Wave (1848 to 1920)

The first wave in the late 19th century was the first genuine political movement in the Western world, not the first manifestation of feminist ideals. Mary Wollstonecraft’s groundbreaking Vindication of the Rights of Woman was published in 1792. Around 200 ladies gathered in a chapel in 1848. They created 12 resolutions requesting particular rights, like the right to vote. Early feminists also made reproductive rights a key concern. Congress eventually ratified the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote, in 1920 as a result of years of feminist campaigning. Nearly 30 years had passed since New Zealand became the first nation to grant women the right to vote.

The main objective of first-wave feminism was to have society acknowledge that women are people, not objects. First-wave feminism’s founders were abolitionists, but their main concern was the rights of white women. For years to come, feminism would be haunted by this exclusion.

The Second Wave (1963 to the 1980s)

The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of second-wave feminism. It questioned what women’s place in society ought to be and built on first-wave feminism. Activists concentrated on the structures that held back women, drawing inspiration from the Civil Rights movement and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations. This required a closer examination of the causes of women’s oppression. Traditional roles for men and women in the home were questioned. More groundwork was done for queer theory. The Equal Pay Act of 1963, Roe v. Wade in 1973, and other Supreme Court rulings were among the significant successes of this period.

Feminism split into three main subgroups: mainstream/liberal, radical, and cultural. The primary goals of mainstream feminism were institutional reforms, which included eradicating gender inequality and providing women access to areas traditionally controlled by males. Radical feminism argued that because society is intrinsically patriarchal, only a complete transformation can lead to liberty. It contested the notion that males and females are essentially the same. Similar thinking was held by cultural feminism, which asserted that women possess a “female essence” that is unique from men.

The Third Wave (1991 onwards)

Going into the 1990s, women had more authority and rights as a result of second-wave feminism’s institutional successes. The ability to consider other facets of their identity allowed them to embrace independence and revolt. Reclaiming was the theme of the time. The Guerilla Girls, riot grrls, and Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues are significant cultural touchstones. Many women were more open in how they spoke, behaved, and dressed about their sexuality. Second-wave feminists, many of whom had opposed traditional femininity, occasionally found this perplexing. There were several ideas and small movements at this time, but there was only one “rule”: there weren’t any rules. A woman should make her own life decisions.

Third-wave feminism also developed a stronger racial consciousness. “Intersectionality” was first used in 1989 by gender and critical-race researcher Kimberle Crenshaw. The phrase describes how many forms of oppression, such as those based on race and gender, interact with one another. The Third wave of feminism gave more attention to racial inequities within gender, which were mainly disregarded or neglected by mainstream first and second waves. The term “third-wave feminism” was first used in 1992 by Rebecca Walker, a Black bisexual woman of 23 years old. It became increasingly simpler to hear thoughts and ideas from feminists all over the world as the internet became more widely used. Feminism gained momentum.

The Fourth Wave (present day)

Since the fourth wave is more about the movement’s continuous expansion than it is about a transformation, some individuals believe that we are still in the third wave of feminism. However, many believe we’re in the midst of a new wave as a result of the MeToo movement and a revival of assaults on women’s rights. The movement has entered the digital era thanks to social media activism. It expands on the third wave’s focus on inclusivity and raises difficult issues of what exactly empowerment, equality, and freedom imply.

Intersectionality remains a concern for fourth-wave feminism. Critics of “white feminism,” which downplays the particular problems of women of colour, bring to light the suppression of non-white feminists and their views. The topic of trans rights is also a hot one. Trans women and other people who reject the gender binary have frequently found feminism to be an unwelcoming and hostile environment. Many members of the fourth wave of feminism are fighting this marginalisation. The fourth wave is complex, just like every wave that came before it (and every wave that comes after it). It involves a variety of movements that interact with one another and compliment one another. This strain cannot be avoided. Even if some forms of feminism might be detrimental, feminism is inclusive and more successful when a range of views are represented.


Radicals, progressives, liberals, and centrists have all played important roles in the history of feminism. It is chock-full of offshoot movements and defensive countermovements. That is a key component of what it is to be both an intellectual tradition and a social movement, and feminism is currently doing both with a beautiful and amazing vibrancy. Feminists should acknowledge the tremendous work that each wave has contributed to the movement and get ready to continue doing more work rather than gorging on their own.





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