Hello readers, this is an introduction into a series of posts on Feminism; its course, changes in aims, objectives and achievements over the years. Please be kind enough to share your views and participate actively.
Feminism as defined by Hawkesworth, is a range of political movements, ideologies and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish and achieve political, economic and social equality of the sexes. This means that feminism aims to provide equal opportunities for women as that of men, in these spheres of life, Hence, most Western Feminist historians argue that all movements working to obtain women’s right should be considered a feminist movement, whether or not they did apply the tittle to themselves.
This movement has prevailed through the centuries having different goals according to the different historical movement, culture and country. Its course has been divided into three waves; each one dealing with a different aspect.
The first wave was aimed at promoting women’s right to vote. It was labelled the women’s suffrage movement. This wave’s aim was accepted by different countries at different times. It was made official in Nigeria in 1958.
The second wave began in the 1960’s. it fought for legal and social equality. It was all about the Ideas and actions of women’s liberation movement. In this wave the origin of Patriarchy was argued by several theories; The Marxist theory implied that it arose from the primitive division of labor in which women took care of the home while men provided food through agriculture, this agricultural sector held by men later became monetized and valued without the realm of the home which the women handled. This demonetization and devaluation as implied by this theory shaped the perception and power of men and women. Disputing the Marxist theory, Gerda Lerner argued that patriarchy existed before the development of a class-based society and the concept of private property. In His book, He talked about Aristotle who believed that men were perfect and women, whom he thought had colder blood, were imperfect. Hence implying that every imperfection in the world must be caused by a woman as perfect men cannot beget imperfection. This school of thought therefore aimed at alienating women from their bodies.
The third wave Feminists challenged the second wave’s defining factor of femininity which to them overemphasized the experiences of upper and middle-class white women. They had debates about consideration of race related subjectivity among feminists and whether there were important psychological differences between the sexes which should be taken into consideration while some opposed.
The fourth wave feminism is associated with the use of social media. Its focus is justice for women and opposition to sexual harassment and violence against women. It is technology defined and is characterized by the use of Facebook, twitter and other social media applications to challenge misogyny and further gender equality.
Achievements of feminism includes: providing rights for women to vote and be voted for, to hold public offices, work and earn wages, to open properties and be educated, to enter contracts, have equal rights within marriage and also have maternity leave. Other aims are: legalizing abortions and social integration and to protect women from rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence. Bell Hooks argued the inclusion of men’s liberation within feminist’s aims as it is believed that men are also harmed by traditional gender roles.
To be continued next week…..