Waves of Feminism: Generational differences
The feminist movement consists of three waves of activism. The primary concern of first wave feminists (1848 to the mid-1920s) was women’s suffrage (as you probably know, the Kiwi gals were pretty impressive on this front). The 1960s marked a new, more controversial phase of feminism. Secondwave feminists (1960s to early 1980s) built feminist organizations and fought for legislative changes regarding the family, sexual relations, reproduction, employment and education. Many of the opportunities we enjoy today (e.g., sport, education, work- force, paid maternity leave) were because of the struggles of this generation of women. Third-wave feminism emerged in the early 1990s and it is an attempt by young women to redefine feminism as relevant for girls and young women today.
Third-wave feminism is a product of the contradiction between ongoing sexism and greater opportunities for women. “We are the daughters of privilege,” says Joan Morgan, a black feminist speaking on behalf of the younger generation, and “we walk through the world with a sense of entitlement that women of our mothers’ generation could not begin to fathom”. Although “sexism may be a very real part of my life…so is the unwavering belief that there is no dream I can’t pursue and achieve simply because ‘I’m a woman’”. In contrast to second-wave feminists who argue that women need to work collectively to change the maleness of society, the focus of third-wave feminists is typically individual action, not collective activism, and they tend to be more playful in their politics. The body is often an important site for political statement. Many young women today express feminist ideas but resist the feminist label, which has lead the media to refer us as the ‘I’m not a feminist but…’ generation.