To what extent of the goals of second-wave feminism been achieved? In this essay we will be talking about the aims and goals of the historic movement of the second-wave feminist movement and whether it achieved its goal and purpose with equality for women in the 20th century and also looking at today the 21st century. So, what was the second-wave feminism movement? Whereas the first-wave feminism mainly on suffrage and overturning legal obstacles to gender equality I.
e. voting rights and property rights, the second wave focused more on a range of issues like sexuality, family the workplace, reproductive rights, inequalities, and official legal rights. The idea is how revolutionary should feminism be, how did and when did sex and gender become essential objects of feminism rather than that which was aimed to be overthrown. Imelda Wheleham mentions in her book “All feminist positions are founded upon the belief that woman suffer from systematic social injustice because of their sex.” Modern feminist thought from the second wave to post-feminism1. The idea of the movement is that a feeling of injustice is been targeted by women in society.
Womens movement largely based and started in the united states of America, seeking equal rights and opportunities for women in their economic activities, their personal lives and politics. This is recognised as the “second wave” of the larger feminist movement. While the first in the 19th and early 20th focused on women’s legal rights such as the right to vote. The second wave which started during the period of the 1960s and 70s had touched in every area of a women’s experience including family life, sexuality and in the workplace.
“the influence of second-wave feminism in the area of labour economics and on the discipline of economics itself.” The legacy of second wave feminism in American politics2. What Conrad argues is that the second wave brought the awareness to gender based pay. After the second world war, the lives of women in developed countries changed dramatically, household technology eased the burdens of the idea of homemaking, life expectances had increased dramatically, and the growth of the growth sector had allowed for thousands of job opportunities.
Women were not dependent on physical strength despite these social economic changes after the war, cultural attitudes concerning women in the work place and legal procedures still was an issue in terms of sexual inequalities. A hint of desire and change started in 1949 a book that was published called the second sex,3 by Simone de Beauvoir. She raised feminist consciousness by stressing that liberation for women was liberation for men too. The first public sign that change was a must came with women’s reaction to the publication of Betty Frieden’s book the feminine mystique4. She spoke of the problem, that is “lay buried, unspoken” she went on to say in the mind of the suburban house wife “utter boredom and lack of fulfilment.” Women who had been told that they had it all I.e. nice houses, high standard of living, children she claims where deadened by domesticity.
She believed that women were too socially conditioned to recognise their own desperation. the feminine Mustique was a massive best seller, it had encouraged women to rise up against the problem. What were the goals of the 1960s and 70s feminism? And what did women want? Feminism had changed many women’s lives and created new worlds of possibility for education, employment and working women. This was all for equal opportunity and control over pair lives. One of the goals was abortion rights on demand.
The issue with “abortion on demand” is often misunderstood but also important. Leaders of the women’s liberation movement had strong views that women should have the right and responsibility for safe access to legal abortion, making the choice for her reproductive status without interference by the state. Many would argue being pro-life would mean that they hold views that the baby is still living even before the actions of birth.
Feminists helped spark debate over assumptions embedded in our language that reflect the assumption of a male- dominated patriarchal society. Language was something which was see centred around males. Assuming that humanity was male and women were exceptions. Suggestion was to use neutral pronouns. many women went to college and worked professionally in the early 20th century, but during the mid 20th century myth of the middle class suburban house wife downplayed importance of women’s education. Feminists understood that girls and women must be encouraged to seek an education for their future, and not just something to fall back on, if they were to become or even be seen as “fully” equal. And within education, access by women to all programs, including sports programs. Equality legislation feminists worked for the equal rights amendment and also the equal pay act, the addition of sex discrimination to the civil rights act and also the other laws that that would guarantee equality feminists advocated for a variety of laws and interpretations of the existing laws to remove impediments to women’s professional and economic achievements or a full exercise of citizenship rights.
Feminist had questioned the long lay tradition of “protective legislation” for women which often ended up side-lining women from being hired or promoted or treated fairly. “After the second world war, some writers began to question how women in society were seen and the role they had played, especially as the war had shown women had made valuable contributions.”5 Simone de Beauvoir saw how society viewed women and the role which they played, in her book she writes “one is not born, but rather becomes, a women”. The second sex6.
This quote shows how society has adapted the idea of what a woman should do and act, where gender roles are learned and forced upon women. “World war two showed that women could break out of their gender roles as was needed.” Why should women’s roles that saw them as secondary to men in the work place and home be questioned or considered when this was clearly not the case during the war. After a period of time, the movement gained greater traction through more authors in the 1960s. Betty Frieden was perhaps one of the most influential writers during this time.
After conducting a survey of her class mates, Frieden noticed that a lot of her class mates were unhappy with their marriages where their lives revolved around childcare and house work. This promoted her to write her book the feminine mystique in 1963. Where she questioned white middle class ideals of family life and motherhood, particularly as domestic life had stifled women and their home life, debunking the ideals of the 1950s that often showed a happy family with men at work and women focused on housework. her book fundamentally questioned if the 1950s ideals were in the best interest of women or not. Although not all feminists called for collective mothering but went on to urge “seizing the means of reproduction” said Shulamite firestone who was the writer of The Dialectic of Sex7. it was shown clearly that women should not have the only responsibility to bare children. Roles also regarding house work, research showed that even full time working wives still did the majority of house work.
Many individuals and theorises encouraged the ideas of changing the proportion of who did which house hold chores, and who held responsibility for those chores. Bibliography. Second wave to post feminism by Irnelda wheleham . The legacy of second wave feminism in american politics by conrad The second sex by simone de beauoir The femine mystique by betty friedens www.
britannica.com. The second sex The dietetic of sex Shulamite firestone