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Critically evaluate the achievements of feminism's first wave - Essay Example

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Critically evaluate the achievements of feminism's "first wave". Feminism is a complex topic, with many scholars disagreeing on the eras in which most change took place, the supposed results of feminist activism, and the need for further feminist activity…
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Critically evaluate the achievements of feminisms first wave
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Download file to see previous pages One of the major achievements for this “first wave” was securing the vote for women (also known as suffrage), occurring in 1918 (and extended to younger women in 1928) in the United Kingdom (Fisanick, 2007) and at similar times in many other Western countries. The purpose of this essay is to explore women’s suffrage in the U.K. and the U.S. from the perspective of the achievements made by feminism’s “first wave”. To do this, many of the achievements of feminism’s “first wave” will be critically examined in their historical and modern context to evaluate their success in the wider frame of feminism. Firstly, it is important to define “first wave” feminism. Walby (2011) suggests that the “first wave” of feminism, in Britain at least, had ended with the winning of women’s suffrage in 1918 and 1928, as described above. Walby (2011) also describes a wave as being present in many areas of sociology, impacting the discipline by making it more relevant to the input of interest and achievements during the “wave”. Taking this into account, we can understand that the “first wave” of feminism is therefore an input of ideas, research and action into feminism that led up to the winning of women’s suffrage in the early parts of the 20th century. ...
The origins and starting dates for “first wave” feminism are more difficult to define. Some scholars believe that “first wave” began with the influence of the Enlightenment and changes in Protestantism (Apetrei, 2010). These changes in society as a whole led to more liberal thought that was based around humanism, although these changes were not limited to the position of women (Apetrei, 2010). Within the U.S., the feminist movement can also be linked to changes in society as a whole, such as the anti-slavery movement which sought to equalize individuals within the state. Squire (1993) suggests that there are many similarities between the lives of slaves in parts of the United States and that of women around the same time, such as the inability to vote and lack of property rights. Despite these early signs of feminism and debates about the official start date for “first wave” feminism, obvious changes had been made to the lives of women in the U.S. and the U.K. One of the first important documents for women was the Seneca Falls Declaration from 1848, which discussed a number of female-related rights issues. One important conquest for the Seneca Falls group was the Married Women’s Property Act, passed in 1848, which allowed a woman the right to keep property that was her own, rather than it automatically becoming part of her husband’s estate (Fisanick, 2007). Eisler (1987) suggests that this was a huge gain towards the equalization of women in society, particularly as it allowed women to participate in the economic sphere on a more equal basis. However, this achievement for “first wave” feminism was not received particularly well and was a minor gain (Apetrei, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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