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First Wave Feminism Essay

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From the 18th century onwards, feminisms were beginning to emerge within society. First wave feminism began in the 18th century, focused on public inequality; political, economic, legal and social inequalities surrounding men and women. Following on from first wave liberal feminists came second and third wave feminists which saw radical, black and postmodern feminist schools emerge, which all had a different set of agendas, for example radical feminists focused on family life, violence and the control of women’s bodies, whereas, black and postmodern feminists focused on the ‘more modern’ differences and diversities between women’s lives such as race, class and sexuality issues. All of these feminist theories have led to dramatic changes in Great Britain such as changes within the law regarding education, employment and domestic life. However, whilst there have been improvements in these areas, there are still issues within the 21st century regarding females in employment and in the domestic sphere. What also needs to be taken into account is the changing face of Britain’s female population with the rise in ethnic minority women and homosexual women, and subsequently other schools of feminism need to be explored and developed in order to explain these differences.

During the period of first wave feminism, starting in the 1700s going on to the early 1900s, females were often seen as a liability and subsequently were often overshadowed by men, for example, a female could not inherit from their families as they were not seen as responsible. First wave liberal feminists aimed to achieve gender equality through changes in the law and wanted women to have a more participatory role within society. First wave feminists outlined that wome...

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...over the centuries, gender inequalities have changed, from being focused on public inequality such as getting women into both in education and the workplace, as well as giving females voting rights to being focused on the diversity and variety in women’s lives in today’s society as described by third wave feminists from the 1980s onwards, focussing on the women who were previously overlooked by other feminist schools. Earlier feminist schools have been criticised for ignoring the ‘other’ which subsequently led to the development of other schools of feminism such as black feminists, (Smith, 2013). Subsequently, in order to achieve equality for all ‘types’ of females; white, black, working-class, middle-class, heterosexual and homosexual; there will need to be a development of new schools of feminism in order to explain the experiences that each of these groups live.
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