The different feminist waves in history
Feminism is a heterogeneous movement that seeks equity between men and women. It has gone through various stages since it was recognized as a social current, starting with the right to vote.
Historiographic records have determined that each continent has built its own history. Therefore, the stages of the feminist movement in North America differ from those in Europe or Latin America.
Even the same history speaks of many feminist approaches, since the struggle to conquer equity encompasses the broadest and most diverse spaces, and is constantly being reconfigured, even within the same movement.
Now, we focus on taking a look at the waves of feminism, to identify its contribution to the present.
Background of feminism
Feminism promotes women's liberation by eliminating hierarchies and unequal treatment.
Some studies place the origin of feminism at the end of the 13th century, when the Catholic philosopher Wilhelmina of Bohemia proposed the creation of a church for women.
Other studies recognize women preachers and witches as part of the feminist struggle. But this and other facts, although they were of great relevance, because they were isolated, are part of the background.
The feminist struggle began to take shape as a social movement, starting with the French Revolution. As the revolution was left owing to their demands, they learned to lead their own battles.
Marie Gouze, known by the pseudonym of Olympe de Gouges, declared in that context that women's rights were limited by the tyranny of men. Her stance literally cost her her head.
Countless heroic deeds span these centuries, but it is not until the organized and collective struggle of women, who unite to win suffrage and access to education, that history recognizes them as a movement.
The first wave of feminism
The demand for the vote was strongly felt in countries such as the United States, England and Latin America, and marked a before and after in the path of equity.
The first wave is recognized since the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. On that occasion, nearly 200 women gathered in a New York church to discuss various issues and "women's rights.
At the end of the meeting, 12 resolutions were approved, calling for concrete rights of equality, including, after much debate, the right to vote.
The feminist movement was divided by racism. Black women's goals were different, and in addition to access to the vote, they demanded universal education and employment. White women demanded the right to vote and access to work.
Although divided, feminism grew stronger and in 1916 Margaret Sanger created, even against the law, the first birth control clinic.
The U.S. and England lived the movement in full force and its leaders were mainly women from the elite.
In England, the demand for voting was also linked to the exploitation of women and children in factories. In 1903, the Woman's Social and Political Union was created, led by Emmeline Pankhurst.
For its violent demonstrations and sabotage, it was considered illegal in 1903, and its leaders suffered persecution and imprisonment.
Despite its effervescent growth, World War I slowed down the social movement, which was on the rise.
In Latin America, the feminist movement did not have much scope, although isolated demands were always maintained.
The second wave of feminism
The second wave of feminism took place after World War II. It focused, among other things, on the right to vote, but also on equity, access to contraception, abortion and free sexuality.
Figures such as Emma Goldmann, Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Clara Zetkin, Flora Tristán, Emmeline Pankhurst, Clara Campoamor, Carmen de Burgos, Lucretia Mott or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to mention a few, became prominent and their academic contribution is of vital importance.
Studies draw a line that frames this wave from the 1960s - 1970s, to 1990, and even into the new century.
The redefinition of patriarchy, the role of women in the family, in sexuality, or in the separation of public and private spaces, is part of their demands.
The legal and political equality pursued in the first wave is expanded. Prominent feminist figures analyze that inequality is much deeper and more complex.
Claims such as sexual pleasure, previously reserved for male peers, or the question of child-rearing assumed only by women, become relevant.
Access to credit cards, applying for mortgages, recognition of marital rape and violence within marriage, the right to divorce, visibility and legislation against sexual harassment in the workplace are all part of the achievements of feminism.
Even simple actions such as driving, maternity leave, or job security during pregnancy are achievements driven by the feminist movement.
Third Wave of Feminism
The third wave of feminism has a classification between the 1990s - up to the present. This wave is based on two facts: the case of Anita Hill and the music group Riot Grrrl.
Anita's case was emblematic and scandalous, as was the case of Harvey Weinstein. An avalanche of allegations, committed under her protective layer of rich and powerful, came to light.
While the group Riot Grrrl gave voice to women's discontent through their music.
Since that decade, the currents of the movement have become more diverse and the idea of a uniform, homogeneous feminism is no longer thought of.
Feminism begins to speak that the personal is also political, it questions the individual freedom of women and their right to access contraceptives, to decide their sexuality or to legalize abortion.
The concept of patriarchy emerges and influential academics analyze it in depth. The feminist movement is accentuated and becomes more complex.
The debates even reach and study the "good" role of women, anchored only in domestic and family work, and accept the decision of those who do not want to make it.
Such important aspects are analyzed, as the emotional manipulation of the mother in the children, or the strong structures of power between women and their mutual competition. It seeks to break with the idea of the "victim woman".
There are strong indications that the third feminist wave is diffuse and has not achieved great conquests such as suffrage. However, the same story points out its scope.
Awareness of the issue, and the constant questioning of women's participation in the various facets of life, is an advance.
Gender violence, which had not been so much in evidence, the #MeToo, the arrival of the internet, which has given the movement a global tool, is increasingly influential.
There is even talk of new masculinities, which recognize their historical privileges, which promote a responsible masculinity, which assume their paternity, responsible for domestic work and other tasks traditionally recognized as feminine, and which contribute from their role to make feminism visible.
Feminism today also questions and addresses such profound aspects as the very deconstruction of women.
It is worth noting that three waves are recognized in North America, but theoretical feminism points to four.
The first wave was recorded in the mid-18th century. The second from the mid-19th to the 20th century, the third from 1960 - to the 1990s, and the fourth, which is developing.
The position of art in feminist political action
Art is an individual and collective catalyst, and has played a prominent role within the feminist movement.
Artistic practices have adapted and become political objects, strengthening ideas, reaffirming concepts, promoting the feminist movement.
As is well known, art is not neutral. A separation of the artist as a person and her artistic creation is not possible.
Feminist actions are in keeping with the place. For example, it is not a coincidence that the demands for abortions are made outside a church, through a performance.
All artistic expressions become relevant when they move away from the spaces institutionalized by the traditional gaze and traditional art, and turn to the streets, to the people.
Relevant discussions are taken out of the political arena, out of the privileged, solemn and cultured spaces, to become public.
Art is not only form, it is not only music, painting or sculpture, it is not only fun and recreation: it is also the result of a clearly political expression.
It reinvents unequal, discriminatory expressions, it questions the roles that society considers normal.It questions the hegemonic vision and mobilizes diverse points of view. Feminist art leaves no one indifferent.