In the past couple of years, it became cool to use the “F” word. Not that “F“ word, this one:
The word has not only evolved, it has found itself at the center of popular culture. On the red carpet, on stage, in the halls of government, in literature, on Twitter feeds and talk shows–prominent actresses, singers, and writers are proclaiming the importance of gender equality.
We are now seeing the power and influence of feminism amongst the New Americana. These individuals are not going to continue to allow discrimination, especially gender discrimination, to have room in their world. Instead, they want to drive a fundamental change in the way women are treated and in the way we view the world.
But here’s an inconvenient truth, we still live in a patriarchal society. In order to fully understand the male-dominated culture we live in, we must first have a deeper understanding of the history of gender inequality in this country.
Historians tend to break down feminism into three separate waves: First, Second, and Third Waves.
The First Wave of Feminism began with the Suffragettes in the late 1800’s and lasted until about the 1920’s. It was focused on such basic rights as the right to vote and the right to take up a desired profession. It was the first time that the public witnessed women behaving in very “un-ladylike” ways, such as, public speaking, demonstrating, and getting arrested.
The end of the first wave is often linked with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920, granting American women the right to vote.
In the 1960’s, The Second Wave of Feminism began. This group brought a different feel to the Feminist Movement. The spirit of feminism became more radical as it began focusing on the taboo subjects: sexuality, reproductive rights and gender roles.
Because of this full-bodied rebellion against traditional gender roles, the media portrayed feminists as uptight, angry, aggressive, and demanding.
The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” -Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist
Second-Wave Feminism drew in a more diverse group of women. However, because this wave found its voice amid so many other social movements, it was easily marginalized and viewed as less pressing than the Civil Rights Movement or the Anti-War Movement that dominated much of this time period.
The Third Wave
After two successful waves, the 90’s ushered in a reemergence and the third wave of the Feminist Movement. Unlike the first two waves, the Third Wave doesn’t have a centralized goal. In essence, we are fighting a million battles at once.
So what can we–as members of the New Americana—do? What’s next for the Feminist Movement? How can we rise up and truly change the world that we live in?
We need to focus our efforts.
We will never make the kind of impact that previous feminists made if we don’t find a singular cause to rally behind. Let’s look at the LGBT community as a best-in-class example. For at least a decade, the most visible, galvanizing cause in the struggle for gay equality was the fight for same-sex marriage. It drove the fundraising, nabbed the headlines, and helped change the way American politics and culture interacted with the LGBT community. As a result, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in June 2015.
The causes that we are fighting for can really be bucketed into two major groups–equal pay and eliminating violence against women. These are the causes that we should be rallying behind. By effecting legislative change, we will, in turn, have halo effects within our culture that will help end gender discrimination.
In the next two blog posts, we will continue to explore the current state of the Feminist Movement and the New Americana’s influence on the movement.
By Karol Chang, Strategist