Free Essay Sample: Women's Suffrage Movement and Women's Liberation Movement

Published: 2022-07-14
Free Essay Sample: Women's Suffrage Movement and Women's Liberation Movement
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Women Feminism
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1445 words
13 min read

The nineteenth century marked the rise of the women's movements, and women formed the groups that they started to discuss on the oppression and inequality they encounter in the society based on their gender (Liddington & Norris, 2000). By integrating the two previous aspects, the anti-slavery movement and antebellum reform politics, women became aware of the leadership on how to handle the Women's Right Movement, and with the awareness led to the transformation to the women's social standing (Walls, 2018). The following essay seeks to discuss the major women's movement in the US The women's suffrage movement and the women's liberation movement

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The Agenda of Both

The women's suffrage movement was active between the years 1848 to 1920. The movement was working on the agenda towards fighting to win the right to vote as women in the United States. However, their activity was not easy since it demanded vigorous campaign. It took the activists together with the reformers up to 100 years to win their right. The agenda was achieved on August 26, 1920, when the constitution underwent the 19th amendment. It was ratified empowering all American women and recognizing that they have the equal rights as men, having all the rights and responsibilities as citizens of the United States (Liddington & Norris, 2000).

On the other hand, Andersen (1988) states that women's liberation movement (1960s-1970s) also referred to as the second-wave feminism lasted for two decades. It was active with the agenda to promote equality among the women by gaining more than just enfranchisement matters addressed by the movement rights concerning domestic issues such as employment and clothing. In the most time of the 20th century, women were not allowed to seek employment because of the engagement with the household and domestic duties, which was perceived as their core role in the society, but on the other side, they felt isolated within the homes and alienated from economics, politics and lawmaking.

The Major Splits that Occurred in Each Movement

In 1869, the Women's Right Movement was faced with the great challenge of division among its members (Walls, 2018). In reference to Walls (2018) the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) fragmented headed by Lucy Stone. They had firm support towards the 15th Amendment, hence offering support to the black males. On the other side "irreconcilables" Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton led the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) opposed the 15th Amendment since it did not offer women rights to vote. The two major groups also split on a different strategy. The AWSA undertook "realistic" struggles for state laws empowering women, whereas the NWSA focused its activities towards a national constitutional amendment.

According to Walls (2018), the split of women's liberation movement began after the extreme period of fighting for women's suffrage. After the achievement of the core agenda that had united the international feminist, the members were left without any strong focus upon which all could agree. The movement letter was characterized with the ideologies differences between the moderates and the radicals, prompting into the division and the period of de-radicalization. The largest group of the women's activists led the movement to enlighten the women on their new accountabilities as voters. Responsibilities

The Opponents and/or Interruptions in Both Movements

The following are the opponents and/or interruptions based on the class PowerPoint presentation titles "soc-121 The Women's Movements".

Interruptions & Opponents to Women's Movements:

  • Largely male and some female opposition
  • Liquor industry
  • Educational institutions (women had better things to do)
  • Wars
  • Great Depression
  • Industrial revolution - 7 million women worked - so no time to devote to women's issues
  • Ideological differences resulting in splits

Meaning of Third Wave in Feminism

McDonnell (1997) describes the third wave of feminism as a restatement of the word 'feminist movement', which was started in the early 1990s in the US and prolonged to 2012 marking the beginning of the fourth wave. Born in the 1960s and 1970s as the members of Generation X, and founded in the civil-right expansion of the second wave, the third-wave feminists acknowledged diversity and individualism and pursued redefining what it referred to as a feminist. Elizabeth Evans, a feminist scholar, states that "confusion surrounding what constitutes third-wave feminism is in some respects its defining feature (McDonnell, 1997)."

The meaning of the Term Liberal Feminism

Feminism relates to gender matters. As described by Andersen (1988), liberal feminism refers to an individualistic kind of feminist concept that emphasizes the women's capability to uphold equality by their own choices and actions. It is accented on creating the political and legal rights of women equivalent to men. According to the liberal feminists, the society reserves the false perceptions that women are naturally physical incapable and less intellectual compared to men. In that case, it inclines to victimize against women when it comes to the forum, academy as well as the marketplace. Furthermore, the liberal feminist view that "female subordination is rooted in a set of customary and legal constraints that block women's entrance to and success in the so-called public world". They struggle for sexual fairness through the legal and political forum.

The Historical Roots of Liberal Feminism

Between the late 1800s and early 1900s, the liberal feminists had their agenda focused towards gaining the women's suffrage with the notion that they would advance towards individual liberty (McDonnell, 1997). Their primary concern was to achieve freedom through equality, to finish men's malice towards women, and gain the independence to prospects to turn out to be a full person. There were some of the assumptions that the feminists have to counter; like, only the white men are privileged to be recognized as the full citizens. The significant feminists like Judith Sargent Murray, Mary Wollstonecraft and Frances Wright championed for outmost political inclusion among the women. In 1920, the new dawn came after 50 years of intense struggle. Eventually, the women gained their rights to vote together with the entitlement to sit on a public office in the US Andersen (1988).

Some of the critical early liberal feminists

  • Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Judith Sargent Murray
  • Frances Wright
  • John Stuart Mill
  • Harriet Taylor
  • Harriet Tubman
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Betty Friedan

The Basis of the Critique of Liberal Feminism

At the tie of 1960s civil rights movements, liberal feminists had attracted their counterparts between systematic race sex and race discrimination. During that time, other movements like the National Organization for Women, the National Women's Political Caucus, and the Women's Equity Action League had firmly established to the extent that the woman's rights struggle. These groups were active in the US for the approval of the "Constitutional Equity Amendment" or Equal Rights Amendments, with the bid to guarantee equal treatment on both men and women based on the democratic laws, which obstructed the vital scopes of women's wellbeing comprising of work, reproduction as well as equivalent salary and wage matters. Additional significant issues to liberal feminists are such as but not limited to abortion access and reproduction rights, sexual violence, education, voting, impartial reimbursement for work, affordable healthcare and childcare and paying attention to issues with domestic and sexual violence against women.

The Historical Roots of Radical Feminism, Mainly Concentrating on the Influence of Karl Marx and the Intersection of Capitalism and Patriarchy

Karl Marxist together with radical feminist has both characterized women as more alienated based in capitalism and patriarchy, due to their public and private split that refer their work as the house workers and mothers to the home. Therefore they are psychologically denied full citizenship, personhood as well as human rights. The radical feminists found the historical root cause of women's oppression in the patriarchal gender relations unlike liberal feminism and class conflict (as in Marxist feminism, anarchist feminism and socialist feminism. Patriarchal capitalism operated to deprive women of unpaid or lesser paid labor both in the wage labor or household, hence keeping the women by and more uneven to men. Marx drew societal stages, and they include slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism and communism


Decisively, indeed women had played the significant role under Women's Suffrage Movement and the Women's Liberation Movement. Their ultimate goal was towards having the freedom to vote, the privilege to hold public office, fair salary and wage payment, equality between women and men, and affordable resources for community wellbeing. Despite the wrangles in the movement, they achieved to champion for their rights for more than 80 years.


Andersen, M. L. (1988). Thinking about women sociological perspectives on sex and gender.

Liddington, J., & Norris, J. (2000). One hand tied behind us: the rise of the women's suffrage movement. Rivers Oram Pr.

McDonnell, J. (1997). Thinking About Women: Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Gender. Teaching Sociology, 25(4), 367.

Walls, D. (2018). David Walls - Sonoma State University - Women's Movement. Retrieved from

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