Beginning 1800s, women had already started organizing themselves, petitioned, and picketed to win the voting rights. However, it took them one decade to accomplish their mission. The 19th Amendment, which would give the women the right to vote, had been introduced into parliament in 1878. It was later ratified in 1920(Smelser & Baltes, 2011). They had to work tirelessly to gain voting rights. Women had to challenge the male-only voting rights in courts, demonstrate in streets and offices, and create suffrage movements, among many other tactics. Their support was met by stiff resistance from powerful men, government, and private individuals. They were heckled, jailed, and physically abused as they tried to fight for their rights. By the year 1919, all suffrage movements united for the conventional idea of pushing for the ratification of the 19th Amendment (Stromquist, 2016). Both House of the representative and senate gave in by the year 1919 and passed the amendment bill. The 19th Amendment was the most significant success of the women movements as they were granted equal voting rights with male counterparts. Therefore, women's struggle against discrimination was a long journey, mainly fought through various movements that struggled for inclusion in not only politics but also on economic and social matters in society.
The feminist movement is also known as the liberation movement. It refers to a series of political campaigns aiming at reforming various issues that affected women (Stromquist, 2016). Some of these problems include domestic violence, reproductive rights, maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, women's suffrage, and sexual violence. The movement involves three waves; first wave, second wave, and third wave. The first wave includes mainly the middle upper-class white women and focuses on political equality and suffrage (Stromquist, 2016). The second wave aims at attaining social and cultural balance for women. The third wave addresses financial, cultural, and social inequalities. It largely campaigned for women's inclusion in the media and political arena. The women's reproductive rights and the right to abortion have been one of the objectives of the feminist movement.
The First Wave of Feminist
This convention was held in Seneca Falls in New York. The objective of the conference was to discuss the local, social, religious condition as well as the rights of women. The movement was closely connected with abolishing slavery. Any woman of color did not attend the Seneca meeting. Lucy Gage led another convention in 1851, where she gave her speech about her situation (Escandon, 2018). She was born a slave, and her son was also enslaved. She later acquired some freedom and ensured her son was brought back. Lucy Gage worked tirelessly towards the end of slavery and the rights of women (Escandon, 2018). The most significant success of the first wave of women's movement was the 19th Amendment. It had taken 72 years to get the Amendment passed.
The Second Wave of Feminist
The second feminist women's movement included the women of color and those from the developed nations (Escandon, 2018). The campaign aimed at uniting women from all races so that they can fight against discrimination together. It succeeded in addressing many issues that affected African American women.
The Third Wave of Feminism
The third wave feminism involved various strains of feminist activity. It arose to fill the gaps that had not been expressed by the second wave of the feminist movement (Escandon, 2018). It broadened the feminism parameters to incorporate a more diverse group of women.
Feminist Theories and Struggle for Inclusivity
The feminist theory involves a range of diverse ideas originating from many beliefs. One of the beliefs is that society is patriarchal, whose structure favors men against women (Allen, 2018). It is also centered on traditional ways of thinking, which supports women's subordination and trivializations of various issues that affect women. The theory argues that the patriarchal system should be abolished and replaced with a system that favors gender equality. The approach mainly impacts all the institutions, including academic, medical, social, and legal issues.
The feminist theory is a conflict theory examining inequalities in gender-related issues. It utilizes a conflict approach in addressing the maintenance of gender roles and uneven power relations (Allen, 2018). For example, radical feminism takes into consideration family roles when it comes to the perpetuation of male dominance. Men's contributions may be seen as more valuable compared to those of women in patriarchal societies (Allen, 2018). As a result, the viewports from women are mainly taken for granted and marginalized and end up being discredited. The patriarchy is a set of institutional structures like property rights, income source relationships, and power positions that is based on the belief that men and women are unequal categories of being. This dominant gender ideology holds to the conclusion that physiological sex differences between male and female gender are linked to their differences in character, ability, and behavior. This perceived difference is used as a justification for differences in rewards and inequality in access to privileges, positions, and power.
Feminist and Queer theory tries to unmake social and contextual elements that reinforce heteronormativity through challenging oppressive institutions on traditional binary distinctions between males and females (Allen, 2018). It criticism women's discrimination from various perspectives. The women had to go through severe struggles for inclusion and equality, especially in the political arena. The congressional women's suffrage campaigns were used to create awareness for women's inclusion in voting and participating in elections. The women utilized many tactics that forced President Woodrow Wilson, state legislators, and members of Congress to support the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. constitution. The enactment of 19th Amendments guaranteed the right to vote for all women, national wide so long as they attained majority age.
Even though the bill for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was first defeated, it later went through, and women were granted equal voting rights with men. The amendments stated that rights of citizens to vote shall not be denied by United States or any state by account of sex. The Amendment took more than 40 years to go through. The campaign for this Amendment was intertwined with the abolition of slavery struggles. The years of struggle were characterized by active militants, attacks, and demonstrations.
Many women steered these campaigns and had to go through severe suffering, including ridicule. Some of them included Elizabeth Cindy Stanton and Lucretia Mott. The two women had met in Seneca Falls to discuss the rights of women. The Seneca Falls Convention was subjected to public ridicule, including the withdrawal of support to the movement.
The 15th Amendment was also passed in the reconstruction era (Hinnershitz, Rose & Shelton, 2019).The 15th Amendment to the American constitution granted the African Americans men the right to vote and participate in elections. Before this period, African Americans could not vote on account of their color and race. According to the 15th Amendment, the rights of the citizens of the United States to vote were not supposed to be denied by any state on account of gender, color, or previous condition of servitude (Hinnershitz, Rose & Shelton, 2019). The 15th Amendment was adopted into the U.S. constitution in the year 1870.
The women of color underwent a lot of struggles as they fought against political, economic, and social inequality that they experienced. They participated in various political meetings and organized political societies. They also attended political conventions in their local churches, where they came up with multiple strategies to fight for voting rights. The women of color or African American women played critical roles in the struggle for equality in the U.S. However, they faced many challenges because some waves of the feminist movement did not address their issues. For example, the first wave of Feminist movement failed to address issues that affected women of color. It mainly used the term 'universal women' and was unable to solve specific problems that women of color faced.
Most of the women involved in the first wave of the feminist movement in the 1980s focused on white-middle class female perspectives (Hinnershitz, Rose & Shelton, 2019). These representatives concluded that gender discrimination was their primary issue of oppression. However, women of color had many other issues they faced, including cultural inequalities. The women of color sought to address the various problems they experienced. The ranges of these issues included economic, political, and social issues. The economic discrimination had made the women of color remain lower in terms of socio-economic status. The need to address all these problems led to the rise of the second and third wave of the feminist movement, which could address specific issues that were left out in the first wave of the feminist movement.
Allen, A. (2018). The power of feminist theory. Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9780429495939
Escandon, C. R. (2018). Women's movements, feminism, and Mexican politics. In The Women's Movement In Latin America (pp. 199-221). Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780429494291/chapters/10.4324/9780429494291-8
Hinnershitz, S. D., Rose, S., & Shelton, R. S. (2019). Right to Vote: The 15th and 19th Amendments. Retrieved from https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/msl_ae_ebooks/15/
Smelser, N. J., & Baltes, P. B. (Eds.). (2011). International encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences (Vol. 11). Amsterdam: Elsevier. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/feminist-theory
Stromquist, N. P. (2016). Feminist organizations and social transformation in Latin America. Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781315634616
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