Feminism in the 20th Century

Feminism is defined as the principle advocating social, political, and economic rights for women equal to those of men. Throughout history women have played different roles in different societies, but have for the most part been considered

subservient and inferior in status to men. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the “sociology of the family” became the more prominent concern of feminists. Feminist theory is the extension of feminism into theoretical, or philosophical, grounds, encompassing work done in a broad variety of areas, including women’s roles, lives and feminist politics in anthropology and sociology, economics, women’s and gender studies, as well as feminist literary criticism. – Feminist Theory: Wikipedia

The struggle for the right to vote was won by “The National Woman’s Party” which existed between 1913 and 1930 and represented one of the main forces for women’s suffrage during the 20th century. The primary emphasis of the party was the “Fourteen Points” which were listed in a speech delivered by President Woodrow Wilson of the United States to Congress on January 8, 1918 which displayed an idealism which gave Wilson a position of moral leadership among the allies, and encouraged the central powers to surrender. Wilson’s Fourteen Points recognized self determination as a vital component of society, and the hypocrisy of denying half the population of modern nations the vote became difficult for men to ignore. Individual States continued to grant the vote one by one, and the nineteenth amendment was passed in 1919, and ratified in 1920.

The term “Women’s Liberation” is a phrase coined in the 20th century when looking at the history of women’s fight for equality. The phrase “Women’s Liberation” was first used in 1964, appeared in print in 1966, and was in use at the 1967 American Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) convention. The convention held a panel discussion on the topic. By 1968, although the term Women’s Liberation Front appeared in “Ramparts” it was starting to refer to the whole women’s movement. In Chicago, women disillusioned with the “New Left” were meeting separately in 1967, and publishing “Voice of the Women’s Liberation Movement” by March of 1968. When the Miss America Pageant was held in September of 1968, the media referred to the demonstrations as “Women’s Liberation”, and the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union was formed in 1969 and was the first of many groups with similar titles which appeared in other parts of the United States. The image and stereotype of bra-burning became associated with the movement, and soon the media was creating other unauthentic terms such as “libber”. A number of rival terms coexisted for a while but Women’s Liberation captured the popular imagination and has persisted, although today the older term Women’s Movement is used just as frequently.

No matter what the specific case, women’s equality has always been a struggle to be held to the same standards and have the same rewards as men. Women’s rights have been achieved in the workplace, politics, and in sports. The fight for continued equality among the genders has even attracted such famous individuals as musical artists Curt Cobain and Ani Defranco, as well as renowned author Sylvia Plath.


Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia: Feminist Theory

Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia: The History of Feminism in the 20th Century