Feminism, the equality of the sexes, the definition for this term has stayed roughly the same since it was first coined in the 19th century.
While in dictionaries feminism has not changed, the societal meaning of feminism has drastically altered over the last 100 years to mean much for than just equal right for men and women.
In recent years feminism has drawn a lot of criticism, generally this has come from conservatives particularly the religious and men, but now we see moderates, liberals and even women expressing their distaste for feminism.
It’s not uncommon to hear some rhetoric that states all feminists are these triggered social-justice warriors, that prowl Tumblr to screech about the latest way the patriarchy has offended them.
Some even think feminism is unnecessary in todays day and age, as women have just about the same rights as men at least in the western world.
Which leads me to ask, how did this happen? How did feminism go from a fight for equality to a fight to stay relevant? To answer this, we need to look back and see how feminism has changed and what this means for society.
In the 1830s French socialist philosopher Charles Fourier envisioned a world where men and women acted as representatives for small communities, he advocated for the rights of women and claimed they should have free will during a time they were viewed as property.
In 1837 the same year Fourier died he coined the term féminisme, unofficially brining about the beginning of first-wave feminism. First-wave feminism lasted until around the 1950s and during this time feminism stuck closely to its definition.
Feminists mainly focused on fundamental rights such as the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage and equal rights. Second-wave feminism began around the 1960s and lasted until the late 1980s, bringing a newer more radical form of feminism.
Now that women had the right to vote, second-wave feminists began fighting for social equality. This era in feminism seems to have been kicked off by the Civil Rights Movement, which sought to end discrimination towards people of color and women as well.
Feminists during this time also began to express heavy opposition towards traditional gender roles where women were expected to be subservient housewives, these ideas spurred protests where women symbolically threw bras, lipsticks and girdles into a burning trashcan.
This is also a time when reproductive rights came into the picture with the introduction of birth control, soon many states began to outlaw its usage and feminists fought for the rights to use it.