Topic 2 The “first” feminist “wave”

First-wave feminism refers to the claims of women’s groups that began in France and continued in Britain in the late 19th century and began to take effect in the first half of the 20th, with legislative changes in Anglo-Saxon and European countries.

It appears together with the great political and social revolutions of western modernity (American Revolution 1776, French 1789, Movement for the Abolition of Slavery 1790-1863, Enlightenment).

It emphasises the idea of universal inherent human rights and confidence in the great narratives of modernity and the Enlightenment for the elimination of discrimination, through the overthrow of social and economic relations. The demands of feminists at this time mainly concern the pursuit of equal rights with men and the attainment of equal access to civil and political rights such  in particular, the right to education, the right to vote and to stand for election, the right to work, the right to property as well as the right to act within the public space. The main goal is the acquisition of a place of women in politics equal to men and their equal integration in the pre-existing social and political structures (Rethymniotaki & Maropoulou, 2016).

The first feminist “wave” has significantly influenced the common perception of feminism and even today it is identified with the defense of women’s rights.

The contribution of this period to the alleviation of gender asymmetry is great, as thanks to the action of women of this period millions of women today enjoy rights that are taken for granted (Rethymniotaki & Maropoulou, 2016).

Henrietta Muir Edwards

It is suggested that you watch the movie “SUFFRAGETTE”, directed by Sarah Gavron (2015) which would help you better understand First-wave feminism.