4.4.1 The History of Feminism

Delegations of women’s clubs and organizations converge on Washington, D.C. for the first national suffrage parade in 1913. This photo shows the banner of the Oregon delegation. (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Feminism emerged in the Global North and West, the result of concerted efforts by pro-woman organizers to gain women civic, social, and economic rights that had long been the purview of a limited category of men. Over time the focus of these feminist movements, and indeed their self-definition, has changed. This overview by Encyclopedia Britannica is written by Elinor Burkett, Professor of Journalism at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.


Read: Feminism // Britannica


Guiding Questions:

  1. How does this resource define feminism?
  2. How did the abolitionist movement help mobilize feminist organizers?
  3. What types of discrimination galvanized the “second wave” of feminist efforts? Can you see why feminist organizers drew parallels between discrimination based on race and discrimination based on sex?
  4. Of the “three major streams” of feminism that emerged in the second wave, did all think that men and women are intrinsically the same?
  5. To which new identity categories did third wave feminism pay attention? How did the idea of a gender binary change?
  6. What is a central focus of the “fourth wave”?


Thumbnail: “Deeds Not Words,” Shuttleworth Collection “Edwardian Pageant,” August 7, 2016 reenactment of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, Washington D.C., 1913. Photo Credit: Ikonta Bloke, Public Domain.