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Are you a second waver or a die-hard fourth waver? But how much do we really understand about the history of the movement, the key players and the various waves? In Ancient Greece, the poet Sappho celebrated female milestones from puberty to childbirth, in the middle ages, nun Hildegard of Bingen authored two books that rejected negative depictions of women in Christianity and the Christine de Pizan wrote The City of Ladies , considered one of the first feminist texts. They believed that women could not be free unless they were self-governing and felt that women must enter the political sphere in order to make change. But the movement was dominated by white women, who soon saw advances by people of colour as a possible hindrance to their movement.
As in other countries, feminism in the United Kingdom seeks to establish political, social, and economic equality for women. The history of feminism in Britain dates to the very beginnings of feminism itself, as many of the earliest feminist writers and activists—such as Mary Wollstonecraft , Barbara Bodichon , and Lydia Becker —were British. The advent of the reformist age during the 19th century meant that those invisible minorities or marginalised majorities were to find a catalyst and a microcosm in such new tendencies of reform. Robert Owen , while asking for "social reorganisation", was laying down the basis of a new reformational background. One of those movements that took advantage of such new spirit was the feminist movement.
Theirs was the problem with no name, wrote Betty Friedan in her bestseller, The Feminine Mystique , and the symptoms were legion. They included creeping fatigue, tranquiliser and alcohol abuse, bleeding blisters that appeared suddenly on their arms, which doctors attributed not to the cleaning fluids they used constantly, but a deeper malaise. That icon of femininity, Marilyn Monroe , had died of an overdose the year before, and Sylvia Plath — just as outwardly feminine, but with a hidden, crackling rage — killed herself in London in
Of course, this direct action went hand in hand with more practical and administrative activism, but it was the subversive and spectacular acts that made it impossible for the world to ignore the inequality they suffered. Second-wave feminism emerged in the US in the s. The discontent that she shone a light on was not restricted to the US. Feminists around the world were waking up. The first action on this side of the pond might, today, seem almost stereotypically polite. Emmeline Pankhurst faced beatings, derison and prison, all to win women the right to vote. This classification meant that they earned less than men in equivalent work.