Feminist Movement – Concept, history and characteristics

We explain what the feminist movement is, its history and the characteristics of this position. Also, what is it to be a feminist?

Feminist movement
Feminism aspires to the vindication of women’s rights.

What is the feminist movement?

When we speak of feminism or the feminist movement, we are referring to a diverse set of positions and models of critical thinking of a political, economic, cultural and social nature, which have in common their aspiration to vindicate the rights of women and the achievement of an equal role with respect to men in the different aspects of society.

The feminist movement aspires to demonstrate and rethink traditionally gender-assigned roles, that is to say, the place that is destined to men and women in society depending exclusively on their sex and not on their interests, talents or abilities.

In that sense, feminism fight against the patriarchal order of society: a cultural and social model that gives the male a predominant role and the female a more submissive and secondary role. In this struggle, feminism is more or less allied with other subaltern movements, such as the LGBT movement (in favor of sex diversity).

Thanks to the different stages and versions of the feminist struggle, the role of women has grown in participation and rights throughout the history of humanity, and political triumphs such as the female vote, equality before the law or reproductive rights have been achieved, despite the fact that there are still many controversial issues on the agenda.

Likewise, feminism has allowed the emergence of schools of critical theory, applied to various fields such as literature, sociology, anthropology, etc. that have enriched the view of the human being around himself and have allowed him to consider debates regarding the way in which he understands life and society.

History of the feminist movement

Feminist movement
Joan of Arc fought against an order that excluded and marginalized women.

The feminist movement has many antecedents in ancient times, in what is usually called proto-feminism or pre-modern feminism. Cases like that of Juana de Arco, Christine de Pizan, or later Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Manuela Sáenz and Juana de Azurduy are specific cases of women who fought against an order that excluded and marginalized them.

The first wave of feminism as such occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in England and Latin America, in the voice of numerous intellectuals, writers and social activists who raised their voices to demand a more leading role for women in the nascent capitalist republics.

This went through rights to study, vote and even work. The famous suffragette movement in Europe was a powerful and radical attempt to win the vote of women and allow them to participate in the leadership of the state.

The second wave emerged in the middle of the century, between 1960 and the 90s, and expanded the fight to combat de facto inequalities, not only legal, but also sexual and reproductive rights, in what was called the Women’s Liberation Movement.

The third wave is supposed to start in the 90s and reach the 21st century, and arises in response to the failures of second wave feminism, rethinking the social and cultural idea of ​​what a woman is to incorporate other races, classes, religions, cultures, etc.

Characteristics of the feminist movement

Feminism is broadly a movement:

  • Diverse. There are numerous political, social and philosophical positions on the subject, it is not a homogeneous organization.
  • Continuous. Feminism does not have an end, a goal to end with, but is part of a critical current of thought that updates its goals as society changes.
  • Multi-disciplinary. It does not focus on a single field of knowledge, but rather has lines of thought in various areas of the sciences and humanities.
  • Egalitarian. Feminism does not pursue the superiority of women over men, or anything like that, but rather an equal distribution of roles and social rights between the two.

What is it to be a feminist?

Feminist movement
Being a feminist means thinking that women should occupy an equal place in society.

There is no unique way to be a feminist, and there is a lot of misinformation about what it means to be. Some mistakenly think that it is a movement for the superiority of women, or a preaching of lesbianism, hatred of men, or many other baseless accusations.

It is true that there may be individuals, people, feminists or not, who believe these things, and which are commonly called “feminazis”. But those are superficial positions that have nothing to do with feminism.

Being a feminist means thinking that women should occupy an equal place in society and be willing to review the patterns that exist in it to make it more inclusive, fair and democratic in that sense. You can perfectly be a man and be a feminist.

Feminisms today

The debate on feminism today gave way to broader approaches to subalternity and the fight against patriarchy, in what is called Gender Studies (Gender studies) and that instead of focusing on the vindication of women, he prefers to address the idea of ​​gender (not sex, biologically determined) as a cultural construction that can be reviewed, criticized and modified.