Saturday, August 22, 2009

The History and Evolution of the Western Feminist Movement:


The first wave of feminism evolved over the centuries, becoming more active and visible in the late 1800s, generally wanting basic equality in terms of being recognized as a "person", voting rights, as well as property rights. The second wave pushed again for more complete equality in the 1960s. The main causes focused on employment equity, the family, and related issues. An outcrop of the second wave that developed in the late 1960s were the radical Marxists Socialist Feminist; this strain of ideology took hold and began co-opting the entire feminist movement in the late 1970s (probably around 1978) morphing into the 3rd wave. The second wave saw men more as partners and inviting them to take on more equal roles in the home, childcare, and related domestic issues. The key here is balance and equality.


The third wave feminists arose along side the "shelter movement" and eventually gained a foothold in the 1980s. This Marxist Socialist more radical third wave was like the second wave of the French Revolution in the late 1700s (i.e., executing the revolutionaries and taking over), pushing people like Senator Cools and Erin Pizzey out of the movement as being too moderate and not militant enough. Third wavers began to see men and boys as, at least, potential abusers who were/are the enemy. The main agenda of third wave feminists was a bifurcated effort in both shelters and academe. The shelters were looking for continued financing and creating what is now a "shelter industry".


Academics in Women's studies and related disciplines produced domestic violence research, parenting research, and related studies. Gaining power and finances in order to create favourable (to the third wave) definitions of the family, violence, and related issues are important projects for both groups in this wave. The third wave saw the family as their sphere of academic influence in terms of how mothering, fathering, the family, and other related issues should be defined.

The pro-feminist movement (third wave feminist men) facilitated definitions of masculinity, fathering, and related issues, which managed masculinity and created limitations for men as opposed to partnerships. Equality has been removed in terms of the Fatherhood Involvement Movement, which encourages certain men (usually part of intact families) to behave in diminutive parenting roles. This movement does not really promote the inclusion of separated and divorced fathers, especially those in the Fathers' Rights Movement (FRM).


Instead, this "involvement" movement distances itself from the FRM, leaving fathers (and some mothers) outside the parenting equation, only adding in fathers that are taking what they deem to be their version of an ideologically pro-feminist fathering stance.

Ideologically, the third wave (feminists and pro-feminists) is generally adversarial, seeing men and boys as abusers or potential abusers, fathers as disposable, promoting forms of misandry (in the media), and being more interested in managing masculinity (and femininity), and not really trying to strike an equitable balance that favours children, the family, the common good.


Dr. Robert A. Kenedy

Associate Professor

Department of Sociology

Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies

138 Founders College

York University

Toronto, Ontario