From early ages, women have been fighting for their rights. A never-ending battle against centuries of oppressive patriarchal norms that gave men an upper hand in society. However, with each passing generation, the fight for equality and liberation has only grown stronger.
This constant war is between chauvinist norms, traditions/culture and the 21st-century feminist. A war that was flagged off at the beginning of the First Wave Feminist Movement.
The First Wave of Feminism started in the early 19th/ 20th century. The Movement was against laws that disenfranchised women, focused mainly on suffrage and overturning legal obstacles to gender equality (e.g., voting rights and property rights) The first wave of feminism was primarily led by white women in the middle class, and it was not until the second wave of feminism that women of colour began developing a voice.
The success and turnout of women led to second-wave feminism in the early 1960s which broadened the debate to include a wider range of issues: sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, and official legal inequalities.
Second-wave feminism also drew attention to the issues of domestic violence and marital rape, engendered rape crisis centres and women’s shelters, and brought about changes in custody laws and divorce laws. Feminist-owned bookstores, credit unions, and restaurants were among the key meeting spaces and economic engines of the movement. This movement lasted for two decades physically but still lingered in the hearts of women who knew they had more to offer other than the hole between their two legs.
Having gained more than just enfranchisement, the third movement was birthed this time with more confidence and guts!
Reaffirming that each generation had its powerful women who would not be silenced by a society that wants her seen not heard. The third wave became the carrier of theories such as post-modern feminism including the right to individualized uniqueness and gender expression including the right for women to have complete control and ownership of their bodies and the use of birth pills.
The Fourth Wave of Feminism is our present wave- the digital and online activation wave. Some consider this wave as a man-bashing movement but I say it is the revert movement to the ‘its a man’s world movement’. The Fourth Wave is also seeing rapists being reported and apprehended and rape victims boldly speaking out without fear of being tagged ‘ashewo’. Seeing laws that would protect widows from traumatising experiences meted on them by their late husband’s family all in the name of tradition.
It’s a mental emancipation where a woman is fully aware that she need not to be in competition with a man to prove a point, but to be in competition with her old self, to be a better person in a society or environment that would give her the equal opportunities and chances as also given to a man. Where a woman who bore all girls would earn the same respect as a woman who bore all boys because the 9-month phase and birth experience of both a male and a female child do not differ.
Where a woman can own her own success without society saying her success story was irrelevant because she was a Miss. Where all women were decision-makers in their homes, not just the ‘woman wey I put for house’.
This wave of feminism has come to stay. And it would be a wave we would tell our daughters and sons that we were proudly part of.
Power’s not given to you. You have to take it.” – Beyonce, Award-Winning Singer