We’re In The Third Wave of Feminism In The United States. Here’s A Look Back At The Other Two Waves.

The First Wave: 1830s to Early 1900s

Though certain feminist ideals have existed since humanity began and women have built up these ideals constantly, many state that the first wave of organized feminism began in the United States in the 1830s. Activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a leader in this movement and held the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. It issued a declaration of sentiments, which expressed how women’s rights were being limited. More women’s rights conventions were held afterward.

By 1860, the Married Women’s Property Act was passed in 14 states. This gave women basic rights to own property, make wills, have ownership of their children and work for a salary. By 1865, this act expanded to 29 states.

In 1916, Margaret Sanger opened America’s first birth control clinic. And in 1920, in the clearest political success of the first wave, women earned the right to vote.

The Second-Wave: 1960s to 1980s

After World War II, the second wave of feminism targeted women in the workplace and family, sexuality, and reproductive rights.


It really kicked off in 1961, when a government report highlighted how women were discriminated in every aspect of American life.

In 1963, the Equal Pay Act became law in the United States and established equal pay for men and women performing equal work.

Changes in custody and divorce law were made. And Women’s Equality Day was established in the United States on August 26, 1971.

The Third-Wave: 1990s to Present

Even though a lot of progress has been made, the third wave continues to fight for things like equal pay and the right for women to have control over their own bodies.  

Some say that it stems from an underground punk movement called Riot grrrl. Bands such as Bikini Kill and Sleater Kinney sang about issues such as sexuality, domestic abuse and female empowerment, inspiring others to take action.

The third-wave also comprises many different types of feminism from all over the world. With an ever more interconnected world, different feminist groups can unite like never before.

Women have come a long way and are showing no sign of stopping.

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