What has feminism achieved during the first wave of feminism, we have seen in this article. It’s time to speak about all the amazing achievements that followed. What has feminism accomplished during the second wave of feminism? Read in this article.
The second wave feminism was focused on the sexual liberation. By the 60s and 70s a lot of women worked, wanted to be able to get a divorce if they had to, etc. First safe houses were open, we looked differently at rape and wondered if it should be criminalized which it did get in the USA.
Right to abort legally was a huge fight, specially in France with Manifesto 343 Salopes. Women could go to prison for having an abortion, so they would secretly get one. They were sick and tired of this, so many famous women gathered to say that they were the ones that did get an abortion even under the risk to end up in prison. 343 women signed this document which few years later, at the beginning of the 1970s, led into a change of the law. Some important figures of this event were Simone de Beauvoir and Simone Veil.
Abortion is far from being legal in many countries even today. The right to abort is a very fragile right, it can be easily taken away, as was recently the case with some American states as well as Poland.
There are countries where abortion is partially permitted:
- if a woman’s life is in danger
- in case of a rape
- up until certain number of weeks (which can be very limiting)
In some countries doctors can deny the willingness to practice abortion and by the time a woman finds a doctor, it could already be legally too late. So, even though abortion is legal, it can be very tricky to get one.
Contraception and day after pill
Even though largely democratized during the second wave feminism, contraception pill is still a taboo in many places. There are still countries where you can get it only with a doctor’s prescription or your parents approval. It does not really go hand in hand with the idea that women can do whatever they want with their bodies.
Women could get fired for being pregnant
Women would be automatically fired when they would get pregnant. Today, at least legally, this has changed, but there are many women that experience unpleasant situations when they are looking for a job, on a job interview, when asked when they are planning to conceive. They also experience certain pressure upon their return to work after the leave. Some have lower salaries, others positions are changed without preventing them, others are harassed until pushed into giving up and leaving their jobs.
There are many women around the world that are not paid during their pregnancy leave or there are leaves that last only for few weeks. Three months in many developed countries is considered as normal, when a woman is still recovering and when the baby is still too small.
Even though all of this might seem pretty negative, certain progresses have been made also by opening day care, which is a public way of supporting women. My grandma had to leave her beloved job when my aunt was born in the 1940s. There were simply not options for women to continue working if they had children. But then my aunt and my mom did not have to do it.
In the 19th century, women in factories worked almost as long hours as men, but they earned twice less. Oh yes, the same work, but less salary.
Today, the situation with the salary has changed, but the real problem is the way the positions of power are distributed. In many cases, we cannot compare because there are not many women on the same positions as men. Today, lower manager positions are occupied in a bit more than 50%by women, while the highest CEO positions are held by women in only 4% of the cases. Disparity is still huge and there are different reasons for that.
One is the fact that there is still a lot of unpaid house work that women take care of and is still their load. Then, there are also some old beliefs, transmitted through generations. For example, there were certain external, objective reasons why women could not get certain rights or jobs, such as unequal and unjust laws or absence of daycare. Today that is no longer the case, but women have been living under certain pressure and condition for such a long time, that centuries long traditions cannot go away just like that.
This should not, under any circumstances, be an excuse not to do something, or to take away something from women, by saying that it had been like that for a long time. Now, women have many more things, they are free, but being free and empowered are two different things. Empowering is what women need now. They need to erase what they were taught before.
Women are competent as much as men
The mayor of Barcelona Ana Colau even said in the interview for BBC that, when she was making her government, she could not easily find women that would do those jobs. There were many more men aligned for them. That is because historically, those positions were held by men, therefore many more men feel entitled to certain position of power.
It is the story about feeling accountable for a job, competent and strong enough to do it. Many research shows that women with the same qualifications will feel much less suitable for the same job as a men. Men simply have more confidence that is not necessarily justified or that means that that men will do the job better.
What has feminism accomplished? At least we have certain awareness around this topic and with more and more women going to universities, these thigs will change. But, what we also see is that the women’s education is not enough. There has to exist the work around the empowerment.
Today 119 countries around the world have never had a woman as a leader. Only 14 countries in the world achieved the parity by having half of their ministers female.
According to The United Nations the highest positions of power will not be achieved for another 130 years!
Women could not do anything legally about sexual harassment
Sexual harassment was not considered as a problem that should be somehow solved.
Even though the laws have changed, there are many women around the world that are not in the position of suing their aggressor. The procedures are long, tedious and costly.
In the United States, court recognized sexual assault at workplace in 1977. For example, in Serbia, my home country, sexual assault has been recognized as such in 2017. However, there are still not many women reporting it. Very few men end up with strict and appropriate punishment. There is still not trust in the institutions around this matter and the mentalities are changing slowly. The change needs to come from the courts, police but also from the victims of violence.
Marital rape is criminalized
Women simply assume that sexually satisfying their husbands is their obligation. There needs to be mutual recognition, respect, care. Both sides need to enjoy the sexual intercourse, it should not be anyone’s obligation, but a moment of connection.
Even though marital rape is something that certain countries have recognized and criminalized, it stays a taboo and there are not many reports.
Women’s emotions are no longer seen as ‘’too delicate’’
Did you know that there are certain states in the US that did not allow women to be juries? Women were considered too emotional to exercise this profession. Also, it was considered that they should not leave their homes.
There are even women that were being taken as ill because of their ‘’bad mood’’. They would be medicated and it was suggested to them to rest. These women were set aside and doctors would literally say that there is something wrong with them.
Letting women express their emotions is also beneficial for men! Tears should be allowed to everyone!
Jobs don’t have gender
We have heard so many times that ballet is not for boys, or that truck driving is not for girls. I feel like we see more and more different genders be in the profession ‘’not considered for it’’. Younger generations are changing this paradigm so fast. What has feminism accomplished? Well, to see in less of a black-white way different professions.
I was recently in Switzerland and was amazed to see in the local buses that they were looking for new bus drivers and the announcement for it displayed a woman driving the bus. Was it a conscious decision to put a woman and work with these kinds of announcement on the gender equality? Probably, but what a great way not only to invite women to do this profession, but also to sensibilize all citizens that this profession can also be ‘’female’’. Or simply that professions don’t have gender. Period.
Domestic work is more equally distributed
I feel like our parents distributed work in very different ways. Even though our mothers were conscious of the fact that it is not up to them to do all the house work and the work around children’s education, they still accepted it. We, millennials, are the generation that has been changing it and I believe that Z and X generations will be even more persistent with this.
I had recently a conversation with a friend of mine who said that she felt she had to do more than her husband around the house. That whenever he would do something, she felt obliged to do more. I also saw husbands that, if they did something, they demanded their wives to also do chores. It is amazing how men take care of their rights. Yes, they do want to share equality, but they do not want to do more and are very vigilant and cautious about it.
Anyways, I also remembered when Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in her Ted Talk that someone was saying how their daughter in law changed because she did not like anymore to cook. I feel like we, women, tend to show off around the house skills, when we don’t really like to do it. But somehow, we still show the men how certain things should be done. As if, subconsciously, we had to show that we are good around the house, that we are a good marrying material. Yes, it’s also up to us to change it and say that it is ok for a man to work around the house. And yes, it is difficult because most of us, has not model to lean on. We looked at our mothers do everything, so we don’t have a solid ground of knowing how to do differently. We rather tend to reproduce what has been done before us.
Right to wear what ever we want
Even though there are certain ‘’consequences’’ for what we are wearing, we can be much freer in the way we dress today. Women in the XIX century could not do sports because they had to wear really heavy loads of clothed that was not adapted at all to physical activity. Women’s bodies have started to have certain liberation that lead to more awareness and acceptance of our bodies.
Even though there might be someone that could say that we are exposing ourselves to violence by ‘’provoking’’ men, many testimonials and reports show that rape does not necessarily happens when women are dressed certain way. Speaking about women’s clothes during the violent is a way of manipulation. Because instead of talking about the man that raped, we are focusing on the victim and finding excuses for the aggressor.
What has feminism accomplished during the second wave
I feel like, with a lot of current events that put a spotlight on violence against women, we have an impression that nothing has changed and tend to think in a negative way about social change. However, what we often do not realize is that change is a process and every step of that process is worth mentioning.
Even though many things that women started fighting for during the second half of the XX century are not completely rounded up or strong, grounded, they are still worth mentioning and acknowledging.
It is exhausting to see that women have to fight over and over again for what needs to be basic human rights and not only and necessarily women’s
Younger generations are most certainly changing the way we perceive the world, that is for sure! They have social media, they are braver, sharper, girls see the example of their mothers who, as millennials are still in some kind of intergenerational transition, but still not willing to accept everything. Bit by bit things are changing.
Sometimes it takes the whole generation for the society to change only one thing.
So, the next time someone asks you What has feminism achieved, you can give them the whole list of things. But also remind them of the fact that the fight is long and sometimes exhausting, but that women have that strength and that they will never give up!