The movement that has been known as “second wave feminism” emerged in a number of western European countries and the United States in the late 1960’s. When the earlier feminists movements were concerned with advocating civil rights such as women’s right to vote, the second wave of feminist movement is different. However, it still addressed the issue on women being socially and politically disadvantaged despite the several privileges and opportunities that were granted by virtue of then first movement. But in general, second wave feminism covers a whole variety of organizations, groups, and campaigns that seek to liberate women from the oppressive male structures and promote gender equality among all humans (Henig, 2001).
This marked the the era of feminist movement with the most participants and movements from most countries. This is because for the following reasons. First, in the United States, activism and feminist writing has inspired a lot of women in Europe. Also, peace campaigns and movements in Britain as well as student protests in many west European countries has encouraged many women into political activism. Second, there was an increased opportunity for women to access higher education. Third, technology and labor-saving devices have reduced the amount of time that a woman will have to devote to household chores. Fourth, the ongoing availability of contraceptives and the increased awareness about it has made women control their fertility and limit their family sizes. Fifth, 1960’s was also the time of economic growth where women are now drawn to work. Sixth, as more opportunities were available to women they have become more aware of the unfairness that they experience in the workplace and in the political arena (Henig, 2001).
The second wave feminist movement emerged in two separate streams which can also be traced in two distinct roots. First would be the equal rights tendency which is rooted from from the feminist movements during the New Deal and the World War II. This is the era where female leaders were active in issues concerning social justice and human welfares. During this time, there were struggles and campaigns for better housing, consumer rights, union representations, and sex equality. This movement have achieved many reforms politically. In 1961, they have persuaded President Kennedy to establish a Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. This commission has created the National Organization for Women (NOW) that focused on the fight for equal rights of men and women in terms of employment and law. The organization has already litigated class-action lawsuits against self-discrimination. Professional feminist advocates have exerted effort on elected and appointed officials in order to achieve these reforms. As a matter of fact, President Johnson have issued an Executive Order 11375 that prohibited sex discrimination by federal contractors. They have also pressured Congress to approve the 27th amendment which will protect the civil rights of women in the United States (Hewitt, 2002).
The second stream of the “second wave feminist movements” is known as the women’s liberation. It has a different style as that of the first stream. Aside from women being younger and less professional, they insist a woman-only group. They yearned to challenge the private and the public, the psychological and the economic, and the cultural and legal aspects of male dominance over women. Their main contribution to feminist movements would be consciousness raising. They form a structured discussion in which women have a chance to share their experiences to other women so that they could develop an understanding towards the many personal problems that they as a group confronts everyday in a patriarchal society. They have also spread the news and their advocacies through distribution of leaflets and pamphlets. There were also community women schools that offer courses on auto mechanics, Marxism, karate, and childbirth preparation. After these, there were also action groups. Feminist advocates have pressured their employers that they be provided with daycare centers for their children, women’s centers and schools, and feminist scholarships (Hewitt, 2002).
It has continued the first wave feminism practices by advocating feminist rights in the civil and political arena. Only that it has different approach and aims. It is more mainstream because it involve not only the advocates and the authorities but ordinary women from the community. First, it would want public attention to the fact that there is a continuing oppression among women by men in high-profile activities. Second, it would want to construct a political framework so that women could work to achieve their goals without men domination. Most importantly, it aims to challenge the traditional view on the roles of women in the society. They wanted to revolutionize the way people think about the role of women as child bearers. As matter of fact, they challenge the traditional view on contraceptives and abortion. Women should be the one given the right to control their fertility (Henig, 2001).
The second wave feminism has become the most famous of all the feminists movements. It has a great impact not only among the legislators and the government officials but also on ordinary people. Because of this, it has altered the entire perception of the society on the roles and capabilities of women as an empowered group (Hewitt, 2002)