Talk:First-wave feminism

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Is the term "first-wave feminism" really only used to describe the movements in the U.S. and the U.K? What do we call the women's movement in Germany at the time? ntennis 00:24, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

My understanding was that "First wave feminism" is used to retroactively refer to most/all nineteenth century 'feminist' movements.
It's not what they called themselves, of course. There is no universal terminology that "first wave" or "second wave" or "third wave" is a part of - it's as valid as you make it.
So, yes, if you want it to, "First-wave Feminism" can apply both to the American movements, the British, the Australian, the German, the French, and the movements across the rest of Europe as well.
I think this article is definitely too US-centric, and needs a good dose of history (to compare and contrast) from other parts of the world as well. If you have some German information to contribute, go ahead. --Dissembly 4:36pm Tuesday 7th March 2006
If the women's movement in Europe is included in "first-wave feminism", then the statement that this "first wave" ended around 1920 is far too US/UK-centric. Women did not get the vote in France until 1944 and there was a very active suffrage movement there in the interwar years. Shouldn't this also be treated as part of the "first wave"? It depends on whether you consider the "three waves" of feminism to be international in nature or a term applying more strictly to anglophone feminism. Iamcuriousblue (talk) 01:42, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

Marie Stopes more second wave than first, Eugenics? This is one of the parts of our feminist history that is a bit too easy to brush aside because it doesn't f it in well with the 'great story arc' of feminism. The second wave was full of messy interestingness ( Child support being perhaps -in the UK at least- the idea that had the longest shelf life), after the 'give us the vote' phase and before the 'hey, why aren't we equal yet?' phase came the second wave with the flirting with eugenic, feminism's teenage years?

I would question the assertion that the second wave was more radical, Matilda Joslyn Gage was *the business* and firmly first wave. She wrote a lot about women an technology but not from a wimpy-assed, 'what could we do if only we were equal' standpoint but from a, 'look, here are all the things that women have done, despite the odds, but hey, they have been left out of the histories' perspective. I have seen a photo of her sitting front row centre in a 'team photo' of some big American conference. It's ironic that as the 'historian' she is the one getting elbowed into the spine of the book by Cady Stanton and Susan B, and elbowed into the margins by historians of the women's movement. When they joined forces with Willard's bunch they lurched to the right and it was handy to gloss over the more radical elements like Gage... Personally, I think that Gage still casts a long shadow through our culture thanks to her son-in-law's (L Frank Baum's) Oz books, but that's wandering off topic.

It's probably not that useful to make comparison's like "The majority of first-wave feminists were more moderate and conservative than radical or revolutionary" surely it's more about the time than the radicalism? utilly —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:16, 6 July 2010 (UTC)


  • Davidson, Dianne, Women on the warpath : feminists of the first wave, University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, WA, 1997.
Australian women were also granted suffrage in South Australia 1861(part) and 1894(full). See also, Bessie Rischbieth. Is there a feminist project? ☻ Fred|discussion|contributions 12:09, 13 May 2007 (UTC)


I'm removing the following text for the moment:

Both Stanton and Anthony believed that abortion was an imposition of the patriarchy upon women and that if decisions about abortion were placed into the hands of women, it would happen far less often (or cease entirely):

Much as I deplore the horrible crime of child-murder, earnestly as I desire its suppression, I cannot believe that such a law would have the desired effect. It seems to me to be only mowing off the top of the noxious weed, while the root remains. We want prevention, not merely punishment. We must reach the root of the evil, and destroy it.

− Susan B. Anthony, The Revolution, 1869.

For Anthony and Stanton, the root of the evil was men's political control over women through marriage, family and property laws as well as social control through the popularized notion of true "womanliness."

This text appears as a non sequiter. It would make sense only in the context of discussing abortion and contraception as issues for first-wave feminism. It's my understanding that, despite the fact that women like Stanton and Anthony supported it, legalised abortion was not a major rallying point for first-wave feminists, because 1) at the time, it was considered too radical and politically dangerous and 2) the first-wavers were divided on the issue. However, I don't know enough of the history to write this myself.

Speaking of context, it strikes me as a peculiar omission not to mention that Anthony is obviously arguing against an anti-abortion law in the quote.

I also dislike that there is so much attention to abortion in the text compared to other goals of the first wave. It's an important issue, and the position put forth in the quote is quite interesting. But, come on! If we're going to investigate the issues, let's at least give equal space to access to education and contraception, voting and property rights, divorce, abolition.... As a feminist I have strong opinions about abortion, but it does not define the movement, especially in the era in question. 23:00, 9 July 2007 (UTC)SLH

I have taken two liberties, one to block quote the removed text in the above statement. The second was to undo the removal. I will restore it, however, the problem lies in the lack of development in this article. The text and quote may resemble something given to support an explanation of the abortion issue, as it relates to 'first wave', but this short article lacks the context for its presentation. In contrast to the view given above, my own understanding is that legislation such as this, or the Contagious Diseases Acts (1864), were to so significantly impact on the health and welfare on Women (and children), that a notable current or goal emerged. Vociferous opponents of these policies presented them as systematic or social practices that impacted directly on health, or led to higher rates of infant and adult mortality. It remained a foundation goal of some feminist organisations, if not the sole aim. It was 'radical and politically dangerous', it would more likely be expounded outside of the conservative movement or by those with less ambitious goals. The frequent overlap of the association's membership would seen opponents seated at the same table. The issue remained important throughout the history of the feminism and was indisputably divisive. I suppose I should provide some citation for this :P ☻ Fred|discussion|contributions 09:58, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Actually if you read closely the quote does support antiabortion laws, since she refers to abortion as "child murder" and says "We want prevention, not merely punishment," this shows she is not opposed to punishing those involved in abortion. Anthony just does not think antiabortion laws alone will necessarily fix the problem of abortion since it will not address the condition of women. This quote is one of the many used by feminists for life . Anthony blamed both men and women for abortion, she believed no motive justified it: "No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed." —Preceding unsigned comment added by Theruteger (talkcontribs) 04:54, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

UK in the 19th century[edit]

Skipping from Woolstonecraft to suffrage, skips... a whole lot. Like a century of meetings, conventions, campaigns and lives. I've added an Expand tag to flag this issue. --Yamara 06:17, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Elaborate reforms[edit]

Can you elaborate on "reforms in higher education, in the workplace and professions, and in healthcare." I'm always looking for more details & I think others would like to know also. Stars4change (talk) 06:00, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

When exactly was it possible for women to own property? What year/s? Stars4change (talk) 06:01, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
The history of feminism and Women and Islam articles say in the Middle Ages, depending on where one lived. -SusanLesch (talk) 18:28, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

Race and religion in the first wave[edit]

I have reverted an edit which added information about how Black women, Catholic women and Jewish women were sidelined by WASP women in the first wave. The thoughts expressed were poorly shaped, with incorrect facts employed, such as "At a time when ALL American men were granted the right to vote..." This article discusses woman suffrage during times when not all could vote, as well as after the 15th Amendment which did not truly give the right to vote to all U.S. men; it gave the states leeway to demand that voters have money or property or whatever, but forbade them to limit voters by race or color or whether they had been slaves.

I don't think this article is the right place to hash out the differences between AWSA and NWSA—differences which were seen as very large if you were in NWSA or not so large if you were not. Both groups wanted female suffrage at the federal level. Anyway, I'm trying to limit the U.S. section for reasons of undue weight given to a global subject. Binksternet (talk) 02:22, 12 January 2010 (UTC)


Everything in this article is appropriate, though it is only in draft-state. Lenin's October Revolution was essential to European feminism; for example, Alexandra Kollontai and Inessa Armand. Revan ltrl (talk) 20:44, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

1918 UK law: house or property owner? and above age 29 or 30?[edit]

Two discrepancies exist regarding the sentence "Representation of the People Act 1918 had given women the right to vote if they were property holders and older than 29." (The sentence is in the subsection Early 20th Century.) This differs from a similar sentence in Feminism, which is being proposed for trimming because of excess length, so the sentence is likely to be deleted from Feminism but preserved here, so if this article's sentence is in error, it should be corrected here. The sentence in Feminism's First Wave subsection: "In 1918, the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed, granting the vote to women over the age of 30 who owned houses." The discrepancies:

If it should be "house", "owner", or "older than 30", this article needs correcting. If you know the answer to any of these points, please go ahead.

Thank you. Nick Levinson (talk) 19:03, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

Sources do not agree.
Over thirty
Thirty years and over
I imagine we will have to put both in the article, with cites to both. Binksternet (talk) 20:09, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

/* United States */[edit]

United States[edit]

the last paragraph on the United States draft is not neutral or verifiable:

Many white women excluded black women from their organizations and denied them the right to participate in events because they feared that the racist attitudes of Southern voters would affect their support of the women's movement. One notable instance of black exclusion was at a Washington parade in 1913, when activist Alice Paul did not allow the black feminist Ida Wells-Barnett to march with the other white women; instead, Paul told her that she could march at the back of the procession with the other black women.

Who is to say why white women put black women at the back of the line? If there is no citation, remove the text. Even with a citation, I would dispute its neutrality. To imply that no first-wave feminists were racist seems hardly realistic. It looks more like someone is trying to downplay a potential criticism of first-wave feminism, hence my dispute about its neutrality. Since I don't know much about how to edit Wikipedia, I won't try to edit the page myself; I'll just make a note here. (talk) 03:57, 26 October 2010 (UTC) Gary