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Posted on August 21st, 2012, by

Traditionally, women were in a disadvantageous position to men who traditionally played the dominant role in society. As a rule, women played secondary parts in the social life. It is worth mentioning that such a situation was a characteristic of different societies and culture which had nothing in common at first glance. However, the progress has brought changes in the relationships between men and women and in the late 19th 20th centuries the position of women has started to improve. In this regard women rights movement played probably the determinant role. At the same time, it is important to underline the fact that the emergence of women’s rights movement was determined by objective factors, which basically persisted from the first wave of women’s rights movement, which emerged in the late 19th century, till the present epoch.

First of all, it should be said that the emergence of women’s rights movement was influenced by socioeconomic factors, which actually provoked women to start the civil action against the existing social order to defend their basic human rights and liberties. At the same time, the first wave of women’s rights movement which occurred in the late 19th century was determined by the existing political inequality of women. To put it more precisely, during the first wave of women’s right movement women struggled for their constitutional rights to vote.

In this respect, it is important to underline the fact that women, unlike men, were deprived of the right to vote. Hence, they were underrepresented in the executive, legislative and judicial powers. This means they could not influence the policy of the country because they could not participate in the political life of the country.

In fact, the lack of political participation of women in the USA was apparently a discrimination of basic rights of women. In such a situation, when the political and social consciousness of women started to grow because of the improvement of their standards of living in the USA and spread of education, women could not remain excluded from the participation in the political life of their country[1]. At the same time, they viewed the right to vote and participation in the political life of the country as means of the improvement of their position in the society at large because they believed that through the participation in politics they could influence the process of decision making.

Hence, by means of political power women supposed to improve their economic position and social status.

However, socioeconomic factors became the major factors which determined the second wave of the women’s rights movement which grew particularly strong in the 1960s. In this respect, it is important to underline that women suffered from a severe discrimination in the process of employment. As a rule, they were deprived of equal job opportunities compared to men. For instance, their wages were lower, while jobs less prestigious compared to that of men[2]. Moreover, there existed a strict division of male and female jobs and it was very difficult for women to enter the domain of male jobs, while taking the high position in organizational structure, such as the position of CEO or top executive was practically impossible for women. This injustice naturally provoked a new wave of women’s struggle for their right and they enhanced their efforts in women’s rights movement.

At the same time, it is necessary to remember about another important factor that influenced on and contributed consistently to the emergence of the second wave of women’s rights movement. This factor was the Civil Rights movement which was headed by African American community of the USA. Their example encouraged other oppressed categories of the American population to fight for their rights and get larger and equal opportunities compared to the dominant group, which used to be predominantly white and male in the USA in the 1960s.

In addition, the role of sexual revolution can hardly be underestimated in the development of the women’s rights movement in the middle of the 20th century. In fact, the liberalization of relationships between men and women contributed to the growing independence of women and strife for equal and just relationships between men and women. Women attempted to gain the equal position which they had actually deserved because their contribution to the socioeconomic and cultural life of the country was comparable to that of men.

Finally, the recent, third wave of women’s civil rights movement mainly refers to the continuation of the women’s struggle for equality. In fact, the second wave failed to improve consistently the actual position of women in the society. Their socioeconomic and political equality was rather formal than real, since by the 1990s, women were still underrepresented at the top level in politics and economy. Thus, today, women continue their struggle for their rights and liberties. Even thought they have got the legal basis for the equality, they still need to get equal practical opportunities to exercises their rights and liberties.



[1] Hardisty, Jean. (1999). Mobilizing resentment: Conservative resurgence from the john birch society to the promise keepers. Boston: Beacon Press.

[2] Bonvillain, N. (1995). Women and men: Cultural constructs of gender. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

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