What Are the Four Waves of Feminism?

Since the mid-19th century, organized feminist movements in the United States have called for greater political, economic, and cultural freedom and equality for women. Yet not all of these movements have pursued the same specific goals, adopted the same approaches to activism, or included the same women’s groups in their rallying cry. Because of these generational differences, it’s common to hear feminism split into four distinct waves, each roughly corresponding to a different time period.

This concept of “waves of feminism” first emerged in the late 1960s as a way of differentiating the women’s movement emerging at the time from the earlier women’s rights movement that began in 1848 with the Seneca Falls Convention. At the same time, the idea of ​​a “second wave” also linked the movement to these earlier activists in a long and laudable struggle for women’s rights.

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