MCC is experiencing intermittent problems with its phone system including the dropping of calls. We are working to correct this problem, and we apologize for any inconvenience.

Waves of Feminism

1st wave of feminism

  • Took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Emerged from industrial revolution and liberal, socialist politics.
  • Formally began at the Seneca Falls Women’s Right’s Convention in 1848 (later conventions would continue to be held, including the 1883 convention where Sojourner Truth gave her moving “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech. Montcalm Community College 1st wave FEMINISM
  • Main goals of this movement were basic legal equality such as the right to vote, own property, and access higher education.
  • Considered to have ended with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920 which guaranteed women the right to vote.


  • 1950’s – 1980’s
  • Foundations emerged from women’s involvement in the workforce during World War II and a growing belief that women can and should be allowed to work outside the home.
  • Main focus was upon rights and laws related to sexuality, reproduction, marriage, equal employment opportunities, and equal pay for equal work. Montcalm Community College 2nd wave FEMINISM
  • Additional fuel came from the anti-war and civil rights movements in the 1960’s.
  • Emphasized the broader inclusion of women of color and women in developing nations in order to clarify that race, class, and gender oppression are all related.


  • 1990’s – 2010’s (?) (Note: whether we are still in the third wave or are in a fourth wave is under debate and will probably be unknown for some time).
  • Foundations emerged from the greater economic, professional, and political power of women that was gained during the Second Wave.
  • Focus upon the rights of women to engage in the professional, political, and economic world without being judged or limited by the fact that they are female. Montcalm Community College 3rd wave FEMINISM
  • Emphasized the right for women to be assertively in control of and display their own sexuality; sex positive approach to the female experience.
  • Even stronger emphasis on inclusion of race, gender, sexual orientation, and social class. “Intersectionality” is developed as a term to emphasize that people carry multiple labels that can interact to increase or decrease the oppression one experiences.
Jessica Snyder, Psychology Instructor