“First Wave” Feminist Movement Essay

“First Wave” Feminist Movement Essay

The reading explicitly details the pathways used by women and men in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries to advocate for the realization of equality of rights across a wide spectrum of domains, including civil, social, economic, political, intellectual, and judicial. From the reading, it is indeed correct to argue that the advocates used open public forums rather than violent means to air their grievances and denounce oppressive and unjust laws.“First Wave” Feminist Movement Essay

From the reading, it is clear that the activists of this era defined a feminist as someone who was actively involved in fighting against the disenfranchisement, degradation, oppression, and deprivation of women in civil, social, economic, political, intellectual and judicial domains. As such, feminists such as Elizabeth Candy Stanton and Lucy Stone concerned themselves with ensuring that women received immediate admission to all rights, freedoms, and privileges that were inherent to them as citizens of the United States of America (Zinn & Arnove, 2009).


In discussing the groups of people included in the ‘first wave’ feminist movement, it is imperative first to point out that it is the women who were exposed to unjust laws, oppression and social, political, and religious degradation. This implies that more enlightened and financially stable black women, such as Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone took part in the movement to create awareness and educate their less-enlightened counterparts. While Stone was the first woman in the United States to earn a college degree, Anthony used her resources to publish her newspaper with the sole objective to create awareness among women and encourage them to rebel against repressive forms of law (Zinn & Arnove, 2009). Former slaves and anti-slavery women activists were also involved.“First Wave” Feminist Movement Essay

The activists, more than anything else, wanted to achieve equality of rights and stop discriminative and oppressive laws, which were made, interpreted, “…administered by men, in favor of men and against women” (Zinn & Arnove, 2009, p. 131). More specifically, the activists wanted women to be given a right to vote in the elective franchise, right to own property, right to be an equal partner in marriage, right to fair remuneration and equal job opportunities, right to education, as well as right to public participation and decision-making in matters of the state and the church (Zinn & Arnove, 2009).“First Wave” Feminist Movement Essay

The activists relied on the use of open public forums to air their grievances and drive the message home. In 1848, for instance, Elizabeth Canton organized the Seneca Falls convention to appeal to women to demand their rights as citizens. In the convention, Elizabeth said they “…shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and National legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in [they’re] behalf” (Zinn & Arnove, 2009, p. 128). All of these are public forums. Susan B. Anthony used the courtroom to air her grievances, and also employed her publications as a tool to educate women to demand their inalienable rights as American citizens. In 1851, another advocate – Sojourner Truth – used a public gathering to air her grievances.

It can be concluded that the methodology used by the activists assisted them in achieving their goals and objectives. Today, women in the United States can participate in voting and any other activity that was previously viewed as a preserve of men. Women are now equal partners in marriage and can own property, have an equal right to education and job opportunities, and are included in the formulation of laws that govern them.


Zinn, H., & Arnove, A. (2009). Voices from a people’s history of the United States (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Seven Stories Press.“First Wave” Feminist Movement Essay

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