Paper Example on Different Waves of Feminism in Canadian History

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1900 Words
Date:  2022-06-23

Second-Wave Feminism

The Second Wave Feminism was a period of thought and activity that was started around the 1960s in the United States. According to Valk (2018), the movement lasted for around two decades within which it spread throughout the Western World. The objective of the Second Wave Feminism was to increase the equality for women by all means. During the early times of the 20th century, women did not engage in economic activities, law-making, and politics due to their involvement in domestic cores which were seen as their primary role in the society. The movement, therefore, addressed issues negatively affecting women like unemployment amongst women. The research is going to explain the Second-Wave Feminism accurately; how it started, the causes and the changes it brought about. It will also discuss the transition period from the Second-Wave Feminism to the Third-Wave Feminism.

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Unlike the first-wave feminism which focused on eliminating legal obstacles for gender equality, that is voting and property rights; the second-wave feminism concentrates on expanding the goals to include more issues such as work, sexuality, family, official inequalities in legal matters and reproductive rights (Medin, 2015). Issues of domestic violence, rape centers, and marital rape were also put into consideration. It brought some amendments to the divorce law and custody laws. Some of the economic factors that supported the movement include; credit unions, restaurants, and bookstores owned by feminists which provided meeting space. The second- wave feminism was both socially influential and politically powerful in Canada (Moynagh, 2014).

The Formation Second-Wave Feminism

David (2016) says that the second wave of feminism began with the creation of the Voice of Women which campaigned for the disarmament of nuclear and peace. The period ended with the establishment of the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund whose role was to defend the rights that had been promised in the new constitution. The campaign improved the lives of many women in Canada. For instance, in Canada, the blue collar jobs were only preserved for the men, and after the revolution, women were able to have equal opportunities.

In addition to this, it also changed the traditional portrayal of the women by the media who are currently highly valued (Bociurkiw, 2016). The feminists who were involved in the movement were able to open up discussions on issues that were seen as private, and they were able to be scrutinized by the public to bring about change in Canada. Irrespective of the dramatic accomplishments that were achieved by the women's movement during the second wave, the acceptance of equality was a significant objective in Canada.


During this period, both scholarly and creative feminist work inspired activism after challenging misogyny. Highlighting women's day of paid domestic labor provided a way to evaluate oppression. Earlier on, analysis relied on liberal frameworks with the emphasis on roles of different genders (David, 2016). However, with the introduction of women's studies such as the introduction of women and gender into history, psychology, languages and other disciplines increased the range of theoretical perspectives. In the year 1982, the Canadian Women's Studies Association was formed, and after two years the federal government established five regional chairpersons in studies of women.

The women's liberation movement that was created during the second wave was mainly focused on the public and the private lives of women across the country. The primary challenge was facing public protests that enabled the activists to have a voice. According to Hobbs (2013), television screens introduced the individuals who were involved in the demonstrations as iconic figures who helped in the sensitization. The royal commission on the status of women produced a report in 1970 that helped in updating individuals on the aspects of enhancing the power that the women had in addition to their portfolio status. In the 1960s, there was a shift in the public policy and the public opinion and the women's liberation during this time was quite exuberant and at times there was no fun that was allowed to take place (Rasherford, 2015). The authors offered a challenge that was taken up by many readers in Canada leading to the establishment of the movement.

At this point, there were two generations of the Canadian women, those that were involved in the first wave and those who were involved in the second wave of feminism. It took some time to bridge the generation gap between the parents and the young people to enable them to confront the long histories of what it meant to become a woman. Rasherford (2015) says that in 1970, the country introduced women's studies and programs that were attended at the Canadian colleges and campuses. The reviews helped in eliminating the old assumptions especially those that concern property and ownership rights of the women. Although the feminists fought for gender equality, most of the challenges were faced at the beginning of the wave mainly concerned balance. The movement had momentum although on several instances it crashed the opposition from both women and men as was conditioned by the assumptions made in the past.

Political Rights

Most of the Canadian women gained political rights and access during the second wave of feminism. The women who continued to support reproductive, wage, property ownership and marriage rights also helped in eliminating the level of unhappiness that the women had to improve their comfort and to enjoy their domestic lives (Hobbs & Rice, 2013). However, the problem that existed was the fact that the Canadian women seemed to have good suburban homes and families that were built by the men. All the same, these women did not have the opportunity to join the universities for further education. The situation described the reason as to why the women felt unsatisfied with their lives leading to boredom. The women wanted more to feel part of the society, and thus a movement would be the best way to draw attention and empower themselves (Harrison, 2010).


The sense of emptiness among the women in the second wave of feminism in Canada mainly relied on an understanding of the impacts of structural gender inequality on women. The happiness of the women was only tied to the home, and the first wave did not have a massive impact because fewer and fewer women left their homes to go to the workplace. In addition to this, there were also a few women who were able to chauffeur their children to school and attend social gatherings together with their husbands. According to Bociurkiw (2016), the scholars in the second wave drew particular attention in both public and the private spaces to change the lives of the young girls who had not yet been affected by the traditions where the women were not provided with opportunities. All the same, some individuals criticized the second wave based on the aspect that the female activist would even take the private and personal issues to the public. In addition to this, they also claimed that it was impossible to compare the challenges that were experienced in the homes with those that were faced by the state.

Initially, the women who were energized by Friedan's book joined the leaders who were in government to act as representatives so that they could be able to achieve equality (Valk, 2018). The women were also able to help in imposing laws that would prevent their discrimination in the workplace. Nevertheless, in 1966, the conclusions meant that the evidence that was provided by the activists was not sufficient. The organization that they later formed did not have instant success although by the end of the second year the organization had gathered a population of about a thousand members who were subdivided into ideological divisions.

The group made attempts to change the bill of rights for the women, and they only found a consensus in six measures that would ensure that the women experienced equality (Ross, 2010). The enforcement of the laws helped in banning the culture of discriminating against women in the workplace and also enabling them to have maternity leave and also to have access to childcare. David, 2016 says that women also enjoyed privileges such as tax deductions and organizations and institutions taking care of their childcare expenses.

The equal rights amendment that took place in the country led to enormous controversies that led to the change of the Canadian constitution among other regions in North America. The law demanded that every individual would have equal rights regardless of their sex and it also liberalized abortion for the women. Thus, this meant that the women had been granted the free will to have children and give birth as they wished. Years later other members requested the repeal of the constitution to review the rule that led to the legalization of abortion. Through this, Canada was able to eliminate the problem of discrimination both legally and economically. In the second wave of feminism, the groups that pursued the movement were able to create broader themes of the liberalization of the women (Janovicek & Carstairs, 2013). However, the individuals failed to have a coherent and national structure. Within a short period, the women activists increased in number, and they were able to cause a change in a huge way. Therefore, one can assert that the movement in the second wave brought another dimension of leadership for a short period. In the twentieth century, the Canadian women were able to gain job opportunities, and this also led to the change in the entire economy.

The Third-Wave Feminism

In the past, it is evident that movements did not last longer than a year because with time people lose the vision or seem to have accomplished their goals. At the end of the twentieth century, the third wave of feminism began, and it was started by a different group of individuals. The movement that was started by the Canadian women was however hastened to ensure that the equal rights amendments were adhered to. Carstairs (2013) says that the Canadian history only gave priorities to the men who were allowed to perform every activity including jobs and governance.

Elizabeth Cady Staton is another feminist who was at the forefront to eliminate inequality among the individuals in the society (Harrison, 2010). Her focus was also on family, work, and sexuality which are areas that helped in shaping the course of the Canadian history. The second wave of feminism led to the rise of more radical feminists and movements that helped in empowering the women economically. In 1968, there was a revolutionary movement that wanted to eliminate the stereotypical notion of being a female and letting go of the traditional gender expectations.

The activists were able to show how the women were undermined and oppressed by the male-dominated society. As compared to the third wave feminism, the second wave was relatively quiet, and the women were still locked into their traditional roles as nurses, mothers, secretaries and teachers which were roles that were considered to be feminine (Moynagh, 2014). More women realized that they needed freedom and this would begin by changing the patriarchal attitudes. The Canadian women put a lot of pressure on the government so that it could pass the equal rights amendments in a way that the women would not be denied opportunities in their own country. According to Ghorfat & medina (2015), by the end of 1990, the third wave movement had begun to sprout because it entailed a different generation of women who also wanted to end the issues of race, class, and sexuality.

Bociurkiw(2016) notes that Many...

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