As we know, feminism is not a new concept. Women all over the world have been fighting for their equal rights for centuries now. Are there any historical feminists that you know off the top of your head? Yes? Maybe? No? Whatever your answer to that question might be, don’t fret. Look below for a little homage to our sisters of the past and present who have raised their voices for feminism. Keep in mind, this is only a few of many. Feel free to do some research of your own. It’s time to pay some respect to our strong sisters!
Betty Friedan (1921 – 2006) is probably best known for her book published in 1963, The Feminine Mystique, that could even be considered the push into what is known as second-wave feminism. This book focuses on the unhappiness of American housewives in the fifties and sixties, analyzing societal forces and beliefs that hold these women into their domestic prisons. Friedan was also the founder of NOW, the National Organization for Women, where she also served as the first president. She continued to be involved with feminism and activism for he entire life, continuing to write as well.
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797) could easily be considered one of the first modern feminists, sparking the entire movement that we at Grrl Punch embrace. She created one of the first works in feminist philosophy, Vindication of the Rights of Women, published in 1792, which pushes for a broader education for women among other things. Even in her novels, Wollstonecraft breaks apart typical female stereotypes such as a heightened sensibility or over-involvement with the heart-fluttering romances depicted in novels. She even promotes strong female friendships, and the one between her characters of Maria and Jemima was groundbreaking for feminist literature.
Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971) was a fashion designer from France who led the revolution in women’s clothing during the early twentieth century. Because of her, we are no longer struggling for breath in corsets or looked down upon for wearing pants. She took uncomfortable fashions and pushed them out, introducing new, more comfortable clothing for women. She even kicked down a major gender stereotype by taking pants, which were seen on men and men only during that time, and making them an accessible fashion option for women.
Coretta Scott King (1927 – 2006) was much more than just the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. While she did work with her husband during the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties, King also incorporated women’s rights and LGBT rights into her fight for equality. She stood strong as an activist for all of these causes and worked hard to dismantle sexism in the Civil Rights Movement.
Nawal el Saadawi (1931 – ) is an Egyptian writer and feminist who advocates against the process of genital mutilation, especially on females. As a child she was forced to undergo the very process she protests against, and the book she published in 1972 relating to the topic, called Woman and Sex (when translated into English), is noted as one of the important works in which modern feminism is based on. She has written numerous other works, so, hey, if you’re curious, check them out!
Well, there you have it. You have officially dipped your toe into the historical pool of feminism. Embrace this history! These are your sisters in feminism, fellow women who have taken a stand for equality and raised their voices. Keep in mind there is so much more to learn about these women and others as well. Hopefully this article inspires you to look further into feminism’s history and the women who worked so hard to make it happen.
Keep fighting, Grrl Punchers!