Feminsim Before The First Wave

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Five Leaves paperback
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“I have no quarrel with the use of waves as a metaphor for feminism. On the contrary – waves and feminism have a lot in common. Waves are powerful and often beautiful. So is feminism. Waves move things about. So does feminism, Waves rock the boat. Exactly.”

The ‘first wave’ of feminism is usually considered to have begun around 1860 and ended in 1920. The ‘second wave’ supposedly began in the 1960s. But this does not mean that there was no feminist activity before 1860, or between 1920 and 1960. Zoë Fairbairns argues in this essay that to consider only the ‘waves’ of feminism is to exclude and erase the ideas and actions of women writers, activists, and others who strove for freedom and equality outside those ‘waves’.

“…let’s leave erasure to the erasers, and keep our minds open to the possibility, the certainty, that there was feminism before the first wave.”