What was the Second Wave Feminist Movement?

Women’s Liberation March  in Washington, D.C. in 1970

Today, feminism is an ideology/theory that most people fail to fully understand. Feminism has been described as having three separate waves. The first wave of feminism started in the mid-19th Century and culminated with the women’s suffrage movement. Second wave feminism started in the late 1950s moved into the 1980s. Historians and feminist/gender scholars describe today’s feminist theory, ideology and social/political movement as the third wave of feminism. The ‘’second wave’’ of feminism started after the women were forced out of the workplace after end of World War Two and essentially ended with the failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Second-wave feminism splintered after criticism grew that the movement had focused on white women to the the exclusion of everyone else.

The women’s movement before the 1920s was characterized by the suffrage movement that led to women gaining the right to vote. From the 1890s and early part of the 20th century, much of the women’s movement focused on general societal inequalities and, such as poor working and housing conditions, while also focusing on social ills such as alcoholism and prostitution. Black women in the Southwest of the United States, during the 1930s, for instance, joined labor unions such as the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) to protest poor wages and work environments they had to endure. [1] Apart from this general social activism and gaining the right to vote, gender-specific topics, including equality in work and pay, were not major focus areas.

In the 1940s, women gained increasing employment as men left overseas to fight in World War II. In fact, it was World War II that can be argued as the major trigger for the second wave feminist movement that occurred after the war. During the war years, the labor unions that had grown in the 1930s became even stronger as women became increasingly employed, particularly in manufacturing jobs required to support the war effort. During the 1940s, new work benefits became available to women, including maternity leave, daycare, and counseling. These benefits developed more substantially in Europe, as many countries there were devastated by war, where much of the male population was reduced.[2] Nevertheless, in the United States, women’s participation in the labor force in World War II created a feeling among many women, after the war ended, that they also deserved the same types of rights as men in jobs they filled. This was highlighted by the fact that many men who came back and retook their old jobs from women who were doing them during the war also were given higher salaries, further highlighting this inequality.[3]

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Why did Operation Market Garden in 1944 fail?


82nd Airborne dropped during Operation Market

Operation Market Garden, launched in September 1944, was an unsuccessful Allied offensive mainly, fought in the Netherlands. It was the largest airborne operation in history up to that time. The operation was a daring one and it was the brainchild of the British General Bernard Montgomery. His intended the airborne offensive to allow the allies to break into the German heartland and to end the war, quickly. However, this was not the case, the allied offensive was to prove to be a costly failure and may have even delayed their victory in Europe. This article will discuss the reasons for the failure of the operation and they will be Montgomery’s over-optimistic planning, poor strategy, poor leadership, German resistance and the terrain.

The Allies had landed in Normandy on the 6th of June 1944. After establishing several beach heads in Normandy, the Allies managed to push forward into the Normandy countryside.[1] The Germans initially managed to slow the Allies advance, however, a brilliant piece of Allied strategy, resulted in the encirclement of a large part of the Nazi army, in the Falaise Pocket. The combined Anglo-American divisions inflicted huge losses on the Germans. The German army was forced into a headlong retreat. Paris was soon retaken by the Allies.[2] The Nazi army was practically forced out of France and retreated towards Alsace-Lorraine and Belgium. It seemed to many that the Allies were on the verge of invading German and some even spoke optimistically of ending the war by Christmas.

However, in truth, the Allied successes had brought its own problems. The Allies supply lines were overstretched and this was slowing down the Americans and British in particular, the shortage of oil meant that Patton’s armored divisions had to halt their advance. This was to prove crucial and it allowed the Germans to regroup in the west, when it appeared that they would disintegrate, leading to the end of the war.[3]

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