Feminism, while being a seemingly large movement now, was not always this way. It was not as widely accepted as something a woman could identify as, let alone a man, or anything in between, until relatively recently. Throughout history, women were recognized as feminists, but the movement has changed to be so much more than what it was. When it was just white women protesting for their right to vote, it was different. With the changes in society and government came general changes in the feminist movement, what we call "waves".
The first wave of feminism came in the form of rallies against racism and more toward the abolitionists point of view in the later 19th century. This was the movement that gave voices to the disenfranchised people of the racist movements that had been taking place. The feminists that came out of this time include Cady Stanton.
The second wave of feminism was characterized by civil rights movements and anti-war sentiments in the 1960s. These years were shown to be a time of women proving they were more than just housewives, and rather they were productive members of society, and could become real contributors to the economy and society.
The third wave of feminism was a time that began to question the normative ideas of gender, sexuality, and expression. The 1990s were when these years started, and to this day, these are continuing to be important issues in the feminist community. Along with these ideas, much of what modern feminism is about is acceptance.
The fourth wave, however, is where we are today, as intersectionality comes to the forefront of feminist conversations. Much of today's feminism is influenced by third and second wave feminism, but we are trying to make a change that makes a difference, and that change is more voices. With intersectional feminism, it is all about having as many voices heard as possible, not just the rich straight white folks. Intersectional feminism recognizes that in order to talk about gender inequality, we must also talk about racial inequalities, class inequalities, and so on. Having these ideas come to the front of the feminist movement will ultimately benefit us and future generations, as we learn how to make the world a better place for many different types of people.
Read more here: https://www.pacificu.edu/about-us/news-events/four-waves-feminism