Although the word "feminism" had been used during the mid-19th century as a synonym for "femininity," it was first used to describe a political movement in 1894, when a British newspaper warned of "feminists" who had begun to achieve power in the French legislature.
Feminism is generally broken down into several historical "waves":
- First-wave feminism, which lasted from the 18th century until World War II and was centered on securing basic civil rights, such as the right to vote and to own property ;
- Second-wave feminism, which lasted from the end of World War II until the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1980s and centered on achieving equality in the workplace, protecting reproductive choice, and attempting to pass the ERA ; and
- Third-wave feminism, which incorporates racial justice, LGBT rights, and class oppression into the feminist worldview and seeks real, practical equality for all women.
- Liberal feminism, which seeks equal rights through policy change but does not focus on cultural issues ;
- Radical feminism, which seeks the abolition of gender as we know it ; and
- Cultural feminism, which seeks to establish competing female power structures, traditions, and norms.