Feminism is a set of very varied social and political movements . In part because of its long historical trajectory and in part because of the diversity of ideological traditions in it, there are many types of feminism, some of which not only propose different strategies to pursue their goals, but also have different objectives.

Next we will see the different main currents of feminism.

Main types of feminism

This classification of feminist currents must be understood as a simplification, since there are many types of feminism and only the main branches appear here .

1. First wave of feminism

The first wave of feminism, which appeared between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, focused on the search for formal equality between men and women . That is, it fought for the right to vote for women, the non-discrimination of women in the laws and the possibility that they could also have access to property instead of being simple administrators of the domestic economy.

The type of feminism of this era is fundamentally liberal, and was based on the principles of the Enlightenment. It was a movement based on the idea that there was no valid reason to break the principle of equality defended by the intellectuals of the Enlightenment and to discriminate against women.

Thus, the perspective of analysis of the reality of the first wave of feminism was based on individualism: women’s problems were not seen as something social, but as attacks on their individuality and their capacity to accumulate private property.

2. Second wave of feminism

Since the second wave of feminism, which took place between the 1960s and the 1990s, the number of types of feminism has become more diversified by adopting influences from post-modern philosophy and by moving away from the individualism of liberal feminism.

In this new feminism, the basic problem that we want to tackle at its root (hence the term “radical”) is considered to be a social and historical phenomenon, that is, something that must be attacked from a collectivist perspective. This means that the influence of post-modern ideas is joined by the dialectic inherited from Marxism.

In this generation of feminism there are two main branches: the feminism of difference and the feminism of equality. Both, however, are grouped into a category known as radical feminism, from which it is interpreted that the nature of discrimination against women does not depend on specific legal forms but is based on a historical system of economic, political and cultural oppression called patriarchy.

2.1. Feminism of equality

From the feminism of equality it is marked as an objective that women can get to access the same status that only men occupy , among other things. In addition, it is understood that gender is a social construct that has historically served to convey the oppression of women through gender roles assigned artificially at birth.

Consequently, equality feminism emphasizes the idea that men and women are essentially human beings, beyond the imposed genders. However, this does not mean that in practice the immediate goal of equality feminism is equality itself; since it is understood that the starting point is a gender imbalance, positive discrimination can be advocated in some areas, for example, as a temporary measure. For example, a minimum representation of women in parliaments may be required.

Historically, the feminism of equality has been very influenced by Marxism , since unlike the feminism of difference it focuses on material aspects of the most basic human needs at the same time that it starts from an analysis focused on social phenomena.

2.2. Feminism of difference

From the feminism of difference the objective is to end the oppression of women without taking the male status as a reference . From this type of feminism, the idea of vindicating feminine values (revised so that they are not dictated from a male perspective) and their difference with male values is defended.

Thus, it marks a distance from the idea of feminism understood as a movement that leads to equality, since it is assumed that the feminine needs to have its own space to develop and to endure. This has meant that both from within feminisms and from outside them feminism of difference has been strongly criticised for being essentialist and for fundamentally defending concepts and not people.

3. Third wave of feminism

The third wave of feminism began in the 1990s and continues today. If the first wave of feminism had already introduced an identity and interpretative nuance into feminism, here this emphasis on subjectivities extends much further, giving rise to identities that r , Muslim feminism and many other variants. The idea is to question the perspective of Western white, heterosexual women as the mainstay of feminism.

In this generation there is a type of feminism that stands out because of its difference from previous ones: transfeminism.

3.1. Transfeminism

This is one of the types of feminism that drinks more than one of the most radical criticisms of gender binarism : the queer theory. According to this theory, both gender and what is considered to be the biological sex of people are social constructs.

Consequently, people with physical characteristics associated with the feminine are no longer the main subject to be emancipated through feminism, but rather empowerment must be achieved by all types of minorities, including people who experience their gender differently from the traditional way and are therefore discriminated against: transsexuals with and without gender dysphoria, genderfluid, etc.

In this way, feminism that is present in transfeminism no longer has the biological sex of people as a criterion that demarcates who is oppressed and who is not, and also incorporates identity matrices that have nothing to do with gender, such as race and religion.

Bibliographic references:

  • Bocchetti, Alessandra (1996). What a woman wants . Madrid: Ediciones Cátedra.
  • Molina Petit, C. (1994). Feminist dialectics of the Enlightenment . Barcelona: Anthropos.
  • Varela, N. (2005). Feminism for beginners. Barcelona: Ediciones B.