Second way women viewed themselves within society, however

wave (1960- 1980)

The aftermath of world war two
saw a huge effort to get women out of the workplace that they had been
converted into during the war efforts. The employment of women in industries
such as ship building, factory work and ground work, which were all previously
male dominated industries. Women were left disheartened when they were expected
to give up these roles and return to domestic life after the men returned from
war. There was a huge effort from media and advertisement industries to remind
women of their place in society. As pictured below.

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It was at this time that that
the feminist movement fell silent, the 40’s saw consumerism at the highest it
had ever been and while half of the population were still dealing with post war
housing problems and government subsidies, the other more privileged half of
the population saw an increase in employment and income, and therefor and increase
in the standard of lifestyle. This in turn saw birth-rate rise, as girls sought
out the ‘comfortable life’ by making sure they were married and having children
before they had left school. Although higher education was then available to
young girls, they chose instead the domestic life which entailed looking after
their husband, children and house. This generation would later be referred to
as ‘the baby boomers’ in America.

In 1949 Simone de Beauvoir
released “the second sex” which was a book looking at the treatment of women
throughout history. It was published in two volumes ‘Facts and Myths’ and
‘Lived Experiences’ The publication marked a change again in the way women
viewed themselves within society, however it wasn’t until 1957 and the release
of Betty Friedan’s ‘The feminine mystique’ that feminism in the US was

Second wave feminism is thought
to have started in the 1960’s. This was a time people again began to think
radically and called for social reforms. The Civil rights movement had begun which
produced a climate of protest and activism. As people were fighting for racial
equality and the basic rights human rights for people of different race, it
become clear to all involved that there were many other demographics that were still
suffering from inequality. It was then that the civil rights act included the
prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin and sex
as well as race and colour. This caused controversy because although a white
man might agree that African-Americans deserved to be protected from
discrimination, the idea that women deserved to be equal with men was hard for
the widespread male population to understand.


Second wave set out to tackle
many different issues from, female reproductive rights to marital legal rights
and discrimination in the workplace. It was characterised by the phrase ‘the
personal is political’ which was a term that described issues with both
personal and social inequalities and that the two had equal importance. This
served to set the overall tone for second wave with its followers seeing every
day sexism just as damaging as political sexism. The wave was over shadowed
however by the so called ‘pornography/sex war’ the 1960’s seen a rise in
readily available pornography which left feminists divided on their opinions.
Some felt that the objectification of women and the sexual aggression which was
portrayed in pornography was detrimental to everything feminism had achieved
thus far, which lead to a miniature movement within feminism itself, known as
the ‘anti-porn movement’. Other feminists however, saw the anti-porn movement
as too politically right-winged and feared that going back to the religious
structured outlook on sex would only further suppress female sexuality, going
against everything feminists had accomplished in terms of sexual liberation.
This opposition to the anti- porn movement were known as ‘pro-sex  feminists’ The sex wars left many feminists
confused and alienated which may have ultimately led to the demise of the
second wave feminism. Racism and classism.


of second wave

The period of 1960- 1980 was
widely seen as the most active time not only politically but also culturally.
The art world exploded with a variety of new mediums and artists started to
explore Installation, performance and identity art. More and more female
artists made their way to the forefront of the art world, making notoriety
within contemporary art. Artists such as Mary Kelly who was a feminists writer
and conceptual artists known for her conceptual works, or Barbara Kruger
another conceptual artists whose work comprised of posters directly commenting
on the issues between power and social life. Hannah Wilke was another female
artists of this period, who enticed reaction with her forthright feminist art
which involved little terracotta vulva sculptures and the use of body art. It
was during the second wave of feminism that Feminist Art was born. This was a
time in history that produced women artists which were different from their
predecessors. As stated in ‘The Power of Feminist Art’ by Norma Broude and Mary
D. Gerrard (1982, p21)

“Women artists of the feminist
generation differed from the women artists of the fifties and sixties most of
all in the deliberate grounding of their art in their socialized experience as
different from men’s but equally valid. In exposing for open consideration what
had previously been hidden or ignored, they connected – for the first time, in
a conscious way- the agendas of social politics and art”

 An artist who embodied this ethic and second
wave, was Judy Chicago. She was a female artists and educator who is hailed as
starting ‘feminist art’ and become influential within the art world. Chicago
was born in Chicago in 1939.She came from a heavily left wing political
back-round as her father was an active member of the ‘American Communist party’
In 1970 She took a teaching position at Fresno State college. It was here that
she set up a women only class and taught it off campus where the women could be
protected from prejudices that came from their fellow make students. This
became known as the feminist art programme and was one of Judy Chicago’s
experimental works. The fifteen women who took part, collaborated on art and
held reading and discussion groups about their life experiences which
influenced their art which Chicago hoped would help identify the problems and prejudices
women were still facing in the 1970’s. When asked about the role of feminist
artists Chicago explained;

“To transform our circumstances
into our subject matter… to use them to reveal the human condition” Chicago,
quoted in The Power of Feminist Art by Norma Broude and Mary D. Gerrard (1982,

Chicago joined with fellow
feminist artists Miriam Schapiro in 1971 to create ‘Woman house’ which was an
installation which took six weeks to create and was opened to the public for
four weeks. The pair transformed an abandoned suburban house into a projection
of women’s concerns.

One of Judy Chicago’s most
well-known works was the ‘dinner party’Fig.2. which was an attempt to teach
women about their history as it had become apparent that most influential women
in history had been overlooked by historians. ‘The dinner party’ was an
installation comprised of 39 dinner places labelled with the names of historical
and mythical female figures. (Expand) The piece was started in 1974 and took five years to
complete, with hundreds of artists collaborating on it. As well as the 39
dinner places, there are also 2300 hand cast porcelain tiles containing the
names of 999 other important women included in the installation. The piece is
comprised of triangular dinner setting, made up of three long tables.  Along the tables are 39 place settings, along
with 39 embroidered napkins containing the names of 39 remarkable women which
history has forgotten. Each place setting is comprised of a 14 inch china
plate, each of which is painted and decorated with a delicate vulva and
butterfly design which is connected to each women being honoured. Everything
about the installation is very delicate and feminine which could be a bid to
highlight the way in which women have been disregarded as being overly
emotional and girly, or it may be a bid to show that those traits can also be
strengths. The names listed on each dinner setting start from prehistorical
goddesses and run through to the present day. They include women involved in
the development of religions and women who contributed to the American
Revolution and suffrage movements. (Expand on reaction to the work)




Dinner Party, c.1974-79, ceramic, percaline, textile, Brooklyn Museum





wave (1990- 2012)


Third wave is thought to have
begun in 1990. This was a time when globalization was expanding and the
ideology of multiculturalism was being widely accepted throughout the world.
President of the united states Bill Clinton, was making positive moves and
oversaw the country’s longest peace time economic expansion whilst Britain,
being led by Prime minister tony Blair, was experiencing its longest period of
low inflation and low mortgage rates with the introduction of a national
minimum wage meaning working class were experiencing a better standard of
living. These fortunes however, did not last. Different religions and
ideologies began to overspill into mainstream society, there was a rise in
conflict throughout the world. The remnants of the gulf war of the 80’s were
still being felt, the Rwandan genocide and the Kosovo war had erupted.
Terrorist attacks became more common as more religions and terrorist groups
battled for dominance. Just as with every previous feminist movement, third
wave began at a time when there was yet another over all feeling of social unjust,
not just for women but for all minorities. Generation X was a term used to
describe people of the 90’s that were born in the 60’s and 70’s and they were characterised
for their radical and forth right views on sex, politics and culture. This was
a perfect environment for the third wave of feminism to be born. Although the triumphs
of second wave were still being appreciated there were women who felt that
there was still room for improvement to achieve overall equality with men. Third
wave looked to addressing all social issues and was more inclusive of women of
race than previous waves had been- this could be due to the dynamics of multiculturalism
which was changing throughout. In opposition to third wave, many feminist
started labelling themselves as ‘post-feminist’ and argued that there was now
no need for the movement as it had achieved all its goals. Sexual liberation was still a focus in
third wave, but this time it was met with humour. Programmes such as sex and
the city were screening portraying girls and women in control of their
sexuality.  Plays such as the vagina
monologues. Women had


Artists of third wave


Many Feminist artists from the 70’s were still very much dominant
throughout the 90’s meaning in term of art third wave feminism was still very
much dominated by second wave artists. Artists like Hannah Wilke, and the
Guerrilla girls were still making art that was tackling not just feminist
issues but unjust social problems. Art had shifted and there was a big drive
form within the art world to explore conceptual art which meant many artists turned
to a variety of different art forms to explore their work. Mediums such as
installation, performance and body art. In Britain the 90’s seen a group of
young artists emerge which was made up of creatives who had graduated in Fine
Art from Goldsmiths College around the late 80’s and included artists such as
Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Tracy Emin The group organised self-led
exhibitions, hosting them in abandoned factories and warehouses. The group,
nicknamed the ‘Young British artists’ of YBA gained notoriety for the shock
tactics they used in their work which ultimately sums up this period of time
within art.

An artist who epitomised this type of art is Tracy Emin. As
mentioned previously she was a member of the TBA and she produced art that was
labelled ‘confessional’ her work explored her deepest desires and secrets such
as ‘everyone I have slept with’ and the ‘unmade bed’ a female artist openly
expressing these issues shows how far women’s liberations has come.  (Description of works) Although many critics seem to have Emin
labelled as un-educated and illiterate and question if the work she makes is in
fact art- many of these critics are males of a higher class. Which would
suggest that Emin’s gender and working class back round were still grounds for
her to be underestimated. Despite of this her biographical/confessional works with
straight talking tactics resonate with people, especially women.

“Honey Luard, Emin’s exhibition organiser at White Cube, her London
gallery, says, ‘Tracey’s art presents the world in a way you haven’t seen it,’
which is true but not quite the whole truth. At its best, Emin’s art presents
the world in ways you’ve always known about but never admitted, or you’ve never
wanted to admit, or never perhaps until that moment articulated. If it’s any
good, art does this. It acts as the key to an unopened cupboard in some remote
corner of your heart, a cupboard you once filled then locked some time so far
distant the memory of it is like mist. Once the cupboard is open you can’t
close it again. The memories and objects and images it contains have already
spilled out and are lying there in a confused and half-familiar tangle

I do know is this. Since I’ve started thinking about Tracey Emin’s work, I’ve
come to appreciate it more than I thought I would. A lot more. Certain of
Emin’s monoprints are etched in my head. Her blankets have popped up in my
mind’s eye while I’ve been sitting on the bus. But then, Emin’s insistence is
part of her power. She demands to be regarded. And this explains why the Tracey
Emin Celebrity Phenomenon gripped me long before I allowed her art to do the
same. Her power unnerved me. I didn’t know what to do with it but to unhook it
and hang it on a safer peg.”

I have slept with’ Fig.3. – Is an installation piece comprising of a tent with
appliqued names of all the people she has ever slept with. The tent is lit from
the inside and the names can only be read from the inside, meaning the viewer
needs to climb in and immerse themselves in the piece. The intimacy involved in
viewing the work is a mirror in the intimacy of the context of the piece, which
although form the title would lead to believe is a documentation of sexual
encounters it is in-fact a list of people she has ever slept side by side with
in a non-sexual sense and lists the names of her grandmother, her brother and
her aborted foetuses. Priority of emotional human connection is giving in the
work and gives an overview of the people who have emotionally touched her
throughout her life whilst also inviting the viewer to think about their own
emotional connection with people they have slept beside. It is way in which
Emin makes an impact on the people viewing her art. She points out feelings and

thoughts that are hidden in the subconscious.


Fig.3. Everyone I have ever slept with 1963-1995, c.1995 Appliqued
tent, mattress and light, Destroyed in warehouse fire and never re-made.



work often took the form of writing, often scrawls of jumbled words, would
presented as her art work. These


Fig.4. My bed c.1998, Linen, pillows and objects. Turner
Contemporary Museum, Margate.


Fourth wave (2013-Present)

fourth wave started at a period of time when civil wars were rife throughout
the world, with wars such as Syrian civil war, Iraqi civil war, Libyan civil
war and Israeli and Palestine conflicts meant countries were being destroyed by
warfare and bombs. Cities were being flattened meaning that there were a huge
amount of civilians being displaced as a result of the conflicts, which led to
huge increase people seeking refuge in other countries- this was deemed the
migrant crisis. There was outrage as refugees were forced to flee their
countries by any means possible to seek safety for their families. This meant
crossing borders and entering neighbouring countries illegally. Stories
unfolded of children drowning at sea as part of their desperate plight and the
refugees who did make safely make t to across borders were detained in terrible
conditions as the receiving countries struggled to know how to manage the
influx of people. People of the UK were left divided as some called for their
governments to give the refugees shelter and some called for them to be ‘sent
back’ to the worn torn countries they had fled.

2008 Barrack Obama became the first African American President of the US. This
was seen as a huge achievement for equality and left a residing positivity that
changes were staring to happen. This optimism came to an end in 2016 when
Donald Trump was elected as president. His racist and sexist campaign which
vowed to ‘make America great again’ by building a wall around America and
sending any immigrants back to where they came from, as well as a bid to revoke
the abortion rights of women, meant that his election stood to destroy
everything that all the previous waves of feminism had achieved. It may have
been this which ignited a flame within today’s women. Instantly after Trump was
elected women were arranging marches and protests as a stand against what the
newly elected president stood for.

wave feminism although widely debated, is said to have started in 2013, with it
comes a new digital age making the internet easier and more accessible which
could be credited to aiding in the shift from third wave to fourth wave. From the middle of third
wave, advances in digital technology has been steadily increasing. The
availability of hand held mobile devices with instant internet access literally
at your fingertips- fourth wave feminism is now taking a different approach.
Cyber feminism, a term first used in the 90’s, describes the way in which
feminists began to use the internet and new media technologies in their
advantage and also the relationship between gender and the digital culture.
This even more evident now as technologies have advanced further and with the wide
spread use of social media outlets such as twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube
have made it easier to communicate and highlight gender issues which are still
circulating within private lives and workplaces. The fourth wave of feminism is
now still has the remnants of third wave values, with Queer theory and the
ideal of gender fluidity already having being gained during third wave, the
focus is now on maintaining the integration and acceptance of all genders,
sexual orientations and races throughout the feminist movement. Fourth wave now
contains very active and visible roles for transgender. Also like the it’s’
previous wave, fourth wave is still fighting sexual harassment and violence
against women but with greater emphasis placed on the street and workplace
harassment and rape culture. There have been a variety of scandals and cases
brought to light the most recent being that of Harvey Weinstein, a film producer
accused of using his power within the film industry to harass and sexually
assault young women. This particular scandal which has saw women keep the abuse
of Harvey to themselves for decades, has raised the question of whether women
are still silently experiencing sexual harassment. This saw women across
twitter using the hashtag ‘#metoo’ if they had ever experienced fear of sexual
harassment within their jobs and personal life. These women have been dubbed
‘The silence breakers’ (the
silence breakers article) Fourth wave has awakened an exciting climate
of protest and activism.


Artists of
fourth wave

Although there are many contemporary
feminists artists who are currently making work, the artists who most
characterize the current era of protest and activism are the Guerrilla Girls.
The group was 1985 in New York City, and is a collective of likeminded female
artists. The group was formed as a reaction to an exhibition of the most
important painters and sculptors from 17 different countries was held at the
Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition did not include any female artists and
very few artists of colour, which sparked the guerrilla girls to hold protests
outside the museum along with poster campaigns. Although the group have been
active since 1985, they are now able to utilize the current digital and protest
culture to help spread their art.