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Women and the struggle for socialism

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Part two Strategies for change

1. 'Liberal' feminism

So what methods need to be employed in order to achieve women's libera¬tion? Throughout the history of the struggle for women's rights, different analyses of the causes of women's oppression have given rise to differing strategies for change.

In what is often referred to as the 'first wave of feminism', initiated by women from the middle class and the growing capitalist class in the mid-19th century, the main emphasis was placed on securing change through legal reform.

They challenged the ruling ideology, backed up by law, which decreed that there should be separate spheres for men and women and that married women were the property of their husbands.

They fought for the right to have control over their own earnings and property, to have custody of their children after divorce and for divorce to be made more accessible.

They also campaigned for higher education and for the professions to be opened up to women and, of course, for the right to vote. In general, although some were sympathetic to the plight of working-class women, their main concern was achieving equal rights with men of their own class within the existing economic and social framework...

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