Top 5 Feminist Movements


Women's Liberation Movement

Second-wave feminism leader Gloria Steinem.
Second-wave feminism leader Gloria Steinem.
Susan Wood/­Getty Images

­After World War II, a growing number of women pursued higher education and entered the workforce, but they weren't scampering to the tops of career ladders or bursting through glass ceilings. The Women's Liberation Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s therefore emerged from women's desires to revolutionize the fundamental aspects of female life at that time: domesticity, employment, education and sexuality.

In 1966, Betty Friedan and other prominent feminists formed the National Organization for Women (NOW). NOW became the umbrella organization for many feminist causes, uniting older, college-educated, predominantly white women. These second-wave feminists, such as Ms. magazine founder Gloria Steinem, pushed for access to the pill, abortion, equal employment opportunity, reduction of violence against women and more. Two years later, in 1968, the first national feminist conference took place in Chicago.

­A younger, more radical set of feminists was organizing simultaneously, energized by the activity of the Civil Rights Movement and anti-Vietnam War movements. One of the better-known groups to form from this set was the Redstockings. More loosely organized than NOW, the Redstockings took a more militant, public approach to their demonstrations [source: Echols and Willis]. They also used consciousness-raising sessions to share personal experiences and incite discussion about pertinent women's issues and sexuality.