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Mary Wollstonecraft

Feminism is a social, political, and economic movement. It is about changing the way that people see male and female rights (mainly female) and campaigning for equal ones. A feminist is someone who follows feminism.

Feminism began in the 18th century with the Enlightenment. The controversy over gender differences led to the discussion of equality.

History of feminism[change | change source]

The word "feminism" comes from the French word "féminisme". This medical term was used to describe masculine women or men with feminized traits. When its use became popular in the United States of America, it was used to refer to groups of women who "asserted the uniqueness of women, the mystical experience of motherhood and women's special purity.[1][2]

General history[change | change source]

Feminism started with the idea that human rights should be given to women. This idea was put forward by some philosophers in the 18th and 19th centuries such as Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill. Later feminists in the early 20th century said that women should be allowed to vote in a democracy. Many women felt strongly that they should be allowed to vote, and many protests existed. These women were called Suffragettes. This is because they were fighting for Universal suffrage, which means everybody can vote. The Suffragettes staged many protests for their rights. Some women even committed suicide to show how wrong it was that they could not take part in politics. After women received the vote, feminism worked to make all of society more equal for women.

Not all female politicians have been welcomed by feminists, with Margaret Thatcher, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann being clear examples.

Feminism is generally acknowledged to have "waves," with different periods focusing on different aspects of feminism and often building on the ideas presented by the previous wave.

First wave (approx. 1830s – early 1900s) [change | change source]

The first wave of feminism could be dated earlier to include pre-nineteenth-century women's rights movements. The French Revolution of 1789 is often attributed as the beginning of the first demands for women's rights. This inspired Mary Wollstonecraft, whose book A Vindication of the Rights of Women was published in 1792. It is one of the earliest significant works of feminist literacy. However, first-wave feminism is usually dated between the mid to late nineteenth century and early 1900s. During the first wave, women began to realize that they must first gain political power before they could bring about social change. This wave focused on gaining the right to vote (universal suffrage). Later, the focus shifted to include sexual, economic, and reproductive concerns.[3]

During the inter-war years, the feminist movement declined. Anti-feminism was on the rise, focusing on the issue of women and work. Women were being 'persuaded' to return to their traditional roles in the home and give up their war jobs. There were also issues within the organized ranks of feminism itself. The ideologies and priorities were changing. Some felt that equality with men had been reached and shifted their focus onto the needs of women as women, such as the subjects of birth control, family allowance, and protective legislature. This caused the split into the dominant groups of equality and new feminism. New feminists focused on the role of traditional women in the home and as mothers. Equality feminists encouraged women to look beyond the home and fought for equality with men in every aspect of life. Equality feminists opposed protective legislature, such as maternity leave.

The topic of protective legislature eventually led to the divide of first-wave feminism. Middle-class feminists tended to oppose protective legislature, whereas working class feminists largely supported it. This split between the previously dominant equality feminism and the rising new feminism marks the end of the first wave of feminism.[2]

Second wave (1960s-1980s)[change | change source]

The rise of political concerns marks second-wave feminism. Where the first wave of feminism dealt with women in the workforce, as well as the right to own property and vote, the second wave of feminism lobbied for 'liberation' from a patriarchal society. The key to second-wave feminism was the struggle over the female body itself – how it was represented and the significance attached to the reality of biological differences.

The famous "One is not born, but rather becomes a woman" declaration by Simone de Beauvoir led to new thinking about gender as a construction rather than something inherent.

Second-wave feminism was also characterized by the problematization of equality. Questions arose about what gaining equality would achieve due to the societal roles men and women were still expected to fill. This led to the call for extreme change to revolutionize the very fabric of a patriarchal society. This was the beginning of the radical, Marxist, and socialist feminist groupings. It also marked a shift in the politics of liberal feminism, focusing more on 'sexual politics', such as the family, abortion, rape, domestic violence, and sexuality.[2]

Third wave (1990s – present)[change | change source]

Third-wave feminism is generally described as the feminism of a younger generation who acknowledge both the effect and the limitations of the ideologies presented by second-wave feminism. This new generation argues that the conditions that prompted second-wave feminism no longer exist, and, therefore, feminism needs to change. It also argues that second-wave feminism catered too much to a small group of people, namely white, middle-class, heterosexual women.

Third-wave feminists seem to have grown up with feminism as a strong societal concept, influencing them from a young age. It is taught in schools and prominent in the media.

Third-wave feminists largely focus on issues surrounding individual self-expression. This includes how identity is formed and communicated through things such as appearance, sexuality, and intersectionality. Third wave feminism recognized women from different cultural backgrounds, religions, sexualities, ethnicities, and abilities.[2]

Fourth wave (approx. 2008 – present)[change | change source]

Some say that a fourth wave of feminism is already upon us, prompted by increased internet culture. This wave is similar to the third wave but distinguished by more advanced technology and broader ideas of equality. It stands more in solidarity with other social justice movements.

Fourth wave feminism uses the internet and its "call-out" culture to challenge misogyny and sexism in popular media such as television, literature, advertising, etc. This has caused companies to change how they market to women to avoid being "called out."

Another part of fourth-wave feminism is the existence of people who reject the word feminism because of "assumptions of gender binary and exclusionary subtext: 'For women only.'"[4]

In the 21st century, online communities and support groups focused on masculinism discourse as a counterpart to the online presence of feminism, which is known as manosphere.[5] Masculinism fueled by primordialist ideologies have also resulted into an openly anti-feminist toxic culture known as "incels" (involuntarily celibate).[6]

Women in politics[change | change source]

There have been women who have been involved in politics throughout history.

Historical[change | change source]

Esther, Lady Godiva, Bodicea, Queen Elizabeth, Lucrezia Borgia, Catherine the Great, Joan of Arc.

Modern times[change | change source]

Starting in 1960, many women have been elected to high positions of power, such as prime minister. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the first, followed by Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Elisabeth Domitien and Margaret Thatcher. Dame Eugenia Charles lasted nearly 15 years in the post, a record.

Types of feminism/feminist theories[change | change source]

Liberal feminism[change | change source]

Liberal feminism drew its strength from the diversity of liberal thought following the Enlightenment. The basis of liberal feminism is the emphasis on the power of the individual. If everyone individually stands up for what is right, discriminatory practices will change. Liberals challenge societal norms. Liberal feminists acknowledge and support individual choices and preferences that are considered as 'traditional' gender placements (such as the home and the workplace) if they are a voluntary choice without coercion.[2]

Socialist or Marxist feminism[change | change source]

Socialist or Marxist feminism are similar cause their feministo (female-centered manifesto) is "revolution is the answer to change." They both link social conditions with capitalism and believe that overthrowing the current system is the only way to get what you want. Like liberal feminists, socialist or Marxist feminists acknowledge that men are necessary as part of the movement for change.[2] Whatever the theory, socialist and Marxist countries have never had women in major government posts. Women have often achieved ministerial positions in democracies. Rhetoric (what regimes say) does not always line up with what regimes do in practice.

Radical feminism[change | change source]

Symbol of radical feminism

Radical feminism, particularly in the US, developed from civil rights and new left. Radical feminists were largely fed up with the male-dominated left-wing radicalism and formed the Women's Liberation Movement. This was formed to create woman-centered politics and to escape from male-oriented politics. They believed this could only be done in a safe women-only space, and this led to the policy of separatism for which radical feminism is best known. Radical feminists are often misunderstood and seen as "man-hating" because of the way their women-oriented politics seem to reject male input.[2]

Evangelical feminism[change | change source]

Evangelical feminism or 'Christian feminism' was developed from religious movements. Evangelical feminists work to protect and spiritually reform those who need it, such as women and children from outside the church. These feminists believe that everyone is equal under one God and strive to bring that equality to the church and their individual lives.[2]

Equality feminism[change | change source]

Equality feminism is a subsection of the feminist movement. Equality feminism's focus on the similarities between the sexes is on the basis that men's and women's abilities are indistinguishable from their biology. This type of feminism encourages women to look beyond the home. Its ultimate goal is for the sexes to be equal in every part of life.[2]

New feminism[change | change source]

New feminism is a philosophy similar to equality feminism. It focuses on how the differences between men and women complement each other, rather than one sex's biology causing a superiority over the other. New feminism, unlike equality feminism, recognizes the different strengths and roles given to men and women. New feminism advocates for equality in how men and women are treated in their roles in society. Its basic concept is the emphasis placed on important differences being biological rather than cultural. Women should be supported as child bearers, both economically and culturally, but this should not be a role that is forced upon them. The main aim is to emphasize the importance of women and men as individuals and that in all senses (legal, social, economic), they should be equal despite their natural differences.

Global feminist thought[change | change source]

Global Feminist Thought is primarily the movement for women's rights on a global scale. Women are impacted in different communities around the world and have common problems they face on a day-to-day basis, usually at home or in the workforce. Although different cultural locations have different experiences that will shape their experiences and perceptions, they have common themes. Global feminists tend to focus on nationality. They reach out to help those in developing and third world countries, as well as address oppression created through histories of colonialism and imperialism. It works to end capitalism, imperialism, sexism, and racism, along with having everyone considered equal on a global view. It encourages feminists to confront their problems and seek help, as they are not the only ones experiencing that problem.

Lean-In Feminism[change | change source]

Lean-In Feminism is an approach where women act and behave in a toxic manner and justify their actions by messaging if a man behaved the same way they did, he wouldn't get called out on it. Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos; Ellen DeGeneres of Ellen DeGeneres Show; Amy Klobuchar, American senator; Chelsea Handler, American comedian; Zoe Sugg, YouTube vlogger etc. are considered to be prime examples. This is a negative idea of empowerment seen in social movements that posits women in power are unimpeachable and immune to feminist critique simply because they have achieved such high positions. It is hard to distinguish people of this approach from supportive feminists because they often cloak themselves with publicity stunts of advocating for all women to maintain their hegemony within a kyriarchal system.[7][8]

Anti-feminism[change | change source]

Writers such as Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Daphne Patai oppose some forms of feminism, though they identify as feminists. They argue that feminism often promotes misandry (hatred of men) and the elevation of women's interests above men's and criticize radical feminist positions as harmful to both men and women. Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge argue that the term "anti-feminist" is used to silence academic debate about defects of feminism like lack of intersectionality and visible separatism.[2]

Poststructural Feminism[change | change source]

It's a branch of feminism that rejects language and cultural practices used to define body and gender. They accept a person's identity with the openness of accepting the identity chosen by the individual or reflexively as not-yet-known nor necessarily knowable.[9] They are anti-essentialists and reject tenets made by liberal feminists who make truth claims about who is a "real" women.

Criticism[change | change source]

Identified reasons why some people do not like feminism:

  • People do not like feminism because they think that women are already equal or more important in the eyes of law.[10] Philoandrists often say that society, in general, is not equal for men and a version of that is what women experience. Critics say basic tenets like equity and equality in outcome (egalitarian humanism) are a striving factor among men as it is with women.
  • Analysis of feminist theories suggest that in its mid to high levels, the topic boils down to aggressive misandry with its separatist[11] and otherness positions (Extremism) rather than being collaborative or supportive. Some say this is reflected in rights in child custody and divorce. Philogynists say this is just the toxic side of things.
  • Binary thinking with wrong attributions is considered a factor. Some examples are women not being regarded as equal to men based on biological differences, the antithetical divide between women of different races (e.g., white vs. women of color), dismissing the existence of ableism (Privilege theory) among men as among women (e.g., Angela Merkel, Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Tarja Halonen, etc.), and viewing women as inherently weak and needing empowerment, etc.[12] These are reinforced in social domains, such as the treatment and role of women in the military, denial of ordination of women in churches (Ephesians 5:21), and partisan policies rooted in history.
  • Some people consider feminism to deny strength exhibited by females through maternal and care aspects or discourage these aspects by terming them closely to weakness or slavery.
  • Some people argue that feminism showcases the existential crisis between matriarchal and patriarchal systems. This is reflected in radical feminism, which defines liberation as the successful totalitarian and forceful overturning of time-honored traditions, religious beliefs, gender roles, relationships, society, culture, power, authority dynamics, and economic structures.
  • Some theorists consider that conscious and unconscious bias is rampant within human beings (Unconscious bias training); such a state of oppression is common, and an understanding to halt them in destructive forms is what equality should be about.
  • Some people say feminism, from its supportive nature, is distorted and used for propaganda's like heterosexuality is confinement and distinct female sexuality is liberated only through celibacy, autoeroticism, or lesbianism.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Jaggar, Alison (1983). "Feminist Politics and Human Nature" (PDF). Wordpress. Retrieved March 31, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 Pilcher, Jane (2004). Fifty key concepts in gender studies. London: SAGE Publications. ISBN 9780761970361.
  3. "A Brief History: The Three Waves of Feminism". Progressive Women's Leadership. 2015-09-22. Archived from the original on 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  4. "Four Waves of Feminism | Pacific University". www.pacificu.edu. 25 October 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-11-19. Retrieved 2017-04-01.
  5. Mahoney, Neve. "Men's rights activists need to take a chill pill." Eureka Street 26.21 (2016): 27
  6. Domise, Andray. "The hidden crisis that's fuelling the 'incel rebellion'". Macleans.ca.[permanent dead link]
  7. Dickson, E. J.; Dickson, E. J. (22 March 2019). "How 'Lean In' Feminism Created Elizabeth Holmes and the Toxic Ladyboss". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 10 January 2022. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  8. "The trouble with (white) feminism". This Magazine. 11 March 2015. Archived from the original on 2 November 2018. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  9. Butler, Judith (1988). "The Body Politics of Julia Kristeva". Hypatia. 3 (3): 104–118. doi:10.1111/j.1527-2001.1988.tb00191.x. ISSN 0887-5367. S2CID 143683506. Archived from the original on 2022-09-02. Retrieved 2022-09-02.
  10. "Study finds large gender disparities in federal criminal cases". www.law.umich.edu. Archived from the original on 2013-10-05. Retrieved 2017-08-06.
  11. "Classify the Men's Rights Movement as a terrorist group". 2013-03-24. Archived from the original on 2016-09-11. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
  12. Sample, Ian (30 November 2015). "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus? New brain study says not". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 23 February 2018 – via www.theguardian.com.