Feminism

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The past century saw women in Britain gain control of their fertility, acquire access to education and establish their status as equal citizens. The British social order came a long way from 1890s when women in Britain were legally restricted to the point they could not enter a contract, own property or have parental rights; unmarried women were challenged by society and pressured in to marriage (British History Oxford, 2007).The women’s rights and suffrage movements in the period between 1832 and 1918, which is known as ‘The first feminist wave’, aimed to challenge the idea of women being the inferior sex and demanded equal rights. This ‘so called’ first wave ended with the ‘Royal Assent to the Representation of the People Parliament Act’ being passed in 1918, which granted women the ability to vote and recognised females as equal citizens (Fraisse, 1993). Following work will assay the position of women in today’s society and barriers that prevent gender equality. The focus will be on the conflict between feminist ideals, assumptions and demands behind what known as feminism. Feminism has evolved dramatically over time, which makes finding a widely accepted set of feminist ideas an impossible task. However, Webster’s dictionary (2007, p230) defines feminism as a theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Therefore, feminism is based around the idea of men and women being equal. On the other hand, feminist is also defined as ‘an organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests’ (Webster 2007, p.230). This highly ambiguous definition suggests that any socially or politically active woman can be considered to be a feminist, so the ideas of feminists do not always coincide with the philosophy of feminism. For that reason, the term feminism must be used with caution.
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