US History Honors
10 June 2011
Feminism and Social Equality
Throughout history, society has looked upon man as being the dominant sex. As societies developed, women were pushed farther and farther back, causing social isolation and a lack of individuality, as women fell into the shadows of their husbands. Major social movements such as the Renaissance, a period of exponential expansion of the human potential, proved to be a breeding ground for feminist ideas. The French Revolution was one of the first military and social movements that involved women enacting their ideas which had been oppressed for centuries. It also gave educated women a chance to emerge as outstanding members of society. In all, these events symbolize microcosms of a larger goal: gender equality. The Woman’s Rights Movement sprung from earlier feminist advances, specifically the Renaissance and the French Revolution.
Renaissance feminism founded a set of cultural discourses, associated with men and women, in regards to influence and authority of women. (“Feminisms”). Classical and Christian texts have long presented the concept of women's inferiority. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, argued for a duality of human nature, positing the intrinsic superiority of the active masculine principle over the passive feminine (“Feminism”). Aristotle strongly believed that women were naturally beneath men, as a result of human nature; he is considered today to have been a sexist. The French writer Marie de Gournay (1566–1645), the Venetian poet Lucrezia Marinella (1571–1653), and the British playwright Aphra Behn (1640–1689), were early feminists. They wrote in various genres of literature, each contradicting notions of women's inferiority inherited from the classical authors and Christian texts that denoted them as inferior. Arguing that women were fully human, not restricted by their natures or biology, these women made their dissatisfaction clear with the morals... [continues]
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