Feminism - Equality

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Although all feminists have been concerned with empowering women both in their private lives and in society as a whole, not all of them have sought equality in either the public or private sphere.

Liberal feminists, however, have been keen endorsers of formal equality in the public sphere. Claiming women are strongly discriminated against under the law - in terms of equal pay and, in the past, equal education and the right to vote - they have supported anti-discrimination legislation concerning the lives of women outside of the home. Originating with Mary Wolstonecraft's "Vindication of the rights of women"(1792), they called for greater legal equality between men and women - most notably in Wolstencraft's plea for an increase in the education of women. Hoping that by educating women they would cease to exist merely as sexual objects of male desire and gain a new found respect as individuals with valued minds. As women grew more educated a crusade for suffrage emerged, with J.S. Mill presenting the first petition to parliament in 1866 (although suffrage was only achieved in 61 years later in the UK in 1927). However, many (mainly middle-class) women still found themselves plagued by what Friedan dubbed "The Problem that Has No Name", and the failure of suffrage to give sufficient equality to women resulted in a "second wave" of liberal feminists calling for the greater involvement of women in public life. Although liberal feminists clearly support public equality for women, radical feminists have criticised what they claim is a white, middle-class movement which does not cater for the needs of those women who are not equipped with a privileged enough background to allow them to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them in the public sphere. This is an opinion strongly echoed by black and Asian feminists, who have claimed that their struggle for equality on all levels, not just sexual, is greater and not addressed by other forms of feminism,...
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