Feminist Theory

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Feminism refers to political, cultural, and economic movements aimed at establishing greater rights, legal protection for women, and or women's liberation. It includes some of the sociological theories and philosophies concerned with issues of gender difference. Nancy Cott defines feminism as the belief in the importance of gender equality, invalidating the idea of gender hierarchy as a socially constructed concept.

Feminism has earned itself a bad reputation, but it never undermined gender differences that exist between males and females. A man can never be as good a mother as a female can. Similarly, a woman can never be as good a father as a male can. While accepting these anatomical and physiological differences between the two genders, feminism seeks for both genders to be equally respected. They are both human and as a species, humans cannot progress without either one of them.

Maggie Humm and Rebecca Walker divide the history of feminism into three waves. The first wave transpired in the nineteenth and early twentieth century’s, the second occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, and the third extends from the 1990s to the present. In each wave of the movement, though men have taken part in significant responses to feminism, the relationship between men and feminism has been complex. Historically, a number of men have engaged with feminism. Philosopher Jeremy Bentham demanded equal rights for women in the eighteenth century. In 1866, philosopher John Stuart Mill presented a women's petition to the British Parliament and supported an amendment to the 1867 Reform Bill.

An extension of feminism into theoretical or philosophical fields such as anthropology, sociology, economics, women's studies, literary criticism, art history, and psychoanalysis is called feminist theory. Feminist theory aims to understand gender inequality and focuses on gender politics, power relations, and sexuality. While providing a critique of these social and political relations, much...
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