Feminism

Topics: Feminism, Feminist theory, Gender Pages: 11 (3598 words) Published: April 21, 2014
 Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women. Feminist theory, which emerged from feminist movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women's social roles and lived experience; it has developed theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues such as the social construction of sex and gender. Some of the earlier forms of feminism have been criticized for taking into account only white, middle-class, educated perspectives. This led to the creation of ethnically specific or multiculturalist forms of feminism. They have also advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave, and against forms of discrimination against women. Feminism is mainly focused on women's issues, but author bell hooks and others have argued that, since feminism seeks gender equality, it must necessarily include men's liberation because men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles. The words "feminism" and "feminist" first appeared in France and the Netherlands in 1872, Great Britain in the 1890s, and the United States in 1910, and the Oxford English Dictionary lists 1894 as the year of the first appearance of "feminist" and 1895 for "feminism". Depending on historical moment, culture and country, feminists around the world have had different causes and goals. Most western feminist historians assert that all movements that work to obtain women's rights should be considered feminist movements, even when they did not apply the term to themselves. Other historians assert that the term should be limited to the modern feminist movement and its descendants. Those historians use the label "protofeminist" to describe earlier movements. The history of the modern western feminist movements is divided into three "waves". Each wave dealt with different aspects of the same feminist issues. The first wave comprised women's suffrage movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, promoting women's right to vote. The second wave was associated with the ideas and actions of the women's liberation movement beginning in the 1960s. The second wave campaigned for legal and social equality for women. The third wave is a continuation of, and a reaction to, the perceived failures of second-wave feminism, beginning in the 1990s. Nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

First-wave feminism was a period of activity during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. In the UK and US, it focused on the promotion of equal contract, marriage, parenting, and property rights for women. By the end of the nineteenth century, activism focused primarily on gaining political power, particularly the right of women's suffrage, though some feminists were active in campaigning for women's sexual, reproductive, and economic rights as well. Women's suffrage began in Britain's Australasian colonies at the close of the 19th century, with the self-governing colonies of New Zealand granting women the right to vote in 1893 and South Australia granting female suffrage in 1895. This was followed by Australia granting female suffrage in 1902. In Britain the Suffragettes and the Suffragists campaigned for the women's vote, and in 1918 the Representation of the People Act was passed granting the vote to women over the age of 30 who owned houses. In 1928 this was extended to all women over twenty-one. Emmeline Pankhurst was the most notable activist, with Time naming her one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century stating: "she shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back." In the U.S., notable leaders of this movement included Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,...
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