Feminism and Social Policy

Pages: 5 (1666 words) Published: March 14, 2009

Some would say feminism is about basic human rights and that it is just a modern social movement. The truth is the feminist movement is neither modern nor social in its origin and its roots are ancient, highly religious elements that are rarely, if ever, mentioned.

Some of the first women to speak for themselves and for their sex did so within a religious framework and in religious terms. In the course of a troubled 17th century particularly among the sects, the many and various small group that rejected the established church in favour of purer forms of worship, women found more freedom. Feminism is a social theory and political movement. Primarily informed and motivated by the experience of women, it provides a critique of gender inequality and promotes women's rights, interests and issues. Although the word feminism was not used until the end of the 19th century, recognizably feminist beliefs began to emerge in the late 18th century. The earliest form of feminism was concerned with equal rights for women and men: this meant equal standing as citizens in public life and, to some extent, equal legal status within the home. These ideas emerged in response to the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the French Revolution (1789-1799), both of which advocated values of liberty and equality.

Feminists in France argued that the revolution’s values of liberty, equality, and fraternity should apply to all, while women activists in America called for an extension of the principles of the American Declaration of Independence to women, including rights to citizenship and property. One of the earliest work that can be classified as feminism before the 19th century was written by Marry Wollstonecraft in the form of a book called A Vindication of the Rights of a Woman (1792) and focused on the woman question that criticized the restrictive role of women without necessarily claiming that women were disadvantaged or that men were to blame. Feminism is often said to have begun in the 19th century during The Enlightenment with the help of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) and others that did champion women's education and many liberals, demanding equal rights for women in every other sense. The feminist movement firstly emerged in the West during the reform movements of the 19th century when people start to adopt the perception that women are oppressed in a male centred society. The organized movement is dated from the first women's rights convention in 1848 in New York. From the 1850s onward, the campaign for equal rights for women became focused on winning the right to vote, also known as woman suffrage

The early feminist were called the first wave, after the 60’s they were called the second wave and were concerned with obtaining full social and economic equality, they had gained complete legal equality in many western nations. One of the main fields of interest to these women was in gaining the right to contraception and birth control, which were almost universally restricted until the 1960s. There is also a third wave but feminist do not like to use that term because they disagree as to its necessity, its benefits, and its ideas The term feminism is used to suggest a single ideology, but in reality the movement has many subgroups. Due to historical precedents, the current legal status of women in certain countries, and other factors, feminist ideology has been compelled to move in different directions to achieve its goals. As a result, there are many different kinds of feminism. Liberal feminism is a form of feminism that suggests that equality for women can be attained via legal means and social reform and that males in general do not need to be challenged. They argue that laws and ideas can be changed. They are somehow seen as a conservative form of feminism today although its roots are classically the liberalism. Unlike the liberal feminism the socialist feminism concentrate on...

Bibliography: Mitchel, J and Oakley, A (1994). What is Feminism? 3rd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publisher.p 1-85.
Sather, T (1999). Pros and Cons. 16th ed. London: Rutledge. P29-147.
Walters,M (2005). Feminism a very short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Inc. p6-117.
Peterson, J. (2002). Feminist Perspectives . Available: http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/e511.html. Last accessed 20June 2006.
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