Feminism comprises a number of social, cultural and political movements, theories and moral philosophies concerned with gender inequalities and equal rights for women.
In its narrowest interpretation, it refers to the effort to ensure legal and political equality for women; in its broadest sense it comprises any theory which is grounded on the belief that women are oppressed or disadvantaged by comparison with men, and that their oppression is in some way illegitimate or unjustified.
The basis of feminist ideology is that society is organized into a patriarchal system in which men are privileged over women.
Feminism is generally said to have begun in the 19th century as people increasingly adopted the perception that women are oppressed in a male-centered society. The feminist movement is rooted in the West and especially in the reform movement of the 19th century. The organized movement is dated from the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. The discussion was focused on the social, civil and religious condition of women.
Feminism has five major concepts embedded into it: Patriarchy - the dominance of men in society, and the oppression of women for men’s gain. Example: ‘The family is patriarchal because women must do housework without pay.’ Discrimination - unfair/unequal treatment of women i.e. by the law. Example: Women paid less than men until Equal Pay Act 1970. Gender stereotypes - negative generalizations/misconceptions about women. These are perpetuated in the media, as well as the education system. Example: ‘Man are better drivers then women.’ Economic dependency - women giving up work to take care of childcare/housework responsibilities, thus becoming dependent on their husbands for money. Emotional work - women are expected to do the majority of emotional care for their family, on top of their job and housework; the so-called ‘triple shift’.