Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.
In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women”. Feminist theory, which emerged from these 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.
Feminist activists campaign for women’s rights – such as in contract law, property, and voting – while also promoting bodily integrity, autonomy, and reproductive rights for women. Feminist campaigns have changed societies, particularly in the West, reproductive rights for women, and the right to enter into contracts and own property.Feminists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. 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 because feminism seeks gender equality, some feminists argue that men’s liberation is a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles. THEORY: Feminist theory is the extension of feminism into theoretical or philosophical fields.It encompasses work in a variety of disciplines,including anthropology, sociology, economics,women’s studies, literary criticism, art history, psychoanalysis and philosophy. 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 of feminist theory also focuses on the promotion of women’s rights and interests. Themes explored in feminist theory include discrimination, stereotyping, objectification oppression, and patriarchy.
In the field of literary criticism, Elaine Showalter describes the development of feminist theory as having three phases. The first she calls “feminist critique”, in which the feminist reader examines the ideologies behind literary phenomena. The second Showalter calls “gynocriticism”, in which the “woman is producer of textual meaning”.
The last phase she calls “gender theory”, in which the “ideological inscription and the literary effects of the sex/gender system are explored”.This was paralled in the 1970s by French feminists, who developed the concept of ecriture feminine . Helene Cixous argues that writing and philosophy are phallocentric and along with other French feminists such as Luce Irigaray emphasize “writing from the body” as a subversive exercise. The work of the feminist psychoanalyst and philosopher, Julia Kristeva, has influenced feminist theory in general and feminist literary criticism in particular.However, as the scholar Elizabeth Wright points out, “none of these French feminists align themselves with the feminist movement as it appeared in the Anglophone world”. Political movements Some branches of feminism closely track the political leanings of the larger society, such as liberalism and conservatism, or focus on the environment.
Liberal feminism seeks individualistic equality of men and women through political and legal reform without altering the structure of society.Radical feminism considers the male-controlled capitalist hierarchy as the defining feature of women’s oppression and the total uprooting and reconstruction of society as necessary. Conservative feminism is conservative relative to the society in which it resides. Libertarian feminism conceives of people as self-owners and therefore as entitled to freedom from coercive interference. Separatist feminism does not support heterosexual relationships. Lesbian feminism is thus closely related. Other feminists criticize separatist feminism as sexist.Ecofeminists see men’s control of land as responsible for the oppression of women and destruction of the natural environment; ecofeminism has been criticized for focusing too much on a mystical connection between women and nature.
Materialist ideologies Rosemary Hennessy and Chrys Ingraham say that materialist feminisms grew out of western marxist thought and have inspired a number of different (but overlapping) movements, all of which are involved in a critique of capitalism and are focussed on ideology’s relationship to women.Marxist feminism argues that capitalism is the root cause of women’s oppression, and that discrimination against women in domestic life and employment is an effect of capitalist ideologies. Socialist feminism distinguishes itself from Marxist feminism by arguing that women’s liberation can only be achieved by working to end both the economic and cultural sources of women’s oppression] Anarcha-feminists believe that class struggle and anarchy against the state require struggling against patriarchy, which comes from involuntary hierarchy. Black and postcolonial ideologiesSara Ahmed argues that Black and Postcolonial feminisms pose a challenge “to some of the organizing premises of Western feminist thought. During much of its history, feminist movements and theoretical developments were led predominantly by middle-class white women from Western Europe and North America . However women of other races have proposed alternative feminisms.
This trend accelerated in the 1960s with the civil rights movement in the United States and the collapse of European colonialism in Africa, the Caribbean, parts of Latin America, and Southeast Asia.Since that time, women in developing nations and former colonies and who are of colour or various ethnicities or living in poverty have proposed additional feminisms Womanism emerged after early feminist movements were largely white and middle-class. Postcolonial feminists argue that colonial oppression and Western feminism marginalized postcolonial women but did not turn them passive or voiceless.Third-world feminism is closely related to postcolonial feminism. These ideas also correspond with ideas in African feminism, motherism,[ Stiwanism,.
egofeminism, femalism, transnational feminism, and Africana womanism. Social constructionist ideologies In the late twentieth century various feminists began to argue that gender roles are socially constructed, and that it is impossible to generalize women’s experiences across cultures and histories Post-structural feminism draws on the philosophies of post-structuralism and deconstruction in order to argue that the concept of gender is created socially and culturally through discourse.Postmodern feminists also emphasize the social construction of gender and the discursive nature of reality, however as Pamela Abbot et al. note, a postmodern approach to feminism highlights “the existence of multiple truths (rather than simply men and women’s standpoints). ” Cultural movements Riot grrrl (or riot grrl) is an underground feminist punk movement that started in the 1990s and is often associated with third-wave feminism. It was grounded in the DIY philosophy ofpunk values. Riot grrls took an anti-corporate stance of self-sufficiency and self-reliance.Riot grrrl’s emphasis on universal female identity and separatism often appears more closely allied with second-wave feminism than with the third wave.
 The movement encouraged and made “adolescent girls’ standpoints central,” allowing them to express themselves fully.  Lipstick feminism is a cultural feminist movement that attempts to respond to the backlash of second-wave radical feminism of the 1960s and 1970s by reclaiming symbols of “feminine” identity such as make-up, suggestive lothing and having a sexual allure as valid and empowering personal choices.Visual arts movement: The feminist art movement refers to the efforts and accomplishments of feminists internationally to make art that reflects women’s lives and experiences, as well as to change the foundation for the production and reception of contemporary art. It also sought to bring more visibility to women within art history and art practice.
49] Corresponding with general developments within feminism, and often including such self-organizing tactics as the consciousness-raising group, the movement began in the 1960s and flourished throughout the 1970s.Jeremy Strick, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, described the feminist art movement as “the most influential international movement of any during the postwar period”, and Peggy Phelan says that it “brought about the most far-reaching transformations in both artmaking and art writing over the past four decades”. 50]Judy Chicago, who with a team of 129 created The Dinner Party, said in 2009 to ARTnews, “There is still an institutional lag and an insistence on a male Eurocentric narrative.
We are trying to change the future: to get girls and boys to realize that women’s art is not an exception—it’s a normal part of art history. “