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Feminism

FEMINISM

FEMINISM. Although "feminism" is a nineteenth-century neologism, it is now generally accepted in anglophone historiography as a shorthand label for discourses that criticize misogyny and male dominance, argue for an improvement of the female condition, and demand a public voice for women speaking on behalf of their sex. A large corpus of writings, published all over Europe from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, can be considered "feminist" in this sense.

THE RENAISSANCE QUERELLE DES FEMMES

The first systematic feminist treatise is probably Christine de Pizan's Le livre de la cité des dames (14041405; Book of the city of ladies), composed at the French court in response to the misogyny of Jean de Meun's second part of the Roman de la rose (Romance of the rose). Pisan argued that the pervasive misogyny of the classical and Christian canon presented a distorted image of female nature produced by male arrogance and prejudice: "If women had written the books," she wrote in 1399, "they would have done it otherwise." Women's reason and sense of justice were in no way inferior to those of men, she contended. Pizan's City of Ladies, built on "the field of Letters" and consecrated by the Virgin Mary, is an allegory of the female voice in history, which, once raised, will never be silenced.

After the advent of printing, feminism established itself as a prolific genre, part of an interminable series of polemics between the detractors and the defenders of women known as the querelle des femmes, 'quarrel about women'. A few examples will illustrate its most widespread arguments: One of the characters in Baldassare Castiglione's The Courtier (1528) declares that "everything men can understand, women can too," and he cites Plato's inclusion of women in the ruling elite of the politeia against the Aristotelian reasoning of his opponent. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa opens his "On the Nobility and Excellence of the Feminine Sex" (1529) with the thesis that sexual difference is confined to the reproductive organs while God has endowed "both male and female . . . with the same and altogether indifferent form of soul, the woman being endowed with no less excellent faculties of mind, reason, and speech than the man." In "On the Excellence and Dignity of Women" (1525) Galeazzo Flavio Capella accuses men of duplicity: they exclude women from most pursuits and then "prove" that they are unable to participate in them. The French author François Billon asserted in 1555 in Le fort inexpugnable de l'honneur du sexe féminin (The invincible fortress of the honor of the female sex) that male arguments against women usually rely on custom rather than reason, and, like many others before and after him, he likens the oppressive husband to the "tyrant." The theme of "wicked men" could also be discussed in moral terms, as in Marguerite de Navarre's observation (in the Heptaméron, 1559) that men's chief pleasure consisted in dishonoring women and their chief honor in killing other men, both of which went against God's law. The opposition of feminine piety, virtue, and refinement to male profanity, vice, and vulgarity is found in much feminist literature. Another popular genre, found all over Europe from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, is the galleries of illustrious women, proving by historical example that they could equal men in every respect.

In the first half of the seventeenth century, feminist voices were raised in several countries. Lucrezia Marinella's The Nobility and Excellence of Women and the Defects and Failings of Men (Venice, 1600), Marie de Gournay's Equality of Men and Women (Paris, 1622), and Anna Maria van Schurman's Dissertation on the Aptitude of the Female Understanding for Science and Letters (Leiden, 1641; French transl.: Paris, 1646; English: London, 1659) were the most widely known, but similar arguments were made by Arcangela Tarabotti (Nuremberg, 1651), Johann Herbin (Wittenberg, 1657), María de Zayas (Spain, 1637), Margaret Cavendish (London, 1663), Margaret Fell (London, 1666), and others. The arguments of the querelle were thus widely disseminated. Some of them were already found in Erasmus's writings, and Castiglione, Agrippa, and Van Schurman were translated into several European languages. As the editor of Michel de Montaigne's Essays, Gournay was known all over Europe.

It seems safe to conclude that by the middle of the seventeenth century most literate women and men in western Europe were conversant with at least some of the arguments of the querelle. Its main themes were: (1) the recognition of women's equality with men as immortal souls and rational beings; (2) the assertion that men are like tyrants, wielding an arbitrary and unjust power over women; (3) the argument that the present "nature" of women is the product of a biased education; (4) the demand for access to higher education and the Republic of Letters; (5) the indictment of men's outrageous treatment of women, especially in marriage; (6) the glorification of "strong women," usually by means of galleries of historical examples; and (7) the call for "politeness" and a softening of manners tied to an upgrading of the "feminine virtues," so that (upper-class) women became the agents of a civilizing mission.

ENLIGHTENMENT FEMINISM

After 1660 the above themes persisted, but feminism increasingly interacted with Cartesianism and other innovative currents of thought. The Amazon faded into the background while the learned woman became a more common, but also highly controversial, figure. In France the rise of the female author and the antifeminist backlash, best exemplified by Molière's play Les femmes savantes (1672; The learned women), coincides in time. In Italy a learned woman, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, was awarded a doctorate in philosophy (Padua, 1678; probably a European first).

François Poulain de la Barre (On the Equality of the Two Sexes, 1673) reworked existing feminist arguments in a Cartesian framework, drawing on Descartes's methodological maxim of radical doubt, his dualism of body and mind, and his mechanistic biology. "The Soul has no Sex" becomes "The Mind has no Sex," but it is important to note that Poulain also seeks to demonstrate that the male and the female body are generally alike, except for the reproductive organs. Poulain criticizes the contradictory use of the concept of "nature" by the philosophers of natural law. He proposes an entirely nongendered curriculum for the education of both women and men (On the Education of Women, 1674). Apart from feminism and Cartesianism, Poulain's egalitarian social philosophy draws on the philosophy of natural rights, the Jansenist moral critique of rank, the cultural relativism of travelogues, biblical criticism, and the quarrel of the ancients and moderns. The result is an early instance of an Enlightenment social philosophy. Poulain turns feminism into a systematic philosophy and establishes a space for feminism within Enlightenment discourse.

Despite Poulain's strict egalitarianism, the praise of the "feminine virtues" is not absent from his work. This is probably true of the bulk of Enlightenment feminist theory. A good example is Antoinette de Salvan de Saliez, a lady from Albi in southern France, who declared in 1682 that "among civilized people, the equality of the sexes is no longer contested." By "civilized" she meant polite, peaceful, and lettered; she abhorred the aggressive lifestyle of the traditional warrior aristocracy. Salvan's version of the equality of the sexes was predicated on a feminization of elite culture. This type of argument was double-edged: it could be used to carve out a space for women within elite culture, but it was also conducive to a restriction of women to the sphere of morality and manners. We should not forget that, despite all the Enlightenment discourses about equality, universities and scientific academies continued to exclude women.

Cartesian rationalism influenced most late-seventeenth-century and early-eighteenth-century feminists in one way or another. Poulain de la Barre was translated into English (London, 1677), and his arguments, if not his name, are copied and paraphrased over and over again. In England, William Welsh (1691), Mary Astell (1694), Judith Drake (1696), and John Toland (1704) defended the equality of the sexes in Cartesian terms, as well as by an environmentalist psychology they took from Poulain or from John Locke. In France similar arguments were advanced by Gabrielle Suchon (1693), Morvan de Bellegarde (1702), Claude Buffier (1704), and Anne Thérèse de Lambert (1727). "Men," Lambert wrote, "have seized authority over women rather by means of force than by natural right."

In 1687 Christian Thomasius, the main protagonist of the early German Enlightenment, advocated an equal education for men and women. In the 1720s and 1730s, the German poets Christiane Mariane von Ziegler, Anna Helena Volckmann, and Sidonia Hedwig Zäunemann defended female authorship and the equal mental capacity of women: "Der Schöpfer hat uns ja mit gleichen Geist bedacht / Und gleiche Seelen-Kraft und Triebe beygebracht," wrote Zäunemann in 1738 ("For the Creator has endowed us with the same mind / And the same vitality and impulses"). In Spain the equality of the sexes was defended in Benito Feijoo's Teatro crítico de errores comunes (1725; Critical exposition of common prejudices), one of the founding texts of the Spanish Enlightenment. In Italy, Giuseppa Eleonora Barbapiccola stressed the Cartesian theme of the sexless mind in her translation of Descartes's Principles of Philosophy (1722), and in 1723 a Paduan academy, the Ricovrati, organized a debate on the question "if women ought to be admitted to the study of the sciences and the noble arts." In 1732, Laura Bassi obtained a degree in philosophy at Bologna where she taught from 1732 to 1778. At the same university, Maria Gaetana Agnesi held a chair of mathematics. Agnesi was one of the protagonists of a debate on the academic education of women that went on until the 1780s.

Another critical discourse on gender emerged in the ambit of philosophical history. Poulain de la Barre had outlined a hypothetical history of the origins of inequality in which the subjection of women was depicted as a historical result instead of a "natural" condition. However, the combination of travelogues and speculations about the primitive past of the species also resulted in a theory of the progression of European, and especially French, civilization. This was evidenced by the greater liberty enjoyed by women of the eighteenth century compared with both the European past and the Asian present (the latter point was made by Montesquieu as well as Voltaire). It was possible, however, to evaluate the liberty of women in widely divergent ways, ranging from George Louis Leclerc Buffon's assertion that female liberty was "necessary to the refinement [douceur ] of society" and was only found among "the most civilized nations," to the Scot John Millar's fear that commercial society would lead to "dissolute manners," and, ultimately, to "universal prostitution." In both cases, however, the female condition was theorized as historically determined instead of being an immutable fact of nature.

To the eighteenth-century mind, gender had become an "essentially contested concept." Montesquieu had read Poulain de la Barre, and he had one of his personages in the Persian Letters exclaim that male supremacy was not founded in nature. Rousseau voiced egalitarian-feminist opinions in his early essay On Women as well as in his unpublished notes On Education, drafted for Mme Dupin in 17461751, but later he embraced the contrary theory that a virtuous republic was unthinkable without the exclusion of women from the public sphere. Toward the end of the century, Marie-Jean Caritat, marquis de Condorcet, Olympe de Gouges, Marie-Madeleine Jodin, and others formulated a full program for the emancipation of women. Similar programmatic feminist writings were published in most parts of Europe, notably by Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel in Prussia, Mary Wollstonecraft in England, and in an anonymous pamphlet in the Dutch Republic, arguing "that women ought to take part in the government of the land." Such bold claims on behalf of women would be inexplicable without the upsurge of Enlightenment feminist thought, of which only a few examples have been adduced above.

DISSEMINATION AND GEOGRAPHY

The new women's history of the past thirty years has unearthed an enormous corpus of previously unknown or forgotten feminist sources. Pending a full quantitative investigation, only tentative conclusions are warranted.

Before 1600, elite women possessing literary and intellectual skills were probably more numerous in Italy than anywhere else. It was also in Italy that women were admitted to several literary academies, and, in a few cases, acquired a university degree. There are also two German examples: Dorothea Erxleben, who became Germany's first woman medical doctor in 1754, and Dorothea Schlözer, who was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from a German university (Göttingen), in 1787. Renaissance feminism was vigorous in Italy, the German Empire, and France, probably less so in England and the Dutch Republic.

In the course of the seventeenth century, French feminism became the strongest in Europe, exercising a notable European influence, as French supplanted Latin as the main language of international elite sociability. From the late seventeenth century, a steady stream of feminist publications began to come from British presses. In the eighteenth century, feminist arguments were found all over Europe. This is now fairly well documented for France, England, Spain, Italy, the Dutch Republic, and the German lands, and there are examples from Denmark, Sweden, and other nations. One gets the impression that Enlightenment feminism was strongest in France and Britain, but this picture may well be corrected by future research.

The development of feminism over time is not easy to ascertain. To picture it as a linear "rise" would be to simplify a story that is probably better captured by the metaphor of waves and backlashes. The main watershed in the history of early modern feminism is the transition from the Renaissance querelle to the Enlightenment, but even here caution is required, for many Renaissance themes lived on within eighteenth-century feminism. This is especially true of the "feminine virtues," which were in various ways combined with egalitarian, rationalistic arguments.

It remains true, however, that the linkages between feminism and Cartesianism, as well as the frequent use by feminists of the environmentalist social psychology of Poulain, Locke, and others, gave Enlightenment feminism a "philosophical" tone that had been less conspicuous in the literary genre of the querelle. Theological themes were gradually marginalized, while the new "science of man" acquired a greater importance, both for feminists and for their opponents. Finally, the acceptance of the female author, albeit with ups and downs, seems to be a European phenomenon from the early eighteenth century onwards.

At the present time it is not possible to determine whether the quantity of feminist publishing increased over the long run. In the French case there is a distinct peak in the 16301680 period, and perhaps another one in the early eighteenth century, but after that the picture is less clear. From the late seventeenth century, the periodical press played an increasingly important role, but again, quantitative investigations are not yet available.

QUESTIONS OF MEANING AND INTERPRETATION

Much of early modern feminism follows definite literary conventions. Eulogies of the "beautiful Sex" by male authors frequently give an impression of frivolity and "literary gallantry." Some historians have pictured the Renaissance querelle as a vain literary game instead of a serious argument for equality and dignity. While it cannot be doubted that some texts lend themselves to such a reading, it is seldom the whole story. The literary games people play tell us what is on their minds. The pro- and anti-woman literature of the querelle bespeaks a deep-seated ambivalence and anxiety about the place of women in society. In the most literal sense it shows that the subjection of women was not "unquestioned." Moreover, many feminist tracts, especially those written by women, are suffused with sincere indignation and despair about women's oppression.

Finally, different feminisms and "feminist moments" should be interpreted in the context of struggles over particular practices, such as literary authorship and taste, elite sociability, female networks, university politics, forms of religious worship, marriage laws and customs, and social and political issues. Many feminist utterances that seem outlandish at first sight only disclose their real meaning and significance when read in their specific context.

The feminism of the early Enlightenment (16501700) partook of the philosophical turn of that age. It demonstrated that the status of women is liable to be questioned in a period of transition when the entire intellectual and cultural landscape is shifting. A similar dynamic was visible in the late eighteenth century when feminism developed in tandem with the democratic revolutions.

Seen over the long run of European history, the writings of the early modern feminists present us with a consistent sequence of rejoinders to the mainstream apologies for male supremacy, a countercanon that originated somehere in the Late Middle Ages and has continued ever since. It represents a major feature of European history that has no parallel in the other great civilizations of the world.

See also Cartesianism ; Cornaro Piscopia, Elena Lucrezia ; Enlightenment ; Gender ; Marguerite de Navarre ; Salons ; Sexual Difference, Theories of ; Women .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Akkerman, Tjitske, and Siep Stuurman, eds. Perspectives on Feminist Political Thought in European History: From the Middle Ages to the Present. London and New York, 1998.

Albistur, Maïté, and Daniel Armogathe. Histoire du féminisme français du moyen âge à nos jours. Paris, 1978.

Bock, Gisela, and Margarete Zimmermann, eds. Die europäische Querelle des Femmes: Geschlechterdebatten seit dem 15. Jahrhundert. Stuttgart and Weimar, 1997.

Bolufer Peruga, Mónica. Mujeres e illustración: La construcción de la feminidad en la ilustración española. Valencia, 1998.

Browne, Alice. The Eighteenth Century Feminist Mind. Brighton, U.K., 1987.

Bruneau, Marie Florine. "Learned and Literary Women in Late Imperial China and Early Modern Europe." Late Imperial China 13 (1992): 156172.

DeJean, Joan. Tender Geographies: Women and the Origins of the Novel in France. New York, 1991.

Goldsmith, Elizabeth C., and Dena Goodman, eds. Going Public: Women and Publishing in Early Modern France. Ithaca, N.Y., and London, 1995.

Goodman, Katherine R. Amazons and Apprentices: Women and the German Parnassus in the Early Enlightenment. Rochester, N.Y., and Woodbridge, U.K., 1999.

Harth, Erica. Cartesian Women: Versions and Subversions of Rational Discourse in the Old Regime. Ithaca, N.Y., and London, 1992.

Honegger, Claudia. Die Ordnung der Geschlechter: Die Wissenschaften vom Menschen und das Weib, 17501850. Frankfurt am Main and New York, 1991.

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Stuurman, Siep. François Poulain de la Barre and the Invention of Modern Equality. Cambridge, Mass., 2003.

Taylor, Barbara. Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination. Cambridge, U.K., 2003.

Siep Stuurman

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"Feminism." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Feminism

Feminism

ORIGINS OF FEMINISM

THE FIRST WAVE OF FEMINISM

THE SECOND WAVE OF FEMINISM

THE THIRD WAVE OF FEMINISM

TYPES OF FEMINISM

IMPACT OF FEMINISM

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Feminism refers to social theories, economic ideologies, political movements, and moral philosophies aimed at bringing equality to women. Feminism has been identified with different groups and different issues over the course of its history. The first wave gave rise to liberal feminists, who fought for the right to vote, access to education, and marriage law reforms in the 1800s and early 1900s. The second wave witnessed the emergence of radical feminists, who protested for work and reproductive rights in the 1960s and 1970s. The numerous feminist groups concerned with all forms of oppression (e.g., racism, classism) evolved as the third wave in the 1990s.

ORIGINS OF FEMINISM

The desire for equality predates the existence of the term feminism or the movement it has come to represent. The term feminism comes from the French word féminisme and was popularized by Hubertine Auclert in 1882 when she organized the first womens suffragist society in France. However, prior to the advent of the word, there were publications that fell within the purview of feminism. One of the first, by the medieval French poet Christine de Pizan, was Livre de la cité des dames (1405; The Book of the City of Ladies, 1999), in which Pizan suggests that women should build their own cities, free of men, so as to avoid mens violence and oppression. Dealing more specifically with rights, John Lockes Two Treatises of Government (1690) argued that all individuals have indelible natural rights to life, liberty, and possessions, which no government can deny.

Lockes work inspired Mary Wollstonecrafts Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), one of the first feminist manifestos. Wollstonecraft argued that women were human beings who should not be denied the same individual rights as men because of their sex. She advocated that women be viewed as equal to men under the law, with all the same rights and privileges, including the right to education, earnings, and property ownership. The rights of women were further advocated by John Stuart Mill in his treatise The Subjection of Women (1869). Mill contended that women should be granted the same rights and privileges as men under the law. In 1866, during his term as a member of Parliament for Westminster, Mill introduced a motion to enfranchise women on the grounds that taxpayers should have representation. The motion was defeated (196 to 73 votes), but the impetus for womens suffrage was not. The right to vote and the right to a proper education were two primary concerns that propelled the first of the three waves of the feminist movement.

THE FIRST WAVE OF FEMINISM

The period from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century saw tremendous activity for the womens movement. Key concerns included improvements in education, employment, and marriage laws. In much of North America and Europe, the right to higher education provided the movements initial spark. In other nations, cultural and religious constrictions such as suttee (self-immolation by Hindu widows), purdah (isolation of women, shielding them from public view), child marriage, and foot binding provided the initial focus for reform. In England and the United States in the 1800s (dates vary by state), marital laws were reformed with the passage of married womens property acts, which enabled wives to own property, enter into contractual agreements, sue, and be sued. However, in many countries it became apparent that the right to vote was instrumental in obtaining other reforms, so voting became the focus of the movement.

In the United States the first womens rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. In 1869 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and demanded not just the right to vote but marital reform as well. The exclusion of male members and the request for marital reform, instead of focusing solely on the vote, was frowned upon by some (e.g., Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell), resulting in the creation of the American Women Suffrage Association. However, the two groups merged in 1890. Women in New Zealand were among the first to obtain the right to vote (1893), and other countries quickly followed. For example, womens suffrage was achieved in Australia in 1902, Finland in 1906, Denmark in 1915, Russia in 1917, Czechoslovakia, England, and Germany in 1918, the Netherlands and Sweden in 1919, and the United States in 1920.

In many countries, after winning the right to vote, women turned their attention to education and employment rights. Upon achieving greater educational and employment access, women entered both of these spheres in record numbers. However, this newfound freedom was quickly tempered by the Great Depression. Although the effects of the Depression were felt at different times in different countries, the 1930s saw immobilization in the feminist movement. During this period, women were discouraged from seeking employment because of the scarcity of jobs. This employment hiatus was quickly reversed with the start of World War II in 1939, as women were encouraged to fill voids in a number of professions previously closed to them (e.g., factory workers, pilots) because so many men were sent to battle. Women proved to be effectual workers, but they were nonetheless displaced by returning soldiers at the wars end.

The tumultuousness of the war years was followed by a period of relative calm, during which the movement waned. However, having tasted independence, career options, and good pay, women were no longer content to be housewives. The publication of Simone de Beauvoirs Le deuxième sexe in 1949 (The Second Sex; English trans., 1953) reminded women that there was still much work to be done. This period of tranquility soon ended in the 1960s with the start of the second wave of the feminist movement.

THE SECOND WAVE OF FEMINISM

The term second wave was coined by Martha Lear and refers to the feminist movement that began in the 1960s. The leading issues were demands for employment and reproductive rights. In the United States the second wave rose out of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. Even within these pro-rights organizations, women were relegated to second-class status. In an effort to gain a voice, two branches of the feminist movement emerged: the womens liberation movement (WLM) and the National Organization for Women (NOW). The WLM evolved out of the New Left and encompassed more loosely organized radical groups that formed following their exclusion from other New Left politics. They gained great notoriety in 1968, when they demonstrated against the Miss America pageant for its sexist objectification of women. NOW was a more structured, liberal group founded in 1966 by Betty Friedan, Aileen Hernandez, Pauli Murray, and others. Although NOW grew to become more inclusive, in 1968 Ti-Grace Atkinson left it and created her own group, the Feminists, to protest NOWs hierarchical structure. NOW also lost members because of its pro-choice stance; some conservative women, led by Elizabeth Boyer, left the organization and created the Womens Equity Action League. In spite of these early setbacks, NOW grew to become the largest womens organization in the United States and championed the equal rights amendment (ERA) as its primary cause. Despite approval by the U.S. House and Senate, the ERA was not ratified by the requisite thirty-eight states by the 1982 deadline.

This period was marked by a number of historic events, including the 1963 Commission on the Status of Women report that documented discrimination against women in all facets of life. The pervasiveness of discrimination was also the topic of Betty Friedans best-selling book The Feminine Mystique (1963). These two documents invigorated the womens rights movement, and its activities were instrumental in bringing about changes. In 1963 Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, which prohibited unequal pay for equal work. In 1964 Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, and national origin. Ironically, the inclusion of sex was actually a last-minute attempt to kill the bill, but it passed anyway. Prohibitions against sexual discrimination were further extended in 1972 with the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendment, which prohibited discrimination in educational settings. In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Courts decision in Roe v. Wade struck down state laws restricting a womens right to an abortion, thereby legalizing it in all fifty states.

In addition to employment and reproduction rights, concerns about pornography and sexuality more generally also came to the fore. However, there was little consensus on these issues, and this disagreement culminated in what is termed the feminist sex wars. The sex wars of the 1980s were between antipornography feminists (e.g., Catherine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, and Robin Morgan), who argued that pornography degrades and promotes violence against women, and sex-positive feminists (e.g., Camille Paglia, Ellen Willis, and Gayle Rubin), who opposed limiting sexual expression. This conflict, along with the fact that many feminists felt that other sources of oppression, such as race and class, were being neglected, caused the already multipartite movement to become increasingly fractured, resulting in the birth of third-wave feminism.

THE THIRD WAVE OF FEMINISM

Third-wave feminism evolved out of the disillusionment of many feminists with the overemphasis on the experience of middle-class white women in the mainstream. Feminists of color (e.g., Gloria Anzaldúa, bell hooks, Chela Sandoval, Cherrie Moraga, Audre Lorde, and Maxine Hong Kingston) emphasized the significance of race, class, sexual orientation, and other socially structured forms of bias on womens lives (Kinser 2004). Critical race theorist and law professor Kimberlé W. Crenshaw introduced the term intersectionalities to highlight the multiplicative effect of these different sites of oppression. Counter to postfeminist contentions that feminism was obsolete as women had gained equality, third-wavers contended that there was still work to be done, specifically related to the micropolitics of gender oppression.

The term third-wave feminist was popularized by the 1992 Ms. magazine article titled Becoming the Third Wave by Rebecca Walker, who stated: I am not a post-feminism feminist. I am the third wave (Walker 1992, p. 40). In her article Walker describes her rage over the outcome of the Clarence Thomas hearings (in which Anita Hill testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her; Thomas was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, while Hill was repudiated) and her subsequent commitment to feminism. Walkers article generated a large response from young women, who indicated that they have not given up the cause but are feminists in their own way. That is, they embrace a more pluralistic definition of feminism; they are concerned with the intersectionalities of oppression and the impact of globalism, technology, and other forces, and they operate on a more grassroots level (Kinser 2004). Although both second- and third-wave feminists are still at work, their divergent concerns spawned different groups, including black feminists, critical feminists, and global feminists.

TYPES OF FEMINISM

Although there are many types of feminism, the four most common are liberal, radical, Marxist, and socialist. What differentiates them is the degree to which they accept that the different social structures in power are responsible for oppression. Liberal feminism, considered the most mainstream, accepts that sex differences exist but contends that social, legal, and economic opportunities should be equal for men and women. Liberal feminists are concerned with individual rights and promoting change through legal and legislative means while still operating within the current patriarchal structure.

Radical feminism emerged from the ideals of the New Left and the womens liberation movement in the late 1960s. Radical feminists argue that men are the oppressors of women and that the patriarchal social structure must be replaced for women to gain equality. The term radical feminism is used to represent many divergent groups, including cultural feminism, lesbian feminism, and revolutionary feminism.

Marxist feminists believe that womens oppression stems largely from economic stratification brought about by the production methods inherent in capitalism. Accordingly, capitalism must be destroyed in order to emancipate women both as workers and as property within the marital sphere.

Drawing from both radical and Marxist ideologies, socialist feminists argue that both class and sexism are sources of womens oppression. They advocate the end of capitalist patriarchy to reduce all forms of exploitation, as they are also concerned with oppression resulting from race, age, religion, and the like. In contrast to liberal feminisms emphasis on individual rights, socialist feminists emphasize the social existence in the broader community.

IMPACT OF FEMINISM

In addition to voting, property, employment, and other rights, the womens movement has also promoted other changes. For instance, not only do women have the right to vote but a number of countries have had female political leaders, including Chile, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Liberia, and Switzerland. In addition access to education has brought about a large increase in the number of women students, such that women now outnumber men in many nations schools. With regard to language, feminism has been influential in advancing the use of nonsexist terms (e.g., humankind in lieu of mankind ). It has also had a tremendous impact on the institution of marriage, in terms not only of whether women marry but also whom they choose to marry (a man or a woman), as well as the distribution of familial labor within the marital union. Moreover following the lead of the nineteenth-century suffragist Lucy Stone, many women now maintain their maiden names after marriage. The movement has also influenced religion, with many liberal denominations now ordaining women. Feminist thinking has also influenced the social sciences. It is no longer acceptable to collect data solely on men and to apply the findings to women, because there are often important gender differencesfor example, personality (Chodorow 1978). Further, feminist researchers advocate increased use of qualitative methods in which participants play a greater role in informing the definition and measurement of the phenomenon under study.

SEE ALSO Critical Race Theory; Feminism, Second Wave; Friedan, Betty; Gender Gap; Inequality, Gender; Intersectionality; Marxism; National Organization for Women; Patriarchy; Reproductive Rights; Sexism; Sexual Harassment; Sexuality; Socialism; Steinem, Gloria; Suffrage, Womens; Womanism; Women; Women and Politics; Womens Liberation; Womens Movement; Womens Studies; Work and Women

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chodorow, Nancy. 1978. The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender. Berkeley: University of California Press.

De Beauvoir, Simone. [1949] 1953. The Second Sex. Trans. H. M. Parshley. New York: Knopf.

De Pizan, Christine. [1405] 1999. The Book of the City of Ladies. Trans. Rosalind Brown-Grant. London and New York: Penguin.

Friedan, Betty. 1963. The Feminine Mystique. New York: Dell.

International Museum of Women. 2003. Chronology of Worldwide Woman Suffrage. http://www.imow.org/exhibits/suffrage/chronology_suffrage.pdf.

Kinser, Amber E. 2004. Negotiating Spaces for/through Third-Wave Feminism. National Womens Studies Association Journal 16 (3): 124153.

Locke, John. [1690] 1992. Two Treatises of Government. New York: Classics of Liberty Library.

Mill, John Stuart. [1869] 2001. The Subjection of Women, ed. Edward Alexander. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

Presidents Commission on the Status of Women. 1963. Report of the Committee on Education. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Roe v. Wade. 1973. 410 U.S. 113.

Walker, Rebecca. 1992. Becoming the Third Wave. Ms., JanuaryFebruary, 3941.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. [1792] 1989. Vindication of the Rights of Women. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus.

Worldwide Guide to Women Leadership. 2007. Chronological List of Female Presidents. http://www.guide2womenleaders.com/Presidents-Chronological.htm.

Kim S. Ménard

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Feminism

FEMINISM

Feminism in Russia first developed during the 1850s, following the disastrous Crimean War and the accession of Alexander II. At a time of political ferment over the nation's future, an intense debate arose within educated society over the dependent status of women and inherited assumptions about their capacities and their roles. The idea of women's emancipation was readily linked to peasant emancipation, plans for which were being publicly debated during these years. If one section of the populationenserfed peasantscould be liberated, why not women too, half the human race? Many activists in the women's movement over the next halfcentury pinpointed the 1850s and 1860s as the moment when women first challenged their own subordinate legal status, inferior education, exclusion from all but menial paid employment, and vulnerability to sexual exploitation, as well as the complex web of convention and sanction that restricted their everyday lives. A number of women writersand some radical male writershad already addressed these themes a generation earlier, but always as individuals. It was only during the 1850s that a women's movement, dedicated to change, could coalesce.

Unlike women in many western countries, Russian upperand middleclass women kept their property upon marriage and were not forced into financial dependence on their husbands. However, even propertied women were disadvantaged by inferior inheritance rights; despite their financial autonomy, the law required that they obey their husbands and live in the marital home unless given formal permission to leave. In an abusive marriage a woman could apply to the courts for legal separation, but this was a tortuous process and available only to the relatively welltodo. The vast majority of Russian women in this period were peasants; before 1861 many were serfs. Even after peasant emancipation their status in the family was subordinate, particularly as young women. They were valued in the village for their ability to workin the fields and in the householdand to produce and raise children. Few had time to think about the possibilities of an alternative life or about their own lack of rights or status. It was feminists and female radicals who first set out to improve women's personal rights and establish their legal and actual autonomy, though the prevailing social conservatism on gender issues and the extreme limitations on political campaigning impeded any meaningful legislative change until the last years of tsarist rule.

Feminist ideas in Russia were inspired not only by social and political change at home, but equally by the emerging women's movement in the West (particularly North America, Britain, and France) in this period. Russian feminists established lasting contacts with their western counterparts and read western literature on the "woman question." Most considered themselves "westernizers" rather than "slavophiles" in the contemporary politicalcultural controversy over Russia and its future. The word "feminism" itself was rarely used in Russia or elsewhere, and even when it gained wider currency toward the end of the century, it most often had a pejorative connotation, both for conservative and radical opponents of reformist women's movements, and for feminists too. Before 1905 they called themselves "activists in the women's movement" (deyatelnitsy zhenskogo dvizheniya ). During the 1905 Revolution, when the movement was politicized, the most uncompromising became "equalrighters" (ravnopravki ), emphasizing the struggle for social equality overall, not just for women. After 1917 feminist activists either emigrated or were silenced, and for the entire Soviet period feminism was branded a "bourgeois deviation."

radical alternatives to feminism

Like feminists, revolutionary women and men espoused sexual equality. But they fiercely rejected feminism, insisting that women's liberation must be part of a wider social revolution. Feminists, they claimed, based their appeal to women by driving a wedge between men and women of the oppressed classes struggling for their rights. Feminists denied the radical claim that they were motivated only by their own "selfish" ends, and saw themselves working for Russia's "renewal" and "regeneration," for the betterment of the whole population.

Although a socialist women's movement developed in Russia (as elsewhere) around 1900, both populist and Marxist revolutionary groups were antagonistic to separate work among women, and only well after 1900 was it possible for Bolshevik women (such as Alexandra Kollontai, Inessa Armand, and Nadezhdaya Krupskaya, Lenin's wife) to address women's issues specifically within their party organization. Though dubbed a "Bolshevik feminist" by later western historians, Kollontai herself was one of the most outspoken critics of reformist feminismand the very concept of feminismbefore and after 1917.

Disagreements between feminist reformers and radicals were present from the beginning. At first these conflicts were more over lifestyle than politics. Reformers observed existing social codes (dress, comportment, family obligations, respectability). Many, though not all, came from well-to-do gentry backgrounds and had no need to earn a living. Radicals, often of gentry origin too, were in conscious revolt against family and social propriety. They wore cropped hair and simple, unadorned clothing, smoked in public, and called themselves "nihilists" (nigilistki ). Whether in financial need or not (many were), nihilists joined urban "communes," or set up their own. For a few years there was some contact (including individual friendships) between nihilists and feminists, focusing on attempts to set up an employment bureau for women and cooperative workshops providing employment and essential skills for themselves and other women. This collaboration foundered during the mid-1860s; within a few years many nihilist women had moved into illegal populist groups whose aim was the liberation of the "Russian people," the narod. In their own estimation, by the early 1870s the radicals had left the "woman question" behind.

feminist campaigning

The reformers were dedicated to working within the system. They raised petitions, lobbied ministers, and exploited personal connections to reach influential figures, many of them already sympathetic to feminist ideas. Of necessity, they focused on philanthropy and higher education. Philanthropy was the one form of public activity then open to women, an acknowledged extension of their "caring" role within the family. It aimed both to encourage self-sufficiency in the beneficiaries and to give their organizers practical experience of public administration. Feminist philanthropists ran their enterprises, as far as was possible, democratically and with minimal regulation. Most successful was a Society to Provide Cheap Lodgings (founded in 1861 and by 1880 a major charity) in St. Petersburg. Another society provided refuges for poor women. A major feminist preoccupation, particularly important in a rapidly urbanizing society, was to provide poorer women with alternatives to prostitution.

Campaigns for higher education were a new departure, but still within a familiar realmwoman as educator of her childrena role that became increasingly important in Russia's drive to "modernize." Feminists received support from individual professors and even university administrations. Persistent lobbying of government led to permission for public lectures for women (1869), then preparatory courses and finally universitylevel courses (1872 in Moscow), all existing on public goodwill, organization, and funding. Medical courses (for "learned midwives") were opened to women in St Petersburg (1872), extended to full medical courses in 1876. In 1878 the first Higher Courses for Women opened in St. Petersburg, followed by Moscow, Kiev, and Kazan. Though outside the university system, with no rights to state service and rank as given to men, these courses were effectively women's universities. Feminist campaigners also provided financial resources to students needing assistance, setting up a charity to raise money for the Higher Courses in 1878.

The campaign for higher education and specialist training was critically important for radical women too. Radicals' increasing identification with "the people" inspired them to train for professions that could be of direct use, principally teaching and medicine. During the early 1870s dozens of radical women (along with nonpolitical women in search of professional education not then available in Russia) went abroad to study, especially to Zurich, where the university was willing to admit them. Some radicals completed their training; others were drawn into Russian émigré political circles, abandoned their studies, and soon returned to Russia as active revolutionaries.

Feminismlike all reform movements in Russia during the 1870ssuffered in the increasingly repressive political environment. All independent initiatives, legal or illegal, came under suspicion: these included a feminist publishing cooperative founded during the mid-1860s, fundraising activities, proposals to form women's groups, and so forth. Alexander II's assassination in 1881 brought further misfortune. Several of the terrorist leaders were women, former nigilistki, and in the wholesale assault on liberalism following the murder, feminists were tarred with the same brush. The reaction after 1881 proved almost fatal. Expansion of higher education was halted; some courses were closed. Feminists ceased campaigning, and all avenues for action were barred. Only during the mid-1890s could feminists begin to regroup, but under strict supervision, and always limited by law to education and philanthropy.

political action

Before 1900 Russian feminism had no overt political agenda. For some activists this was a matter of choice, for many others a frustrating restriction. In several, though not all, western countries women's suffrage had been a focal point of feminist aspirations since the 1850s and 1860s. When rural zemstvos and municipal dumas were set up in Russia in the 1860s, propertied women received limited proxy rights to vote for the assemblies' representatives, but legal political activityby either genderwas not permitted. Indeed, no national legislature existed before 1906, when the tsar was forced by revolutionary upheaval to create the State Duma. It was during the build up of this opposition movement, from the early 1900s, that Russian feminism began to address political issues, not only women's suffrage, but calls for civil rights and equality before the law for all citizens.

After Bloody Sunday (January 9, 1905), feminist activists began to organize, linking their cause with that of the liberal and moderate socialist Liberation Movement. Besides existing women's societies, such as the Russian Women's Mutual Philanthropic Society (Russkoye zhenskoye vzaimnoblagotvoritelnoye obshchestvo, established in 1895), new organizations sprang up. Most directly political was the All-Russian Union of Equal Rights for Women (Vserossysky soyuz ravnopraviya zhenshchin ), dedicated to a wide program of social and political reform, including universal suffrage without distinction of gender, religion, or nationality. It quickly affiliated itself with the Union of Unions (Soyuz soyuzov ). Feminist support for the Liberation Movement was unmatched by the movement's support for women's political rights, and much of the union's propaganda during 1905 was directed as much at the liberal opposition as at the government. Unlike the latter, however, many liberals were gradually persuaded by the feminist claim, and support increased significantly in the years of reaction that followed. The government refused to consider women's suffrage at any point.

The women's unionthough itself overwhelmingly middle-class and professionalwas greatly encouraged by women's participation in workers' strikes during the mid-1890s and, particularly, women's involvement in working-class action in 1904 and 1905. After 1905, however, feminists were increasingly challenged by revolutionary socialists in a competition to "win" workingclass women to their cause. Prominent Bolsheviks such as Kollontai had finally convinced their party leaders of workingclass women's revolutionary potential. During the last years of tsarist rule, when the labor movement overall was becoming increasingly active, Kollontai and her comrades benefited from the feminists' failure to make any headway in the mass organization of women, a failure exacerbated after the outbreak of World War I by the feminists' stalwart support for the war effort. It was the Bolsheviks, not the feminists, who capitalized on the war's catastrophic impact on the lives of workingclass women and men.

With the outbreak of the February Revolution of 1917, the feminist campaign resumed, and initial opposition from the Provisional Government was easily overcome. In the electoral law for the Constituent Assembly, women were fully enfranchised. Before it was swept away by the Bolsheviks, the Provisional Government initiated several projects to give women equal opportunities and pay in public services, and full rights to practice as lawyers. It also proposed to transform the higher courses into women's universities; in the event, the courses were fully incorporated into existing universities by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

During the 1920s, with "bourgeois feminism" silenced, women's liberation was sponsored by the Bolsheviks, under a special Women's Department of the Communist Party (Zhenotdel ). In 1930 the Zhenotdel was abruptly dismantled and the "woman question" prematurely declared "solved."

See also: kollontai, alexandra mikhailovna; krupskaya, nadezhda konstantinovna; marriage and family life; zhenotdel

bibliography

Atkinson, Dorothy; Dallin, Alexander; and Warshofsky, Lapidus, eds. (1977). Women in Russia. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Clements, Barbara Evans. (1979). Bolshevik Feminist: The Life of Aleksandra Kollontai. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Clements, Barbara Evans; Engel, Barbara Alpern; and Worobec, Christine, D., eds. (1991). Russia's Women: Accommodation, Resistance, Transformation. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Edmondson, Linda. (1984). Feminism in Russia, 1900-1917. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Edmondson, Linda, ed. (1992). Women and Society in Russia and the Soviet Union. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Engel, Barbara Alpern. (1983). Mothers and Daughters: Women of the Intelligentsia in NineteenthCentury Russia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Farnsworth, Beatrice, and Viola, Lynne, eds. (1992). Russian Peasant Women. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Glickman, Rose L. (1984). Russian Factory Women: Workplace and Society, 1880-1914. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Noonan, Norma Corigliano, and Nechemias, Carol, eds. (2001). Encyclopedia of Russian Women's Movements. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Norton, Barbara T., and Gheith, Jehanne, M., eds. (2001). An Improper Profession: Women, Gender, and Journalism in Late Imperial Russia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Stites, Richard. (1978). The Women's Liberation Movement in Russia: Feminism, Nihilism, and Bolshevism, 1860-1930. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Linda Edmondson

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feminism

feminism

Feminism and woman's nature


The most far-reaching social development of modern times is the revolt of women against sexual servitude( Margaret Sanger , 1920).


While feminism takes many forms and cannot be characterized in any seamless way, it nonetheless encompasses the struggles of women to secure their economic and political agency. From the Women's Suffrage Movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to the Women's Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, feminism is typically associated with particular historical moments when a coalition of women succeeds in bringing issues of gender equality, sexual oppression, and sex discrimination into the public arena. Whether it takes the form of an explicit demand for the vote (as did the Suffrage Movements) or a more generalized demand for women's freedom (as did the Women's Liberation Movement), feminism is invariably engaged in resistance to prevailing notions of women's ‘nature’.

In the nineteenth century, the ideological ascendancy of science and medicine joined the spread of industrialization to promote the ‘sexual division of labour’ based on the assumption that ‘biology is destiny’. Women's fixed role as caregivers was ideologically determined by their biological capacity to bear children. Associated with that biological capacity was a host of psychological attributes — passivity, dependence, moodiness — which further reinforced a growing emphasis on the gendered separation of the domestic and the public spheres. The qualities requisite to economic or political success were linked to biologically based notions of masculinity and femininity, according to which men's bodies and minds are naturally suited to positions of power and women's are naturally suited to positions of subordination. While the resistance to this view of sexual difference varies historically and culturally, it is against this backdrop that modern and contemporary feminism must be understood.

Feminism and political activism

Not surprisingly, feminism often consolidates into a political movement as a result of women's participation in other radical, reformist, or revolutionary activities. For example, women were active in the anti-slavery movements of the nineteenth century. Yet, at a World Anti-Slavery Convention held in London in 1840, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were forced to sit in the gallery because the convention's organizers had determined that women could not be delegates. Eight years later, Mott and Stanton convened the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention, which adopted a platform explicitly revising the US Declaration of Independence to accord women the same guarantees that it granted to men. (‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal …’) In addition, it specified a set of grievances regarding the usurping by men of women's political, legal, and economic autonomy. It would not be the last time that the hypocrisy of demanding rights for some while denying them to others would initiate a women's movement. Women's experience as coffee-makers, typists, and sexual attendants to men in the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s similarly activated both the demand for women's full participation in the public sphere and denunciation of masculine sexual prerogatives.

The Women's Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, the backdrop to contemporary feminism, is characterized by two intersecting trajectories. On the one hand, in spite of the liberalization of non-marital sex (occasioned in part by the wide distribution of the birth control pill), women remained men's sexual subordinates. Feminists challenged ‘sexist’ images of women in popular culture and in the pornography industry in relation to a growing understanding of women's ‘political subordination under patriarchy’. Women's bodies, then, became the ground on which the struggle for liberation was waged. On the other hand, a connection was made between women's ‘consciousness’ and their sexual subordination. While feminists like Margaret Sanger had long before identified women's complicity in perpetuating their own subordination, the concept of ‘consciousness raising’ as an instrument of liberation emerged only in this later period. Consciousness raising, a collective activity of mutual support and critique, encouraged individual women to see the ways in which their habits of thought conformed to a particular set of ideological presuppositions about women's nature and women's roles — why am I supposed to wash the dishes, change the diapers, watch soap commercials, stay within the budget, and worry about cellulite, while he earns the money, fattens happily, determines when we will have sex, and metes out judicious punishment to the children when he returns from his important work in the real world?

Though this characterization of consciousness raising might appear a parody of the concerns of middle-class married women, the fact that such women were drawn into the movement in large numbers was crucial to the widespread recognition that women were no longer content to sit on the sidelines of political/public life. The slogan ‘the personal is political’ captured the Movement's insistence that what goes on behind the closed doors of the domestic sphere has everything to do with what goes on outside it. On this basis, despite serious differences among feminists as to whether the goal was equality with men or freedom from them, a broad agenda for change could be articulated. The women's health movement demanded everything from an increase in the number of women doctors, to access to abortion and contraception, to freedom from sterilization abuse, to a full understanding and celebration of women's bodies in feminist terms. (Our Bodies/Ourselves, still the principal women's health handbook, was first published in 1971) More generally, women demanded ready access to the political arena, to economic self-sufficiency, to childcare, to freedom from male violence, to divorce, and to workplaces free from sexual harassment.

Understanding power and oppression

While feminism must be seen as an activist demand for political and economic reform, it has always been informed by serious reflection on the nature of sexual difference and the mechanisms by means of which sexual difference is enmeshed in, even created out of, relations of power and oppression. Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 1792), John Stuart Mill (The Subjection of Women, 1869), Margaret Sanger (Women and the New Race, 1920), Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex, 1949), Betty Friedan (The Feminine Mystique, 1974), and bell hooks (Ain't I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism, 1981) are among the many feminists who have endeavoured to understand the causes and forms of women's oppression, and to reconceptualize sexual difference. Contemporary feminism has achieved more systematic interventions into the arenas that authorize representations of sexual difference, in large part because feminists have secured a greater presence in academia (and in elite domains of business, politics, medicine, science, and the mass media). For example, feminist historians have unmasked the assumption that history is determined by great wars and great men, and have succeeded in drawing attention to the ways in which women's work has significantly affected historical developments. Feminist scholars have demonstrated the extent to which male bias has determined the normative assumptions of the social, natural, and behavioural sciences. In the arts, literary and artistic canons are no longer restricted to the work of men.

Though feminism's relation to other struggles for political liberation has always been an element of its self-understanding, this has become particularly salient in recent years as feminism is increasingly exposed as beholden to a pernicious set of assumptions about class, race, sexuality, ethnicity, and nationality. Feminism has been challenged to re-think the centrality of a unified and singular woman's identity to its political aspirations, since that identity too often comes at the expense of other, equally significant forms of identification. For example, African–American women's identity is constructed in relation to the history of slavery in which white women were complicit. The institutionalized racism that persists in spite of legal reforms continues to ensure white women's relatively greater access to those who uphold multiple systems of domination and subordination, namely, white men. Adding class as a factor further complicates the feminist agenda, for upper-class white women have considerable economic and social power over lower-class men and women, irrespective of race or ethnicity.

The feminist programme has been unsettled as well by the claim that, however unwittingly, it privileges heterosexuality as a normative feature of women's identity. According to this view, for example, the focus on abortion and contraception as the principal items on the feminist reproductive freedom agenda has too often ignored the realities of lesbian (and gay male) sexuality. Lesbian and gay procreation face challenges very different but, it is argued, equally compelling as those faced by women who wish to resist the heterosexual reproductive paradigm.

Whatever its fragmentation, within those arenas where it has a relatively secure footing, feminism can be credited with effecting profound changes in the ideological construction of womanhood, not only in the US and Europe, but more globally. The issue of women's autonomy in relation to reproduction and to work, and the issue of women's health more generally, have found themselves on the global political stage. Feminism continues in its struggle to establish itself as the ground for women's political, economic, and cultural ascendancy in the face of its own internal debates about the significance of differences among women.

Meredith W. Michaels

Bibliography

Jaggar, A. and and Rothenberg, P. (1993). Feminist frameworks. McGraw–Hilll, New York.
Schneir, M. (1994). Feminism: the essential historical writings. Vintage, New York.

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feminism

feminism, movement for the political, social, and educational equality of women with men; the movement has occurred mainly in Europe and the United States. It has its roots in the humanism of the 18th cent. and in the Industrial Revolution. Feminist issues range from access to employment, education, child care, contraception, and abortion, to equality in the workplace, changing family roles, redress for sexual harassment in the workplace, and the need for equal political representation.

For the political aspects of feminism, see woman suffrage.

History

Women traditionally had been regarded as inferior to men physically and intellectually. Both law and theology had ordered their subjection. Women could not possess property in their own names, engage in business, or control the disposal of their children or even of their own persons. Although Mary Astell and others had pleaded earlier for larger opportunities for women, the first feminist document was Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). In the French Revolution, women's republican clubs demanded that liberty, equality, and fraternity be applied regardless of sex, but this movement was extinguished for the time by the Code Napoléon.

In North America, although Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren pressed for the inclusion of women's emancipation in the Constitution, the feminist movement really dates from 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Coffin Mott, and others, in a women's convention at Seneca Falls, N.Y., issued a declaration of independence for women, demanding full legal equality, full educational and commercial opportunity, equal compensation, the right to collect wages, and the right to vote. Led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Brownell Anthony, the movement spread rapidly and soon extended to Europe.

Little by little, women's demands for higher education, entrance into trades and professions, married women's rights to property, and the right to vote were conceded. In the United States after woman suffrage was won in 1920, women were divided on the question of equal standing with men (advocated by the National Woman's party) versus some protective legislation; various forms of protective legislation had been enacted in the 19th cent., e.g., limiting the number of hours women could work per week and excluding women from certain high-risk occupations.

In 1946 the UN Commission on the Status of Women was established to secure equal political rights, economic rights, and educational opportunities for women throughout the world. In the 1960s feminism experienced a rebirth, especially in the United States. The National Organization for Women (NOW), formed in 1966, had over 400 local chapters by the early 1970s. NOW, the National Women's Political Caucus, and other groups pressed for such changes as abortion rights, federally supported child care centers, equal pay for women, the occupational upgrading of women, the removal of all legal and social barriers to education, political influence, and economic power for women.

With the leadership of women such as Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan, and Gloria Steinem, the Equal Rights Amendment was pushed through Congress in 1972, but by 1982 it fell short of ratification. While Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibited discrimination based on sex, the Roe v. Wade court decision, legalizing abortion, energized an antiabortion, antifeminist backlash. Nevertheless, the movement begun in the 1960s resulted in a large number of women moving into the workplace (59.8% of civilian women over age 16 were working in 1997, compared to 37.7% in 1960) and in broad changes in society.

Bibliography

See J. S. Mill, The Subjection of Women (1867); S. de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (tr. 1952, repr. 1968); B. Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1963); G. Greer, The Female Eunuch (1970); K. Millett, Sexual Politics (1970); J. Hole and E. Levine, Rebirth of Feminism (1971); E. Janeway, Man's World, Woman's Place (1971); J. B. Elshtain, The Family in Political Thought (1982); D. Spender, ed., Feminist Theorists (1984); J. S. Chafetz and A. B. Dworkin, Female Revolt (1986); A. C. Rich, Of Woman Born (1986); H. L. Moore, Feminism and Anthropology (1988); B. Aptheker, Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness (1989); N. F. Cott, Grounding of Modern Feminism (1989); A. Ferguson, Blood at the Root (1989); W. L. O'Neill, Feminism in America (1989); D. E. Smith, The Everyday World as Problematic (1989); S. L. Bartky, Femininity and Domination (1990); M. Jacobs et al. Body/Politics: Women and the Discourses of Science (1990); S. Ganew, A Reader in Feminist Knowledge (1991); E. Cunningham, The Return of The Goddess: A Divine Comedy (1992); B. S. Anderson, Joyous Greetings: The First International Women's Movement, 1830–1860 (2000); R. Rosen, The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America (2000); G. Collins, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present (2009).

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feminism

feminism, feminist A social movement, having its origins in eighteenth-century England, which seeks to achieve equality between the sexes by extension of rights for women. In the 1890s the term referred specifically to the women and men who campaigned for votes for women and women's access to education and the professions. After the achievement of the vote (1920 in the United States and 1928 in Britain), an enduring tension within feminism became more evident, between the objective of equal rights with men in the public sphere and the recognition of women's difference from men with the objective of enhancing their position in the private sphere of the family. The ‘second wave’ of feminism from 1969 onwards has many different strands, but there appears to be some common core and there have been movements on behalf of women in almost every country and on a world scale through the United Nations decade for women, 1975–85.

‘Second wave’ feminism has had a significant impact on sociology. Many more women are gaining recognition for their academic work. There have been feminist critiques of the male-centred nature of much sociological theory–such as theories of crime that make no use of the fact that most criminals are male. There has been an enormous growth in research on women's lives. Perhaps most importantly, there have developed theories about the inequality of the sexes, using such concepts as gender, patriarchy, and sex roles. (For a general discussion of the implications of feminist theory for sociology see R. A. Wallace ( ed.) , Feminism and Sociological Theory, 1989
.)

The feminist critique of (‘malestream’) sociology is well illustrated in the work of American sociologists like Jessie Bernard and Alice Rossi. The dissection of gender relations is a common strand in many of Bernard's books and articles, first from an occupational perspective in Academic Women (1964), then an interpersonal one in Future of Marriage (1972), and most recently a global perspective in The Female World (1987). Rossi has challenged sociologists to take seriously the biological component of human behaviour, and has criticized conventional interpretations of the position of women in families and politics and employment, notably in volumes such as Academic Women on the Move (1973), Gender and the Life-Course (1985), and Feminists in Politics (1982). Similarly, in Britain, Ann Oakley popularized feminist scholarship in the 1970s, via empirical research on housework (The Sociology of Housework, 1974) and on childbearing (From Here to Maternity, 1979). See also CRIMINOLOGY, FEMINIST; CULTURAL THEORY; METHODOLOGY, FEMINIST; MOTHERHOOD.

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Feminism

260. Feminism (See also Equality.)

  1. Alving, Mrs. feminist; unconventional widow. [Nor. Lit.: Ghosts ]
  2. Bates, Belinda intellectual and amiable advocate of womens rights. [Br. Lit.: The Haunted House in Fyfe, 16]
  3. Bloomer, Amelia (18181894) dress reformer; designed bloomers. [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 391]
  4. blue-stocking female intellectual; advocates nontraditional feminine talents. [Western Folklore: Brewer Dictionary, 127]
  5. Bostonians, The suffragists for lost causes, vulnerable to romance. [Am. Lit.: The Bostonians ]
  6. Chancellor, Olive devotes her life to preaching womens rights. [Am. Lit: Henry James The Bostonians ]
  7. Dolls House, A drama on the theme of womens rights. [Nor. Lit.: A Dolls House ]
  8. Equal Rights Amendment forbids discrimination against women. [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 397]
  9. Findlay, Maude militant, outspoken womens libber. [TV: Maude in Terrace, II, 7980]
  10. Lucy Stoners league of feminists. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2628]
  11. Lysistrata Athenian exhorts fellow women to continence for peace. [Gk. Lit.: Lysistrata ]
  12. Ms. the magazine for the liberated woman. [Am. Culture: Misc.]
  13. NOW feminist group working for social and political change. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1886]
  14. Nora rebellious heroine; leaves stultifying marriage. [Nor. Lit.: A Dolls House ]
  15. Peel, Emma early media manifestation of self-sufficient woman. [TV: The Avengers in Terrace, I, 7173]
  16. Virginia Slims cigarette trademark marketed to independent women. Youve come a long way, baby, as slogan. [Trademarks: Crowley Trade, 630]
  17. Wisk, Miss lady with a mission. [Br. Lit.: Bleak House ]
  18. Womens Liberation Movement appellation of modern day womens rights advocacy. [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 396]
  19. Wonder Woman female comic strip heroine to offset Superman; she does everything a man can do and more. [Comics: Horn, 480]

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FEMINISM

FEMINISM. A social philosophy concerned with the rights of women. Feminists generally consider women to be oppressed and in varying degrees alienated by a male-dominated society in which the use of language is anti-female. They argue that language favours men by helping to shape a society in which women are rendered subordinate and often taught to keep silent; when they speak, men often do not listen to them properly. In a radical feminist view, if society cannot change to accommodate both sexes equally, women will do their best to create their own society and their own kinds of language. This idea is explored by Suzette Haden Elgin in Native Tongue (Daw, 1984), which creates a world in which severely oppressed women rebel through an underground movement to make their own language, Laadan. In it, a distinction is made between am (love for blood kin) and ashon (love for kin of the heart), and prefixes at the start of sentences signal whether they are statements, promises, warnings, etc., making the language more explicit and avoiding possibly painful misunderstandings. See FORM OF ADDRESS, GENDER BIAS, SEXISM.

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feminism

feminism Movement that promotes equal rights for women. One of the first feminist texts was Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). In the USA, Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized (1848) the Seneca Falls Convention on women's rights. The suffragette movement formed in late 19th-century Britain. Its leaders included Emily Pankhurst and Millicent Fawcett. The women's movement gained impetus during the two World Wars, as women took on employment previously reserved for men. The women's liberation movement grew out of texts such as The Second Sex (1949) by Simone de Beauvoir, The Golden Notebook (1962) by Doris Lessing, The Feminine Mystique (1963) by Betty Friedan, and The Female Eunuch (1970) by Germaine Greer. Practical demands focused on attaining social and economic equality. In the USA, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was created (1964). In the UK, the Equal Pay Act (1970), the Sex Discrimination Acts (1975, 1976) and the creation (1975) of the Equal Opportunities Commission gave legal force to many feminist demands.

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feminine

fem·i·nine / ˈfemənin/ • adj. 1. having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women, esp. delicacy and prettiness: a feminine frilled blouse. ∎  of or relating to women; female: he enjoys feminine company. 2. Gram. of or denoting a gender of nouns and adjectives, conventionally regarded as female. 3. Mus. (of a cadence) occurring on a metrically weak beat. DERIVATIVES: fem·i·nine·ly adv. fem·i·nin·i·ty / ˌfeməˈninətē/ n.

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FEMININE

FEMININE. A term relating to grammatical GENDER in nouns and related words. Words denoting female people and animals in such languages as FRENCH and LATIN are usually feminine, but grammatical gender is not about sex: in the French phrase la plume de ma tante, the pen is as feminine as its owner. In English, the term is largely confined to personal pronouns (she/her/herself/hers), some nouns (mare in contrast to stallion), and some suffixes (-ess as in hostess). See MASCULINE, SEXISM.

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feminine

feminine †female XIV; (gram.); relating to a woman, womanly XV; (pros.) of rhyme XVIII. — (O)F. féminin, -ine or L. fēminīnus, -ina. f. fēmina woman, f. IE. *dhē(i)- *dhəi *dhī́ suck, suckle, as in L. fēlāre, Gr. thêsai suckle, Skr. dháyati sucks, etc.
Hence femininism, and directly from L. fēmina feminism, both c. 1850. femininity XIV, feminity XV. †feminie womankind. XIV. — OF.

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feminine

feminine. Term used in such phrases as feminine cadence and feminine ending to denote relative weakness, e.g. the final chord is reached on a ‘weak’ beat of the bar. Second subjects in sonata-form are sometimes described as ‘feminine’, meaning gentler than the first subject. This is a hangover from the age when women were regarded as the weaker sex.

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feminism

fem·i·nism / ˈfeməˌnizəm/ • n. the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

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Feminism

FEMINISM.

This entry includes five subentries:

Overview
Africa and African Diaspora
Chicana Feminisms
Islamic Feminism
Third World U.S. Movement

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Feminism

Feminism

SeeWomen's Movements

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feminine

feminine •tannin •antivenin, Lenin •Kalinin • linen • bedlinen •underlinen • feminine •Cronin, phone-in, ronin, serotonin •Bakunin • run-in • melanin • santonin •crankpin • backspin • hatpin •tenpin • hairpin • tailspin • wheelspin •Crippen, pippin •stickpin • kingpin • Crispin • linchpin •tiepin • topspin • clothespin •lupin, lupine •pushpin • terrapin • Turpin • Karin •chagrin • aspirin • Catrin • Kathryn •Gagarin •Erin, Perrin, serin •Sanhedrin • epinephrine • dextrin •brethren • Montenegrin • pyrethrin •peregrine •Corin, florin, foreign •doctrine • sovereign • Aldrin •Paludrine • murrain •Kirin, stearin •Lohengrin •burin, urine •tambourin • mandarin • warfarin •saccharin, saccharine •tamarin • Catherine •navarin, savarin •culverin • Mazarin

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