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Feminism is a diverse collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies, largely motivated by or concerning the experiences of women, especially in terms of their social, political, and economic situation. As a social movement, feminism largely focuses on limiting or eradicating gender inequalityand promoting women's rights, interests, and issues in society. It also embraces greater opportunity for men to transcend the narrow gender roles and norms of masculinity that have traditionally confined them.

Within academia, some feminists focus on documenting gender inequalities that oppress women and on changes in the social position and representation of women. Others argue that gender, and even sex, are social constructs, and research the construction of genderand sexuality, and develop alternate models for studying social relations.

Some feminist scholars, in echoes of anarchistfeminists like Emma Goldman, have posited that the hierarchiesin businesses and government and all organizations need to be replaced with a decentralized ultra-democracy. Some argue that having any central leader in any organization is derived from the androcentricfamily structure (and therefore needs reform and replacement), and thus such scholars see the essence of feminism as beyond the surface issues of sex and gender.

Feminist political activistscommonly campaign on issues such as reproductive rights(including but not limited to the right to choose an abortion, the elimination of legal restrictions on abortion, and access to contraception), violencewithin a domestic partnership, maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, street harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence. Themes explored in feminism include patriarchy, stereotyping, objectification, sexual objectification, and oppression.

In the 1960s and 1970s, much of feminism and feminist theory represented, and was concerned with, problems faced by Western, white, middle-class women while claiming to represent all women. Since then, many feminist theorists have challenged the assumption that "women" constitute a homogeneous group of individuals with identical interests. Feminist activists emerged from within diverse communities, and feminist theorists began to focus on the intersection of gender and sexuality with other social identities, such as raceand class. Many feminists today argue that feminism is a grass-rootsmovement that seeks to cross boundaries based on social class, race, culture, and religion; is culturally specific and addresses issues relevant to the women of that society(for example female genital cuttingin Africaor the glass ceilingin developed economies); and debate the extent to which certain issues, such as rape, incest, and mothering, are universal.

As of 2005, a number of feminist political partieshave formed.


  • 1 Origins
  • 2 Feminism in many forms
    • 2.1 Subtypes of feminism
  • 3 Relationship to other movements
  • 4 Effects of feminism in the West
    • 4.1 Effects on civil rights
    • 4.2 Effect on language
    • 4.3 Effect on heterosexual relationships
    • 4.4 Effect on religion
    • 4.5 Effect on moral education
  • 5 Effects of feminism in the East
  • 6 Worldwide statistics
  • 7 Perspective: the nature of the modern movement
  • 8 Contemporary criticisms of feminism
  • 9 Famous feminists
  • 10 See also
  • 11 Books
  • 12 External links
    • 12.1 Feminist organizations
    • 12.2 Supportive of feminism
    • 12.3 Critical of feminism
    • 12.4 Feminism and religion
    • 12.5 History of feminism


Main article: History of feminism

Image:Early feminists.jpg

Feminism as a philosophyand movement in the modern sense may be usefully dated to The Enlightenmentwith such thinkers as Lady Mary Wortley Montaguand the Marquis de Condorcetchampioning women's education. The first scientific societyfor women was founded in Middelburg, a city in the south of the Dutch republic, in 1785. Journals for women which focused on issues like science became popular during this period as well. Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) is one of the first works that can unambiguously be called feminist.

Feminism became an organized movement in the 19th centuryas people increasingly came to believe that women were being treated unfairly. The feminist movement was rooted in the progressive movement and especially in the reform movementof the 19th century. The utopian socialistCharles Fouriercoined the word féminisme in 1837; as early as 1808, he had argued that the extension of women's rights was the general principle of all social progress. The organized movement was dated from the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. In 1869, John Stuart Millpublished The Subjection of Womento demonstrate that "the legal subordination of one sex to the other is wrong...and...one of the chief hindrances to human improvement."

Many countries began to grant women the votein the early years of the 20th century, especially in the final years of the First World Warand the first years hence. The reasons varied, but they included a desire to recognize the contributions of women during the war, and were also influenced by rhetoric used by both sides at the time to justify their war efforts. For example, since Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Pointsrecognized self determination as vital to society, the hypocrisy of denying half the population of modern nations the vote became difficult for men to ignore.

Feminism in many forms

Some forms of feminist theory question basic assumptions about gender, gender difference, and sexuality, including the category of "woman" itself as a holisticconcept, further some are interested in questioning the male/female binary completely (offering instead a multiplicity of genders). Other forms of feminist theory take for granted the concept of "woman" and provide specific analyses and critiques of genderinequality, and most feminist social movements promote women's rights, interests, and issues. Feminism is not a single ideology. Over-time several sub-types of feminist ideology have developed. Early feminists and primary feminist movements are often called the first-wave feminists, and feminists after about 1960the second-wave feminists. More recently, a new generation of feminists have started third-wave feminism. Whether this will be a lasting evolution remains to be seen as the second-wave has by no means ended nor has it ceded to the third-wave feminists. Moreover, some commentators have asserted that the silentmajority of modern feminists have more in common ideologically with the first-wave feminists than the second-wave. For example, many of the ideas arising from Radical feminismand Gender feminism(prominent second-wave movements) have yet to gain traction within the broader community and outside of Gender Studies departments within the academy.

In her book A Fearful Freedom: Women's Flight from Equality, Wendy Kamineridentifies another conflict between forms of feminism, the conflict between what she calls "egalitarian" and "protectionist" feminism. In her characterization, egalitarian feminists focus on promoting equality between women and men, and giving women and men equal rights. Protectionist feminists prefer to focus on legal protections for women, such as employment lawsthat specially protect female workers and divorcelaws that seem to favor women, sometimes advocating restricting rights for men, such as free speech(specifically, the right to produce and consume pornography). Though the book predates third-wave feminism, Kaminer identifies both protectionist and egalitarian currents within first-wave feminism and second-wave feminism.

Some radical feminists advocate separatism—a complete separation of male and female in society and culture—while others question not only the relationship between men and women, but the very meaning of "man" and "woman" as well (see Queer theory). Some argue that gender roles, gender identity, and sexuality are themselves social constructs(see also heteronormativity). For these feminists, feminism is a primary means to human liberation (i.e., the liberation of men as well as women.)

Other feminists believe that there may be social problems separate from or prior to patriarchy (e.g., racism or class divisions); they see feminism as one movement of liberation among many, each affecting the others.

The various types of feminism include:

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  • Egalitarianforms:
    • equity feminism
    • individualist feminism
    • liberal feminism
  • Gynocentricforms:
    • cultural feminism
    • gender feminism
    • radical feminism
  • Belief in oppression by patriarchy:
    • anarcha-feminism
    • French feminism
    • radical feminism
  • Belief in oppression by capitalism:
    • socialist feminism
    • Marxist feminism

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  • Differences are solely or mostly cultural, not biological:
    • Amazon feminism
    • psychoanalytic feminism
  • Segregationalist:
    • lesbian feminism(Lesbian separatism)
    • separatist feminism
  • African-American
    • Black Feminism
    • Womanism
  • non-Western:
    • third-world feminism
    • post-colonial feminism
  • pro-sex feminism(also known as sexually liberal feminism, sex-positive feminism)

Subtypes of feminism

}}}" align="{{{align|left}}}" valign="{{{valign|top}}}" |
  • Amazon feminism
  • Anarcha-Feminism
  • Anti-racist feminism
  • cultural feminism
  • ecofeminism
  • equity feminism
  • existentialist feminism
  • French feminism
  • gender feminism
  • individualist feminism(also known as libertarian feminism)
  • lesbian feminism
  • liberal feminism
  • male feminism or Pro-feminist men
  • Marxist feminism(also known as socialist feminism)

}}}" align="{{{align|left}}}" valign="{{{valign|top}}}" |
  • material feminism
  • pop feminism
  • post-colonial feminism
  • postmodern feminismwhich includes queer theory
  • pro-sex feminism(also known as sexually liberal feminism, sex-positive feminism)
  • psychoanalytic feminism
  • radical feminism
  • separatist feminism
  • socialist feminism
  • spiritual feminism
  • standpoint feminism
  • third-world feminism
  • transnational feminism
  • transfeminism
  • womanism
  • Certain actions, approaches and people can also be described as proto-feministor post-feminist.

Although many leaders of feminism have been women, not all feminists are women. Some feminists argue that men should not take positions of leadership in the movement, because men, having been socialized to aggressively seek positions of power or direct the agendas within a leadership hierarchy, would apply this tendency to feminist organizations; or that women, having been socialized to defer to men, would be hindered in developing or expressing their own self-leadership in working too closely with men. However, some feminists do believe that men should be accepted as leaders in the movement. Compare pro-feminism, humanism, masculism.

Today, some young women associate "feminism" with radical and gender feminism, and this has put off some of these women from being active in feminism, spurring a move away from second-wavelabels. However, the basic values of feminism (women's rights and gender equality for women) have become so integrated into Western culture as to be accepted overwhelmingly as valid, and non-conformity to those values characterized as unacceptable, by the same men and women who reject the label "feminist".

Relationship to other movements

Some feminists take a holistic approach to politics, believing the saying of Martin Luther King Jr., "A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere". In that belief, some self-identified feminists support other movements such as the civil rightsmovement and the gay rights movement. At the same time, many black feminists such as bell hookscriticize the movement for being dominated by white women. Feminist claims about the alleged disadvantages women face in Western society are often less relevant to the lives of black women. This idea is the key in postcolonial feminism. Many black feminist women prefer the term womanismfor their views.

Feminists are sometimes wary of the transgendermovement because it challenges the distinctions between men and women. Transgender and transsexualindividuals who identify as female are excluded from some "women-only" gatherings and events and are rejected by some feminists, who say that no one born male can fully understand the oppression that women face. This exclusion is criticized as "transphobic" by transgender people, who assert their political and social struggles are closely linked to many feminist efforts, and that discrimination against gender-variant people is another face of the so-called patriarchy. See transfeminismand gender studies.

Effects of feminism in the West

Some feminists would argue that there is still much to be done on these fronts, while others would disagree and claim that the battle has basically been won.

Effects on civil rights

Image:Opposed to suffrage.jpg Feminism has effected many changes in Western society, including women's suffrage; broad employment for women at more equitable wages; the right to initiate divorceproceedings and the introduction of "no fault" divorce; the right to keep children from their fathers, the right to obtain contraception and safe abortions; the right to not allow men to face a woman who accuses them of rape, the right to be allowed admittance into any universityin the US; and the right to have over 60 female-only universities in the US.

Feminism is largely a pro-choicemovement, although there are some exceptions. The national organization Feminists for Life, for instance, condemns the act of abortion, claiming that the reason that abortion is so common is because women do not have access to alternate resources and information. Feminists for Life even suggest that what they refer to as the "abortion industry" is part of a system which allows the abuse of women and women's rights.

Effect on language

English-speaking feminists are often proponents of what they consider to be non-sexist language, using "Ms." to refer to both married and unmarried women, for example, or the ironic use of the term "herstory" instead of "history". Feminists are also often proponents of using gender-inclusive language, such as "humanity" instead of "mankind", or "he or she" (or other gender-neutral pronouns) in place of "he" where the gender is unknown. Feminists in most cases advance their desired use of language either to promote what they claim is an equal and respectful treatment of women or to affect the tone of political discourse. This can be seen as a move to change language which has been viewed by some feminists as imbued with sexism, providing for example the case in the English languagein which the word for the general pronoun is "he" or "his" (The child should have his paper and pencils), which is the same as the masculine pronoun (The boy and his truck). These feminists argue that language then directly affects perception of reality (compare Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis). However, to take a postcolonial analysis of this point, many languages other than English may not have such a gendered pronoun instance and thus changing language may not be as important to some feminists as others. Yet, English is becoming more and more universal, and the issue of language may be seen to be of growing importance.

On the other hand quite a different tendency can be seen in French. Gender, as a grammatical concept, is much more pervasive in French than in English, and as a result, it has been virtually impossible to create inclusive language. Instead, nouns that originally had only a masculine form have had feminine counterparts created for them. "Professeur" ("teacher"), once always masculine regardless of the teacher's sex, now has a parallel feminine form "Professeure". In cases where separate masculine and feminine forms have always existed, it was once standard practice for a group containing both men and women to be referred to using the masculine plural. Nowadays, forms such as "Tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes" ("all Canadians", or literally "all the male Canadians and female Canadians") are becoming more common. Such phrasing is quite common in Canada, but practically unknown in European and African French-speaking countries.

Effect on heterosexual relationships

The feminist movements have affected the nature of heterosexualrelationships in Western and other societies affected by feminism. In some of these relationships, there has been a change in the power relationship between men and women. In these circumstances, women and men have had to adapt to relatively new situations, sometimes causing confusions about roleand identity. Women can now avail themselves more to new opportunities, but some have suffered with the demands of trying to live up to the so-called "superwomen" identity, and have struggled to 'have it all', i.e. manage to happily balance a career and family. In response to the family issue, many socialist feminists blame this on the lack of state-provided child-care facilities. Others have advocated instead that the onus of child-care not rest solely on the female, but rather that men partake in the responsibility of managing family matters.

Some men counter that this expectation is unrealistic, claiming a de-emphasis on breadwinning would be injurious to their ability to attract mates; while many women have the choice to try to "have it all", they claim that societal expectations placed on men preclude them from devoting themselves further to domestic chores and childrearing. Several studies support the view that, although men are derided for not devoting enough time to childrearing and domestic tasks, few women seem attracted to men who engage in these activities to the detriment of their careers. ("The Perception of Sexual Attractiveness: Sex Differences in Variability"by Townsend J.M.; Wasserman T., Archives of Sexual Behavior, Volume 26, Number 3, June 1997, pp. 243-268(26) McGraw, Kevin J. (2002) "Environmental Predictors of Geographic Variation in Human Mating Preferences."Ethology 108 (4), 303-317. In Defense of Working Fathers Sacks, Glenn. [1].) Some argue that the fact men devote less time to household chores is due to the fact that they devote more time to work outside the home. (finding, "According to the International Labor Organization, the average American father works 51 hours a week, whereas those mothers of young children who do work full time (themselves a minority) work a 41-hour week." [2].

As a counter to these arguments, sociologistArlie Russell Hochschild's books The Second Shift and The Time Bind present evidence that married men contribute much less time towards child care and housework than their wives do. However, Hochschild presented statistical evidence that this was not the case for two-career couples: according to the studies she cites, in two-career couples, men and women on the average spend about equal amounts of time working, but women still spend more time on housework. Hochschild's work mainly centers around two-career couples, but most disputes about the role of men in child care and domestic work center around two-career couples: feminist critiques of men's contribution to child care and domestic labor are typically centered around the idea that it is unfair for the woman to be expected to perform more than half of a household's domestic work and child care when both members of a couple also work outside the home. In general, in couples where one or both partners do not work outside the home, gender-based division of laboris less of a point of contention for feminists. (For more discussion of this point, see Joyce Jacobson's The Economics of Gender). In addition, a number of studies provide statistical evidence for the claim that married men do not contribute an equal share of housework, regardless of they or their wives' paid work loads: for example, Scott J. South and Glenna Spitze, "Housework in Marital and Nonmarital Households," American Sociological Review 59, no. 3 (1994):327-348 (which noted that divorced and widowed men spend significantly more time doing housework than married men do), and Sarah Fenstermaker Berk and Anthony Shih, "Contributions to Household Labor: Comparing Wives' and Husbands' Reports,", in Berk, ed., Women and Household Labor. These studies suggest that married men may actually create more domestic work for women, by virtue of their presence in the house, than the amount of work they perform themselves.

The preceding arguments mainly apply to middle-classwomen. In her 1996 book Dubious Conceptions, Kristin Lukerdiscusses the effect of feminism on teenage women's choices to bear a child, both within and outside of marriage. She argues that as bearing a child without being married has become more socially acceptable for women, young women -- while not bearing children at a higher rate than in the 1950s -- have come to see less of a reason to get married before having a child, especially poor young women. As reasons for this, she argues that the economic prospects for poor men are slim, meaning that poor women have a low chance of finding a husband who will provide reliable financial support, and that husbands tend to create more domestic work than they contribute. Though the feminist movement has had minimal impact on those two factors, it may have contributed to the increasing social acceptability of bearing children outside of marriage.

There have been changes also in attitudes towards sexual morality and behavior with the onset of second wave feminism and "the Pill": women are then more in control of their bodies, and are able to experience sex with more freedom than was previously socially accepted for them. This sexual revolutionthat women were then able to experience was seen as positive (especially by sex-positive feminists) as it enabled women and men to experience sex in a free and equal manner. However, some feminists felt that the results of the sexual revolution were beneficial only to men. Feminists have debated whether marriageis an institution that oppresses women and men. Those who do view it as oppressive sometimes opt for cohabitationor more recently to live independently reverting to casual sexto fulfill their sexual needs.

Evangelical (Christian) feministssometimes argue that life-long monogamy ideally promotes egalitarianism in sex, especially when viewed in light of other common alternatives to monogamy (i.e. polygamy, prostitution, or infidelity). On the other hand, Friedrich Engels's essay Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State -- sometimes considered an early feminist work -- argues that monogamy was originally conceived of as a way for men to control women. In addition, some modern feminists endorse polyamoryas an egalitarian lifestyle (see sex-positive feminism).

Effect on religion

Feminism has had a great effect on many aspects of religion. In liberal branches of Protestant Christianity(and in some theologically conservative dominations as well, such as Assemblies of God[3]), women are ordained as clergy, and in Reform, Conservativeand ReconstructionistJudaism, women are ordained as rabbisand cantors. Within these Christianand Jewishgroups, women have gradually become more nearly equal to men by obtaining positions of power; their perspectives are now sought out in developing new statements of belief. In Islam women have historically contributed to all aspects of Islamic life, from religious edicts to aid on the battlefield. A large portion of the sayings of Muhammadare taken from his wife Aisha, whom men often consulted on religious matters. In this day you will often see many women scholars on Arabic satellite television answering Islam-related questions, asked by both genders. One matter remains debatable nowadays, which is whether or not a woman can lead men in prayers. Although all classical Islamic scholars of jurisprudence rule that it is prohibited in Islamic Law, a small portion of contemporary Muslims believe that there is evidence leading to the contrary. The leadership of women in religious matters has also been resisted within Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholicism has historically excluded women from entering priesthood and other positions in clergy, allowing women to hold positions as nuns or as laypeople.

Feminism also has had an important role in embracing new forms of religion. Neopaganreligions especially tend to emphasize the importance of Goddessspirituality, and question what they regard as traditional religion's hostility to women and the sacred feminine. In particular Dianic Wiccais a religion whose origins lie within radical feminism. Among traditional religions, feminism has led to self examination, with reclaimed positive Christian and Islamic views and ideals of Mary, Islamic views of Fatima Zahra, and especially to the Catholic belief in the Coredemptrix, as counterexamples. However, criticism of these efforts as unable to salvage corrupt church structures and philosophies continues. Some argue that Mary, with her status as mother and virgin, and as traditionally the main role model for women, sets women up to aspire to an impossible ideal and also thus has negative consequences on human sense of identity and sexuality.

There is a separate article on God and gender; it discusses how monotheistic religions reconcile their theologies with contemporary gender issues, and how modern feminism has influenced the theology of many religions.

Effect on moral education

Opponents of feminism claim that women's quest for external power, as opposed to the internal power to affect other people's ethics and values, has left a vacuum in the area of moraltraining, where women formerly held sway. Some feminists reply that the education, including the moral education, of children has never been, and should not be, seen as the exclusive responsibility of women. Paradoxically, it is also held by others that the moral education of children at home in the form of homeschoolingis itself a women's movement. Such arguments are entangled within the larger disagreements of the Culture Wars, as well as within feminist (and anti-feminist) ideas regarding custodianship of societal morals and compassion.

Effects of feminism in the East

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Worldwide statistics

Image:Stop hand.svg

The neutralityof this section is disputed.
Please see discussion on the talk page.
Female share of seats in elected national chambers in November 2004 (percent)
South Africa42.0
New Zealand28.3
United States15.0

The following is a sampling of statistics related to the relative status of women worldwide.

  • According to the United Nations Human Development Report 2004: Section 28, Gender, Work Burden, and Time Allocation, women work on average more than men, when both paid employment and unpaid household tasks are accounted for. In rural areas of the developing countries surveyed, women perform an average of 20% more work than men, or an additional 98 minutes per day. In the OECD countries surveyed, on average women performed 5% more work than men, or 18 minutes per day.
  • Women own only 1 percent of the world's wealth, and earn 10 percent of the world's income, despite making up 49.5 percent of the population.
  • Women are underrepresented in all of the world's major legislative bodies (see Women in National Parliaments, November 2004). In 1985, Finlandhad the largest percentage of women in national legislature at approximately 32 percent (P. Norris, Women's Legislative Participation in Western Europe, West European Politics). Currently, Swedenhas the highest number of women at 45 percent. The United Stateshas just 14 percent. The world average is just 9 percent. In contrast, half of the members of the recently established Welsh Assembly Governmentare women.

Perspective: the nature of the modern movement

Most feminists believe discrimination against women still exists in North American and European nations, as well as worldwide. But there are many ideas within the movement regarding the severity of current problems, what the problems are, and how best to confront them.

Extremes on the one hand include some radical feminists such as Mary Dalywho argues that human society would be better off with dramatically fewer men. There are also dissidents, such as Christina Hoff Sommersor Camille Paglia, who identify themselves as feminist but who accuse the movement of anti-male prejudice.

On the other hand, many feminists question the use of the term feminist to groups or people who fail to recognize a fundamental equality between the sexes. Some feminists, like Katha Pollitt(see her book Reasonable Creatures) or Nadine Strossen(President of the ACLUand author of Defending Pornography [a treatise on freedom of speech]), consider feminism to be, solely, the view that "women are people." Views that separate the sexes rather than unite them are considered by these people to be sexist rather than feminist.

There are also debates between difference feministssuch as Carol Gilliganon the one hand, who believe that there are important differences between the sexes (which may or may not be inherent, but which cannot be ignored), and those who believe that there are no essential differences between the sexes, and that the roles observed in society are due to conditioning. There is debate among scientists and social scientists as to whether social and psychological differences between men and women are rooted in biology. Some scientists attribute many observed differences in men's and women's behavior to biological differences between the sexes, while others argue for a stronger focus on the effects of socialization. Still others believe that the complex interactions between genesand environment make it impossible to make a definite statement on the subject, given the current state of scientific knowledge.

In Marilyn French's seminal works analyzing patriarchyand its effects on the world at large--including women, men and children--she defines patriarchy as a system that values power over life, control over pleasure, and dominance over happiness. According to French, "it is not enough either to devise a morality that will allow the human race simply to survive. Survival is an evil when it entails existing in a state of wretchedness. Intrinsic to survival and continuation is felicity, pleasure. Pleasure has been much maligned, diminished by philosophers and conquerors as a value for the timid, the small-minded, the self-indulgent. "Virtue" involves the renunciation of pleasure in the name of some higher purpose, a purpose that involves power (for men) or sacrifice (for women). Pleasure is described as shallow and frivolous in a world of high-minded, serious purpose. But pleasure does not exclude serious pursuits or intentions, indeed, it is found in them, and it is the only real reason for staying alive" Beyond PowerThis philosophy is what French offers as a replacement to the current structure where power has the highest value--and it is this feminism to which many (women and men) subscribe. However many believe this view is flawed, simply because one who desires power will usually obtain power over one who does not.

Carol Tavris, author of Anger: the Misunderstood Emotion and The Mismeasure of Woman: Why Women Are Not the Better Sex, the Inferior Sex, or the Opposite Sex, maintains that as long as men's experiences are considered to be the default human experiences, women will always face discrimination in North America or elsewhere. She holds that too much emphasis is placed on innate differences between men and woman, and that it has been used to justify the restriction of women's rights. She also argues that it is a fallacy to equate 'equality' with 'sameness'. For example, employment benefits for pregnant women are sometimes called 'special treatment', but -- Tavris argues -- because only women can become pregnant, this viewpoint is wrong. It would only be special treatment, she argues, if both men and women could become pregnant and women received benefits for pregnancy that men did not. (In her book A Fearful Freedom, Wendy Kaminer provides an opposing viewpoint to this argument; she argues that pregnancy leave should not be a special case of employment benefits, but should be treated like any other disability benefits.) She argues that there is a need to view both men's and women's experiences as human experiences, without putting special emphasis on the differences between them.

Contemporary criticisms of feminism

Feminism, in some forms and to varying degrees, has become generally accepted in Western society. However, the attention it has attracted, due to the social changes it has effected, has resulted in many dissenting voices. Criticism has come from within the movement, from non-feminists, from masculists, from social conservatives, and from scientists.

Postcolonial feministscriticise Western forms of feminism, notably radical feminismand its most basic assumption, universalization of female experience. They argue that this assumption is based on the experience of white, middle-class women in the developed West, for whom gender oppression is primary; and that it cannot so easily be applied to women for whom gender oppression comes second to racial or class oppression.

Non-feminist critics suggest that the continual emphasis on women's issues throughout the evolution of the movement has resulted in gynocentric ideology. They think that modern-day feminists are biased by the lens that filters their world views. They would like to see a gender-neutral term such as "gender egalitarianism" replace "feminism" when used in reference to the belief in basic equal rights and opportunities for both sexes.

Many who support masculismargue that because of both traditional gender roles and sexism infused into society by feminists, males are and have been oppressed. Their view as expressed by Warren Farrell in "The Myth of Male Power" is that the traditional world was a bi-sexist world, not a uni-sexist one, and that the issues men faced then still exist plus several new ones created by feminist organizations. One complaint is that feminists promote misandry, even male inferiority - it has been demonstrated that replacing the words "male" and "female" in some feminist writings with "black" and "white" respectively would make these texts racist. However, this is applicable to non-feminist writing as well, as Douglas Hofstadtertried to show in "A Person Paper on Purity in Language". Another interesting word substitution is substituting "male" and "female" with each other in texts, like Gerd Brantenberg's Egalia's Daughters. Others still dismiss this word substitution argument as overly simplistic, and state that changing "men oppress women" to "blacks oppress whites" says as little about the speaker of the original sentence as would changing "I love Jews" to "I hate Jews".

Another concern is that the belief in a glass ceilingfor women may have resulted in affirmative actionprograms that promote women more for the purpose of public relationsthan for merit. Sexual harassmentis also a topic of dispute: critics claim that, in the name of protecting women, men are discriminated against when they are the subject of claims; and that they are treated less seriously when claiming cases. The same is true with domestic violence, and even though oft-quoted feminist research suggests that over 30% of the victims of domestic violence are male, only a handful of the thousands of tax-funded shelters in the US will even admit men.[citation needed]

Other concerns include inequity in health funding (particularly breast vs. prostate cancer), societal sympathy for women vs. vilification of men (e.g., emphasis on "violence against women"), and fears of censorship. Feminists disagree on the importance of men's issues; some argue that these issues are not important because society is male-dominated, others point out that the fact that a small group of men have much power doesn't contradict the idea that many men (especially poor, non-white, or non-straight men) might be oppressed. The concept of "patriarchy" is also questioned by masculists, largely because masculists examine whether a government's actions are more in line with men's interests or women's interests, not based on the gender of the people performing the actions, but on the actions themselves.

Conservative criticism includes the claim that the feminist movement is trying to destroy traditional gender roles. Proponents argue that men and women have many natural differences, and that everyone benefits from recognizing them. They consider children to benefit from having a masculine father and a feminine mother, and that divorce, single parenthood, and non-traditional gender roles harm children. Although it?s been pointed out that these gender roles and differences aren?t necessary ?natural? to start with and are merely products of the said tradition.[citation needed]

There is also a group of Paleoconservatives, including George Gilderand Pat Buchanan, who argue that feminism has produced a fundamentally unworkable, self-destructive, stagnant society. They note that societies in which feminism has developed the furthest have below-replacement rates of fertility and high rates of immigration (frequently from countries with cultures and religions hostile to feminism). In response to this, feminists such as Wendy Kaminerhave argued that they are falsely attributing more power to feminism than the movement has ever actually had; in her book A Fearful Freedom, Kaminer argues that we now live in a post-feminist world without having experienced a feminist one. Moreover, sociologists generally account for these trends in terms of the relative wealth of industrialized nations and the cost of raising children in a post-agricultural society, not feminism.

In the US, "liberal" religious groups most accepting of feminism have noted fewer conversions and less natural increase, for reasons such as lower birthrate and the likelihood of members taking another step towards secularism by leaving the church.[citation needed] Some forms of Islamdisapprove of feminism.

One way to criticise feminism is to quote radical feminists, such as Marilyn French's"All men are rapists, and that is all they are". These quotations are often given without the original context - for example, the sentence in question is taken from the speech of a character in a novel rather than the words of the author herself, was immediately preceded by references to being leered at on the streets of Chicago, and the second part of the statement was that "they rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes." The author is not asserting that all men engage in sexual assault, the impression one might get from the repetition of the unadorned quotation, but is merely reflecting a misandrous sentiment using the voice of her character.

Some writers have used arguments from science, social science, and statistics to advance their criticisms of feminism. Political scientistWarren Farrelluses statistics to argue that the reasons why men earn more than women are not based on sex discrimination. In his Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Violence, anthropologistMichael Ghiglieri used science to challenge the idea that rape is about power rather than sex, as well as the idea that male domestic violence against women is about domination. Feminists have also argued from science in order to respond to others' criticisms of feminism, such as Anne Fausto-Sterlingin Myths of Gender, Carol Tavrisin The Mismeasure of Woman, and the feminist social scientists and scientists Barbara Ehrenreich, Kristin Luker, and Stephanie Coontz.

Criticism of feminism as has further suggested that feminists claim that their viewpoint is omnipurpose. This would imply that a feminist perspective can be applied to all areas of life (and policymaking in particular). This has been disputed, as critics contend that a feminist position has nothing to say about some topics, for example nuclear poweror disaster prevention. Some feminists might respond to these critics by arguing that due to their role as mothers, women have a special sensitivity for the fragility of human life and the need to protect it, which gives them a unique perspective on issues such as nuclear power that pit individual human welfare against societal needs. Thus, there is a broad feminist perspective that can be applied to public policyin general. (It is imporant to note that not all feminists would agree with this line of thought; equality feminists, in particular, dispute the idea that women are particularly nurturing or virtuous).

Some opponents of feminism blame their own lack of success on the rise of feminism. In one particularly violent incident, the Montreal Massacre, a gun man began to scream about how he hated feminists, and then opened fire on the women, and killed 14 women.

Famous feminists

See list of notable feminists.

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  • Lila Abu-Lughod- Anthropologist
  • Rachel Adler- Jewish theologian
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Gloria E. Anzaldúa- Poet
  • Bettina Aptheker- Writer, Activist, and Educator
  • Simone de Beauvoir- Philosopher
  • Ruth Behar- Anthropologist
  • Judith Butler- Philosopher
  • Susan Brownmiller- journalist, writer, and activist
  • Phyllis Chesler- Writer, Psychotherapist
  • Margaret Cho- Actress, Comedian
  • Kate Chopin- Writer
  • Sandra Cisneros- Writer
  • Hélène Cixous- Philosopher
  • Nellie McClung- Writer, Teacher, one of the "Famous Five"
  • Mary Daly- "post-Christian" theologian
  • Andrea Dworkin- Writer
  • Henrietta Muir Edwards
  • Jean Bethke Elshtain- Philosopher
  • Jane Fonda- Actress, activist, philanthropist
  • Marilyn French- Writer, author of Beyond Power, an extensive "history" of patriarchy
  • Betty Friedan- Writer
  • Diana Fuss- Professor of English
  • Jane Gallop- Professor of English
  • Sandra Gilbert- Professor of English
  • Emma Goldman- Anarchist, writer
  • Jane Gomeldon- 18th century Essayist
  • Deborah Gordon- Anthropologist
  • Germaine Greer- Writer
  • Sandra Harding- Philosopher
  • Donna Haraway- Anthropologist
  • Susannah Heschel- Jewish theologian
  • bell hooks-Writer and critic
  • Luce Irigaray- Philosopher
  • Alison M. Jagger- Philosopher
  • Kumari Jayawardena- Sri Lankan feminist scholar
  • Maxine Hong Kingston- Novelist
  • Biddy Martin- Professor of German studies
  • Suzanne MacNevin- Writer/chemist
  • Emily Martin- Anthropologist
  • Nellie McClung- writer, one of the "Famous Five"
  • Wendy McElroy- Intellectual, Individualist Feminist
  • Louise McKinney

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  • Kate Millett- Critic
  • Chandra Talpade Mohanty- Sociologist
  • Toril Moi- Professor of literature
  • Susan Moller Okin- philsophical and political theorist
  • Henrietta Moore- Anthropologist
  • Robin Morgan- poet, editor, activist, and former child star
  • Iris Murdoch- Novelist and philosopher
  • Luisa Muraro- philosopher
  • Emily Murphy- Writer, Magistrate, one of the "Famous Five"
  • Judith NewtonProfessor of English
  • Camille PagliaIntellectual
  • Emmeline Pankhurst
  • Sylvia Pankhurst
  • Irene Parlby
  • Alice Paul
  • Judith Plaskow- Jewish theologian
  • Janice Raymond- Writer
  • Rayna Rapp Reiter- Anthropologist
  • Audre Lorde- Poet, essayist, activist
  • Adrienne Rich- Poet and essayist
  • Gayle Rubin- Anthropologist
  • Margaret Sanger- Birth control advocate and sex educator
  • Alice Schwarzer- Writer
  • Joan Wallach Scott- Historian
  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick- Professor of English
  • Barbara Smith- Black lesbian feminist and activist
  • Cindy Sherman- Artist/photographer
  • Dorothy Smith- Sociologist
  • Kiki Smith- Artist/sculptor
  • Valerie Solanas- Author of the SCUM Manifesto
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak- Professor of English
  • Judith Stacey- Sociologist
  • Zaib-un-nissa Hamidullah- Writer, poetess and journalist.
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Carolyn Kay Steedman- Professor of Arts Education
  • Gloria Steinem- Journalist and publisher
  • Martha Stewart- Television and magazine personality
  • Trinh T. Minh-ha- Writer, filmmaker, composer
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Alice Walker- Novelist
  • Monique Wittig- Novelist and critic
  • Virginia Woolf- Writer
  • Mary Wollstonecraft- Writer
  • Sylvia Yanagisako- Anthropologist
  • Iris Marion Young- Philosopher
  • Mitsuye Yamada- Writer, Poet, Activist

See also

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  • Anarcha-feminism
  • Anti-racist math
  • Domestic violence
  • Equal pay for women
  • Female roles in the world wars
  • Feminazi
  • Feminist history in the United States
  • Feminist history in the United Kingdom
  • Feminist history in Latin America
  • Gendercide
  • Gender-neutral language
  • History of feminism
  • Igbo Women's War of 1929
  • International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women
  • Iranian Women
  • Islamic feminism
  • Lesbian feminism

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  • List of feminism topics
  • List of notable feminists
  • Marriage strike
  • Masculism
  • Misogyny
  • Misandry
  • Post-structuralism
  • Radical feminism
  • Rape
  • RAWA
  • Role of women in Judaism
  • Sex in advertising
  • Sisterhood is Powerful
  • Testosterone poisoning
  • Trafficking in human beings
  • Women's Cinema


  • Antrobus, Peggy. The global women's movement - Origins, issues and strategies, London, Zed Books 2004
  • Berk, Sarah Fenstermaker, ed. Women and Household Labor, Sage 1980.
  • Bradley, Martha Sonntag. Pedestals and Podiums: Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Equal Rights, Salt Lake City, Signature Books 2005
  • Butler, Judith(1994). "Feminism in Any Other Name", differences 6:2-3: 44-45.
  • Chesler, PhyllisWoman's Inhumanity to Woman, Thunder's Mouth, 2002.
  • Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. 1899.
  • Lorraine Code, ed., Encyclopedia of feminist theories, Routledge 2000
  • Echols, Alice. Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975, University of Minnesota Press 1990
  • Faludi, Susan. "Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women". 1992 (ISBN 0385425074)
  • Farrell, Warren. Why Men Earn More 2005 (ISBN 0-8144-7210-9)
  • French, Marilyn. Beyond Power; War Against Women; From Eve to Dawn, a 3-volume history of women
  • Hochschild, Arlie Russell. The Second Shift 1990 (ISBN 0380711575)
  • Hochschild, Arlie Russell. The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work 1997 (ISBN 0805044701)
  • Fillion, Kate, Lip Service: The Truth About Women's Darker Side in Love, Sex, and Friendship, Harper Collins 1997.]
  • Jacobson, Joyce P. The Economics of Gender 1998. (ISBN 0631207260)
  • Kaminer, Wendy. A Fearful Freedom: Women's Flight from Equality, Addison Wesley 1990 (ISBN 0201092344)
  • Kampwirth, Karen. Feminism and the Legacy of Revolution: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas, Ohio UP 2004
  • Lerner, Gerda. The Creation of Feminist Consciousness: From the Middle Ages to Eighteen-Seventy, Oxford University Press 1994
  • Luker, Kristin. Dubious Conceptions: The Politics of the Teenage Pregnancy Crisis. (Harvard University Press, 1996) (ISBN 0674217039)
  • Mead, Margaret. Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935)
  • Paglia, CamilleVamps and Tramps: New Essays, Vintage 1994.
  • Pearson, Patricia, When She Was Bad: How Women Get Away with Murder, A Controversial Look at Female Aggression, Virago Press, 1998.
  • Schneir, Miriam. Feminism : The Essential Historical Writings , New York: Vintage 1994
  • Silverman, Kaja. Male Subjectivity at the Margins, p.2-3. New York: Routledge 1992
  • Sommers, Christina Hoff. Who Stole Feminism? - How women have betrayed women (1996)
  • Tavris, Carol. The Mismeasure of Woman: Why Women Are Not the Better Sex, the Opposite Sex, or the Inferior Sex. Simon and Schuster, 1992. ISBN 0671662740
  • Thomas, Calvin. (ed.) "Introduction: Identification, Appropriation, Proliferation", Straight with a Twist: Queer Theory and the Subject of Heterosexuality, p.39n. University of Illinois Press (2000)
  • Wertheim, Margaret. Pythagoras' Trousers - God, Physics, and the Gender Wars, W.W. Norton & Co. (1995, 1997)

External links

Wikiquotehas a collection of quotations related to:

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Feminist organizations

  • Ansar Burney Trust
  • Association for Women in Psychology
  • The Association of Libertarian Feminists
  • Committee for Asian Women
  • FemINist INitiative of BC
  • Feminist Majority
  • Feminists for Life- Anti-abortion group in the United States.
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America
  • NOW- National Organization for Women in the United States
  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • Women living under muslim laws

Supportive of feminism

  • Women's WikiWomen's Wiki Organization
  • Asian-Nation: Asian American Feminism & Gender Issues
  • Directory of Women's Media
  • Feminist support pages (Australia)
  • Don't Be Scared By Feminist Theory
  • Donna Haraway - Bibliography
  • Feminism & Nonviolence Studies
  • Susan Brownmiller.com: Where Feminism Lives
  • Judith Butler - Bibliography
  • Naomi Wolf - Resources
  • FemBio - Notable Women International
  • Susan Faludi - Resources
  • The Personal Is Political
  • Famous Quotes on Feminism
  • LadyWiki - open site for discussion & exchange
  • The Seneca Falls Convention: Teaching about the Rights of Women and the Heritage of the Declaration of Independence
  • The Sophie Treadwell Collection
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    • Approaches to Feminism
    • Feminism and Analytic Philosophy
    • Pragmatism and Feminism
    • Topics in Feminism
  • Smash Patriarchy, Smash the State

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Critical of feminism

  • Camille Paglia
  • Bullying in the Family (UK National Workplace Bullying Website)
  • Men's Activism News Network
  • Independent Women's Forum
  • Ladies Against Feminism
  • SaveTheMale.com by Henry Makow Ph.D.
  • ifeminists
  • Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute
  • The Domain of Patriarchy
  • Against feminist sexism: A balanced view of male and female power
  • Turnabout: Sex and Gender
  • Equity feminism
  • Equal Justice Foundation: Domestic Violence
  • Eagle Forum
  • The Noble Lie
  • The Masculist Perspective: Response to Feminist Claims
  • Freedom, Independence & Power for Men
  • Angry Harry
  • Save Indian Family

Feminism and religion

  • Riffat Hasan on Religious conservatism: Feminist theology as a means of combating injustice towards women in muslim communities/culture
  • Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolutionfrom the Jewish Women's Archive
  • Islam from Patriarchy to Feminism
  • Free and Equal under the Qur'an- an analysis by Havva G Guney-Ruebenacker

History of feminism

  • The Gerritsen Collection - Women's History Online, 1543-1945
  • Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolutionfrom the Jewish Women's Archive

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