Feminism

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Feminism comprises of a number of social, cultural and political movements, theories and moral philosophies concerned with gender inequalities and equal rights for women.

History

According to some researchers, the history of feminism can be divided into three distinct waves. The first wave was in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the second wave flourished in the 1960s and 1970s and the third extends from the 1990s to the present. Feminist Theory developed from the feminist movement. It takes a number of forms in a variety of disciplines such as feminist geography, feminist history and feminist literary criticism.

Throughout much of its history, most of the leaders of feminist social and political movements, as well as many feminist theorists, have been predominantly middle-class white women from western Europe and North America. However, at least since Sojourner Truth's 1851 speech to US Feminists, women of other races have proposed alternative feminisms. This trend accelerated in the 1960s with the Civil Rights movement in the United States and the collapse of European colonialism in Africa, the Caribbean, parts of Latin America and Southeast Asia. Since that time, women in former European colonies and the Third World have proposed alternative "post-colonial" and "Third World" feminisms as well. Some Postcolonial feminists, such as Chandra Talpade Mohanty, are critical of Western feminism for being ethnocentric. Black feminists, such as Angela Davis and Alice Walker hold a similar opinion.

Impact and Focus

Feminism has altered aspects of Western society, ranging from culture to law. Feminist political activists have been concerned with issues such as women's rights of contract and property, women's rights to bodily integrity and autonomy (especially on matters such as reproductive rights, including the right to abortion, access to contraception and quality prenatal care); for protection from domestic violence; against sexual harassment and rape; for workplace rights, including maternity leave and equal pay; and against other forms of discrimination.

Since the 1980s, feminists have argued that the feminist movement should address global issues (such as rape, incest, and prostitution) and culturally specific issues (such as female genital mutilation in some parts of Africa and the Middle East and glass ceiling practices that impede women's advancement in developed economies) in order to understand how gender inequality interacts with racism, homophobia, lesbophobia, colonialism, and classism in a "matrix of domination." Other feminists have argued that gendered and sexed identities, such as "man" and "woman", are social constructs meaning that some gender roles are socially conditioned rather than being innate.

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