What is Feminism ?

What is Feminism ?




Feminism is a meta ideology means they are different schools of feminism


Common concern of feminist

  1. To understand the causes behind the discrimination against women
  2. To give the status of dignity to women


Present status


Starting as a movement for improving the status of women it has entered into the field of gender studies. Thus at present it aims to improve the status of all such persons who suffered because of their gender. Thus it includes the rights of LGBT community.

Origin of feminism


Feminism originated as a movement. Which aims to bring social transformation thus feminism is more of action and less philosophy

Hence feminism is understood in the form of waves


  1. First wave : feminist were driven by two ideologies
  1. Liberal ideology
  2. Socialist ideology

presently non of these are treated as feminist ideologies

liberal feminism and Marxist feminism are considered as evolution of liberal and Marxist theory.

They are considered as not feminist theories. 

Q. Why : 

They are not based on experiences of women

They do not have terminology to express women's experiences.

Liberalism and Marxism are masculinist paradigm

They are based on experiences of men

They offer solution for upliftment of men

Thus liberal and Marxist feminism are mechanical application of masculinist paradigm for improving the status of women


2. Second wave : 

It is called as radical feminism

  1. Liberal turned radical
  2. Marxist turned radical (socialist feminism)
  3. Existential feminism


3. Wave :

Post feminism: in western countries it is believed that women are sufficiently liberated hence feminism are no more needed


Concept of intersectionality

Against post feminism emerged black feminism, it means that country like US and other western countries like white women may be sufficiently liberated that is not the case with black women hence there is the need to understand “ overlapping discriminations “ : understanding how fenomena of caste, class, religion, race intersect with gender.

Q. What are the core theory of feminism

Ans. Liberal, socialist and radical feminism


Emerging theory

At present feminism is highly divided

  1. Eternal feminism
  2. Eco feminism
  3. Psychoanalytic feminism 
  4. Postmodern feminism 


First wave feminism:

 Feminism has been prominent in 3 countries

  1. USA
  2. UK
  3. France


Origin of feminism


Impact of french revolution. French revolution promoted the idea of the natural right of man( human beings)


It has been inspired by ideas of Rousseau. Rousseau held that man is born free but everywhere in chains, it mens that nature has given us birth like pre persons, and since all human beings are free so all are equal

However society and its customs have taken away all the freedom: menas hence society needs to be change, new norms have to be established.


Q. Whether there is a discrimination against women in nature or whether biology is destiny. 


Ans. Since women are capable of giving birth to the child, does it also imply that women have to live throughout their lives, within the 4 walls of family. If women give birth to the child, does it necessarily means rearing of the child is the sole responsibility of women.


Mary woll stone craft: mother of feminism, her book vindication of rights of women is known as the 1st text book

Q. What is the theme ?

Ans. Two theme 

  1. Demanded equal rights for women also
  2. Emphasized on promotion of education:

to explode the myth started by Aristotle that women lack reason: hence he does not give citizenship status to women: citizens were expected to participate in formulation of laws.

Requires reason

Hence feminist emphasized that only when women will excell in the field of education this myth can be broken.


Feminism in 19th century: feminist during the time of French Revolution could not make much impact feminism got revived in the 19th century in the form of sufferegate movement. Movement to give right to vote to women/universal adult franchise

The modern movement started in 1848 with seneca fall convention in usa. This had led to the emergence of women organisation demanding right to vote. For example

  1. In USA Elizabeth cady stanton established “ national women sufferage association.
  2.  in UK there was greater influence of radicalism 

In UK emmeline pankhurts and christabel formed women social and political Union

In UK often turns violent with attacks of property


In the UK J.S. mill as a member of house of common

Introduced the bill for right of women.

Which could not pass.

How ever gradually government started demand 

In 1893 new zealand, in 1920 by 19th amendment act in USA and in 1928 in UK, universal adult franchise was introduced

Thus liberal feminism came to be regarded as a successful movement and in western countries women were given equal civil and political right


However, the success of suffrage is considered an unfortunate step. 

Q. Why?

Because it ended the women movement

There was no other core issue that could unite women


It was realized later on that right to vote and hardly contributed to the benefit of women


Q. Why? 

It is not enough to have one man one vote without one value also

Marxist feminism 

Marx have not dealt with women question

Within Marxism

  1. Engels: angels have talked about the equality of women in her book origin of family, private property and state 
  2. Theseus: he linked subordination of women with capitalism/ with institution of private property. He held that women should join communist revolution, once communism comes situation of women will improve automatically


Thus the main cause for subordination was lack of economic empowerment, in capitalism women are seen only as a temporary labour. It mens they will be allowed to work only when there is shortage of men. For example during war.


Later on feminist objected that end of capitalism will not automatically end subordination of women, it means womens should have their own ideology and action.



Lenin had very progressive views towards women. During his tenure there was significant improvement in the status of women in USSR.

Lenin introduced alexandra kollentai in his cabit she is the 1st women which had the status of minister of cabinet rank. 


However once stalin came to power reverse the process he started giving titles of mother heroine, those who have 18 children. Thus confining women to the traditional role still in communist country performance was better with respect to development of women this shows the connection between subordination of women and capitalist mode of production. In capitalist country even men belonging to working classes will not prefer women to work because they will loose the jobs further. 


2. 2nd wave of feminism: 

Mother: betty friedan is regarded as mother of radical feminism and her book “ feminine mystique” is considered as the first text book


Origin of radical feminism 


Betty friedel conducting servey on women in USA the included white women belonging to wealthy family


Q. What was the servey?


To understand the empact of civil and political right given to women as a result of 

1st wave


Q. Why she selected to above category?

So that while studying the status of women these issues do not impact


Q. What was her findings?

She found that most of the women were not satisfied with their life.


Q. Why they were not satisfy?

Most of the women could not tell

Hence she describe the problem as the problem that has no name.

She later on concluded that the real problem is patriarchy- the focus of 2nd wave feminism they aim to fight against patriarchy. 


Q. What is patriarchy

Ans. Patriarchy symbolize male over female

The idea of patriarchy comes from the nature of authority sound in family: 


Q. Which type of family

And. Heterosexual family: where the husband is male. And wife is female 

It can be vice-versa too.


Q. What can be the other types of families?


  1. Homosexual families: 
  2. Single parent family


Radical feminist believed that heterosexual family is the core institution of patriarchy.

Patriarchy is an ideology, world view, way of life, attitude, 

Thus patriarchy represent a value system. Which gives greater value/importance to male over female.


Children brought up in heterosexual families automatically develop patriarchal values: patriarchal values become the part of lived experience in day to day life. It means it become common sense. 

Children brought up in patriarchal families find subordination of women as normal.

Same children when see subordinate status of women outside family they do not find it abnormal.

Thus subordination started of women appears normal.


Q. What is the basis to establish the subordination status of women as normal ?

Ans. The basis is biology. The sexual division of labor.

Role of women :

  1. Childbirth.  
  2. Rearing of child (biology as destiny) means teleology of women: to give child birth and to take care of them


Note: feminist like judith butler raises a question on sexual division of labour.

That is, what word we have to describe women who will not give birth to the child.


Role of Men : in patriarchal society

: To work outside

It has been believed that biologically women are not suited to work outside ( in public sphere)


Heteronormativity : even heteronormativity is a term given by judith butler

Heterosexuality is not seen as a natural biological concept. : heterosexuality is based on the assumption that only heterosexual families/ marriages are normal 


It is based on the assumption that opposite sexes attract eachother hence it is also considered as normal/desirable. Thus heterosexual are prevailed and homosexual are suppressed


Q. Why?

Because of heteronormativity. 


Q. Is there any way to prove that only opposite sexes attract?

Q. Can this theory be subjected to falsification?


Raj Singh

Hi There. I'm a professional Educator Cum Entrepreneur. Have done Technical as well as Professional Degree, Having Experience of 10 years as Educator and 8 Years of Entrepreneurship.

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