Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women that are equal to those of men. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.
Feminist movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for women's rights, including the right to vote, to hold public office, to work, to earn fair wages or equal pay, to own property, to receive education, to enter contracts, to have equal rights within marriage, and to have maternity leave. Feminists have also worked to promote bodily autonomy and integrity, and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.
Feminist campaigns are generally considered to be one of the main forces behind major historical societal changes for women's rights, particularly in the West, where they are near-universally credited with having achieved women's suffrage, gender neutrality in English, reproductive rights for women (including access to contraceptives and abortion), and the right to enter into contracts and own property. Although feminist advocacy is, and has been, mainly focused on women's rights, some feminists, including bell hooks, argue for the inclusion of men's liberation within its aims because men are also harmed by traditional gender roles. Feminist theory, which emerged from feminist movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women's social roles and lived experience; it has developed theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues concerning gender.
Some forms of feminism have been criticized for taking into account only white, middle class, and educated perspectives. This criticism led to the creation of ethnically specific or multicultural forms of feminism, including black feminism and intersectional feminism.
Feminism (international relations)
Feminism is a broad term given to works of those scholars who have sought to bring gender concerns into the academic study of international politics.
In terms of international relations (IR) theory it is important to understand that feminism is derived from the school of thought known as reflectionism. One of the most influential works in feminist IR is Cynthia Enloe's Bananas, Beaches and Bases (Pandora Press 1990). This text sought to chart the many different roles that women play in international politics - as plantation sector workers, diplomatic wives, sex workers on military bases etc. The important point of this work was to emphasize how, when looking at international politics from the perspective of women, one is forced to reconsider his or her personal assumptions regarding what international politics is 'all about'.
However, it would be a mistake to think that feminist IR was solely a matter of identifying how many groups of women are positioned in the international political system. From its inception, feminist IR has always shown a strong concern with thinking about men and, in particular, masculinities. Indeed, many IR feminists argue that the discipline is inherently masculine in nature. For example, in her article "Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals" Signs (1988), Carol Cohn claimed that a highly masculinised culture within the defense establishment contributed to the divorcing of war from human emotion.
A feminist IR involves looking at how international politics affects and is affected by both men and women and also at how the core concepts that are employed within the discipline of IR (e.g. war, security, etc.) are themselves gendered. Feminist IR has not only concerned itself with the traditional focus of IR on states, wars, diplomacy and security, but feminist IR scholars have also emphasized the importance of looking at how gender shapes the current global political economy. In this sense, there is no clear cut division between feminists working in IR and those working in the area of International Political Economy (IPE).
Feminist IR emerged largely from the late 1980s onwards. The end of the Cold War and the re-evaluation of traditional IR theory during the 1990s opened up a space for gendering International Relations. Because feminist IR is linked broadly to the critical project in IR, by and large most feminist scholarship has sought to problematise the politics of knowledge construction within the discipline - often by adopting methodologies of deconstructivism associated with postmodernism/ poststructuralism. However, the growing influence of feminist and women-centric approaches within the international policy communities (for example at the World Bank and the United Nations) is more reflective of the liberal feminist emphasis on equality of opportunity for women.
In regards to feminism in International Relations, some of the founding feminist IR scholars refer to using a "feminist consciousness" when looking at gender issues in politics. In Cynthia Enloe’s article “Gender is not enough: the need for a feminist consciousness”, Enloe explains how International Relations needs to include masculinity in the discussion on war, while also giving attention to the issues surrounding women and girls. In order to do so, Enloe urges International Relations scholars to look at issues with a ‘feminist consciousness’, which will ultimately include a perspective sensitive to masculinities and femininities. In this way, the feminist consciousness, together with a gendered lens, allows for IR academics to discuss International Politics with a deeper appreciation and understanding of issues pertaining to gender around the world.
Enloe argues how the IR discipline continues to lack serious analysis of the experiences, actions and ideas of girls and women in the international arena, and how this ultimately excludes them from the discussion in IR. For instance, Enloe explains Carol Cohn’s experience using a feminist consciousness while participating in the drafting of a document that outlines the actions taken in negotiating ceasefires, peace agreements and new constitutions. During this event, those involved came up with the word “combatant” to describe those in need during these usually high-strung negotiations. The use of ‘combatant’ in this context is particularly problematic as Carol points out, because it implies one type of militarized people, generally men carrying guns, and excludes the women and girls deployed as porters, cooks and forced ‘wives’ of male combatants. This term effectively renders the needs of these women invisible, and excludes them from the particularly critical IR conversation regarding who needs what in war and peace. This discussion is crucial for the analysis of how various masculinities are at play in International Politics, and how those masculinities affect women and girls during wartime and peace and initially eliminates them from the discussion.
Conversely, feminist IR scholar Charlotte Hooper effectively applies a feminist consciousness when considering how “IR disciplines men as much as men shape IR”. So, instead of focusing on what and whom IR excludes from the conversation, Hooper focuses on how masculine identities are perpetuated and ultimately are the products of the practice of IR. In this way, it is ineffective to use a gendered lens and feminist consciousness to analyze the exclusion of a discussion in gender in IR. Hooper suggests that a deeper examination of the ontological and epistemological ways in which IR has been inherently a masculine discipline is needed. The innate masculinity of IR is because men compose the vast majority of modern IR scholars, and their masculine identities have been socially constructed over time through various political progressions. For instance, Hooper gives examples of the historical and political developments of masculinities that are still prevalent in IR and society at large; the Greek citizen/warrior model, the Judeo Christian model and the Protestant bourgeois rationalist model. These track the masculine identities throughout history, where manliness is measured in militarism and citizenship, ownership and authority of the fathers, and finally, competitive individualism and reason. These masculinities in turn asks one to not only use the feminist consciousness to analyze the exclusions of femininities from IR, but additionally, Hooper illuminates how one can locate the inherent inclusions of masculinities in the field of IR with a feminist consciousness.
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
n. 1 (context dated English) The state of being feminine; femininity. (from 1851; less common after 1895) 2 A social theory or political movement which argues that legal and social restrictions on women must be removed in order to bring about equality of both sexes in all aspects of public and private life.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
Usage examples of "feminism".
They have brought in materialism, atheism, class war, weak happiness ideals, race suicide, social atomism, racial promiscuity, decadence in the arts, erotomania, disintegration of the family, private and public dishonor, slatternly feminism, economic fluctuation and catastrophe, civil war in the family of Europe, planned degeneration of the youth through vile films and literature, and through neurotic doctrines in education.
In the sphere of Society, opposing the chaos of atomism, feminism, disintegration of home and family, race-suicide, and universal decadence, arose the idea of race-ascendancy, fertility, the preservation and integration of society, the return to social health.
It stresses the mutual influences of narratology and deconstruction, feminism, psychoanalysis, and film and media studies.
Their philosophy seems to be a mix of pre-Liberation radical feminism and the environmental primitivism of the eighties.
In its quest for freedom, transgenderism -- like feminism -- often stresses these boundaries.
This kind of critique of feminism originated in the work of African-American critics who pointed out that academic feminism had reproduced the structures of patriarchal inequality within itself by excluding the voices and experiences of black women.
For example, I meet lots of sensitive guys raised in the wake of feminism, who, much like their feminist counterparts, feel guilty about fantasies involving sexual domination.
As for feminism in general, well, my position here was that of the unbudgeably powerful mob boss who, when piqued by bothersome incursions that threaten to sour the whole deal, calls the Ladies in and calmly says, Okay, so you want a piece of this.
Like them, we are bombarded by decadence and false causes in the headlines every day: we hear about racial profiling, gay and lesbian rights, racism and feminism, abortion rights and animal rights and guns and the environment, as if there were no other issues in this country, or in the universe, for that matter.
Indeed, the entertainment industry is one of the few bailiwicks where feminism is still taken seriously.
Quayle rode the rising backlash against affirmative action, foreigners, feminism, and welfare straight into the White House.
She's professional, she listens to me, she did the nude scene on the closed set last week with cool naturalness, she's ambitious in a sensible way, and I can tiptoe round the feminism.
Hadn't Nora Ephron recently joked that the only thing feminism had given women was the privilege of going dutch?
Perhaps the greatest triumph of feminism -- or post-feminism -- will be to free men as well from the sour burdens of the past.