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History of feminism

History of feminism

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The history of feminism
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

 involves the story of feminist movement
Feminist movement
The feminist movement refers to a series of campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women's suffrage, sexual harassment and sexual violence...

s and of feminist thinkers. Depending on time, culture and country, feminists around the world have sometimes had different causes and goals. Most western feminist historians assert that all movements that work to obtain women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

 should be considered feminist movements, even when they did not (or do not) apply the term to themselves. Other historians assert that the term should be limited to the modern feminist movement and its descendants. Those historians use the label "protofeminist
Protofeminist
Protofeminist is a term used to define women in a philosophical tradition that anticipated modern feminist concepts, yet lived in a time when the term "feminist" was unknown,that is, prior to the 20th century...

" to describe earlier movements.

The history of the modern western feminist movements is divided into three "waves". Each is described as dealing with different aspects of the same feminist issues. The first wave
First-wave feminism
First-wave feminism refers to a period of feminist activity during the 19th and early twentieth century in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. It focused on de jure inequalities, primarily on gaining women's suffrage .The term first-wave was coined retroactively in the 1970s...

 refers to the movement of the 19th through early 20th centuries, which dealt mainly with suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

, working conditions and educational rights for women and girls. The second wave
Second-wave feminism
The Feminist Movement, or the Women's Liberation Movement in the United States refers to a period of feminist activity which began during the early 1960s and lasted through the early 1990s....

 (1960s-1980s) dealt with the inequality of laws, as well as cultural
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 inequalities and the role of women in society. The third wave of feminism
Third-wave feminism
Third-wave feminism is a term identified with several diverse strains of feminist activity and study whose exact boundaries in the historiography of feminism are a subject of debate, but often marked as beginning in the 1980s and continuing to the present...

 (late 1980s-early first decade of the 21st century), is seen as both a continuation of the second wave and a response to the perceived failures.

Introduction



The terms "feminism" or "feminist" first appeared in France and The Netherlands in 1872 (as les féministes), Great Britain in the 1890s, and the United States in 1910. The Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

lists 1894 for the first appearance of "feminist" and 1895 for "feminism". The UK Daily News
Daily News (UK)
The Daily News was a national daily newspaper in the United Kingdom.The News was founded in 1846 by Charles Dickens, who also served as the newspaper's first editor. It was conceived as a radical rival to the right-wing Morning Chronicle. The paper was not at first a commercial success...

first introduced "feminist" to the English language, importing it from France and branding it as dangerous. "What our Paris Correspondent describes as a 'Feminist' group... in the French Chamber of Deputies". Prior to that time, "Woman's Rights" was probably the term used most commonly, hence Queen Victoria's description of this "mad, wicked folly of 'Woman's Rights'".

Defining feminism
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

 can be challenging, but a broad understanding of it includes the acting, speaking, writing, and advocating on behalf of women's issues and rights and identifying injustice to females in the social status quo.

Protofeminism


People and activists who discussed or advanced women's issues prior to the existence of the feminist movement
Feminist movement
The feminist movement refers to a series of campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women's suffrage, sexual harassment and sexual violence...

 are sometimes labeled protofeminist. Some scholars, however, criticize the use of this term. Some argue that it diminishes the importance of earlier contributions, while others argue that feminism does not have a single, linear history as implied by terms such as protofeminist or postfeminist.

Figures from the Italian writer of the 15th century, Christine de Pizan
Christine de Pizan
Christine de Pizan was a Venetian-born late medieval author who challenged misogyny and stereotypes prevalent in the male-dominated medieval culture. As a poet, she was well known and highly regarded in her own day; she completed 41 works during her 30 year career , and can be regarded as...

 - the first woman to write about the relation of the sexes and the author of Epître au Dieu d'Amour (Epistle to the God of Love), Christine de Pizan's work having been recognized by Simone de Beauvoir, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim was a German magician, occult writer, theologian, astrologer, and alchemist.-Life:Agrippa was born in Cologne in 1486...

 and Modesta di Pozzo di Forzi
Modesta di Pozzo di Forzi
Modesta di Pozzo di Forzi was an author living in Venice, Italy. She published "in no uncertain words" a book about the superiority of women to men in 1593. She died shortly after the publication and so did not hear about the great success of her book.-Notes:...

, who worked in the 16th century, up to and including the 17th century writers Hannah Woolley
Hannah Woolley
Hannah Woolley, sometimes spelled Wolley, was a writer who published early books on household management and was probably the first to earn their living doing this.-Life:...

 in England, Juana Inés de la Cruz in Mexico, Marie Le Jars de Gournay
Marie de Gournay
Marie de Gournay was a French writer, who wrote a novel and a number of other literary compositions, including two proto-feminist works, The Equality of Men and Women and The Ladies' Grievance . In her novel Le Promenoir de M...

, Anne Bradstreet
Anne Bradstreet
Anne Dudley Bradstreet was New England's first published poet. Her work met with a positive reception in both the Old World and the New World.-Biography:...

, and François Poullain de la Barre
François Poullain de la Barre
François Poulain de la Barre , was a writer, Cartesian and feminist philosopher.-Life:...

 are sometimes described as protofeminist.

Eighteenth century: the Age of Enlightenment


The Age of Enlightenment was characterised by secular intellectual reasoning, and a flowering of philosophical writing. Many Enlightenment philosophers defended the rights of women, including Jeremy Bentham
Jeremy Bentham
Jeremy Bentham was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. He became a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law, and a political radical whose ideas influenced the development of welfarism...

 (1781), Marquis de Condorcet
Marquis de Condorcet
Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet , known as Nicolas de Condorcet, was a French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist whose Condorcet method in voting tally selects the candidate who would beat each of the other candidates in a run-off election...

 (1790), and, perhaps most notably, Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book...

 (1792).

Jeremy Bentham


The English utilitarian and classical liberal philosopher Jeremy Bentham
Jeremy Bentham
Jeremy Bentham was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. He became a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law, and a political radical whose ideas influenced the development of welfarism...

 said that it was the placing of women in a legally inferior position that made him choose the career of a reformist, at the age of eleven. Bentham spoke for a complete equality between sexes including the right to vote and to participate in the government, and opposed the strongly different sexual moral standards to women and men.

In his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1781) Bentham strongly condemned the common practice in many countries to deny women's rights because of their allegedly inferior minds. Bentham gave many examples of able female regents.

Marquis de Condorcet


The mathematician, classical liberal politician, leading French revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

ary, republican and Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

an anti-clericalist, Marquis de Condorcet
Marquis de Condorcet
Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet , known as Nicolas de Condorcet, was a French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist whose Condorcet method in voting tally selects the candidate who would beat each of the other candidates in a run-off election...

 was a fierce defender of human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, including the equality of women and the abolition of slavery, already on the 1780s. He advocated women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 for the new government, writing an article for Journal de la Société de 1789, and by publishing De l'admission des femmes au droit de cité ("For the Admission to the Rights of Citizenship For Women") in 1790.

Wollstonecraft and A Vindication


Perhaps the most cited feminist writer of the time was Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book...

, often characterised as the first feminist philosopher. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects , written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th...

(1792) is one of the first works that can unambiguously be called feminist, although by modern standards her comparison of women to the nobility, the elite of society (coddled, fragile, and in danger of intellectual and moral sloth) may at first seem dated as a feminist argument. Wollstonecraft identified the education and upbringing of women as creating their limited expectations based on a self-image dictated by the male gaze
Gaze
Gaze is a psychoanalytical term brought into popular usage by Jacques Lacan to describe the anxious state that comes with the awareness that one can be viewed. The psychological effect, Lacan argues, is that the subject loses some sense of autonomy upon realizing that he or she is a visible object...

. Despite her perceived inconsistencies (Brody refers to the "Two Wollestonecrafts"
) reflective of problems that had no easy answers, this book remains a foundation stone of feminist thought.

Wollstonecraft believed that both genders contributed to inequality. She took it for granted that women had considerable power over men, but that both would require education to ensure the necessary changes in social attitudes. Her legacy remains in the continued need for women to speak out and tell their stories. Her own achievements speak to her own determination given her humble origins and scant education. Wollstonecraft attracted the mockery of Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

, who described her and her ilk as "Amazons of the pen". Given his relationship with Hester Thrale
Hester Thrale
Hester Lynch Thrale was a British diarist, author, and patron of the arts. Her diaries and correspondence are an important source of information about Samuel Johnson and 18th-century life.-Biography:Thrale was born at Bodvel Hall, Caernarvonshire, Wales...


it would appear that Johnson's problem was not with intelligent educated women, but that they should encroach onto a male territory of writing. For many commentators, Wollstonecraft represents the first codification of "equality" feminism, or a refusal of the feminine
Feminine
Feminine, or femininity, normally refers to qualities positively associated with women.Feminine may also refer to:*Feminine , a grammatical gender*Feminine cadence, a final chord falling in a metrically weak position...

, a child of the Enlightenment.

Other important writers


Other important writers of the time included Catherine Macaulay
Catherine Macaulay
Catharine Macaulay was an English historian.-Early life: 1731 – 1763:...

 who argued in 1790 that the apparent weakness of women was caused by their miseducation. In other parts of Europe, Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht
Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht
Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht was a Swedish poet, feminist and salon hostess...

 was writing in Sweden, and what is thought to be the first scientific society for women was founded in Middelburg
Middelburg
Middelburg is a municipality and a city in the south-western Netherlands and the capital of the province of Zeeland. It is situated in the Midden-Zeeland region. It has a population of about 48,000.- History of Middelburg :...

, in the south of Holland in 1785. This was the Natuurkundig Genootschap der Dames (Women's Society for Natural Knowledge).
which met regularly to 1881, finally dissolving in 1887. Journals for women which focused on science became popular during this period as well. Other authors, however, point out that women have been scientists for 4,000 years.

The feminine ideal


19th-century feminists reacted not only to the injustices they saw but also against the increasingly suffocating Victorian image of the "proper" role of women and their "sphere". This was the "feminine ideal" as typified in Victorian conduct book
Conduct book
Conduct books are a genre of books that attempt to educate the reader on social norms. As a genre, they began in the mid-to-late Middle Ages, although antecedents such as The Maxims of Ptahhotep are among the earliest surviving works...

s by (for example) Sarah Stickney Ellis (1799–1872) or Mrs. Beeton (1836–1865). The Angel in the House
The Angel in the House
The Angel in the House is a narrative poem by Coventry Patmore, first published in 1854 and expanded up until 1862. Although largely ignored upon publication, it became enormously popular during the later nineteenth century and its influence continued well into the twentieth...

(1854) and El ångel del hogar, bestsellers by Coventry Patmore
Coventry Patmore
Coventry Kersey Dighton Patmore was an English poet and critic best known for The Angel in the House, his narrative poem about an ideal happy marriage.-Youth:...

 and Maria del Pilar Sinués de Marco, came to symbolise the Victorian feminine ideal.

Feminism in fiction


Just as Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.Austen lived...

 had addressed the restricted lives women faced in the early part of the century, Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, whose novels are English literature standards...

, Anne Brontë
Anne Brontë
Anne Brontë was a British novelist and poet, the youngest member of the Brontë literary family.The daughter of a poor Irish clergyman in the Church of England, Anne Brontë lived most of her life with her family at the parish of Haworth on the Yorkshire moors. For a couple of years she went to a...

, Elizabeth Gaskell
Elizabeth Gaskell
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, née Stevenson , often referred to simply as Mrs Gaskell, was a British novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era...

 and George Eliot depicted women's misery and frustration. In her autobiographical novel Ruth Hall
Ruth Hall
Ruth Hall: a Domestic Tale of the Present Time is a roman à clef by Fanny Fern , a popular 19th-century newspaper writer. Following on her meteoric rise to fame as a columnist, she signed a contract in February 1854 to write a full-length novel...

(1854), American journalist Fanny Fern
Fanny Fern
Fanny Fern, born Sara Willis , was an American writer and the first woman to have a regular newspaper column. She was also a humorist, novelist, and author of children's stories in the 1850s-1870s. Fern's great popularity has been attributed to her conversational style and sense of what mattered to...

 describes her own struggle to support her children as a newspaper columnist after her husband's untimely death. Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott was an American novelist. She is best known for the novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo's Boys. Little Women was set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts, and published in 1868...

 penned a strongly feminist novel, A Long Fatal Love Chase
A Long Fatal Love Chase
A Long Fatal Love Chase is a suspense novel by Louisa May Alcott. She wrote it in 1866, two years before the publication of Little Women finally established her literary reputation and began to resolve her financial problems...

(1866), that concerns a young woman's attempts to flee from her bigamist husband and become independent.

Some male authors, too, recognised the injustice women faced. The novels of George Meredith
George Meredith
George Meredith, OM was an English novelist and poet of the Victorian era.- Life :Meredith was born in Portsmouth, England, a son and grandson of naval outfitters. His mother died when he was five. At the age of 14 he was sent to a Moravian School in Neuwied, Germany, where he remained for two...

, George Gissing
George Gissing
George Robert Gissing was an English novelist who published twenty-three novels between 1880 and 1903. From his early naturalistic works, he developed into one of the most accomplished realists of the late-Victorian era.-Early life:...

 and Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, OM was an English novelist and poet. While his works typically belong to the Naturalism movement, several poems display elements of the previous Romantic and Enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural.While he regarded himself primarily as a...

, and the plays of Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of prose drama" and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre...

, also outlined the plight of women of the time. Meredith's Diana of the Crossways
Diana of the Crossways
Diana of the Crossways is a novel by George Meredith which was published in 1885. It is an account of an intelligent and forceful woman trapped in a miserable marriage and was prompted by Meredith's friendship with society beauty and author Caroline Norton.The heroine Diana Warwick says: "we women...

(1885) is an account of Caroline Norton's life. One critic later called Ibsen's plays "feministic propaganda".

Marion Reid and Caroline Norton


At the beginning of the 19th century, although individual women, and some men, were speaking out, it is doubtful how influential they were, other than to create awareness. There was little sign of change in the political or social order, nor any evidence of a recognizable women's movement. By the end of the century the voices of concern began to coalesce into something more tangible, paralleling the emergence of a more rigid social model and code of conduct, that Marion Reid
Marion Kirkland Reid
Marion Kirkland Reid was an influential Scottish feminist writer, notable for her A Plea for Woman which was published in the United States in 1847, 1848, 1851, and 1852 as Woman, her Education and Influence.Her father was a merchant in Glasgow. Kirkland married Hugo Reid in 1839...

 (and later John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

) would refer to as a "Womanliness" that admitted to "self-extinction". While the increasing emphasis on feminine virtue partly stirred the call for a woman's movement, the tensions that this role duality caused for women plagued many early 19th century feminists with doubt and worry, and fueled opposing views.

In Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, Reid published her influential A plea for women in 1843 which set an agenda on both sides of the Atlantic, including voting rights for women.

Caroline Norton became active in advocating changes to British law. Upon entering into an abusive marriage she had become painfully aware that legally women were "non-existent". The publicity that she generated including her appeal to Queen Victoria helped change the situation for married women and child custody in England.

Florence Nightingale and Frances Power Cobbe



While many women including Norton were wary of organized movements, their actions and words often motivated and inspired such movements. Amongst these was Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale OM, RRC was a celebrated English nurse, writer and statistician. She came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers. She was dubbed "The Lady with the Lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night...

 whose conviction that women had all the potential of men but none of the opportunities drove her to a career that would make her a national figure as a scientist and administrator even if the popular image of her at the time emphasized her feminine virtues more. The paradox of the gulf between the achievements which we recognize now, and how she was portrayed underline the plight that women of talent and determination faced during the mid-1850s.

Like all political movements, feminism knows several different ideological theories and opinions. Feminists could not always be supportive of each other's efforts, and also distanced themselves from others. Britishwoman Harriet Martineau
Harriet Martineau
Harriet Martineau was an English social theorist and Whig writer, often cited as the first female sociologist....

 and many others dismissed Wollstonecraft's contributions as dangerous, and deplored Norton's candidness, but seized on the abolition of slavery campaign she had witnessed in the United States, as one that should logically be applied to women. Her Society in America was pivotal in that for the first time it caught the imagination of women who urged her to take up their cause.


Anna Doyle Wheeler
Anna Doyle Wheeler
Anna Doyle Wheeler was a writer and advocate of political rights for women and the benefits of contraception. She married Francis Massey Wheeler when she was aged 15 and they separated 12 years later...

 had come under the influence of the Saint Simonian socialists while working in France, advocated suffrage and attracted the attention of Benjamin Disraeli, the Conservative leader, as a dangerous radical on a par with Jeremy Bentham
Jeremy Bentham
Jeremy Bentham was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. He became a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law, and a political radical whose ideas influenced the development of welfarism...

. Later she was to be the inspiration for early socialist and feminist advocate William Thompson
William Thompson (philosopher)
William Thompson was an Irish political and philosophical writer and social reformer, developing from utilitarianism into an early critic of capitalist exploitation whose ideas influenced the Cooperative, Trade Union and Chartist movements as well as Karl Marx...

, author of the first work published in English to advocate full equality of rights for women, the 1825 "Appeal of One Half of the Human Race...".

Earlier centuries had concentrated on women's exclusion from education as the key to their being relegated to domestic roles and denied advancement. The education of women in the 19th century was no better, and Frances Power Cobbe
Frances Power Cobbe
Frances Power Cobbe was an Irish writer, social reformer, and suffragist. She founded a number of animal advocacy groups, including the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection in 1898, and was a member of the executive council of the London National Society for Women's Suffrage.Frances was...

 was but one of many women who were calling for reform. But now many other issues were starting to gain attention including marital and property rights, and domestic violence. Nevertheless women like Martineau and Cobbe in Britain, and Margaret Fuller
Margaret Fuller
Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli, commonly known as Margaret Fuller, was an American journalist, critic, and women's rights advocate associated with the American transcendentalism movement. She was the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism...

 in America, were achieving journalistic employment which placed them in a position to influence other women. Women like Cobbe were referring to "Woman's Rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

", not just in the abstract, but as an identifiable cause.

The ladies of Langham Place


Barbara Leigh Smith
Barbara Bodichon
Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon was an English educationalist, artist, and a leading early nineteenth century feminist and activist for women's rights.-Early life:...

 and her friends started to meet regularly during the 1850s in Langham Place in London to discuss the need for women to present a united voice to achieve reform. This earned them the name of the "Ladies of Langham Place", and included Bessie Rayner Parkes
Bessie Rayner Parkes
Bessie Rayner Parkes Belloc was one of the most prominent English feminists and campaigners for women’s rights in Victorian times and also a poet, essayist and journalist.- Early life :...

 and Anna Jameson. They focused on education, employment and marital law. One of the causes they vigorously pursued became the Married Women's Property Committee of 1855. They collected thousands of signatures for petitions for legislative reform, some of which were successful. Smith had also attended the first women's convention in Seneca Falls, New York
Seneca Falls (village), New York
Seneca Falls is a village in Seneca County, New York, United States. The population was 6,861 at the 2000 census. The village is in the Town of Seneca Falls, east of Geneva, New York. On March 16, 2010, village residents voted to dissolve the village, a move that would take effect at the end of 2011...

 in America in 1848.

Smith and Parker wrote many articles, both separately and together, on education and employment opportunities, and like Norton in the same year, Smith summarized the legal framework for injustice in 1854 in her A Brief Summary of the Laws of England concerning Women. Playing an important role in the English Women's Journal, she was able to reach large numbers of women, and the response of women to this journal led to their creation of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women
Society for Promoting the Employment of Women
The Society for Promoting the Employment of Women was one of the earliest British women's organisations.The society was established in 1859 by Jessie Boucherett, Barbara Bodichon and Adelaide Anne Proctor to promote the training and employment of women...

 (SPEW). The Langham Ladies continued to provide inspiration, infrastructure and funding for much of the women's movement in England for the remainder of the century. Smith's Married Women's Property committee collected 26,000 signatures to change the law for all women including unmarried.

Harriet Taylor published her Enfranchisement in 1851, and wrote about the inequities of family law. In 1853 she married John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

, providing him with much of the subject material for The Subjection of Women
The Subjection of Women
The Subjection of Women is the title of an essay written by John Stuart Mill in 1869, possibly jointly with his wife Harriet Taylor Mill, stating an argument in favour of equality between the sexes...

. Taylor's relatively low profile after her marriage has been a subject of speculation, but Mill was perhaps in a better position to translate theory into action.

Emily Davies
Emily Davies
Sarah Emily Davies was an English feminist, suffragist and a pioneering campaigners fore women's rights to university access. She was born in Southampton, England to an evangelical clergyman and a teacher in 1830, although she spent most of her youth in Gateshead...

 was another woman who would encounter the Langham group, and with Elizabeth Garrett
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, LSA, MD , was an English physician and feminist, the first woman to gain a medical qualification in Britain and the first female mayor in England.-Early life:...

 would help create branches of SPEW outside of London. While obtaining education remained largely a privilege rather than a right, the small group of women who were able to do so, were then able to campaign for women as a whole, realizing it was not just a portal to employment and financial self sufficiency but that the denial of education was tied to women's expectations and their self image of their potential and worth.

Educational reform


The interrelated themes of barriers to education and employment continued to form the backbone of feminist thought in the 19th century, as described, for instance by Harriet Martineau in her 1859 article "Female Industry" in the Edinburgh Journal. The economy was changing but women's lot was not. Martineau, however, remained a moderate, for practical reasons, and unlike Cobbe, did not support the emerging call for the vote.

Slowly the efforts of women like Davies and the Langham group started to make inroads. Queen's College
Queen's College, London
Queen's College is an independent school for girls aged 11–18. It is located in central London at numbers 43-49, Harley Street. Founded in 1848 by F. D. Maurice, Professor of English Literature and History at King's College London along with a committee of patrons, the College was the first...

 (1848) and Bedford College (1849) in London were starting to offer some education to women from 1848, and by 1862 Davies was establishing a committee to persuade the universities to allow women to sit for the recently established in 1858. Local Examinations, with partial success (1865). A year later she published The Higher Education of Women. She and Leigh Smith founded the first higher educational institution for women, with 5 students, which became Girton College, Cambridge
Girton College, Cambridge
Girton College is one of the 31 constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge. It was England's first residential women's college, established in 1869 by Emily Davies and Barbara Bodichon. The full college status was only received in 1948 and marked the official admittance of women to the...

 in 1869, followed by Newnham College, Cambridge
Newnham College, Cambridge
Newnham College is a women-only constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.The college was founded in 1871 by Henry Sidgwick, and was the second Cambridge college to admit women after Girton College...

 in 1871 and Lady Margaret Hall at Oxford in 1879. Bedford had started awarding degrees the previous year. Despite these measurable advances, few could take advantage of them and life for women students was still difficult.

In the Ilbert Bill
Ilbert Bill
The Ilbert Bill was a bill introduced in 1883 for British India by Viceroy Ripon that proposed an amendment for existing laws in the country at the time to allow Indian judges and magistrates the jurisdiction to try British offenders in criminal cases at the District level, something that was...

 controversy in 1883, Bengali women who supported the bill responded by claiming that they were more educated than the English women opposed to the bill, and pointed out that more Indian
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 women had degrees than British women did at the time.

As part of the continuing dialogue between British and American feminists, Elizabeth Blackwell, one of the first women in the US to graduate in medicine (1849), lectured in Britain with Langham support. They also supported Elizabeth Garrett's
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, LSA, MD , was an English physician and feminist, the first woman to gain a medical qualification in Britain and the first female mayor in England.-Early life:...

 attempts to assail the walls of British medical education against virulent opposition, eventually taking her degree in France. Garrett's very successful campaign to run for office on the London School Board in 1870 is another example of a how a small band of very determined women were starting to reach positions of influence at the level of local government and public bodies.

Women's campaigns


Campaigns gave women the opportunity to test their new political skills, for disparate elements to come together, to join forces with other social reform groups. One had been the campaign for the Married Women's Property Act, eventually passed in 1882. Next was the campaign to repeal the Contagious Diseases Acts of 1864, 1866 and 1869, which brought together women's groups and utilitarian liberals such as John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

.

Women in general were outraged by the inherent inequity and misogyny of the legislation and for the first time women in large numbers took up the rights of prostitutes. Prominent critics included Blackwell, Nightingale, and Martineau and Elizabeth Wolstenholme. Elizabeth Garrett did not support the campaign, though her sister Millicent
Millicent Fawcett
Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, GBE was an English suffragist and an early feminist....

 did, later admitting the campaign had done good.

However, Josephine Butler
Josephine Butler
Josephine Elizabeth Butler was a Victorian era British feminist who was especially concerned with the welfare of prostitutes...

, already experienced in prostitution issues, a charismatic leader and a seasoned campaigner, emerged as the natural leader
of what became the Ladies National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts (1869). This demonstrated the potential power of an organised lobby group. The association successfully argued that the Acts not only demeaned prostitutes, but all women and men too by containing a blatant double sexual standard. Butler's activities resulted in the radicalisation of many moderate women. The Acts were repealed in 1886.

On a smaller scale was Annie Besant
Annie Besant
Annie Besant was a prominent British Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule.She was married at 19 to Frank Besant but separated from him over religious differences. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society ...

's campaign for the rights of match girls
London matchgirls strike of 1888
The London match-girls’ strike of 1888 was a strike of the women and teenage girls working at the Bryant and May Factory in Bow, London.-The strike:...

 and against the appalling conditions under which they worked demonstrated how to raise public concern over social issues.

First wave



First-wave feminism refers to a period of feminist activity during the 19th and early 20th centuries especially in Europe and the Anglosphere
Anglosphere
Anglosphere is a neologism which refers to those nations with English as the most common language. The term can be used more specifically to refer to those nations which share certain characteristics within their cultures based on a linguistic heritage, through being former British colonies...

; it focused primarily on gaining the right of women's suffrage
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

, the right to be educated, better working conditions and double sexual standards. The term, "first-wave", was coined retrospectively after the term second-wave feminism
Second-wave feminism
The Feminist Movement, or the Women's Liberation Movement in the United States refers to a period of feminist activity which began during the early 1960s and lasted through the early 1990s....

began to be used to describe a newer feminist movement that focused as much on fighting social and cultural inequalities as further political inequalities.

In the U.S., leaders of the feminist movement campaigned for the abolition of slavery
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 and Temperance
Temperance movement
A temperance movement is a social movement urging reduced use of alcoholic beverages. Temperance movements may criticize excessive alcohol use, promote complete abstinence , or pressure the government to enact anti-alcohol legislation or complete prohibition of alcohol.-Temperance movement by...

 prior to championing women's rights. American first-wave feminism involved a wide range of women, some belonging to conservative Christian groups (such as Frances Willard
Frances Willard (suffragist)
Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard was an American educator, temperance reformer, and women's suffragist. Her influence was instrumental in the passage of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution...

 and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union
Woman's Christian Temperance Union
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union was the first mass organization among women devoted to social reform with a program that "linked the religious and the secular through concerted and far-reaching reform strategies based on applied Christianity." Originally organized on December 23, 1873, in...

), others resembling the diversity and radicalism of much of second-wave feminism
Second-wave feminism
The Feminist Movement, or the Women's Liberation Movement in the United States refers to a period of feminist activity which began during the early 1960s and lasted through the early 1990s....

 (such as Stanton, Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage
Matilda Joslyn Gage
Matilda Electa Joslyn Gage was a suffragist, a Native American activist, an abolitionist, a freethinker, and a prolific author, who was "born with a hatred of oppression".-Early activities:...

 and the National Woman Suffrage Association, of which Stanton was president). In the United States first-wave feminism is considered to have ended with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920....

 (1919), granting women the right to vote.

The antislavery campaign of the 1830s provided a perfect cause for women to take up, identify with and learn political skills from. Attempts to exclude women only fuelled their convictions further. Sarah
Sarah Grimké
Sarah Moore Grimké was an American abolitionist, writer, and suffragist.-Early life:Sarah Grimké was born in South Carolina. She was sixth of fourteen children and the second daughter of Mary and John Faucheraud Grimké, a rich plantation owner who was also an attorney and a judge in South Carolina...

 and Angelina Grimké
Angelina Grimké
Angelina Emily Grimké Weld was an American political activist, abolitionist and supporter of the women's suffrage movement.- Family background :...

 moved rapidly from the emancipation of slaves to the emancipation of women. The most influential feminist writer of the time was the colourful journalist Margaret Fuller
Margaret Fuller
Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli, commonly known as Margaret Fuller, was an American journalist, critic, and women's rights advocate associated with the American transcendentalism movement. She was the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism...

 whose Woman in the Nineteenth Century was published in 1845. Her dispatches from Europe for the New York Tribune
New York Tribune
The New York Tribune was an American newspaper, first established by Horace Greeley in 1841, which was long considered one of the leading newspapers in the United States...

helped create a universality in the women's rights movement.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early woman's movement...

 and Lucretia Mott
Lucretia Mott
Lucretia Coffin Mott was an American Quaker, abolitionist, social reformer, and proponent of women's rights.- Early life and education:...

 met in 1840 while en route to London where they were shunned as women by the male leadership of the first World's Anti-Slavery Convention. In 1848, Mott and Stanton held a woman's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York
Seneca Falls Convention
The Seneca Falls Convention was an early and influential women's rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York, July 19–20, 1848. It was organized by local New York women upon the occasion of a visit by Boston-based Lucretia Mott, a Quaker famous for her speaking ability, a skill rarely...

, where a declaration of independence for women
Declaration of Sentiments
The Declaration of Sentiments, also known as the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, is a document signed in 1848 by 68 women and 32 men, 100 out of some 300 attendees at the first women's rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York, now known as the Seneca Falls Convention...

 was drafted. Lucy Stone
Lucy Stone
Lucy Stone was a prominent American abolitionist and suffragist, and a vocal advocate and organizer promoting rights for women. In 1847, Stone was the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree. She spoke out for women's rights and against slavery at a time when women were discouraged...

 helped to organize the first National Women's Rights Convention
National Women's Rights Convention
The National Women's Rights Convention was an annual series of meetings that increased the visibility of the early women's rights movement in the United States. First held in 1850 in Worcester, Massachusetts, the National Women's Rights Convention combined both male and female leadership, and...

 in 1850, a much larger event at which Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth was the self-given name, from 1843 onward, of Isabella Baumfree, an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, she...

, Abby Kelley Foster
Abby Kelley
Abby Kelley Foster was an American abolitionist and radical social reformer active from the 1830s to 1870s. She became a fundraiser, lecturer and committee organizer for the influential American Anti-Slavery Society, where she worked closely with William Lloyd Garrison and other radicals...

 and others spoke, and which sparked Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony
Susan Brownell Anthony was a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women's rights movement to introduce women's suffrage into the United States. She was co-founder of the first Women's Temperance Movement with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as President...

 to take up the cause of women's rights. Barbara Leigh Smith
Barbara Bodichon
Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon was an English educationalist, artist, and a leading early nineteenth century feminist and activist for women's rights.-Early life:...

 met with Mott in 1858, strengthening the link between the feminist movements on each side of the Atlantic.

Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage
Matilda Joslyn Gage
Matilda Electa Joslyn Gage was a suffragist, a Native American activist, an abolitionist, a freethinker, and a prolific author, who was "born with a hatred of oppression".-Early activities:...

 saw the church as a major obstacle to women's rights.
They therefore welcomed the emerging literature on matriarchy, and both Gage and Stanton produced works on this topic: they collaborated on The Woman's Bible
The Woman's Bible
The Woman's Bible is a two-part book, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a committee of 26 women, and published in 1895 and 1898 to challenge the traditional position of religious orthodoxy that woman should be subservient to man. By producing the book, Stanton wished to promote a radical...

. Stanton wrote "The Matriarchate or Mother-Age" and Gage wrote "Woman, Church and State", neatly inverting Bachofen's thesis and adding a unique epistemological perspective, the critique of objectivity and the perception of the subjective.

Stanton made an astute observation regarding assumptions of female inferiority "The worst feature of these assumptions is that women themselves believe them". However this attempt to replace "androcentric" theological tradition with a "gynecentric" view made little headway in the women's movement which was dominated by religious elements, and she and Gage were largely ignored by subsequent generations.

By 1913, Feminism (originally capitalized) became widely known in the U.S. Major issues in the 1910s and 1920s included suffrage, economics and employment, sexualities and families, war and peace, and a Constitutional amendment for equality
Equal Rights Amendment
The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time...

. Both equality and difference were seen as routes to women's empowerment. Organizations at the time included the National Woman's Party
National Woman's Party
The National Woman's Party , was a women's organization founded by Alice Paul in 1915 that fought for women's rights during the early 20th century in the United States, particularly for the right to vote on the same terms as men...

, suffrage advocacy groups such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association
National American Woman Suffrage Association
The National American Woman Suffrage Association was an American women's rights organization formed in May 1890 as a unification of the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association...

 and the National League of Women Voters
League of Women Voters
The League of Women Voters is an American political organization founded in 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt during the last meeting of the National American Woman Suffrage Association approximately six months before the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution gave women the right to vote...

, career associations such as the American Association of University Women
American Association of University Women
The American Association of University Women advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research. It was founded in 1882 by Ellen Swallow Richards and Marion Talbot...

, the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs
Business and Professional Women
Business and Professional Women's Foundation Business and Professional Women’s Foundation is an organization focused on creating successful workplaces by focusing on issues that impact women, families and employers. Successful Workplaces are those that embrace and practice diversity, equity and...

, and the National Women's Trade Union League
Women's Trade Union League
The Women's Trade Union League was a U.S. organization of both working class and more well-off women formed in 1903 to support the efforts of women to organize labor unions and to eliminate sweatshop conditions...

, war and peace groups such as the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom was established in the United States in January 1915 as the Woman's Peace Party...

 and the International Council of Women
International Council of Women
The International Council of Women was the first women's organization to work across national boundaries for the common cause of advocating human rights for women. In March and April 1888, women leaders came together in Washington D.C...

, alcohol-focused groups like the Woman's Christian Temperance Union
Woman's Christian Temperance Union
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union was the first mass organization among women devoted to social reform with a program that "linked the religious and the secular through concerted and far-reaching reform strategies based on applied Christianity." Originally organized on December 23, 1873, in...

 and the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform
Pauline Sabin
Pauline Sabin was a New Yorker who founded the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform in 1929. Time recognized her work promoting the repeal of prohibition by featuring her on its cover on July 18, 1932.-Background:...

, and among organizations centered on race and gender the National Association of Colored Women
National Association of Colored Women
The National Association of Colored Women Clubs was established in Washington, D.C., USA, by the merger in 1896 of the National Federation of Afro-American Women, the Women's Era Club of Boston, and the National League of Colored Women of Washington, DC, as well as smaller organizations that had...

. Leaders and theoreticians then included Jane Addams
Jane Addams
Jane Addams was a pioneer settlement worker, founder of Hull House in Chicago, public philosopher, sociologist, author, and leader in woman suffrage and world peace...

, Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Ida B. Wells
Ida Bell Wells-Barnett was an African American journalist, newspaper editor and, with her husband, newspaper owner Ferdinand L. Barnett, an early leader in the civil rights movement. She documented lynching in the United States, showing how it was often a way to control or punish blacks who...

, Alice Paul
Alice Paul
Alice Stokes Paul was an American suffragist and activist. Along with Lucy Burns and others, she led a successful campaign for women's suffrage that resulted in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.-Activism: Alice Paul received her undergraduate education from...

, Carrie Chapman Catt
Carrie Chapman Catt
Carrie Chapman Catt was a women's suffrage leader who campaigned for the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which gave U.S. women the right to vote in 1920...

, Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger
Margaret Higgins Sanger was an American sex educator, nurse, and birth control activist. Sanger coined the term birth control, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established Planned Parenthood...

, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform...

.

Suffrage


The fight for women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 represents one of the most fundamental struggles of women, because explicitly denying them representation in the legislature and public governmental bodies gave an unambiguous message of second-class citizenship. No campaign has embedded itself so deeply in popular imagination than that of women's suffrage over the past 250 years.

However it took a long time to work its way up the list of priorities to gradually become the dominant issue. The French Revolution accelerated this, with the assertions of Condorcet and de Gouges, and it was women that marched on Versailles. This reached its climax with the founding of the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women
Society of Revolutionary Republican Women
The Society of Revolutionary Republican Women was a political club during the French Revolution formed July 9 1793, lasting less than five months...

 (1793) which included suffrage on its agenda, before being suppressed at the end of that year. However, this ensured that the issue was on the European political agenda.

German women were involved in the Vormärz
Vormärz
' is the time period leading up to the failed March 1848 revolution in the German Confederation. Also known as the Age of Metternich, it was a period of Austrian and Prussian police states and vast censorship in response to calls for liberalism...

, a prelude to the 1848 revolution. In Italy Clara Maffei, Cristina Trivulzio Belgiojoso
Cristina Trivulzio Belgiojoso
Cristina Trivulzio di Belgiojoso was an Italian noblewoman who played a prominent part in Italy's struggle for independence. She is also notable as a writer and journalist.-Life:...

 and Ester Martini Currica were politically active in the events leading up to the events of 1848 there. In Britain suffrage emerged in the writings of Wheeler and Thompson in the 1820s, and Reid, Taylor and Anne Knight
Anne Knight
Anne Knight was a social reformer noted as a pioneer of feminism.-Family background:Anne Knight was the daughter of William Knight , a Chelmsford grocer and his wife Priscilla Allen...

 in the 1840s.
The suffragettes


The Langham Place ladies again played a central role in women's suffrage, and set up a suffrage committee in 1866 at a meeting at Elizabeth Garrett's home, renamed the London Society for Women's Suffrage in 1867. Soon similar committees had spread across the country, raising petitions, and worked closely with JS Mill. Denied outlets by establishment periodicals, women like Lydia Becker
Lydia Becker
Lydia Ernestine Becker was a leader in the early British suffrage movement, as well as an amateur scientist with interests in biology and astronomy...

 started the Women's Suffrage Journal in 1870.

Other publications included Richard Pankhurst
Richard Pankhurst
Richard Marsden Pankhurst was an English barrister and supporter of women's rights.Pankhurst was the son of Henry Francis Pankhurst and Margaret Marsden . He was born in Stoke but spent most of his life in Manchester and London. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and Owens College of...

's Englishwoman's Review
Englishwoman's Review
The Englishwoman's Review was a feminist periodical published in the United Kingdom between 1866 and 1910.Until 1869 called in full The Englishwoman's Review: a journal of woman's work, in 1870 it was renamed The Englishwoman's Review of Social and Industrial Questions.One of the first feminist...

 (1866). Tactical disputes were the biggest problem, and the membership of various groups varied over time. One issue was whether men like Mill should be involved. As it was Mill also withdrew as the movement became more aggressive with each disappointment. The political pressure ensured debate, but year after year was defeated in parliament.

Despite this, the women benefited from their increasing political experience, which translated into slow progress at the level of local government and public bodies. However, the years of frustration took their toll, and many women became increasingly radicalised. Some refused to pay taxes, and the Pankhurst family
Emmeline Pankhurst
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement which helped women win the right to vote...

 emerged as the dominant influence of the movement, having also founded the Women's Franchise League
Women's Franchise League
The Women's Franchise League was an organisation created by the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst together with her husband Richard in 1889, fourteen years before the creation of the Women's Social and Political Union in 1903....

 in 1889.
International suffrage

The Isle of Man was the first free standing jurisdiction to grant women the vote (1881), followed by New Zealand in 1893, where Kate Sheppard
Kate Sheppard
Katherine Wilson Sheppard Some sources, eg give a birth year of 1847; others eg give a birth year of 1848. was the most prominent member of New Zealand's women's suffrage movement, and is the country's most famous suffragette...


had pioneered reform. Some Australian states had also granted women the vote. This included Victoria for a brief period (1863-5), South Australia (1894), and Western Australia (1899). Australian women received the vote at the Federal level in 1902, Finland in 1906, and Norway initially in 1907 (completed in 1913).

Twentieth century



Women's suffragists and the prelude to war

The Edwardian era saw a loosening of Victorian rigidity and complacency; women had more employment opportunities, and were more active, leading to a relaxing of clothing restrictions.

Looking back from now, western women's rights movements seem to be dominated by the increasing clamour for political reform and votes for women. Books, articles, speeches, pictures and papers from the period however, show a diverse range of theme's being discussed in the public discours. In The Netherlands for instance, educational rights, rights to medical care, better working conditions, peace and double sexual standards were main feminist issues at the time. And feminists called themselves feminists without a lot of ado.

The charismatic and controversial Pankhursts
Emmeline Pankhurst
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement which helped women win the right to vote...

 took the political initiative, forming the Women's Social and Political Union
Women's Social and Political Union
The Women's Social and Political Union was the leading militant organisation campaigning for Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom...

 (WSPU) in 1903. As Emmline Pankhurst put it, votes for women were seen then as no longer "a right, but as a desperate necessity". At the state level, Australia and the United States had already given the vote to some women, and American feminists such as Susan B Anthony (1902) visited Britain. While the WSPU is the best known suffrage group, it was only one of many, such as the Women's Freedom League
Women's Freedom League
The Women's Freedom League was an organisation in the United Kingdom which campaigned for women's suffrage and sexual equality.The group was founded in 1907 by seventy members of the Women's Social and Political Union including Teresa Billington-Greig, Charlotte Despard, Elizabeth How-Martyn, and...

 and the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies
National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies
The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies , also known as the Suffragists was an organisation of women's suffrage societies in the United Kingdom.-Formation and campaigning:...

 (NUWSS) led by Millicent Garrett Fawcett. WSPU was largely a family affair, although externally financed. Christabel Pankhurst
Christabel Pankhurst
Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst, DBE , was a suffragette born in Manchester, England. A co-founder of the Women's Social and Political Union , she directed its militant actions from exile in France from 1912 to 1913. In 1914 she became a fervent supporter of the war against Germany...

 became the dominant figure and gathered friends such as Annie Kenney
Annie Kenney
Annie Kenney was an English working class suffragette who became a leading figure in the Women's Social and Political Union...

, Flora Drummond
Flora Drummond
Flora McKinnon Drummond , , was a British suffragette...

, Teresa Billington, Ethel Smythe, Grace Roe and Norah Dacre Fox later known as Norah Elam
Norah Elam
Norah Elam also known as Norah Dacre Fox, was a radical feminist, militant suffragette, anti-vivisectionist and fascist in the United Kingdom. Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1878 to John and Charlotte Doherty, she emigrated to England with her family and by 1891 was living in London...

 around her. Veterans such as Elizabeth Garrett also joined.

In 1906, the Daily Mail
Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982...

first labeled these women 'suffragettes' as a form of ridicule, but the term was quickly embraced in Britain to describe a more militant form of suffragist, which were becoming increasingly visible with their marches and distinctive Green, Purple and White emblems, while the Artists' Suffrage League
Artists' Suffrage League
The Artists' Suffrage League was one of several suffrage societies founded in this period. The period between 1903 and 1914 was one of resurgence in the women's suffrage movement...

 created dramatic graphics. Even underwear in WPSU colours appeared in stores. They quickly learned new ways of exploiting the media and photography. The visual record they have left remains vivid, such as the 1914 photograph of Emmeline, shown here. As the movement became more active deep divisions appeared with older leaders of the movement parting company with the radicals. Sometimes the splits were ideological, and others tactical. Even Christabel's sister, Sylvia
Sylvia Pankhurst
Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst was an English campaigner for the suffragist movement in the United Kingdom. She was for a time a prominent left communist who then devoted herself to the cause of anti-fascism.-Early life:...

, was expelled.
Slowly but surely the protests became more vigorous and included heckling, banging on doors, smashing shop windows, and eventually, by 1914, arson. In 1913, one member of the group, Emily Davison
Emily Davison
Emily Wilding Davison was a militant women's suffrage activist who, on 4 June 1913, after a series of actions that were either self-destructive or violent, stepped in front of a horse running in the Epsom Derby, sustaining injuries that resulted in her death four days later.-Biography:Davison was...

, sacrificed herself on Derby Day, dying under the King's horse. These tactics produced mixed results of sympathy and alienation and many protesters were imprisoned, creating an increasingly embarrassing situation for the government.

Matters progressively worsened, with hunger strikes, then risky force feeding, and eventually the notorious Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act 1913, nicknamed the Cat and Mouse Act
Cat and Mouse Act
The Prisoners Act 1913 was an Act of Parliament passed in Britain under Herbert Henry Asquith's Liberal government in 1913...

 which allowed women to be released when their illness or injury became dangerously acute, but officers were then not prevented from arresting and charging these women again once they recovered. It could be argued, however, as did Reginald McKenna
Reginald McKenna
Reginald McKenna was a British banker and Liberal politician. He notably served as Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer during the premiership of H. H. Asquith.-Background and education:...

, the Home Secretary, that this was relatively humane, since a number of these women appeared ready to die for their cause.

If the aims were to reveal institutional sexism in British society, women's suffragists certainly created publicity around the issue. They also inadvertently drew attention to the brutality of the legal system at the time.
Feminist science fiction

At the beginning of the 20th century, feminist science fiction
Feminist science fiction
Feminist science fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction which tends to deal with women's roles in society. Feminist science fiction poses questions about social issues such as how society constructs gender roles, the role reproduction plays in defining gender and the unequal political and...

 emerged as a sub-genre of science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 which tends to deal with women's roles in society. Women writers in the utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

n literature movement of the 19th century and early 20th century, at the time of first wave feminism, often addressed sexism. Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform...

 did so in Herland
Herland (novel)
Herland is a utopian novel from 1915, written by feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The book describes an isolated society composed entirely of women who reproduce via parthenogenesis . The result is an ideal social order, free of war, conflict and domination...

(1915), for example. The Sultana's Dream
Sultana's dream
"Sultana's Dream" is a classic work of Bengali science fiction and one of the first examples of feminist science fiction. This short story was written in 1905 by Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain, a Muslim feminist, writer and social reformer who lived in British India, in what is now Bangladesh. The word...

(1905) by Bengali
Bangla Science Fiction
Bengali science fiction is a rich part of Bengali literature. Although it is not as established as other genres in the Bengali language, it is gaining popularity among Bengali readers, especially in Bangladesh.-Earliest writers:...

 Muslim feminist
Islamic feminism
Islamic feminism is a form of feminism concerned with the role of women in Islam. It aims for the full equality of all Muslims, regardless of gender, in public and private life. Islamic feminists advocate women's rights, gender equality, and social justice grounded in an Islamic framework...

, Roquia Sakhawat Hussain, depicts a gender-reversed purdah
Purdah
Purdah or pardeh is the practice of concealing women from men. According to one definition:This takes two forms: physical segregation of the sexes, and the requirement for women to cover their bodies and conceal their form....

 in a futuristic world.

During the 1920s writers such as Clare Winger Harris
Clare Winger Harris
Clare Winger Harris was an early science fiction writer whose short stories were published during the 1920s. She is credited as the first woman to publish stories under her own name in science fiction magazines...

 and Gertrude Barrows Bennett
Gertrude Barrows Bennett
Gertrude Barrows Bennett was the first major female writer of fantasy and science fiction in the United States, publishing her stories under the pseudonym Francis Stevens. Bennett wrote a number of highly acclaimed fantasies between 1917 and 1923 and has been called "the woman who invented dark...

 published science fiction stories written from female perspectives and occasionally dealt with gender and sexuality-based topics. Meanwhile, much pulp science fiction published during 1920s and 1930s carried an exaggerated view of masculinity along with sexist portrayals of women. By the 1960s science fiction was combining sensationalism with political and technological critiques of society. With the advent of feminism, women's roles were questioned in this "subversive, mind expanding genre."

Feminist
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

 science fiction poses questions about social issues such as how society constructs gender roles, the role reproduction plays in defining gender and the unequal political and personal power of men and women. Some of the most notable feminist science fiction works have illustrated these themes using utopias to explore a society in which gender differences or gender power imbalances do not exist, or dystopias to explore worlds in which gender inequalities are intensified, thus asserting a need for feminist work to continue.
Mid-twentieth century: interbellum

In the First World War women entered the labour market in unprecedented numbers, often in new sectors. They discovered that their work outside the home was now valued, but also left large numbers of women bereaved and with a net loss of household income. Meanwhile the large numbers of men killed and wounded created a major shift in demographic composition. War also split the feminist groups, with many opposed to the war, while other women became involved in the White Feather
White feather
A white feather has been a traditional symbol of cowardice, used and recognised especially within the British Army and in countries associated with the British Empire since the 18th century...

 campaign.

Certain recent feminist scholars, such as Francoise Thebaud and Nancy Cott, also point out World War I's conservativizing effect in some countries, noting the reinforcement of traditional imagery as well as literature directed towards motherhood. These phenomena during World War I and between the two wars have been called the "nationalization of women."

In the years between the wars, women continued to fight discrimination and opposition to women's rights from the establishment and the media. In Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

's A Room of One's Own, Woolf describes the extent of the backlash and her frustration at the waste of so much talent. Important writers of the time also included Rebecca West
Rebecca West
Cicely Isabel Fairfield , known by her pen name Rebecca West, or Dame Rebecca West, DBE was an English author, journalist, literary critic and travel writer. A prolific, protean author who wrote in many genres, West was committed to feminist and liberal principles and was one of the foremost public...

. Although the word "feminism" was now in use, the media and others gave it such a negative image, that women were afraid to embrace it. By 1938, Woolf was writing, in Three Guineas
Three Guineas
Three Guineas is a book-length essay by Virginia Woolf, published in June 1938.-Background:Although Three Guineas is a work of non-fiction, it was initially conceived as a "novel-essay" which would tie up the loose ends left in her earlier work, A Room of One's Own...

, "an old word...that has much harm in its day and is now obsolete". On another occasion she had to defend West, who had been attacked as a "feminist". Woolf also started to paint lesbian sexuality in a positive light "women...had almost always been seen in relation to men", and to examine the constructs of gender more minutely. West has perhaps best been remembered for her comment "I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute."

In the 1920s, the non-traditional styles and attitudes of flappers gained popularity among women in the U.S. and U.K.
Electoral reform

Women's demand for the vote could no longer be ignored, and the Representation of the People Act 1918
Representation of the People Act 1918
The Representation of the People Act 1918 was an Act of Parliament passed to reform the electoral system in the United Kingdom. It is sometimes known as the Fourth Reform Act...

 enacted in February of that year gave men near-universal suffrage, and the vote to women over 30 years of age. Representation of the People Act 1928
Representation of the People Act 1928
The Representation of the People Act 1928 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. This act expanded on the Representation of the People Act 1918 which had given some women the vote in Parliamentary elections for the first time after World War I. It widened suffrage by giving women...

 finally provided equal suffrage for men and women. It also shifted the socioeconomic make up of the electorate towards the working class, favouring the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 who were more sympathetic to women's issues. The first election was held in December
United Kingdom general election, 1918
The United Kingdom general election of 1918 was the first to be held after the Representation of the People Act 1918, which meant it was the first United Kingdom general election in which nearly all adult men and some women could vote. Polling was held on 14 December 1918, although the count did...

, and gave Labour the most seats in the house to date. The electoral reforms also allowed women to run for parliament. Although Christabel Pankhurst
Christabel Pankhurst
Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst, DBE , was a suffragette born in Manchester, England. A co-founder of the Women's Social and Political Union , she directed its militant actions from exile in France from 1912 to 1913. In 1914 she became a fervent supporter of the war against Germany...

 narrowly failed to win a seat in 1918, in 1919 and 1920 both Lady Astor and Margaret Wintringham
Margaret Wintringham
Margaret Wintringham , née Longbottom, was a British Liberal Party politician. She was the second woman to take her seat in the British House of Commons.- Early life :...

 won seats for the Conservatives and Liberals respectively, by succeeding their husband's seats. Labour swept to power in 1924, including Ellen Wilkinson
Ellen Wilkinson
Ellen Cicely Wilkinson was the Labour Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough and later for Jarrow on Tyneside. She was one of the first women in Britain to be elected as a Member of Parliament .- History :...

. Constance Markievicz (Sinn Féin) was the first woman to be elected, in Ireland in 1918, but as an Irish nationalist, refused to take her seat. Astor's proposal to form a women's party in 1929 was unsuccessful, which some historians feel was a missed opportunity, and there were still only 12 women in parliament by 1940. Women gained considerable electoral experience over the next few years as a series of minority governments ensured almost annual elections. Close affiliation with Labour also proved to be a problem for NUSEC, which had little support in the Conservative party. However, their persistence with Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC was a British Conservative politician, who dominated the government in his country between the two world wars...

 was rewarded by the passage of the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928
Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928
The Representation of the People Act 1928 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. This act expanded on the Representation of the People Act 1918 which had given some women the vote in Parliamentary elections for the first time after World War I. It widened suffrage by giving women...

.
Other jurisdictions

Women received the vote in Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 in 1915 (full in 1919), the USSR in 1917, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 in 1918, and many countries including the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 in 1919, and Turkey and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 in 1930. French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 women did not receive the vote till 1945. Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein
The Principality of Liechtenstein is a doubly landlocked alpine country in Central Europe, bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and by Austria to the east. Its area is just over , and it has an estimated population of 35,000. Its capital is Vaduz. The biggest town is Schaan...

 was one of the last countries, in 1984.
The women's movement and social reform

As with many movements, women soon discovered that political change does not necessarily translate into a noticeable change in circumstances, and with economic recession they were the most vulnerable sector of the workforce. Some women who had held jobs prior to the war were obliged to give them up to returning soldiers, and many had been made redundant. With limited franchise, the NUWSS needed to change its role. The new organisation, the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship (NUSEC)
still advocated equality in franchise but extended its scope to examine equality in the social and economic area. Legislative reform was sought for those laws that were discriminatory, including family law and prostitution
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

. One area of division which is significant in the light of later developments was between equality and equity, which addressed accommodation to allow women to overcome barriers to fulfillment. In more recent years this has been referred to as the "equality vs. difference conundrum".
Eleanor Rathbone
Eleanor Rathbone
Eleanor Florence Rathbone was an independent British Member of Parliament and long-term campaigner for women's rights. She was a member of the noted Rathbone family of Liverpool.-Life:...

, who became an MP in 1929, succeeded Millicent Garrett
Millicent Fawcett
Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, GBE was an English suffragist and an early feminist....

 as president in 1919. She expressed the critical need for consideration of difference in gender relationships as "what women need to fulfill the potentialities of their own natures". A more formal split appeared with the 1924 Labour government's social reforms, with a splinter group of strict egalitarians forming the Open Door Council
Open Door Council
The Open Door Council, established in May 1926, was a British organisation pressing for equal economic opportunities for women. It opposed the extension of 'protective legislation' for women, regarding such legislation as 'restrictive' and arguing that it effectively barred women from better-paid...

 in May 1926.
This eventually became an international movement, and continued till 1965. Other important social legislation of this period included the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919
Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919
The Sex Disqualification Act 1919 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom. It became law when it received Royal Assent on 23 December 1919.-Provisions of the Act:...

 (which opened professions to women), and the Matrimonial Causes Act 1923. In 1932, NUSEC separated advocacy from education, and continued the former activities as the National Council for Equal Citizenship and education became the role of the Townswomen's Guild
Townswomen's Guild
The Townswomen's Guild is a British women's organisation. There are approximately 34,000 members, 840 branches and 86 Federations throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.....

. The council continued until the end of the Second World War.

In 1921, Margaret Mackworth
Margaret Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda
Margaret Haig Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda was a Welsh peeress and active suffragette.In 1908 she joined the Women's Social and Political Union , and became secretary of the WSPU's Newport branch...

 (Lady Rhondda) founded the Six Point Group
Six Point Group
The Six Point Group was a British feminist campaign group founded by Lady Rhondda in 1921 to press for changes in the law of the United Kingdom in six areas.-Aims:The six original specific aims were:# Satisfactory legislation on child assault;...

 which included Rebecca West
Rebecca West
Cicely Isabel Fairfield , known by her pen name Rebecca West, or Dame Rebecca West, DBE was an English author, journalist, literary critic and travel writer. A prolific, protean author who wrote in many genres, West was committed to feminist and liberal principles and was one of the foremost public...

. It was a political lobby group, whose aims were political, occupational, moral, social, economic and legal equality. Thus it was ideologically allied with the Open Door Council, rather than National Council. It also lobbied at an international level, such as the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

, and continued its work till 1983. In retrospect both ideological groups were influential in advancing women's rights in their own way. Despite women being admitted to the House of Commons from 1918, Mackworth, a Viscountess in her own right, spent a lifetime fighting to take her seat in the House of Lords against bitter opposition, a battle which only achieved its goal in the year of her death (1958). This revealed the weaknesses of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act. Mackworth also founded Time and Tide
Time and Tide (magazine)
Time and Tide was a British weekly political and literary review magazine founded by Margaret, Lady Rhondda in 1920. It started out as a supporter of left wing and feminist causes and the mouthpiece of the feminist Six Point Group. It later moved to the right along with the views of its owner...

 which became the group's journal, and to which West, Virginia Woolf, Rose Macaulay
Rose Macaulay
Dame Emilie Rose Macaulay, DBE was an English writer. She published thirty-five books, mostly novels but also biographies and travel writing....

 and many others contributed. A number of other women's periodicals also appeared in the 1920s, including Woman and Home, and Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping is a women's magazine owned by the Hearst Corporation, featuring articles about women's interests, product testing by The Good Housekeeping Institute, recipes, diet, health as well as literary articles. It is well known for the "Good Housekeeping Seal," popularly known as the...

, but whose content reflect very different aspirations. In 1925 Rebecca West wrote in Time and Tide something that reflected not only the movement's need to redefine itself post suffrage, but a continual need for re-examination of goals. "When those of our army whose voices are inclined to coolly tell us that the day of sex-antagonism is over and henceforth we have only to advance hand in hand with the male, I do not believe it."
Reproductive rights

As feminism sought to redefine itself, new issues rose to the surface, one of which was reproductive rights. Even discussing the issue could be hazardous. Annie Besant
Annie Besant
Annie Besant was a prominent British Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule.She was married at 19 to Frank Besant but separated from him over religious differences. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society ...

 had been tried in 1877 for publishing Charles Knowlton
Charles Knowlton
Charles Knowlton was an American physician, atheist and writer.-Education:Knowlton was born May 10, 1800 in Templeton, Massachusetts. His parents were Stephen and Comfort Knowlton; his grandfather Ezekiel Knowlton, who was a Captain in the revolution and a longtime state legislator...

's Fruits of Philosophy, a work on family planning, under the Obscene Publications Act
Obscene Publications Act
Since 1857, a series of obscenity laws known as the Obscene Publications Acts have governed what can be published in England and Wales. The classic definition of criminal obscenity is if it "tends to deprave and corrupt," stated in 1868 by John Duke Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge.There have been...

 1857.
Knowlton had previously been convicted in the United States. She and her colleague Charles Bradlaugh
Charles Bradlaugh
Charles Bradlaugh was a political activist and one of the most famous English atheists of the 19th century. He founded the National Secular Society in 1866.-Early life:...

 were convicted but acquitted on appeal, the subsequent publicity resulting in a decline in the birth rate.
Not discouraged in the slightest, Besant followed this with The Law of Population.

Similarly in America, Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger
Margaret Higgins Sanger was an American sex educator, nurse, and birth control activist. Sanger coined the term birth control, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established Planned Parenthood...

 was prosecuted for her Family Limitation
Family Limitation
"Family Limitation" is the sixth episode of the first season of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire, which premiered October 24, 2010...

under the Comstock Act 1873, in 1914, and fled to Britain where she met with Marie Stopes
Marie Stopes
Marie Carmichael Stopes was a British author, palaeobotanist, campaigner for women's rights and pioneer in the field of birth control...

 until it was safe for her to return. Sanger continued to risk prosecution, and her work was prosecuted in Britain. Stopes was never prosecuted but was regularly denounced for her work in promoting birth control. In 1917 Sanger started the Birth Control Review. In 1926, Sanger gave a lecture on birth control to the women's auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey, which she referred to as a "weird experience".Even more controversial was the establishment of the Abortion Law Reform Association
Abortion Law Reform Association
The Abortion Law Reform Association is a former advocacy organisation which promoted access to abortion in the United Kingdom. It campaigned effectively after World War II for the elimination of legal obstacles to abortion and the peak of its work was the Abortion Act 1967.In Autumn, 2003, ALRA...

 in 1936. The penalty for abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 had been reduced from execution to life imprisonment
Abortion in the United Kingdom
Abortion has been legal on a wide number of grounds in England and Wales and Scotland since the Abortion Act 1967 was passed. At the time, this legislation was one of the most liberal laws regarding abortion in Europe...

 by the Offences against the Person Act 1861
Offences Against The Person Act 1861
The Offences against the Person Act 1861 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It consolidated provisions related to offences against the person from a number of earlier statutes into a single Act...

, although some exceptions were allowed in the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929
Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929
The Infant Life Act 1929 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It creates the offence of child destruction.It also amended the law so that an abortion carried out in good faith, for the sole purpose of preserving the life of the mother, would not be an offence.-Parliamentary...

.
Following the prosecution of Dr. Aleck Bourne
Aleck Bourne
Aleck William Bourne was a prominent British gynaecologist and writer, known for his 1938 trial, a landmark case, for performing an illegal abortion on a 14-year-old girl rape victim. He later became an pro-life activist....

 in 1938, the 1939 Birkett Committee made recommendations for reform, that like many other women's issues, were set aside at the outbreak of the Second World War.

In The Netherlands Aletta H. Jacobs, first Dutch female doctor, and Wilhelmina Drucker
Wilhelmina Drucker
Wilhelmina Drucker was a Dutch politician and writer. One of the first Dutch feminists, she was also known under her pseudonyms Gipsy, Gitano, and E...

 were frontwomen in discussing and taking action on the theme reproductive rights. Jacobs started to import pessaria from Germany and gave them out for free to poor women in her praxis.

1940s


In most front line countries, women volunteered or were conscripted for various duties in support of the war effort. In Britain women were drafted and assigned to industrial jobs or to non-combat military service. The British services enrolled 460,000 women. The largest service ATS
ATS
-Societies:*Adventist Theological Society*American Temperance Society, an early American civic organization promoting temperance*American Thoracic Society, a society for lung physicians, health related professionals and researchers-Systems:...

 had a maximum of 213,000 women enrolled, many of whom served in combat roles in anti-aircraft gun emplacements.
In many countries, such as Germany and the Soviet Union, women volunteered or were conscripted for various duties in support of the war effort. In Germany, women volunteered in the BDM, assisting the Luftwaffe as anti-aircraft gunners, or as guerrilla fighters in Werwolf units behind Allied lines. In the Soviet Union about 820,000 women served in the military as medics, radio operators, or truck drivers, snipers, combat pilots, and junior commanding officers.

The Second World War was involved double duty for many American women—they retained their domestic chores and often added a paid job, especially one related to a war industry. Much more so than in the previous war, large numbers of women were hired for unskilled or semi-skilled jobs in munitions, and barriers against married women taking jobs were eased.The popular icon Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in factories during World War II, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies. These women sometimes took entirely new jobs replacing the male workers who were in the military...

 became a symbol for a generation of American working women. Some 300,000 women served in U.S. military uniform (WAC
Women's Army Corps
The Women's Army Corps was the women's branch of the US Army. It was created as an auxiliary unit, the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps on 15 May 1942 by Public Law 554, and converted to full status as the WAC in 1943...

, WAVES
WAVES
The WAVES were a World War II-era division of the U.S. Navy that consisted entirely of women. The name of this group is an acronym for "Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service" ; the word "emergency" implied that the acceptance of women was due to the unusual circumstances of the war and...

, etc.). With so many young men gone, sports organizers tried to set up pro women's teams, such as the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was a women's professional baseball league founded by Philip K. Wrigley which existed from 1943 to 1954. During the league's history, over 600 women played ball.-History:...

; it closed after the war. Indeed most munitions plants closed, and civilian plants replaced the new women with returning veterans, who had priority.

Second wave


Second-wave feminism refers to a period of feminist activity beginning in the early '60s and through the late 1980s. Second Wave Feminism has existed continuously since then, and continues to coexist with what some people call Third Wave Feminism. Second wave feminism saw cultural and political inequalities as inextricably linked. The movement encouraged women to understand aspects of their personal lives as deeply politicized, and reflective of a sexist
Sexism
Sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is the application of the belief or attitude that there are characteristics implicit to one's gender that indirectly affect one's abilities in unrelated areas...

 structure of power. If first-wavers focused on absolute rights such as suffrage, second-wavers were largely concerned with other issues of equality, such as the end to discrimination.

Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, and the rise of Women's Liberation


In 1963, Betty Friedan
Betty Friedan
Betty Friedan was an American writer, activist, and feminist.A leading figure in the Women's Movement in the United States, her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is often credited with sparking the "second wave" of American feminism in the twentieth century...

 published her exposé The Feminine Mystique
The Feminine Mystique
The Feminine Mystique, published February 19, 1963, by W.W. Norton and Co., is a nonfiction book written by Betty Friedan. It is widely credited with sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism in the United States....

, giving a voice to the discontent and disorientation many women felt in being shunted into homemaking positions after graduating from college. In the book, Friedan explored the roots of the change in women's roles from essential workforce during World War II to homebound housewife and mother after the war, and assessed the forces that drove this change in perception of women's roles.

Over the following decade, the phrase and concept "Women's Liberation
Feminist movement
The feminist movement refers to a series of campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women's suffrage, sexual harassment and sexual violence...

" began to be discussed.

While people sometimes use the expression "Women's Liberation" to refer to feminism throughout history,
the term is relatively recent. "Liberation" has been associated with women's aspirations since 1895,
and appears in the context of "women's liberation" in The Second Sex
The Second Sex
The Second Sex is one of the best-known works of the French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir. It is a work on the treatment of women throughout history and often regarded as a major work of feminist literature and the starting point of second-wave feminism. Beauvoir researched and wrote the book...

by Simone de Beauvoir in 1949 which was translated to English in 1953. The phrase "women's liberation" was first used in 1964,
and appeared in print in 1966,
although the French equivalent, "libération des femmes", was in use as far back as 1911. "Women's liberation" was in use at the 1967 American Students for a Democratic Society
Students for a Democratic Society (1960 organization)
Students for a Democratic Society was a student activist movement in the United States that was one of the main iconic representations of the country's New Left. The organization developed and expanded rapidly in the mid-1960s before dissolving at its last convention in 1969...

 (SDS) convention, which held a panel discussion on it. By 1968, although the term Women's Liberation Front appeared in "Ramparts
Ramparts (magazine)
Ramparts was an American political and literary magazine, published from 1962 through 1975.-History:Founded by Edward M. Keating as a Catholic literary quarterly, the magazine became closely associated with the New Left after executive editor Warren Hinckle hired Robert Scheer as managing editor...

" it was starting to refer to the whole women's movement.
In Chicago, women disillusioned with the New Left
New Left
The New Left was a term used mainly in the United Kingdom and United States in reference to activists, educators, agitators and others in the 1960s and 1970s who sought to implement a broad range of reforms, in contrast to earlier leftist or Marxist movements that had taken a more vanguardist...

 were meeting separately in 1967, and publishing Voice of the Women's Liberation Movement by March 1968. When the Miss America Pageant was held in September, the media referred to the demonstrations as Women's Liberation, and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union
Chicago Women's Liberation Union
The Chicago Women's Liberation Union was a women's liberation organization based in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The organization served as an umbrella organization for numerous groups who worked within communities nationwide to bring awareness, programming and opportunities to women...

 was formed in 1969.
Similar groups with similar titles appeared in many parts of the United States. Bra-burning (actually a fiction) became associated with the movement, and the media coined other terms such as "libber." Women's Liberation, compared to various rival terms for the new feminism which co-existed for a while, captured the popular imagination and has persisted, although today the older term Women's Movement
Feminist movement
The feminist movement refers to a series of campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women's suffrage, sexual harassment and sexual violence...

 is used just as frequently.

1960s' feminism — and its theory and activism — was informed and fueled by the social, cultural, and political climate of that decade. This was a time when there was an increasing entry of women into higher education, the establishment of academic women's studies courses and departments
and feminist thinking in many other related fields such as politics, sociology, history and literature,
and a time when there was increasing questioning of accepted standards and authority.

It also became increasingly evident, almost from the beginning, that the Women's Liberation movement consisted of multiple "feminisms" — due to the diverse origins from which groups had coalesced and intersected, and the complexity and contentiousness of the issues involved. Starting in the 1980s, one of the most vocal critics of the whole movement has been bell hooks
Bell hooks
Gloria Jean Watkins , better known by her pen name bell hooks, is an American author, feminist, and social activist....

, who comments on lack of voice by the most oppressed women, glossing over of race and class as inequalities, and failure to address the issues that divided women.

Feminist writing


Following the changes in women's consciousness provoked by Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, in the 1970s new feminist activists took on more political and sexual issues in their writings.

Feminist writing in the early 1970s ranges from Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem
Gloria Marie Steinem is an American feminist, journalist, and social and political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader of, and media spokeswoman for, the women's liberation movement in the late 1960s and 1970s...

 (Ms. magazine 1970), to Kate Millett
Kate Millett
Kate Millett is an American lesbian feminist writer and activist. A seminal influence on second-wave feminism, Millet is best known for her 1970 book Sexual Politics.-Career:...

's Sexual Politics
Sexual Politics
Sexual Politics is a classic feminist text written by Kate Millett, said to be "the first book of academic feminist literary criticism", and "one of the first feminist books of this decade to raise nationwide male ire"....

.
Millett's uses her bleak survey of male writers and their attitudes and biases to demonstrates her thesis that sex is politics, and politics is power imbalance in relationships. Her pessimism is reflected in her description of "the desert we inhabit". From the same period come Shulamith Firestone
Shulamith Firestone
Shulamith Firestone , is a Jewish, Canadian-born feminist. She was a central figure in the early development of radical feminism, having been a founding member of the New York Radical Women, Redstockings, and New York Radical Feminists...

's The Dialectic of Sex, Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer is an Australian writer, academic, journalist and scholar of early modern English literature, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of the later 20th century....

's The Female Eunuch
The Female Eunuch
The Female Eunuch is a book first published in 1970 that became an international bestseller and an important text in the feminist movement. The author, Germaine Greer, became well known in broadcast media of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and her home of Australia...

, Sheila Rowbotham
Sheila Rowbotham
Sheila Rowbotham is a British socialist feminist theorist and writer.-Early life:Rowbotham was born in Leeds, the daughter of a salesman for an engineering company and an office clerk From an early age, she was deeply interested in history...

's Women's Liberation and the New Politics and Juliet Mitchell
Juliet Mitchell
Juliet Mitchell is a British Psychoanalyst and socialist feminist, who was a fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge and Professor of Psychoanalysis and Gender Studies at Cambridge University. In 2010, she's appointed to be the Director of the Expanded Doctoral School in Psychoanalytic Studies at...

's Woman's Estate, the following year. Firestone based her concept of revolution on Marxism, referred to the "sex war", and interestingly, in view of the debates over patriarchy, claimed that male domination dated to "back beyond recorded history to the animal kingdom itself". Co-founder of Redstockings
Redstockings
Redstockings, also known as Redstockings of the Women's Liberation Movement, is a radical feminist group that was founded in January of 1969...

,
Firestone, considered a radical, put "feminism" back in the vocabulary.

Greer, Rowbotham and Mitchell represent an English perspective on the growing revolution, but as Mitchell argues, this should be seen as an international phenomenon, but taking on different manifestations relating to local culture. British women too, drew on left political backgrounds, and organised small local discussion groups. Much of this took Bartplace through the London Women's Liberation Workshop and its publications Shrew
Shrew
A shrew or shrew mouse is a small molelike mammal classified in the order Soricomorpha. True shrews are also not to be confused with West Indies shrews, treeshrews, otter shrews, or elephant shrews, which belong to different families or orders.Although its external appearance is generally that of...

and the LWLW Newsletter.
Although there were marches, the focus was on what Kathie Sarachild
Kathie Sarachild
Kathie Sarachild, born Kathie Amatniek in 1943, is an American feminist writer and campaigner. She played a leading part in the Consciousness-raising movement in the 1970s.- References :...

 of Redstockings had called consciousness-raising.
One of the functions of this was, as Mitchell describes it was that women would "find what they thought was an individual dilemma is social predicament". Women found that their own personal experiences were information that they could trust in formulating political analyses.

Meanwhile in the U.S., women's frustrations crystallised around the failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment
Equal Rights Amendment
The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, it was introduced in the Congress for the first time...

 during the 1970s. Against this background appeared Susan Brownmiller
Susan Brownmiller
Susan Brownmiller is an American feminist, journalist, author, and activist. She is best known for her pioneering work on the politics of rape in her 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, Brownmiller argues that rape had been hitherto defined by men rather than women; and that men use,...

's Against Our Will in 1975, introducing a more explicit agenda directed against male violence, specifically male sexual violence in a treatise on rape. Perhaps her most memorable phrase was "pornography
Pornography
Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

 is the theory and rape the practice", creating a nexus that would cause deep fault lines to develop,
largely around the concepts of objectification
Objectification
Objectification is the process by which an abstract concept is made as objective as possible in the purest sense of the term. It is also treated as if it is a concrete thing or physical object...


and commodification
Commodification
Commodification is the transformation of goods, ideas, or other entities that may not normally be regarded as goods into a commodity....

. Brownmiller's other major contribution is In our Time (2000), a history of women's liberation. Less well known is Femininity (1984) a gentler deconstruction of a concept that has had an uneasy relationship with feminism.
Different feminist views on pornography


One of the first women to develop the further implications of pornography was Susan Griffin
Susan Griffin
Susan Griffin is an eco-feminist author. She describes her work as "draw[ing] connections between the destruction of nature, the diminishment of women and racism, and trac[ing] the causes of war to denial in both private and public life." She received a MacArthur grant for Peace and International...

 in Pornography and Silence (1981). Moving beyond Brownmiller and Griffin's positions are Catharine MacKinnon
Catharine MacKinnon
Catharine Alice MacKinnon is an American feminist, scholar, lawyer, teacher and activist.- Biography :MacKinnon was born in Minnesota. Her mother is Elizabeth Valentine Davis; her father, George E. MacKinnon was a lawyer, congressman , and judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit...

, and Andrea Dworkin
Andrea Dworkin
Andrea Rita Dworkin was an American radical feminist and writer best known for her criticism of pornography, which she argued was linked to rape and other forms of violence against women....

 with whom she collaborated. They took up a position that is generally regarded as the extreme end of the spectrum, and therefore not widely supported in the movement. However, their influence in debates and activism on pornography and prostitution has been striking, in particular at the Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

.
Their position has been characterised as an extreme politicisation of sex, in which an individual woman's experience is generalised, so that women as a class are seen always to be victims. This is a position that many feminists, civil libertarians and jurists find uncomfortable and alienating.

MacKinnon, who is a lawyer, has a style considered to be frequently angry and acerbic. "To be about to be raped is to be gender female in the process of going about life as usual"
She has described the perception of the inferiority of women as springing from misogyny, and is unconvinced that women ever express agency in their relationships with men. Sexual harassment, she says "doesn't mean that they all want to fuck us, they just want to hurt us, dominate us, and control us, and that is fucking us."
To some radical feminists, she is a hero, the only person to truly express the pain of being woman in an unequal society, and to portray that reality through the experiences of the battered and violated, which she claims to be the norm.
A useful evolution of this approach has been to transform the research and perspective on rape from an individual experience to a social problem.

Third wave


The Third-wave of feminism began in the early 1990s. The movement arose as responses to what young women thought of as perceived failures of the second-wave. It was also a response to the backlash against initiatives and movements created by the second-wave. Third-wave feminism seeks to challenge or avoid what it deems the second wave's "essentialist
Essentialism
In philosophy, essentialism is the view that, for any specific kind of entity, there is a set of characteristics or properties all of which any entity of that kind must possess. Therefore all things can be precisely defined or described...

" definitions of femininity
Femininity
Femininity is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women. Though socially constructed, femininity is made up of both socially defined and biologically created factors...

, which (according to them) over-emphasized the experiences of upper middle class white women. A post-structuralist
Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of French intellectuals who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s...

 interpretation of gender and sexuality is central to much of the third wave's ideology. Third wave feminists often focus on "micropolitics", and challenged the second wave's paradigm as to what is, or is not, good for females.

In 1991, Anita Hill
Anita Hill
Anita Faye Hill is an American attorney and academic—presently a professor of social policy, law and women's studies at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She became a national figure in 1991 when she alleged that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had...

 accused Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Succeeding Thurgood Marshall, Thomas is the second African American to serve on the Court....

, an African-American man nominated to the Supreme Court, of sexual harassment that had allegedly occurred a decade earlier while Hill worked as his assistant at the U.S. Department of Education. Thomas denied the accusations and after extensive debate, the Senate voted 52-48 in favor of Thomas. In response to this case, Rebecca Walker published an article in a 1992 issue of Ms. titled "Becoming the Third Wave" in which she stated, "I am not a post-feminism feminist. I am the third wave." Hill and Thomas’ case brought attention to the ongoing presence of sexual harassment in the workplace and reinstated a sense of concern and awareness in many people who assumed that sexual harassment and other second wave issues had been resolved.

The history of Third Wave feminism predates this and begins in the mid 1980s. Feminist leaders rooted in the second wave like Gloria Anzaldúa, bell hooks
Bell hooks
Gloria Jean Watkins , better known by her pen name bell hooks, is an American author, feminist, and social activist....

, Chela Sandoval, Cherríe Moraga
Cherríe Moraga
Cherríe L. Moraga is a Chicana writer, feminist activist, poet, essayist, and playwright.-Biography:Moraga was born in Whittier, California. She earned her Bachelor's degree from Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, California and her Master's from San Francisco State University in 1980...

, Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde was a Caribbean-American writer, poet and activist.-Life:...

, Luisa Accati
Luisa Accati
Luisa Accati Levi is an Italian historian, anthropologist and feminist public intellectual. She currently teaches ethnology and modern history at the University of Trieste....

, Maxine Hong Kingston
Maxine Hong Kingston
Maxine Hong Kingston is a Chinese American author and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated with a BA in English in 1962. Kingston has written three novels and several works of non-fiction about the experiences of Chinese immigrants living in the United...

, and many other feminists of color, called for a new subjectivity in feminist voice. They sought to negotiate prominent space within feminist thought for consideration of race related subjectivities. This focus on the intersection between race and gender remained prominent through the Hill-Thomas hearings, but began to shift with the Freedom Ride 1992. This drive to register voters in poor minority communities was surrounded with rhetoric that focused on rallying young feminists. For many, the rallying of the young is the emphasis that has stuck within third wave feminism.
Queer sexuality

One challenge within second wave feminism was the increasing visibility of lesbianism within and without feminism. Lesbians felt sidelined by both gay liberation and women's liberation, where they were referred to as the "Lavender Menace
Lavender Menace
The Lavender Menace was an informal group of lesbian radical feminists formed to protest the exclusion of lesbians and lesbian issues from the feminist movement at the Second Congress to Unite Women in New York City on May 1, 1970...

", provoking The Woman-Identified Woman
The Woman-Identified Woman
"The Woman-Identified Woman" was a ten-paragraph manifesto, written by the Radicalesbians in 1970. It was first distributed during the "Lavender Menace" protest at the Second Congress to Unite Women, on May 1, 1970 in New York City...

from the Radicalesbians in 1970. Jill Johnston
Jill Johnston
Jill Johnston was an American feminist author and cultural critic who wrote Lesbian Nation in 1973 and was a longtime writer for The Village Voice. She was also a leader of the lesbian separatist movement of the 1970s. Johnston also wrote under the pen name F. J...

's Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution followed in 1973. Many lesbians felt that they should be central to the movement, representing a fundamental threat to male supremacy. In its extreme form this was expressed as the only appropriate choice for a woman. One of the more colourful lesbian feminist writers of this period was Rita Mae Brown
Rita Mae Brown
Rita Mae Brown is an American writer. She is best known for her first novel Rubyfruit Jungle. Published in 1973, it dealt with lesbian themes in an explicit manner unusual for the time...

. Eventually the lesbian movement was welcomed into the mainstream women's movement. The threat to male assumptions they represented turned out to be real in that their presence in the woman's movement became a target of the male backlash.
Reproductive rights

One of the main fields of interest to these feminists was in gaining the right to contraception and birth control, which were almost universally restricted until the 1960s. With the development of the first birth control pill feminists hoped to make it as available as soon as possible. Many hoped that this would free women from the perceived burden of mothering children they did not want; they felt that control of reproduction was necessary for full economic independence from men. Access to abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 was also widely demanded, but this was much more difficult to secure because of the deep societal divisions that existed over the issue. To this day, abortion remains controversial in many parts of the world.

Many feminists also fought to change perceptions of female sexual behaviour. Since it was often considered more acceptable for men to have multiple sexual partners, many feminists encouraged women into "sexual liberation" and having sex for pleasure with multiple partners. (See: Sexual revolution
Sexual revolution
The sexual revolution was a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behavior related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships throughout the Western world from the 1960s into the 1980s...

)

These developments in sexual behavior have not gone without criticism by some feminists. They see the sexual revolution primarily as a tool used by men to gain easy access to sex without the obligations entailed by marriage and traditional social norms. They see the relaxation of social attitudes towards sex in general, and the increased availability of pornography
Pornography
Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

 without stigma, as leading towards greater sexual objectification of women by men.

Global feminism


Immediately after the war a new global dimension was added by the formation of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

. In 1946 the UN established a Commission on the Status of Women
United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council , one of the main UN organs within the United Nations.Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender...

.
Originally as the Section on the Status of Women, Human Rights Division, Department of Social Affairs, and now part of the Economic and Social Council
United Nations Economic and Social Council
The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations constitutes one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and it is responsible for the coordination of the economic, social and related work of 14 UN specialized agencies, its functional commissions and five regional commissions...

 (ECOSOC). In 1948 the UN issued its Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...


which protects "the equal rights of men and women", and addressed both the equality and equity issues. Since 1975 the UN has held a series of world conferences on women's issues, starting with the World Conference of the International Women's Year in Mexico City, heralding the United Nations Decade for Women (1975–1985). These have brought women together from all over the world and provided considerable opportunities for advancing women's rights, but also illustrated the deep divisions in attempting to apply principles universally,
in successive conferences in Copenhagen (1980) and Nairobi (1985). However by 1985 some convergence was appearing. These divisions amongst feminisms included; First World vs. Third World, the relationship between gender oppression and oppression based on class, race and nationality, defining core common elements of feminism vs. specific political elements, defining feminism, homosexuality, female circumcision
Female genital cutting
Female genital mutilation , also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is defined by the World Health Organization as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons."FGM...

, birth and population control, the gulf between researchers and the grass roots, and the extent to which political issues were women's issues. Emerging from Nairobi was a realisation that feminism is not monolithic but "constitutes the political expression of the concerns and interests of women from different regions, classes, nationalities, and ethnic backgrounds. There is and must be a diversity of feminisms, responsive to the different needs and concerns of women, and defined by them for themselves. This diversity builds on a common opposition to gender oppression and hierarchy which, however, is only the first step in articulating and acting upon a political agenda."
The fourth conference was held in Beijing in 1995.
At this conference a the Beijing Platform for Action
Fourth World Conference on Women
The United Nations convened the Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace on 4-15 September 1995 in Beijing, China. 189 governments and more than 5,000 representatives from 2,100 non-governmental organizations participated in the Conference...

 was signed. This included a commitment to achieve "gender equality
Gender equality
Gender equality is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.- Concept :...

 and the empowerment of women". The most important strategy to achieve this was considered to be "gender mainstreaming
Gender mainstreaming
Gender mainstreaming is the public policy concept of assessing the different implications for women and men of any planned policy action, including legislation and programmes, in all areas and levels...

" which incorporates both equity and equality, that is that both women and men should "experience equal conditions for realising their full human rights, and have the opportunity to contribute and benefit from national, political, economic, social and cultural development".

France


In the 18th century, the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 focussed people's attention everywhere on the cry for "égalité"
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
Liberté, égalité, fraternité, French for "Liberty, equality, fraternity ", is the national motto of France, and is a typical example of a tripartite motto. Although it finds its origins in the French Revolution, it was then only one motto among others and was not institutionalized until the Third...

, and hence by extension, but in a more limited way, inequity in the treatment of women. In 1791, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

elicited an immediate response from the writer Olympe de Gouges
Olympe de Gouges
Olympe de Gouges , born Marie Gouze, was a French playwright and political activist whose feminist and abolitionist writings reached a large audience....

 who amended it as the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen , also known as the Declaration of the Rights of Woman, was written in 1791 by French activist and playwright Olympe de Gouges...

, arguing that if women were accountable to the law they must also be given equal responsibility under the law. She also addressed marriage as a social contract between equals and attacked women's reliance on beauty and charm as a form of slavery.

During the 19th century, conservative postrevolutionary France was not a favourable climate for feminist ideas, as expressed in the counter-revolutionary writings on the role of women by Joseph de Maistre
Joseph de Maistre
Joseph-Marie, comte de Maistre was a French-speaking Savoyard philosopher, writer, lawyer, and diplomat. He defended hierarchical societies and a monarchical State in the period immediately following the French Revolution...

 and Viscount Louis de Bonald
Louis Gabriel Ambroise de Bonald
Louis Gabriel Ambroise, Vicomte de Bonald , was a French counter-revolutionary philosopher and politician.-Life:...

. Advancement would have to wait for the revolution of 24 February 1848, and the proclamation of the Second Republic which introduced male suffrage, and hopes that similar benefits would apply to women. Although the Utopian Charles Fourier
Charles Fourier
François Marie Charles Fourier was a French philosopher. An influential thinker, some of Fourier's social and moral views, held to be radical in his lifetime, have become main currents in modern society...

 is considered a feminist writer of this period, his influence was minimal at the time.

In France, with the fall of the conservative Louis-Philippe in 1848, feminist hopes were raised, as in 1790. Several newspapers and organizations appeared. Eugénie Niboyet
Eugénie Niboyet
Eugénie Mouchon-Niboyet was a French author and early feminist. She is best known for founding La Voix des Femmes , the first feminist daily newspaper in France.- Youth and Family Background :...

 (1800–1883) founded La Voix des Femmes (The Women's Voice), as the first feminist daily newspaper in France 'a socialist and political journal, the organ of the interests of all women'. Niboyet was a Protestant who had adopted Saint-Simonianism
Saint-Simonianism
Saint-Simonianism was a French political and social movement of the first half of the 19th century, inspired by the ideas of Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon ....

, and La Voix attracted other women from that movement, including the seamstress Jeanne Deroin
Jeanne Deroin
Jeanne Deroin was a French socialist feminist.Born in Paris, Deroin became a seamstress. In 1831, she joined the followers of utopian socialist Henri de Saint-Simon...

 and the primary schoolteacher Pauline Roland
Pauline Roland
Pauline Roland was a French feminist and socialist.Upon her mother's insistence, Roland received a good education and was introduced to the ideas of Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon, the founder of French socialism, by one of her teachers. She became an enthusiastic supporter of his...

. Unsuccessful attempts were also made to recruit George Sand
George Sand
Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, later Baroness Dudevant , best known by her pseudonym George Sand , was a French novelist and memoirist.-Life:...

. The enthusiasm was short lived; feminism which was allied with socialism was seen as a threat as it had been under the previous revolution, Deroin and Roland were both arrested, tried and imprisoned in 1849. With the emergence of a new, more conservative government in 1852, feminism would have to wait until the Third French Republic.

The Groupe Français d'Etudes Féministes were women intellectuals at the beginning of the 20th century who translated part of Bachofen's cannon into French,
and campaigned for the reform of family law. In 1905 they founded L'entente which published articles on women's history, and became the focus for the intellectual avant garde advocating higher education for women and entry into the professions.
Meanwhile socialist feminists, the Parti Socialiste Féminin, adopted a Marxist version of matriarchy. But like the Groupe Français, they saw the struggle as being for a new age of equality, not a return to some kind of prehistorical matriarchy.
French feminism of the late 20th century is mainly associated with the psychoanalytical Feminist theory
Feminist theory
Feminist theory is the extension of feminism into theoretical, or philosophical discourse, it aims to understand the nature of gender inequality...

, notably with the thinking of Luce Irigaray
Luce Irigaray
Luce Irigaray is a Belgian feminist, philosopher, linguist, psychoanalyst, sociologist and cultural theorist. She is best known for her works Speculum of the Other Woman and This Sex Which Is Not One .-Biography:...

, Julia Kristeva
Julia Kristeva
Julia Kristeva is a Bulgarian-French philosopher, literary critic, psychoanalyst, sociologist, feminist, and, most recently, novelist, who has lived in France since the mid-1960s. She is now a Professor at the University Paris Diderot...

 and Hélène Cixous
Hélène Cixous
Hélène Cixous is a professor, French feminist writer, poet, playwright, philosopher, literary critic and rhetorician. She holds honorary degrees from Queen's University and the University of Alberta in Canada; University College Dublin in Ireland; the University of York and University College...

.

Iran



The Iranian women's movement, involves Iranian women
Iranian women
Iranian women in this article refers to women of, or from, traditional Persian or modern Iranian culture.-Depictions and appearance:...

's social movement
Social movement
Social movements are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals or organizations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change....

 for women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

. The movement first emerged, some time after Iranian Constitutional Revolution
Iranian Constitutional Revolution
The Persian Constitutional Revolution or Iranian Constitutional Revolution took place between 1905 and 1907...

, in 1910, the year in which the first Women Journal was published by women. The movement lasted until 1933 in which the last women's association was dissolved by the Reza Shah
Reza Shah
Rezā Shāh, also known as Rezā Shāh Pahlavi and Rezā Shāh Kabir , , was the Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from December 15, 1925, until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on September 16, 1941.In 1925, Reza Shah overthrew Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar...

's government. It heightened again after the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 (1979). The most important feminist figures in this time are Bibi Khanoom Astarabadi, Touba Azmoudeh, Sediqeh Dowlatabadi
Sediqeh Dowlatabadi
Sediqeh Dowlatabadi was a Persian scholar and one of the pioneering figures in Persian women's movement.Sediqeh Dowlatabadi in 1919 published the first women gazette in Esfahan called Zaban-e Zanan.- External links :...

, Mohtaram Eskandari
Mohtaram Eskandari
Mohtaram Eskandari was an Iranian intellectual and one of the pioneering figures in Iranian women's movement. She was the first leader of feminist Nesvan e vatankhah association and publisher of its journal for women....

, Roshank No'doost, Afaq Parsa, Fakhr ozma Arghoun, Shahnaz Azad, Noor-ol-Hoda Mangeneh
Noor-ol-Hoda Mangeneh
Noor-ol-Hoda Mangeneh was a Persian intellectual and one of the pioneering figures in the Women's rights movement in Iran. She was born in Tehran....

 (1902-?), Zandokht Shirazi
Zandokht Shirazi
Zandokht Shirazi was a prominent Iranian feminist, poet and school teacher, who was an activist from an early age....

, Maryam Amid (Mariam Mozayen-ol Sadat).

After the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 in 1979, the status of women quickly deteriorated. With passage of time, many of the rights that women had gained under Shah, were systematically abolished, through legislation, elimination of women from work, and of course forced Hejab.

In 1992, Shahla Sherkat
Shahla Sherkat
Shahla Sherkat is a journalist, prominent Persian feminist author, and one of the pioneers of Women's rights movement in Iran....

 founded Zanan (Women) magazine, which focused on the concerns of Iranian women and tested the political waters with its edgy coverage of reform politics, domestic abuse, and sex. It is the most important Iranian women's journal published after the Iranian revolution, systematically criticizing the Islamic legal code. It argues that gender equality is Islamic and that religious literature has been misread and misappropriated by misogynists. Mehangiz Kar, Shahla Lahiji, and Shahla Sherkat, the editor of Zanan, lead the debate on women's rights and demanded reforms. On August 27, 2006, a new women's rights campaign was launched in Iran. The "One Million Signatures
One Million Signatures
One Million Signatures for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws , also known as Change for Equality, is a campaign by women in Iran to collect one million signatures in support of changing discriminatory laws against women in their country.Activists of the movement...

"
campaign aims to end legal discrimination against women in Iranian laws by collecting a million signatures. The supporters of this campaign include many Iranian women's rights activists and also international activists as well as many Nobel laureates. The most important after revolution feminist figures are Mehrangiz Kar
Mehrangiz Kar
Mehrangiz Kar is a prominent Iranian lawyer, human right activist and author of the book Crossing the Red Line, as well as many articles.Mehrangiz Kar is a celebrated activist of women's rights in Iran....

, Azam Taleghani
Azam Taleghani
Azam Taleghani is an Iranian politician and journalist, born in 1944, is the head of the Society of Islamic Revolution Women of Iran, editor of Payam Hajar Weekly, and a former member of the Iranian parliament....

, Shahla Sherkat
Shahla Sherkat
Shahla Sherkat is a journalist, prominent Persian feminist author, and one of the pioneers of Women's rights movement in Iran....

, Parvin Ardalan
Parvin Ardalan
Parvin Ardalan, born 1967 in Tehran, is a leading Iranian women's rights activist, writer and journalist. She was awarded the Olof Palme Prize in 2007 for her struggle for equal rights for men and women in Iran. In the 1990s Ardalan, along with e.g...

, Noushin Ahmadi khorasani, Shadi Sadr
Shadi Sadr
Shadi Sadr is an Iranian lawyer, journalist, and a notable Iranian woman's rights activist. She is married, and has a daughter...

.

Egypt



In 1899, Qasim Amin
Qasim Amin
Qasim Amin born on 1 December 1863 Alexandria died April 22, 1908 Cairo was an Egyptian jurist and one of the founders of the Egyptian national movement and Cairo University. Qasim Amin was considered by many as the Arab world’s “first feminist”...

, considered the "father" of Arab feminism, wrote The Liberation of Women, which argued for legal and social reforms for women. Hoda Shaarawi
Hoda Shaarawi
Hoda Shaarawi , also sometimes transliterated as Huda Shaarawi or Hoda Sha'rawi, was a pioneer Egyptian feminist leader and nationalist.- Biography :...

 founded the Egyptian Feminist Union
Egyptian Feminist Union
The Egyptian Feminist Union was the first nationwide feminist movement in Egypt. It was founded at a meeting on March 16, 1923 at the home of activist Hoda Shaarawi, who served as its first president until her death in 1947. The Union was affiliated to the International Woman Suffrage Alliance...

 in 1923, and became its president and a symbol of the Arab women's rights movement. Arab feminism was closely connected with Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

. In 1956, President Nasser initiated as part of his government "state feminism
State feminism
State feminism is feminism created or approved by the government of a state or nation. It usually specifies a particular program. The government may, at the same time, prohibit non-governmental organizations from advocating for any other feminist program....

", which outlawed discrimination based on gender and granted women's suffrage. Despite these reforms, "state feminism" blocked political activism by feminist leaders and brought an end to the first-wave feminist movement in Egypt. During Sadat
Sadat
- See also :* Anwar Sadat, former President of Egypt* Sadat * Saadat* Sadat. Term also used for the descendents of Holy Prophet Muhammad through Imam Ali and Bibi Fatima progeny....

's presidency, his wife, Jehan Sadat
Jehan Sadat
Jehan Sadat is the widow of Anwar Sadat, and was first lady of Egypt from 1970 until Sadat's assassination in 1981.- Early years :Jehan Sadat, also spelled Jihan, was born Jehan Safwat Raouf in Cairo, Egypt as the first girl and third child of an upper-middle-class family of an Egyptian...

, publicly advocated for further women's rights, though Egyptian policy and society began to move away from women's equality with the new Islamist movement and growing conservatism. However, writers such as Al Ghazali Harb, for example, argued that women's full equality is an important part of Islam. This position formed a new feminist movement, Islamic feminism
Islamic feminism
Islamic feminism is a form of feminism concerned with the role of women in Islam. It aims for the full equality of all Muslims, regardless of gender, in public and private life. Islamic feminists advocate women's rights, gender equality, and social justice grounded in an Islamic framework...

, which is still active today.

India


With the rise of feminism across the world, a new generation of Indian feminists has emerged. Women have developed themselves according to the situations and have become advanced in various fields. They have become independent in respect of their reproductive rights. Contemporary Indian feminists are fighting for and against: individual autonomy, rights, freedom, independence, tolerance, cooperation, nonviolence and diversity, domestic violence, gender, stereotypes, sexuality
Human female sexuality
Human female sexuality encompasses a broad range of behaviors and processes, including female sexual identity and sexual behavior, the physiological, psychological, social, cultural, political, and spiritual or religious aspects of sex...

, discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

, sexism, non-objectification, freedom from patriarchy
Patriarchy
Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination...

, the right to an abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

, reproductive rights
Reproductive rights
Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction and reproductive health. The World Health Organization defines reproductive rights as follows:...

, control of the female body, the right to a divorce, equal pay, maternity leave, breast feeding, prostitution, and education. Medha Patkar
Medha Patkar
Medha Patkar is an Indian social activist. She is known for her role in Narmada Bachao Andolan. She has also filed a public interest petition in the Bombay high court against Lavasa along with other members of National Alliance of People's Movements , including Anna Hazare.-Personal life:Medha...

, Madhu Kishwar
Madhu Kishwar
Madhu Purnima Kishwar is an Indian academic. She is the Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies , based in Delhi, and the Director of the Indic Studies Project based at CSDS and Convener of a series of International Conferences on “Religions and Cultures in the Indic...

, and Brinda Karat
Brinda Karat
Brinda Karat is a communist politician from India, elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Communist Party of India CPI member, on 11 April 2005 for West Bengal.In 2005, she became the first woman member of the CPI Politburo...

 are feminist social workers and politicians who advocate women's rights in post-independent India. Writers such as Amrita Pritam
Amrita Pritam
Amrita Pritam was a Punjabi writer and poet, considered the first prominent woman Punjabi poet, novelist, and essayist, and the leading 20th-century poet of the Punjabi language, who is equally loved on both the sides of the India-Pakistan border, with a career spanning over six decades, she...

, Sarojini Sahoo
Sarojini Sahoo
Sarojini Sahoo is an Orissa Sahitya Academy Award winner Indian feminist writer, a columnist in The New Indian Express and associate editor of Chennai based English magazine Indian AGE, who has been enlisted among 25 Exceptional Women of India by ‘Kindle’ English magazine of Kolkata.Born in the...

 and Kusum Ansal advocate feminist ideas in Indian languages. Rajeshwari Sunder Rajan, Leela Kasturi, Sharmila Rege, and Vidyut Bhagat are Indian feminist essayists and critics writing in English.

China


Feminism in China begun in the late Qing period
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

, as Chinese society re-evaluated traditional and Confucian values such as foot binding
Foot binding
Foot binding was the custom of binding the feet of young girls painfully tight to prevent further growth. The practice probably originated among court dancers in the early Song dynasty, but spread to upper class families and eventually became common among all classes. The tiny narrow feet were...

 and gender segregation, and began to reject traditional gender ideas as hindering progress towards modernization
Modernization
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...

. During the 1989 Hundred Days' Reform
Hundred Days' Reform
The Hundred Days' Reform was a failed 104-day national cultural, political and educational reform movement from 11 June to 21 September 1898 in late Qing Dynasty China. It was undertaken by the young Guangxu Emperor and his reform-minded supporters...

, reformers called for women's education and equality, and the end of foot binding. Female reformers formed the first Chinese women's society—the Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge among Chinese Women (Nüxuehuao). After the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, women's liberation became a goal of the May Fourth Movement
May Fourth Movement
The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement growing out of student demonstrations in Beijing on May 4, 1919, protesting the Chinese government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, especially the Shandong Problem...

 and the New Culture Movement
New Culture Movement
The New Culture Movement of the mid 1910s and 1920s sprang from the disillusionment with traditional Chinese culture following the failure of the Chinese Republic, founded in 1912 to address China’s problems. Scholars like Chen Duxiu, Cai Yuanpei, Li Dazhao, Lu Xun, Zhou Zuoren, and Hu Shi, had...

. Later, the Chinese Communist Revolution adopted women's liberation as one of its aims and promoted women's equality, especially regarding women's participation in the workforce. After the revolution and progress in integrating women into the workforce, the Chinese Communist Party claimed to have successfully achieved women's liberation, and women's inequality was no longer seen as a problem.

Second and third-wave feminism in China was characterized by a re-examination of women's roles during the reform movements of the early 1900s and the way in which feminism was adopted by those various movements in order to achieve their goals. Later and current feminists have questioned whether gender equality has actually been fully achieved, and discuss current gender problems, such as the large gender disparity
Missing women of Asia
The phenomenon of the missing women of Asia is a shortfall in the number of women in Asia relative to the number that would be expected if there was no sex-selective abortion or female infanticide or if the newborn of both sexes received similar levels of health care and nutrition.The phenomenon...

 in the population.

Japan


Japanese feminism as an organized political movement dates back to the early years of the 20th century, when Kato Shidzue
Kato Shidzue
was a 20th Century Japanese feminist and one of the first women elected to the Diet of Japan. Katō was best known as a pioneer in the birth control movement and a strong supporter of labour reform.- Bio :...

 pushed for birth-control
Contraception
Contraception is the prevention of the fusion of gametes during or after sexual activity. The term contraception is a contraction of contra, which means against, and the word conception, meaning fertilization...

 availability as part of a broad spectrum of progressive
Progressivism
Progressivism is an umbrella term for a political ideology advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.The...

 reforms. Shidzue went on to serve in the National Diet following the defeat of Japan in World War II and the promulgation of the Peace Constitution
Constitution of Japan
The is the fundamental law of Japan. It was enacted on 3 May, 1947 as a new constitution for postwar Japan.-Outline:The constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government and guarantees certain fundamental rights...

 by US forces. Other figures such as Hayashi Fumiko and Ariyoshi Sawako illustrate the broad socialist ideologies of Japanese feminism, that seeks to accomplish broad goals rather than celebrate the individual achievements of powerful women.

Norway



Feminism in Norway has its political origins in the movement for women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

. Women's issues were first articulated in the public sphere by Camilla Collett
Camilla Collett
Jacobine Camilla Collett was a Norwegian writer, often referred to as the first Norwegian feminist. She was also the younger sister of Norwegian poet Henrik Wergeland, and is recognized as being one of the first contributors to realism in Norwegian literature...

 (1813–1895), widely considered the first Norwegian feminist. Originating from a literary family, she wrote a novel and several articles on the difficulties facing women of her time, and in particular forced marriages. Amalie Skram
Amalie Skram
Amalie Skram was a Norwegian author and feminist who gave voice to a woman's point of view with her naturalist writing. She moved to Denmark in 1894 where she settled in Copenhagen with her husband, the Danish writer Erik Skram...

 (1846–1905) also gave voice to a woman's point of view with her naturalist
Naturalism (literature)
Naturalism was a literary movement taking place from the 1880s to 1940s that used detailed realism to suggest that social conditions, heredity, and environment had inescapable force in shaping human character...

 writing.

The Norwegian Association for Women's Rights was founded in 1884 by Gina Krog
Gina Krog
Gina Krog was a Norwegian feminist pioneer, teacher, politician and editor. She played a central role in the Norwegian women's movement in the 1880s.-Early and personal life:...

 and Hagbart Berner. The organization raised issues related to women's rights to education and economic self-determination, and above all, universal suffrage. Women's right to vote was passed by law, June 11, 1913 by the Norwegian Parliament. Norway was the second country in Europe after Finland to have full suffrage for women.

Poland


The development of feminism in Poland and Polish territories has traditionally been divided into seven successive "waves".

The 1920s saw the emergence of radical feminism
Radical feminism
Radical feminism is a current theoretical perspective within feminism that focuses on the theory of patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into a complex of relationships based on an assumption that "male supremacy" oppresses women...

 in Poland. Its representatives, Irena Krzywicka and Maria Morozowicz-Szczepkowska, advocated women's independence from men. Krzywicka and Tadeusz Żeleński both promoted planned parenthood
Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood Federation of America , commonly shortened to Planned Parenthood, is the U.S. affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and one of its larger members. PPFA is a non-profit organization providing reproductive health and maternal and child health services. The...

, sexual education, rights to divorce and abortion, and equality of sexes. Krzywicka published a series of articles in Wiadomości Literackie in which she protested against interference by the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 in the intimate lives of Poles.

After the Second World War, the Polish Communist state (established in 1948) forcefully promoted women's emancipation at home and at work. However, during Communist rule (until 1989), feminism in general, and second-wave feminism in particular, were practically absent. Although feminist texts were produced in the 1950s and afterwards, they were usually controlled and generated by the Communist state. After the fall of Communism, the Polish government, dominated by ‘pro-Catholic’ political parties, introduced a de facto legal ban on abortions. Since then some feminists have adopted argumentative strategies borrowed from the American ‘Pro-Choice
Pro-choice
Support for the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-choice movement, a sociopolitical movement supporting the ethical view that a woman should have the legal right to elective abortion, meaning the right to terminate her pregnancy....

’ movement of the 1980s.

The history of feminist theory


Nancy Cott draws a distinction between modern feminism and its antecedents, particularly the struggle for suffrage. In the United States she places the turning point in the decades before and after women obtained the vote in 1920 (1910–1930). She argues that the prior woman movement was primarily about woman as a universal
Universalism
Universalism in its primary meaning refers to religious, theological, and philosophical concepts with universal application or applicability...

entity, whereas over this 20 year period it transformed itself into one primarily concerned with social differentiation, attentive to individuality and diversity. New issues dealt more with woman's condition as a social construct, gender identity, and relationships within and between genders. Politically this represented a shift from an ideological alignment comfortable with the right, to one more radically associated with the left.

In the immediate postwar period, Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir
Simone-Ernestine-Lucie-Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir, often shortened to Simone de Beauvoir , was a French existentialist philosopher, public intellectual, and social theorist. She wrote novels, essays, biographies, an autobiography in several volumes, and monographs on philosophy, politics, and...

 stood in opposition to an image of "the woman in the home". De Beauvoir provided an existentialist dimension to feminism with the publication of Le Deuxième Sexe (The Second Sex
The Second Sex
The Second Sex is one of the best-known works of the French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir. It is a work on the treatment of women throughout history and often regarded as a major work of feminist literature and the starting point of second-wave feminism. Beauvoir researched and wrote the book...

) in 1949. While more philosopher and novelist than activist, she did sign one of the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes manifestos. The resurgence of feminist activism in the late 1960s was accompanied by an emerging literature of what might be considered female associated issues, such as concerns for the earth and spirituality, and environmental activism. This in turn created an atmosphere conducive to reigniting the study of and debate on matricentricity, as a rejection of determinism
Biological determinism
Biological determination is the interpretation of humans and human life from a strictly biological point of view, and it is closely related to genetic determinism...

, such as Adrienne Rich
Adrienne Rich
Adrienne Cecile Rich is an American poet, essayist and feminist. She has been called "one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century."-Early life:...

 and Marilyn French
while for socialist feminists like Evelyn Reed
Evelyn Reed
Evelyn Reed was an American communist and women’s rights activist.In January 1940, she traveled to Mexico to see the exiled Russian Revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia Sedova. There, at the house of Trotsky in Coyoacán, Reed met the American Trotskyist leader James P. Cannon, leader of...

, patriarchy held the properties of capitalism.

Elaine Showalter
Elaine Showalter
Elaine Showalter is an American literary critic, feminist, and writer on cultural and social issues. She is one of the founders of feminist literary criticism in United States academia, developing the concept and practice of gynocritics.She is well known and respected in both academic and popular...

 describes the development of Feminist theory as having a number of phases. The first she calls "feminist critique" - where the feminist reader examines the ideologies behind literary phenomena. The second Showalter calls "Gynocritics"
Gynocriticism
Gynocriticism is the historical study of women writers as a distinct literary tradition. Elaine Showalter coined this term in her essay "Toward a Feminist Poetics." It refers to a criticism that constructs "a female framework for the analysis of women's literature, to develop new models based on...

 - where the "woman is producer of textual meaning" including "the psychodynamics
Psychodynamics
Psychodynamics is the theory and systematic study of the psychological forces that underlie human behavior, especially the dynamic relations between conscious motivation and unconscious motivation...

 of female creativity; linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 and the problem of a female language; the trajectory of the individual or collective female literary career [and] literary history". The last phase she calls "gender theory" - where the "ideological inscription and the literary effects of the sex/gender system
Sex/gender distinction
The distinction between sex and gender is a concept that distinguishes sex, a natural or biological feature, from gender, the cultural or learned significance of sex.-Feminism:...

" are explored." This model has been criticized by Toril Moi
Toril Moi
Toril Moi is James B. Duke Professor of Literature and Romance Studies at Duke University. Previously she held positions as a lecturer in French at the University of Oxford and as Director of the Center for Feminist Research at the University of Bergen, Norway...

 who sees it as an essentialist
Essentialism
In philosophy, essentialism is the view that, for any specific kind of entity, there is a set of characteristics or properties all of which any entity of that kind must possess. Therefore all things can be precisely defined or described...

 and deterministic
Determinism
Determinism is the general philosophical thesis that states that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen. There are many versions of this thesis. Each of them rests upon various alleged connections, and interdependencies of things and...

 model for female subjectivity. She also criticized it for not taking account of the situation for women outside the west.

Sociology of the family debate


Ann Taylor Allen describes the striking gulf between the collective male pessimism and fin-du-siècle angst of male intellectuals such as Tönnies, Weber and Simmel, at the beginning of the twentieth century,
compared to the optimism of their female counterparts, whose contributions have largely been ignored by social historians of the era.
Feminists were well aware of Weber's "iron cage", it is just that they saw it as a starting point, not a finishing point.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the sociology of the family was one of the more prominent concerns of feminist theorists, who have been incorrectly typified as accepting the historical fact of primal matriarchy, whereas their interest was more in an empowering symbolism in interpreting the social issues they confronted. They used Bachofen and the rejection of an inevitable patriarchy to address family law reform and sexual morality. Feminists were sceptical about the objectivity of those who wrote about objective culture, as expressed in their perceived androcentricity. Jeanne Oddo-Deflou, leader of Groupe Français d'Etudes Féministes, went so far as to state that male rejection of Bachofen by male intellectuals was good enough reasons for females to embrace him. She rejected the emotion-rationalism dichotomy association with matriarchy and patriarchy, and with Stanton, asserted that rationality was as much an attribute of any mother-age civilisation as of patriarchy, and that it was mainly patriarchal behaviour that was logically irrational.

In English academic circles, the challenge to patriarchy started to permeate a variety of disciplines. Jane Ellen Harrison
Jane Ellen Harrison
Jane Ellen Harrison was a British classical scholar, linguist and feminist. Harrison is one of the founders, with Karl Kerenyi and Walter Burkert, of modern studies in Greek mythology. She applied 19th century archaeological discoveries to the interpretation of Greek religion in ways that have...

, a classicist, working from Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

's Bachofen inspired interpretation view of Greek culture
argued that it was a shift in Pantheons that influenced the loss of matrilineal Greek culture with its more "primitive" pantheistic deities to a patriarchate both on Olympus and on Earth.
Many other feminist theorists incorporated matriarchal approaches. These include the American Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform...

 and British Frances Swiney
Frances Swiney
Rosa Frances Emily Swiney was a lady of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy, also a member of the British Raj in India, and married to a British Major-General, living in Cheltenham, a spa town renowned for its conservative views even in the 19th century. She was an early feminist.She was born in Pune,...

. Gilman developed the idea of matriarchate as imaginative, pointing out how the trivial male role of fertilisation was responsible for "arresting the development of half the world"
and depicts how rationality and emotionality can co-exist harmoniously in her utopian novel Herland
Herland (novel)
Herland is a utopian novel from 1915, written by feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The book describes an isolated society composed entirely of women who reproduce via parthenogenesis . The result is an ideal social order, free of war, conflict and domination...

.

Swiney utilised Bachofen's work and his successors, such as Mona Caird
Mona Caird
Mona Caird was a Scottish novelist and essayist whose feminist views sparked controversy in the late 19th century...

, in addressing the social concerns of suffragettes, including sexually transmitted disease
Sexually transmitted disease
Sexually transmitted disease , also known as a sexually transmitted infection or venereal disease , is an illness that has a significant probability of transmission between humans by means of human sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex...

, infant mortality and prostitution
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

, and founded a group, the League of Isis that produced a number of empowering works. These women's work in turn would be popularised by the reform minded periodicals of the time (such as The Suffragette, The Vote, The Malthusian, Westminster Review
Westminster Review
The Westminster Review was a quarterly British publication. Established in 1823 as the official organ of the Philosophical Radicals, it was published from 1824 to 1914. James Mill was one of the driving forces behind the liberal journal until 1828....

).

More controversial, was the way these views were used to uphold or challenge the standards of sexual morality,
which were very asymmetrical. Generally British writers upheld the standards but expected them to apply to men equally, while in the Netherlands and Germany they were challenged.

While the majority of feminists supported enforcement of paternal responsibility, the minority used the more radical matriliny argument that support of mothers and children was a state responsibility, and that women should not be humiliated by pursuing fathers. In Holland this was the Vrije Vrouwen (Free Women), through their journal Evolutie, edited by Wilhelmine Drucker in the 1890s.
In Germany Ruth Bré (Elisabeth Bouness) founded the Bund für Mutterschutz (League for the Protection of Mothers) in 1905, and took this further advocating a matriarchal society of single mothers, while the league attracted many prominent reformers, female and male, including Helene Stöcker
Helene Stöcker
Helene Stöcker was a German feminist, pacifist and sexual reformer. Stöcker was raised in a Calvinist household and attended a school for girls which emphasized rationality and morality...

, Lily Braun
Lily Braun
Lily Braun , born Amalie von Kretschmann, was a German feminist writer.- Life account :She was the daughter of the Prussian general Hans von Kretschmann...

 and Henriette Fürth, they did not support her radicalism, believing that the genders should not be separated in a more evolved social model.

However all groups supported equality of rights. The inspiration for these views came largely from Ellen Key
Ellen Key
Ellen Karolina Sofia Key was a Swedish difference feminist writer on many subjects in the fields of family life, ethics and education and was an important figure in the Modern Breakthrough movement...

 in Sweden who believed that matrilineality was closest to nature.
The Bund für Mutterschutz advanced the "New Ethic" of women controlling their own sexual and reproductive needs,
as a creative and life providing force. For instance Fürth believed that motherhood transcended marriage.
Disproportionate to their numerical size, these sexual radicals set a new agenda for the discussion of morality in the west.
Understandably, many saw these new ideas as alarming, and threatening.

The moderate majority is represented by groups such as the Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine
Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine
The Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine was a collective of bourgeois feminist organizations during the German Empire, founded in 1884...

 (League of German Women's Organizations) led by Marianne Weber
Marianne Weber
Marianne Weber, , sociologist, women's rights activist and wife of Max Weber.-Girlhood, 1870-1893:...

 (who was married to Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

), and who warned against belief in "lost paradise".
Weber repudiated Bachofen in her ‘’Wife and Mother in Legal History’’ along socialist interpretations, distinguishing between matrilineality and the status of women. Interestingly she argued for marriage to protect the status of children, without doubting the need for this in the first place.
However she also rejected the inevitability of the status quo, portrayed further evolution to equality, reform of family law, and although describing monogamy as an ideal, went so far to suggest it was not for everyone, and that non-monogamous relationships were not immoral, views she shared with her husband.

In France, Madeleine Pelletier
Madeleine Pelletier
Madeleine Pelletier was a French physician, psychiatrist, first-wave feminist, and socialist activist.Pelletier originally trained as an anthropologist studying the relationship between skull size and intelligence after Paul Broca with Charles Letourneau and Léonce Manouvrier...

 was equally sceptical about historical patriarchy, but more so some of her colleagues flowery symbolism which she suspected was actually confining. In a foreshadowing of Betty Friedan she pithily summed up the hiatus between male worship of the goddess and emancipation "Future societies may build temples to motherhood, but only to lock women into them."
She also held, what for those times were radical views on the need for women to control their reproductive rights.

In striking contrast to Freudian theory is his contemporary feminist Catherine Gasquoine Hartley, whose The Truth about Woman
appeared in the same year as Totem and Taboo
Totem and Taboo
Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics is a book by Sigmund Freud published in German in 1913 under the title Totem und Tabu: Einige Übereinstimmungen im Seelenleben der Wilden und der Neurotiker...

, based on the same material. To Hartley (also known as Mrs Walter Gallichan), Atkinson's readings were biased, and that it could easily have been the actions of women opposing patriarchy that brought about matriarchy, if only short lived. But to her patriarchy was equally unstable, and she saw the latter day women's movement as one restoring social justice. "It is the day of experiments...We are questioning where before we have accepted, and are seeking out new ways in which mankind will go...will go because it must".

However, despite all of these disagreements, there were common elements, an acceptance of some form of nonpatrilineal kinship in the past, the evolution of family kinship structures, and a belief in the evanescent nature of the status quo. Common to both male and female socialist writers were challenges to traditional views of family, this includes Gilman, Braun, Fürth and Alice Melvin.

Some of the most radical ideas in American writing are found in Elsie Clews Parsons
Elsie Clews Parsons
Elsie Worthington Clews Parsons was an American anthropologist, sociologist, folklorist, and feminist who studied Native American tribes—such as the Tewa and Hopi—in Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. She helped found The New School...

’ "The Family"
(used as a textbook), which included premarital sexual relationships, trial marriage and sexual liberation from better provision of contraception. These views attracted some negative media publicity, however discussions about kinship were now widely held.
Countess Franziska zu Reventlow was a bohemiam who became a member of the mainly male Georgekreis (George circle
Stefan George
Stefan Anton George was a German poet, editor, and translator.-Biography:George was born in Bingen in Germany in 1868. He spent time in Paris, where he was among the writers and artists who attended the Tuesday soireés held by the poet Stéphane Mallarmé. He began to publish poetry in the 1890s,...

), but parodied them, and predicted the sinister outcome of their male Dionysian view of liberated women.

Thus, most of what seemed radical ideas of the late 20th century had already been described in the early years of the century.

Psychoanalysis and feminism


Psychoanalytic theory emerged during the debate on kinship, and kinship and gender relations form the core of the theoretical writings, and has been portrayed as one of the elements containing feminism. It origins can be found in the Romantic, and in particular Bachofen's representation.
The matriarchy-patriarchy conflict is central to Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

's work, and to the schism that followed between him and Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

.

Freud's theories can be seen to be centred around the triangular Oedipus complex
Oedipus complex
In psychoanalytic theory, the term Oedipus complex denotes the emotions and ideas that the mind keeps in the unconscious, via dynamic repression, that concentrate upon a boy’s desire to sexually possess his mother, and kill his father...

, the patricidal relation between child and father, and incestuous desire for the mother, as a model for the development of each individual's personality. The correspondence between Freud and Jung reveals their conflicting concepts of universal patriarchy on the former's part, and the yearning for liberation and return to matriarchy of the latter.

Freud disliked feminist sexual radicalism, but echoed some of it "Mother-right should not be confused with gynaecocracy". The centrality of Oedipal desire is best expressed in Totem und Tabu
Totem and Taboo
Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics is a book by Sigmund Freud published in German in 1913 under the title Totem und Tabu: Einige Übereinstimmungen im Seelenleben der Wilden und der Neurotiker...

(1913).
He based his anthropological speculation on the work of J.J. Atkinson,
who in turn was influenced by Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

. Freud proceeded to layer Greek myth onto the Darwinian ethology
Ethology
Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior, and a sub-topic of zoology....

 of the herd and the polygamous dominant male, challenged by its male offspring, a position challenged by anthropologists, but which became influential in 20th century culture. In Freudian analysis, Bachofen's world is now seen as the story of individual psychological evolution, a psychic recasting of ontogeny
Ontogeny
Ontogeny is the origin and the development of an organism – for example: from the fertilized egg to mature form. It covers in essence, the study of an organism's lifespan...

 mirroring phylogeny
Recapitulation theory
The theory of recapitulation, also called the biogenetic law or embryological parallelism—and often expressed as "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny"—is a disproven hypothesis that in developing from embryo to adult, animals go through stages resembling or representing successive stages...

.

See also

  • Bluestocking
    Bluestocking
    A bluestocking is an educated, intellectual woman. Until the late 18th century, the term had referred to learned people of both sexes. However it subsequently was applied primarily to intellectual women, and the French equivalent bas bleu had a similar connotation. The term later developed...

  • Feme covert
  • Feminism in 1950s Britain
    Feminism in 1950s Britain
    1950s Britain has traditionally been regarded as a bleak period for feminism. In the aftermath of World War II, a new emphasis was placed on the nuclear family as a foundation of the new British welfare state...

  • New Woman
    New Woman
    The New Woman was a feminist ideal that emerged in the late 19th century. The New Woman pushed the limits set by male-dominated society, especially as modeled in the plays of Norwegian Henrik Ibsen . "The New Woman sprang fully armed from Ibsen's brain," according to a joke by Max Beerbohm...

  • Radical Women
    Radical Women
    Radical Women is a socialist feminist, grassroots activist organization that provides a radical voice within the feminist movement, a feminist voice within the Left, and trains women to be leaders in the movements for social and economic justice...

  • Redstockings
    Redstockings
    Redstockings, also known as Redstockings of the Women's Liberation Movement, is a radical feminist group that was founded in January of 1969...

  • Timeline of women's rights (other than voting)
  • Women's Music
    Women's music
    Women's music is the music by women, for women, and about women . The genre emerged as a musical expression of the second-wave feminist movement as well as the labor, civil rights, and peace movements...



Feminism and costume:
  • Brassiere
    Brassiere
    A brassiere is an undergarment that covers, supports, and elevates the breasts. Since the late 19th century, it has replaced the corset as the most widely accepted method for supporting breasts....

  • History of brassieres
    History of brassieres
    The history of brassieres is inextricably intertwined with the social history of the status of women, including the evolution of fashion and changing views of the body.Straps on the bra can be adjusted to fit the shoulder of the woman wearing it...

  • Victorian dress reform
    Victorian dress reform
    During the middle and late Victorian period, various reformers proposed, designed, and wore clothing supposedly more rational and comfortable than the fashions of the time. This was known as the dress reform or rational dress movement...


Further reading


For a chronological list of historically important individual books see: List of notable feminist literature

General
  • Cott, Nancy F. The Bonds of Womanhood. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977.
  • Cott, Nancy F. The Grounding of Modern Feminism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.
  • Duby, George and Perrot, Michelle (eds.) A history of women in the west. 5 vols. Harvard 1992-4
    • I. From Ancient Goddesses to Christian Saints
    • II. Silences of the Middle Ages
    • III. Renaissance and the Enlightenment Paradoxes
    • IV. Emerging Feminism from Revolution to World War
    • V. Toward a Cultural Identity in the Twentieth Century
  • Ezell, Margaret J M. Writing Women's Literary History. Johns Hopkins University 2006 216 pp. ISBN 0-8018-5508-X
  • Foot, Paul. The vote: How it was won and how it was lost. Viking London 2005
  • Freedman, Estelle No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women, Ballantine Books, 2002, ISBN B0001FZGQC
  • Fulford, Roger. Votes for women. Faber and Faber, London 1957
  • Jacob, Margaret C. The Enlightenment: A Brief History With Documents, Bedford/St. Martin's, 2001, ISBN 0-312-17997-9
  • Kramarae, Cheris and Paula Treichler. A Feminist Dictionary. University of Illinois 1997 ISBN 0-252-06643-X
  • Lerner, Gerda. The Creation of Feminist Consciousness From the Middle Ages to Eighteen-seventy. Oxford University Press, 1993
  • McQuiston, Liz. Suffragettes and she-devils: Women's liberation and beyond. Phaidon London 1997
  • Mill, John Stuart. The subjection of women. Okin, Susan M (ed.) Yale, Newhaven CT 1985
  • Prince, Althea and Susan Silva-Wayne (eds.). Feminisms and Womanisms: A Women's Studies Reader. Women's Press 2004 ISBN 0-88961-411-3
  • Radical Women. The Radical Women Manifesto: Socialist Feminist Theory, Program and Organizational Structure. Red Letter Press 2001. ISBN 0-932323-11-1
  • Rossi, Alice S. The feminist papers: from Adams to Beauvoir. Northeastern University, Boston. 1973 ISBN 1-55553-028-1
  • Rowbotham, Sheilah. A century of women. Viking, London 1997
  • Schneir, Miriam. Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings. Vintage 1994 ISBN 0-679-75381-8
  • Scott, Joan Wallach Feminism and History (Oxford Readings in Feminism), Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-19-875169-9
  • Smith, Bonnie G. Global Feminisms: A Survey of Issues and Controversies (Rewriting Histories), Routledge, 2000, ISBN 0-415-18490-8
  • Spender, Dale (ed.) Feminist theorists: Three centuries of key women thinkers, Pantheon 1983, ISBN 0-394-53438-7


International

Europe
  • Anderson, Bonnie S. and Judith P. Zinsser A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present, Oxford University Press, 1999 (revised edition), ISBN 0-19-512839-7
  • Offen, Karen M. European Feminisms, 1700–1950: A Political History. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 2000


Great Britain
  • Caine, Barbrara. Victorian Feminists. Oxford 1992
  • Chandrasekhar, S. "A Dirty, Filfthy Book": The Writing of Charles Knowlton and Annie Besant on Reproductive Physiology and British Control and an Account of the Bradlaugh-Besant Trial. University of California Berkeley 1981
  • Craik, Elizabeth M.(ed.) 'Women and Marriage in Victorian England', in Marriage and Property. Aberdeen University 1984
  • Forster, Margaret. Significant Sisters: The grassroots of active feminism 1839-1939. Penguin 1986
  • Fraser, Antonia. The weaker vessel. Vintage, N.Y. 1985 ISBN 0-394-73251-0
  • Manvell, Roger. The trial of Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh. Elek, London 1976
  • Pankhurst, Emmeline. My own story. Virago London 1979
  • Pankhurst, Sylvia. The suffragette movement. Virago London 1977
  • Phillips, Melanie. The Ascent of Woman - A History of the Suffragette Movement and the ideas behind it, Time Warner Book Group London, 2003, ISBN 0-349-11660-1
  • Pugh, Martin. Women and the women's movement in Britain, 1914 -1999, Basingstoke [etc.] : St. Martin's Press, 2000
  • Walters, Margaret. Feminism: A very short introduction. Oxford 2005 (ISBN 0-19-280510-X)


Italy
  • Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, liberazione della donna. feminism in Italy, Wesleyan University Press 1986


India
  • Feminism in India, ed. by Maitrayee Chaudhuri, London [etc.] : Zed Books, 2005

Iran
  • Edward G. Browne, The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909. Mage Publishers (July 1995). ISBN 0-934211-45-0
  • Farideh Farhi, Religious Intellectuals, the "Woman Question," and the Struggle for the Creation of a Democratic Public Sphere in Iran, International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, Vol. 15, No.2, Winter 2001.
  • Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Religious Modernists and the "Woman Question": Challenges and Complicities, Twenty Years of Islamic Revolution: Political and Social Transition in Iran since 1979, Syracuse University Press, 2002, pp 74–95.
  • Shirin Ebadi, Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope, Random House (May 2, 2006), ISBN 1-4000-6470-8


Japan
  • Vera MacKie, Feminism in Modern Japan: Citizenship, Embodiment and Sexuality, Paperback Edition, Cambridge University Press 2003, ISBN 0-521-52719-8


Latin America
  • Nancy Sternbach, Feminism in Latin America: from Bogotá to San Bernardo in: SIGNS, Winter 1992, pp. 393–434


USA
  • Brownmiller, Susan. In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution, Dial Books 1999
  • Cott, Nancy and Elizabeth Pleck, eds., A Heritage of Her Own; Toward a New Social History of American Women New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979
  • Echols, Alice. Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975, University of Minnesota Press 1990
  • Flexner, Eleanor. Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States, Paperback Edition, Belknap Press 1996
  • Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth.
    Elizabeth Fox-Genovese
    Elizabeth Ann Fox-Genovese was a feminist American historian particularly known for her writing about women in the Antebellum South...

    , "Feminism Is Not the Story of My Life": How Today's Feminist Elite Has Lost Touch With the Real Concerns of Women, Doubleday 1996
  • Keetley, Dawn (ed.) Public Women, Public Words: A Documentary History of American Feminism.3 vls.:
    • Vol. 1: Beginnings to 1900, Madison, Wisconsin : Madison House, 1997
    • Vol. 2: 1900 to 1960, Lanham, Md. [etc.] : Rowman & Littlefield, 2002
    • Vol. 3: 1960 to the present, Lanham, Md. [etc.] : Rowman & Littlefield, 2002
  • Messer-Davidow, Ellen: Disciplining feminism: from social activism to academic discourse, Duke University Press, 2002
  • O'Neill, William L. Everyone was brave: A history of feminism in America. Chicago 1971
  • Roth, Benita. Separate Roads to Feminism: Black, Chicana, and White Feminist Movements in America's Second Wave, Cambridge University Press, 2004
  • Stansell, Christine. The Feminist Promise: 1792 to the Present (2010) ISBN 978-0-679-64314-2528 pages


Sexuality
  • Foucault, Michael. The History of Sexuality. Random House, New York 1978
  • Soble, Alan (ed.) The philosophy of sex: Contemporary readings. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD 2002 ISBN 0-7425-1346-7


Journal articles

External links