Feminism and Modern Feminist Theory

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Feminism is a body of social theory and political movement primarily based on and motivated by the experiences of women. While generally providing a critique of social relations, many proponents of feminism also focus on analyzing gender inequality and the promotion of women's rights, interests, and issues. Feminist theory aims to understand the nature of gender inequality and focuses on gender politics, power relations and sexuality. Feminist political activism campaigns on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, discrimination and sexual violence. Themes explored in feminism include discrimination, stereotyping, objectification, sexual objectification, oppression and patriarchy. While generally providing a critique of social relations, many proponents of feminism also focus on analyzing gender inequality and the promotion of women's rights, interests, and issues. Modern feminist theory has been extensively criticized as being predominantly, but not exclusively, associated with western middle class academia. Feminist activism, however, is a grass roots movement which crosses class and race boundaries Feminism is not a single ideology. Over-time several sub-types of Feminist ideology have developed. Early feminists and primary feminist movements are often called the first-wave feminists, and feminists after about 1960 the second-wave feminists. More recently, a new generation of feminists have started third-wave feminism. Whether this will be a lasting evolution remains to be seen as the second-wave has by no means ended nor has it ceded to the third-wave feminists. Moreover, some commentators have asserted that the silent majority of modern feminists have more in common ideologically with the first-wave feminists than the second-wave. For example, many of the ideas arising from Radical feminism and Gender feminism (prominent second-wave movements) have yet to gain traction within the broader community and outside of Gender Studies departments within the academy. For example, Radical feminism argues for the existence of an oppressive patriarchy that is the root cause of the most serious social problems. Violence and oppression of women, because they are women, is more fundamental than oppressions related to class, ethnicity, religion, etc. Radical feminisms have been very vocal and ac... ... middle of paper ... ...debate has occurred within socialist feminist circles about the exact relationship between sexual, economic class, and racial oppression. Some, usually termed Marxist-feminists, claim that economic class causes oppression. Although they recognize women's oppression as part of a complicated attachment of male dominance, they view it always through its capitalist foundations. Socialist feminists name society's system of male privilege, patriarchy. All socialist feminists recognize that capitalism—the exchange of one's labour for wages to create someone else's profit—is particularly problematic for women. However, the particular relationship between patriarchy as a semi-independent system of patriarchal privilege and capitalism remains controversial. Socialist feminists give priority to the economic side of women's oppression. They believe that the economic class aspects of women's lives define their life choices and that these differences between women must be addressed before women can understand one another's needs. This understanding led to abortion-rights work, which demanded access for poor women, not just for middle-class women who could afford to pay for it.

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