The definition of feminism is very elusive. Maybe because of its ever-changing historical meaning, it’s not for certain whether there is any coherence to the term feminism or if there is a definition that will live up to the movement’s variety of adherents and ideas. In the book “No Turning Back,” author Estelle Freedman gives an accurate four-part definition of the very active movement: “Feminism is a belief that women and men are inherently part of equal worth. Because most societies privilege men as a group, social movements are necessary to achieve equality between women and men, with the understanding that gender always intersects with other social hierarchies” (Freedman 7).
Many historians believe that the roots for feminism began in ancient Greece with Sappho or during the medieval times. Most certainly though, the foremothers of the modern women’s movement were Jane Austen, Olympes de Gouge, and Mary Wollstonecraft; these women all advocated for the full potential of the female gender. (Rampton)
Mary Wollstonecraft published one of the seminal works for modern day feminism in 1792. “Vindication of the Rights of Women” argued that all women should get an equal education and allow them to become independent, whole people. She stated that the current education system restricted women’s potential to help make society and well with family and their home better. Wollstonecraft’s book was one of the first to clearly outline the need for change and helped early feminists immensely (Conger). Even through all of the events in the 18th century, the feminist movement didn’t form into an identifiable and self-conscious movement until the late 19th century (Rampton).
Currently, there are three “waves” of feminis...
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...mination and self-love and confidence have become equally as important around the world. For women, this means the choice to marry or divorce, the want of a sexual partner or just simple pleasures. “Throughout the world women are saying no to unwanted sex, violence, and degrading cultural image; throughout the world women are creating alternative visions of beauty, power, and justice” (Freedman 345, 346). This revolution
The History of Feminism
Conger, Cristen. How Feminism Works. 17 February 2009. 17 December 2013
Freedman, Estelle B. No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women. New York: The Ballatine Publishing Group, 2002.
Rampton, Martha. The Three Waves of Feminism. n.d. n.d. 2008. 18 December 2013
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