History Of Feminism

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History Of Feminism

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The Surprising Road to Women's Suffrage

It's a sad fact of American history that our greatest civil rights victories came after our bloodiest wars. The end of enslavement came about only after the Civil War. As 16 million American men went off to fight, women essentially took over the maintenance of the U. Some 6 million women were recruited to work in military factories, producing munitions and other military goods. They were symbolized by the War Department's "Rosie the Riveter" poster. When the war was over, it became clear that American women could work just as hard and effectively as American men, and the second wave of American feminism was born. Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique , published in , took on "the problem that has no name," the cultural gender roles, workforce regulations, government discrimination and everyday sexism that left women subjugated at home, at church, in the workforce, in educational institutions and even in the eyes of their government.

Friedan co-founded NOW in , the first and still the largest major women's liberation organization. But there were early problems with NOW, most notably Friedan's opposition to lesbian inclusion, which she referred to in a speech as " the lavender menace. Friedan repented of her past heterosexism and embraced lesbian rights as a non-negotiable feminist goal in It has been central to NOW's mission ever since.

That was Sen. Margaret Chase Smith Republican-Maine in But Chisholm was the first to make a serious, hard run. Her candidacy provided an opportunity for the women's liberation movement to organize around the first major-party radical feminist candidate for the nation's highest office. Chisholm's campaign slogan, "Unbought and Unbossed," was more than a motto.

She alienated many with her radical vision of a more just society, but then she also befriended infamous segregationist George Wallace while he was in the hospital after being wounded by a would-be assassin in his own run for president against her in the Democratic primaries. She was completely committed to her core values and she didn't care who she ticked off in the process. The right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy has always been controversial, mostly because of religious concerns regarding the belief that embryos and fetuses are human beings. A state-by-state abortion legalization movement achieved some success during the late s and the early s, but in most of the country, and most notably the so-called Bible Belt, abortion remained illegal.

This all changed with Roe v. Wade in , angering social conservatives. Soon the national press began to perceive the entire feminist movement as being concerned primarily with abortion, just as the emerging Religious Right appeared to be. Abortion rights have remained the elephant in the room in any mainstream discussion of the feminist movement since Originally written by Alice Paul in as a logical successor to the 19th Amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment ERA would have prohibited all gender-based discrimination at the federal level.

But Congress alternately ignored and opposed it until the amendment finally passed by overwhelming margins in It was quickly ratified by 35 states. Only 38 were needed. But by the late s, the Religious Right had successfully mounted opposition to the amendment based largely on opposition to abortion and women in the military. Five states rescinded ratification, and the amendment officially died in The s were a depressing period for the American feminist movement. The Equal Rights Amendment was dead.

The conservative and hyper-masculine rhetoric of the Reagan years dominated national discourse. The Supreme Court began to drift incrementally to the right on important women's rights issues, and an aging generation of predominantly white, upper-class activists largely failed to address issues impacting women of color, low-income women, and women living outside the United States. Feminist author Rebecca Walker—young, Southern, African American, Jewish and bisexual—coined the term "third-wave feminism" in to describe a new generation of young feminists working to create a more inclusive and comprehensive movement.

The march on D. Casey v. Planned Parenthood , the Supreme Court case that most observers believed would lead to a majority striking down Roe , was scheduled for oral arguments on April Justice Anthony Kennedy later defected from the expected majority and saved Roe. When a second March for Women's Lives was organized, it was led by a broader coalition that included LGBT rights groups and groups specifically focusing on the needs of immigrant women, indigenous women and women of color.

The turnout of 1. On January 21, , more than , people rallied in Washington, D. Additionally, this movement brought sexuality to the forefront, suggesting that female empowerment could be achieved via sexuality. Within this wave are varying opinion. Most notably, some individuals believe that men and women are inherently different. Others believe that men and women have no differences and that the idea of gender is socially created. Over the years, various ideologies of feminism have evolved. These include social constructionist feminism, materialist feminism, and black and postcolonial feminism.

Followers of social constructionist feminism believe that gender is a social construct. Post-structural feminism and postmodern feminism fall under this ideology. Supporters of the materialist ideology critique the patriarchal approach to capitalism. Within this ideology is Marxist feminism, Socialist feminism, and Anarchist-feminism. Socialist feminists believe that women must work in order to abolish economic and cultural oppression.

Anarchist-feminists believe that social class is created by patriarchy. Followers of this ideology believe that feminism has historically focused on the struggles and oppression of white women, particularly from the middle class. Black and postcolonial ideology was promoted by women in developing and postcolonial countries. Under this ideology lies womanism, third-world feminism, and indigenous feminism. The argument that women are equal to men, and as such should have equal and equitable opportunities, has resulted in significant changes across a broad spectrum of social issues. With these rights, more women began to enter the workforce, which brought about many changes in societal norms regarding their accepted household responsibilities.

However, many sociologists argue that women now work the same number of hours as men and still continue to do the majority of housework. Language has also been affected by the feminist movement. In several countries, gender-neutral language has been adopted. This language has attempted to counter the existence of gender-specific language which often denotes a higher level of importance for men. Use of gender-specific language further perpetuates unequal social statuses. Examples of gender-specific professions and their gender-neutral counterpart include policeman police officer , fireman fire fighter , chairman chairperson , and stewardess or steward flight attendant.

Feminism has even influenced traditional religious practices in what is referred to as feminist theology. This theology has promoted the increased participation of women as clergy members and religious authorities. Additionally, it has contributed to analysis of the representation of women in religious text. Criticism of feminism is sometimes referred to as anti-feminism. Historically, criticism of feminism has been grounded in standing in opposition of the demands of the feminist movement.

Most of these stances are rooted in the idea that feminism is contrary to traditional and religious beliefs.

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