the origins of feminism

  • largely fragmentary evidence of a growing female consciousness and opposition to a male-dominated wolrd
  • the Amazons- semi-mythical tribe of fierce women warriors; feminist ideas must have flourished in ancient greece
  • Aristophenes' play about Lysistrata- metaphor for the potential power of women from the same era; woman who organised the other women of Greece to withhold their sexual favours until the men brought war to an end
  • French revolution and the enlightenment- inspiration for early ideas that women might enjoy equal rights with men
  • a vindication of the rights of women (1792), Mary Wollstonecraft- first well known and rigorous work on women's rights
  • doesn't go as far as to advocate equality for women
  • urges that they be offered a good education and they assert their right to be considered useful members of society
  • being a good wife and mother was a worthy aspiration
  • at the same time women should become independent from their husbands and should develop their minds to the fullest extent
  • Wollstonecraft was not a feminist in the modern sense of the word
  • was a pioneer of the movement
  • much of the attention on the issue of the inferior position of women was to move to the USA in the 19th century
  • these early signs are merely fragments
  • feminism as a serious political and social movement did not emerge until the middle and 2nd hald of the 19th century
  • there were some concerns about the legal and social position of women
  • John Stuart Mill campaigned for the passage of the Married Women's Property Act 1882- allowed women to keep their own property after they married
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman was writing extensively about the lack of opportunities for independent women; argued that the inferior position of women in the home was a model of their subordinate position in wider life
  • it was the issue of the franchise that attracted most attention
  • 1890- the National American Woman Suffrage Association founded; followed by the National Woman's Party
  • 1920- the 19th Amendment to the US constitution passed; guaranteed equal voting rights for women
  • 1903- WSPU founded and run by the Pankhurst family; led the suffragette movement that was ultimately to secure votes for married women over the age of 30 (1918)
  • 1928- secured equal voting rights with men
  • the suffragettes and their american counterparts formed the earliest example of a well organised women's movement
  • suffrage movement came to be known as first wave feminism
  • the assumption of the suffrage movement was that once women were granted voting rights and could stand for election to representative bodies, 2 developments would followed
  • many women would quickly seek election to office
  • parliament and government would pass legislation to improve conditions for women and establish equality in all kinds of economic and social fields
  • neither occured
  • little impact at all
  • 1960s- movement known today began to emerge
  • second wave feminism
  • part of a broader cultural movement spreading at that time
  • sought to offer a general critique of post industrial society
  • identified the alienation of…


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