Feminism, Books on Gender and Women, Socialist Feminism, Glass Ceiling Hypothesis
Feminism is a diverse political and intellectual movement
chiefly developed by women, but having increasing influence with both sexes, that seeks to
criticize, re-evaluate and transform the place of women in social organization and in culture.
A major area of concern to feminism is the recovery and
articulation of women's' experience in history and in contemporary societies and a
wholesale reconstruction of the fundamental intellectual assumptions of social practices.
Websters Dictionary defines feminism as The
theory, cult or practice of those who advocate such legal and social changes as will
establish political, economic and social equality of the sexes.
FEMINIST WOMEN'S MOVEMENT
A social movement whose goal has been, and continues to be, the elimination of the
patriarchal nature of society. Two large waves of feminist organization can be identified,
the first following the French Revolution and extending the principles of liberty and
freedom to women. This period is associated with Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797). The
second can be identified with French writer Simone De Beauvoir's The Second Sex in 1952
and, in North America, with the publication of Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine
Mystique, in 1963.
While there is not a single feminist theory, central to all such theories is an attempt to
understand the social, economic and political position of women in society, with a view to
liberation. Feminist theory has challenged the claims to objectivity of previous social
science and by examining society from women's position has called much social science into
question as being male-centred and a component of the hegemonic rule of patriarchy.
A form of feminism which rejects the belief that the differences between men and women are
socially constructed or are established through socialization. Rather, it believes men and
women are different in essence and that these differences arise from differing human
A perspective influenced by the sociology of
knowledge that claims less powerful members of society are able to achieve a more
complete view of social reality than are others. Less powerful groups, like women and
minorities, may be less incorporated into the reward system of society and more clear
sighted and critical about its inequalities and deficiencies. The sociology of knowledge
assumption behind this is the idea that knowledge is socially constructed and shaped by
the social position occupied by the knower. It follows then that the point of view of the
researcher is also shaped by their position in society and standpoint feminism
acknowledges this and claims for it a positive role in contributing to a rounded
understanding of the character of the society.
Towards a Female Liberation Movement put it this way: There is something
horribly repugnant in the picture of women performing the same menial chores all day,
having almost interchangeable conversations with their children, engaging in standard
television arguments with their husbands, and then in the late hours of the night, each
agonizing over what is considered to be her personal lot, her personal relationship, her
personal problem. - Toward a Female Liberation Movement by Beverly Jones and Judith
Brown, June 1968. redstockings.org
Gainesville Women's Liberation co-founder Carol Giardina
said in 1989, If you know that we are a sex that fights for our freedom, then you already
understand the Pro -Woman Line. Do you fight for it on the street, in your bedroom, in
your classroom? When you take a deep breath and say the thing in class or to your
boyfriend that you just can't help yourself from saying. You try to shut it up but out it
comes. This isn't really just women, it's all oppressed people who can't stop themselves
from fighting back. We call it the Pro-Woman Line because we discovered it about women and
developed it in the Women's Liberation Movement. - Carol Giardina, "Women's Studies
or Women's Liberation Studies," 1989 Women's History Month speech at the University
of Florida. redstockings.org.
Redstockings - redstockings.org
Redstockings was a name taken in 1969 by one of the founding women's liberation groups of
the 1960's to represent the union of two traditions: the "bluestocking" label
disparagingly pinned on feminists of earlier centuries, and "red" for
Redstockings women would go on to champion and spread knowledge of vital women's
liberation theory, slogans and actions that have become household words such as
consciousness-raising, the personal is political, the pro-woman line, sisterhood is
powerful, the politics of housework, the Miss America Protest, and "speakouts"
that would break the taboos of silence around subjects like abortion.