Sociology Index

Liberal Feminism

Radical Feminism, Feminism, Women's Movement, Socialist Feminism, Women's Liberation Theory

Liberal feminism primarily focuses on women’s ability to show and also maintain their equality through their own choices and actions. Liberal feminists argue against society's false belief that women are, by nature, less intellectually and physically capable than men.

Such false belief leads to discrimination against women in every sphere. Liberal feminists believe that female subordination is rooted in a set of customary and legal constraints.

The National Women's Political Caucus, National Organization for Women and the Women's Equity Action League are Liberal feminist groups created to further women's rights.

These groups have worked for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment or "Constitutional Equity Amendment."

Issues important to liberal feminists include education, reproductive rights and abortion access, fair compensation for work, sexual harassment, voting, sexual and domestic violence.

Liberal feminist writers

Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Rebecca Walker.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) - A Vindication of the Rights of Woman commented on society's view of the woman and encouraged women to use their voices in making decisions separate from decisions previously made for her. What Wollstonecraft, a first wave Liberal feminist writer wanted for women was personhood.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (November 12, 1815-October 26, 1902) An American social activist and Liberal feminist writer, she was instrumental in orchestrating the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York.

John Stuart Mill (May 20, 1806-May 8, 1873) believed that men are not intellectually above women.

Critiques of liberal feminism:

Liberal feminism, as a study, allows too much of its focus to fall on a metamorphosis of women into men

Lberal feminism over emphasises the rational above the emotional, while a human is intrinsically both.

Liberal feminism focuses on the individual discrediting the importance of the community.

Liberal feminism reflects only the values of middle-class white women and has ignored women of different races, cultures and classes.