Portal:Feminism

The Feminism Portal

International Women's Day, Bangladesh (2005)

Feminism is a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that aim to define and establish the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes. Feminism incorporates the position that societies prioritize the male point of view, and that women are treated unjustly within those societies. Efforts to change that include fighting against gender stereotypes and establishing educational, professional, and interpersonal opportunities and outcomes for women that are equal to those for men.

Feminist movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for women's rights, including the right to: vote, hold public office, work, earn equal pay, own property, receive education, enter contracts, have equal rights within marriage, and maternity leave. Feminists have also worked to ensure access to legal abortions and social integration, and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. Changes in female dress standards and acceptable physical activities for females have often been part of feminist movements.

Some scholars consider feminist campaigns to be a main force behind major historical societal changes for women's rights, particularly in the West, where they are near-universally credited with achieving women's suffrage, gender-neutral language, reproductive rights for women (including access to contraceptives and abortion), and the right to enter into contracts and own property. Although feminist advocacy is, and has been, mainly focused on women's rights, some feminists argue for the inclusion of men's liberation within its aims, because they believe that men are also harmed by traditional gender roles. Feminist theory, which emerged from feminist movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women's social roles and lived experience; it has developed theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues concerning gender.

Numerous feminist movements and ideologies have developed over the years and represent different viewpoints and aims. Some forms of feminism have been criticized for taking into account only white, middle class, college-educated, heterosexual, or cisgender perspectives. These criticisms have led to the creation of ethnically specific or multicultural forms of feminism, such as black feminism and intersectional feminism.

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1921 Certificate of Membership from Gamma Chapter at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Alpha Kappa Alpha (ΆΚΆ) is the first Greek-lettered sorority established and incorporated by African-American college women. The sorority was founded on January 15, 1908, at Howard University in Washington, D.C. by a group of nine students, led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle. Forming a sorority broke barriers for African-American women in areas where little power or authority existed due to a lack of opportunities for minorities and women in the early twentieth century. Alpha Kappa Alpha was incorporated on January 29, 1913. Consisting of college-educated women of African, Caucasian, Asian, and Hispanic descent, the sorority serves through a membership of more than 200,000 women in over 975 chapters in the United States and several other countries. Women may join through undergraduate chapters at a college or university, or through a graduate chapter after acquiring a college degree. Since being founded over a century ago, Alpha Kappa Alpha has helped to improve social and economic conditions through community service programs. Members have improved education through independent initiatives, contributed to community-building by creating programs and associations – such as the Mississippi Health Clinic – and influenced federal legislation by Congressional lobbying through the National Non-Partisan Lobby on Civil and Democratic Rights. The sorority works with communities through service initiatives and progressive programs relating to education, family, health, and business.

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"Charlotte Corday" by Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry (1860)
Credit: Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry

Charlotte Corday was a poor French aristocrat who supported the Girondists during the French Revolution. She single-handedly assassinated Jean-Paul Marat, a Jacobin journalist, with a knife in 1793. Although she was beheaded four days afterwards and the Reign of Terror continued for another year, she was later seen as a heroine who gave her life to rid her country of a monster. The assassination is depicted in this 1860 painting.

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Katha Pollitt
[Feminism is] about women having intrinsic value as persons rather than contingent value as a means to an end for others: fetuses, children, the "family", men.

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Princess Louise in 1901
Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll was a member of the British Royal Family, the fourth daughter and sixth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Louise spent her early life under the roof of her parents, and when her father died in 1861, she took on the role as a companion to her mother. In 1871, Louise married John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne, and became the first daughter of a sovereign to marry a British subject since 1515. Although the marriage was initially happy, the couple drifted apart as a result of their childlessness and the Queen's constraints on their activities. In 1878, Louise's husband was appointed Governor General of Canada, and Louise spent five years as his consort. When Louise returned to Britain, she remained close to the Queen and undertook a number of public duties on her behalf. Following the Queen's death in 1901, she remained close to younger generations of the British royal family, and died in 1939 at the age of 91. Louise was a talented sculptress and an artist, and several of her sculptures remain today.

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Shushanik Kurghinian

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