We all know in simple terms what feminism is. Simply put feminism is the fight and advocacy of women's rights so that women have the same rights as men in society. While you may gather more or less what feminism is just from that simple definition, there is much more that goes into what feminism actually is.

Nowadays many will argue that the feminism movement is stronger than ever. Not only in the United States is the feminism movement growing and stronger but we have seen these effects of the feminism movement worldwide.

So how do we go about studying feminism? What do we need to know and is it important to society?

The feminist movement is an extremely important movement in society and has been for around two centuries. To study feminism you have to look at the history of feminism, as well as who the most famous and influential feminists in history were, as well as how feminism has benefited society and its effects.

For many women around the world, feminism has given them the opportunity to be who they want to be, study what they want to study, and more.

If you think feminism is something that happened in the past and women are perfectly equal you must realize that the feminist movement isn't a singular historical event, it is of course an ever-changing and ever-progressive movement working to improve women's rights.

So let's look at the most important ways feminism has and is changing how women can affect and influence our lives, countries, and societies every day.

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How Do We Define Feminism?

As mentioned earlier feminism is the advocacy of women's rights. However, this is just your ordinary textbook definition. A lot of things can be interpreted from just those few words.

So what exactly is feminism?

Feminism we can say is really about equality. Feminism is about making sure women have the same rights that men do in society. Of course, men and women are not the same. There are differences between men and women, both mentally and physically.

However, feminism tries to ensure that everyone is equal.

The feminist movement is in response to the very restrictive and traditional nature of society regarding women's rights before the 19th century. Since the 19th century in the United States, the feminist movement has worked to ensure the social, economic, and political rights of women around the world.

Later in the 20th century, the feminist movement became even stronger.

Throughout history, women were restricted to a very limited domestic life, and men had a much more public life. This was true all over the world and still can happen at times today.

Throughout history women were denied the right to own property, to study, or to take part in public life the same way a man could.

Women could not vote, buy a house, run a business, and in general do anything in public such as dating around the same way a man could.

Since the movement started for woman's suffrage, which was the movement to earn women the right to vote the modern feminist movement has earned a lot of rights for women.

However, feminism has been an ideology that has been around much longer than the type of movement we have seen in the past years.

Thanks to feminism we have seen a lot of change, although there is still much to be done.

Different Types of Feminism

Feminist sign on the ground
Feminism is just a general term, but there are plenty of subgroups. Source: Unsplash

While we have now defined and explained briefly what feminism is, you might not realize there are different types of feminism.

There are different ideologies that make up the feminist movement, which has different categories and are also based upon other ideological movements, such as communism and even religion.

So what are some of the different types of feminism? How do they play a role in gaining equality for women everywhere?

Liberal Feminism

Liberal feminism is an idea of feminism that works to include integrate women more into the structure of mainstream society. This idea is more so that women don't need to change society, only simply need to be better and equally integrated into our current society the same way men are and to have the same rights as they do.

Radical Feminism

Radical feminism was seen by some of the more conservative crowds as too extreme and possibly even anti-man instead of women trying to argue for equal rights.

In reality, radical feminism is actually the origin of many of the ideas that are part of the feminist movement.

During the late '60s, which was also known as the hippy movement, radical feminism was much more accepted, today you can find more anti-radical feminist movements, but there is still a huge "rad fem" movement.

Marxist or Socialist Feminism

While liberal feminism doesn't see much of a problem with today's society, Marxist/Socialist feminism does. This type of feminism isn't only about gaining equality, it is about changing an entirely capitalist society that oppresses women.

Cultural Feminism

During the 1970s the radical feminism movement lost its mainstream appeal and Cultural Feminism took its place. Many cultural feminists today use the Radical Feminist name still.

The difference between the two movements is while radical feminism looked or looks to transform society, cultural feminism looks to build a women's culture, which sometimes can draw a lot of bad feelings from the conservative crowd by breaking common gender roles among other ideas.

Eco-Feminism

This type of feminism is pretty unique, it really isn't made from an ideology based upon political or theoretical ideas, however more about how we treat the environment and planet.

The idea of Eco-feminism, to put it quickly, is the idea that a patriarchal society will exploit the Earth of its natural resources. Eco-Feminism looks to make sure that women have a say in how we treat our natural resources.

These are some of the most important and commonly joined feminist movements. Of course, there are more movements based on different ideologies and very important races and cultures that you can learn about.

Famous Historical Feminists

In every movement everyone has a role to play, however in any movement, feminist or otherwise some important voices always shine through.

Thanks to feminist movements some activists, writers, and others have become a voice or poster man or women to the different feminist movements. In the United States and around the world many activists have emerged.

  • Christine de Pisan: Was a French philosopher during medieval France that pushed to change restrictions for women by arguing that women also deserve an education.
  • Mary Wollstonecraft: In the 1700s wrote Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which became a very famous literary work and led to many more feminist ideas in the future.
  • Susan B. Anthony: An American women's rights activist who was one of the most important figures of the women's suffrage movement in the United States
  • Gloria Steinem: Led the women's liberation movement during the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Angela Davis: An American women's rights activist who fought for black women's rights as well as an important figure in the Black Power movement.
  • Malala Yousafzai: Since her teenage years has fought for women to have equal education in her native Pakistan.
  • Gretta Thunberg: The Swedish teenager famous for her stances on climate change is also a feminist, and argues how we need to have equality even in her native Sweden, where men's and women's society is much better than in many other countries.

Benefits of Feminism and the Effects on Society

a woman places a ballot in a box
Women have gained the right to vote in the past centuries thanks to feminism. Source: Unsplash

As stated before, feminism benefits everyone as the goal of feminism is to create an equal society between men and women.

Of course, there are benefits that have already been created and goals that still want to be met by different feminist groups.

What benefits have been created by feminism already, at least in the United States?

  • The right for women to vote
  • The right for women to be educated
  • The right for women to own property

These are just a few of the benefits that women have achieved and of course, this has changed society.

Women now hold office, earn degrees at a rate higher than men do in the United States, and own businesses, however, many feminists will argue a lot more equality still needs to be won for true equality.

If you are studying history or specifically feminism, a great idea is to work with a private tutor who specializes in teaching all there is to know about feminism. Using Superprof you can find a tutor that teaches the history of feminism as well as different ideologies.

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Chris