The Meaning of Feminism Analytical Essay

The Meaning of Feminism
A discussion of the various meanings of feminism and the purpose of a philosophy.
# 148758 | 1,657 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2011 | US
Published on Nov 05, 2011 in Women Studies (Feminism) , Sociology (General) , Gender and Sexuality (General)

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This paper analysis the meaning of feminism and its search for a common ideal. In the essay, the writer looks at the various definitions and viewpoints that make up the movement. Pulling from well-known cultural critics, they use the information help synthesize the true meaning of feminism. In addition to looking at the ides, the writer explores stereotypes that hinder or help the movement. The paper concludes that a free and open society should promote the equality of all sexes.

From the Paper:

"The dictionary definition of feminism, has two different meanings; one is "the theory of
the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes" and the second is "organized activity on the behalf of women's rights and interests" (Webster 418). The promotion of women's rights and the equality of the sexes are admirable goals, however, the word "feminism" tends to have a negative connotation is most people's minds. Other adjectives that are associated with the term feminism include; radical, far-fetched and extremists are a few. While these terms are often applied to feminism, like most movements, these extremist views are in the vast minority. The vision many have are of loud, obnoxious women picketing with signs or burning their bras. These so called, "militant feminists," are the ones who receive the most public and media attention due to their aggressive tactics and high visibility. While this can alienate many people, it is important to realize the goal of feminists. According to Gertrude Himmelfarb, most women wish only to create a "sentimental priesthood" that will achieve collective power and retribution as oppressed "victims" of a white-male supremacy, (Himmelfarb 20). Most academic or equity feminists promote the basic principles of feminism, and are not radical or over-zealous in their belief system. Most will highlight women's achievements, encourage individual rights for all women, and, obtain equal protection under the law. While many feminists cannot agree on how to reach this goal, most use realistic and positive means to achieve this. Many writers share a variation of opinions. However, feminists such as Gertrude Himmelfarb and Camille Paglia, help define a single feminist philosophy: The idea founded on feminist ideology that is dedicated to the achievement social, economic, and political reform."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Himmelfarb, Gertrude. "A Sentimental Priesthood: The Aggressive Tactics of `gender feminists'" TLS 11 November 1994, 20.
  • Kelly, Gary F. Sexuality Today: The Human Perspective. Guilford, Connecticutt: The Dushkin Publishing Group, 1992.
  • Paglia, Camille. Sex, Art, and American Culture. New York: Vintage Books, 1992.
  • Sommers, Christine Hoff. "Figuring Out Feminism." The Presence of Others: Voices that Call for Response. Eds. Andrea Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997. 328-335.
  • Thomas, David. "The Mind of Man." The Presence of Others: Voices that Call for Response. Eds. Andrea Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997. 337-342.

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