This article was written by Raj Krishna and Snehil, both students of CNLU, Patna.


For ages women were sidelined from the mainstream society. The society in the Early Age as well as in the Middle Age was a typical patriarchal society, i.e. a society completely dominated by man. All the important position both in family and in society were held by man. Women had no say in the activities of family as well as that of the society. Thus it can be inferred that the position of woman at that time was nothing less than that of a puppet that were operated as per the whims and fancies of the man. She had no voice of her own, she lacked Identity. As a result Feminist Movement became popular in all parts of the World.

Feminism in general can be defined as a range of political movements, ideologies and social movements that share a common goal which is to define, establish and achieve political, economic, personal and societal equality of both the sexes.[1]

Feminist Movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for the rights of the women which include educational and professional opportunities, right to vote, right to hold public office, right to work and equal pay, to have equal rights within marriage, maternity leave etc.. Further the Feminists have also worked upon the rights of woman which affects her personal rights like to ensure access to legal abortions and social integration and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence etc…[2]



Feminist Movement is the main reason behind major historical societal change in terms of Women’s rights especially in the West. However, if we look at the origin of Feminist Movement we will find that it was Charles Fourier, a Utopian Socialist and French Philosopher who coined the word feminism way back in 1837.[3]

The history of the Modern Feminist Movement can be divided into 3 waves or phases. The first wave comprised of women’s suffrage movement which aimed at promoting women’s right to vote. This movement happened in late 19th and early 20th centuries.[4]The Second Wave of the Feminist Movement campaigned for legal and social equality for women. The second wave was associated with the ideas and actions of the women’s liberation movement. It emerged in the late 1960’s and continued till the 1980’s.[5] The Third Wave of the Feminist Movement is continuation of, and a reaction to, the perceived failures of the Second-Wave Feminism. This wave of Feminism emerged in the 1990’s. [6]


Over the years numerous feminist ideologies have developed. Some of the popular schools of Feminism are as follows:

Liberal Feminism:

Liberal feminism is an individualistic form of feminist theory which focuses entirely upon women’s ability to maintain their equality through their own actions and choices. Its emphasis is upon making the legal and political rights of women equal to men[7]

Liberal feminists conceive the idea of freedom as personal autonomy and political autonomy. Liberal School of Feminism holds the view that the exercise of personal autonomy depends upon certain enabling conditions that are insufficiently present in women’s lives, or that social arrangements often fail to respect women’s personal autonomy and other elements of women’s flourishing.[8]

Radical Feminism:

Radical feminism is a school of Feminist philosophy which emphasized upon the patriarchal roots of inequality between men and women. The Radical feminism philosophy views patriarchy as dividing rights, privileges and power primarily by sex. As a result women are oppressed by man.  The thinkers of this school of philosophy also believe that technology should be used to eliminate all kinds of pain particularly from the fundamental inequality of the bearing and rising of the children.[9]

Socialist Feminism:

Socialist feminism is a school of Feminism which argues that capitalism strengthens and supports the sexist status. It is because men are the ones who currently possess and own power and money. Further those men are more willing to share their power and money with other men rather than women. This means that women have fewer opportunities and resources left with them. Therefore, Socialist Feminists aimed to eliminate the existing capitalist system and replace it with the socialist model. Socialist feminists propose to eradicate all sorts of political, economic and social foundations of contemporary society which is biased towards woman.[10]



Among the socio-political movements that managed to change the world we live in, feminism can be fairly called as one of the most revolutionary and influential socio-political movement. Feminist theories have inspired critical work across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences that seek to disrupt the gender imbalance of power that exists both within and beyond the academy.[11]

For over a long period of time women faced discrimination in the hands of man. Women were not considered as equal citizens of our society. They were denied of social, political, educational, cultural rights. Thus, they were not in a good condition. But, post-Feminist Movement the conditions of women changed.

It is because of the Feminist Movement that today women have the right to vote in modern day democracies; it is the courtesy of the Feminist Movement that today women have the right to hold the public offices. Due to the feminist movements we witnessed a series of social, cultural and educational reforms in our society which improved the living standards of woman.

However, despite these movements and reforms, a large chunk of women are still living a substandard life. The living conditions of women in Africa, Middle East Asia are not as good as their Western counterparts. Even in India, Feminism has not fulfilled its object to the fullest. Thus, it’s the need of the hour that the governments both at National and International level promote feminism. It is because when women and men would live same standard of life with equal opportunities and rights, then only the mankind would progress.

Further we also need to change the perception of people in general towards Feminism. The subconscious of our culture automatically associates “feminist” with “man-hating.” As a result today both women and men refuse to identify themselves as Feminist as such because of the stigma attached to the word. This understanding of the concept of Feminism is entirely false. Apart from that the mainstream society has the tendency to be blinded by fear (In this case the fear is of change). We are unable to digest the fact that while feminism is freeing women from patriarchal oppression, men are being freed as well. Feminism has also freed men from the patriarchal oppression, just like women, men were also harmed by traditional gender roles. [12] Thus, it can be said that Feminism has advantaged both the sexes. Therefore, it’s high time for us that we not only promote Feminism in society, but also explain the concept Feminism to the society so that no one lives in ignorance anymore.

[1] Chris Beasley, What is Feminism, at 3-11 (1st edition, 1999).

[2] Alice Echols, Daring to be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-197 ,(1st edition, 1989).

[3] Leslie F. Goldstein, “Early Feminist Themes in French Utopian Socialism : The St- Simonians and Fourier”, Journal of the History of Ideas 43 (1): 91-108 (1982).

[4]  Charlotte Krolokke & Anne Scott, “ Three Waves of Feminism: From Suffragettes to Grrls”, at 24 (1st edition, 2005).

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7]Suzanne M. Marilley, Woman Suffrage and the Origins of Liberal Feminism in the United States, 1820-1920, Harvard (June 3, 2018, 7:00 p.m.), http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674431331

[8] Amy.R.Baehr, Liberal feminism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (June 4, 2018, 6:00 p.m.), https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-liberal/

[9] Ellen Willis, “Radical Feminism and Feminist Radicalism”. Social Text 9/10: The 60’s without Apology,  JSTOR (June 5, 2018, 8:30 p.m.), https://www.jstor.org/stable/i220048

[10] Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy, “Socalist Feminism: What Differencedid it make to the History of Women’s Studies?”, Feminist Studies 34 (3):497-525 (2008)

[11] Anonymous, Feminism and its impact on society, UK Essays  (June 6,2018,10:12p.m) https://www.ukessays.com/essays/sociology/feminism-and-its-impact-on-society-sociology-essay.php?vref=1

[12] H. Maren, How Feminism Helps Everyone (Not Just The Women),Women Media Center (June 6,2018,3:34P.M), http://www.womensmediacenter.com/fbomb/how-feminism-helps-everyone-not-just-the-women

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *