Feminism refers to political, cultural, and economic movements aimed at establishing greater rights and legal protections for women. Feminism includes some of the sociological theories and philosophies concerned with issues of gender difference. It is also a movement that campaigns for women's rights and interests. Nancy Cott defines feminism as the belief in the importance of gender equality, invalidating the idea of gender hierarchy as a socially constructed concept. According to Maggie Humm and Rebecca Walker, the history of feminism can be divided into three waves. The first wave transpired in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the second occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, and the third extends from the 1990s to the present. Feminist theory emerged from these feminist movements. It is manifest in a variety of disciplines such as feminist geography, feminist history, feminist theology, and feminist literary criticism. Feminism has changed traditional perspectives on a wide range of areas in human life, from culture to law. Feminist activists have campaigned for women's legal rights—such as rights of contract, property rights, and voting rights—while also promoting women's rights to bodily integrity and autonomy, abortion rights, and reproductive rights. They have struggled to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and rape. On economic matters, feminists have advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave and equal pay, and against other forms of gender-specific discrimination against women. Although the terms feminism and feminist did not gain widespread use until the 1970s, they were already being used in public parlance much earlier; for instance, Katharine Hepburn speaks of the "feminist movement" in the 1942 film Woman of the Year. During much of its history, feminist movements and theories were led predominantly by middle-class white women from Western Europe and North America. However, at least since Sojourner Truth's 1851 speech to American feminists, women of other races have proposed alternative feminisms. This trend accelerated in the 1960s with the civil rights movement in the United States and the collapse of European colonialism in Africa, the Caribbean, parts of Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Since that time, women in former European colonies and the Third World have proposed "Post-colonial" and "Third World" feminisms. Some Postcolonial feminists, such as Chandra Talpade Mohanty, are critical of Western feminism for being ethnocentric. Black feminists, such as Angela Davis and Alice Walker, share this view.
Known for her eccentricity and boldness, Beverly Guy-Sheftall has never been scared to take the brave action necessary for change. (With her fondness for bright colors and head-to-toeleopard prints,…Continue