Feminismthe belief in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes. Throughout most of Western history, women were confined to the domestic sphere, while public life was reserved for men. In medieval Europe, women were denied the right to own propertyto study, or to participate in public life.
At the end of the 19th century in France, they were still compelled to cover their heads in public, and, in parts of Germany, a husband still had the right to sell his wife.
Even as late as the early 20th century, women could neither vote nor hold elective office in Europe and in most of the United States where several territories and states granted woman suffrage long before the federal government did so.
Women were prevented from conducting business without a male representative, be it father, brother, husband, legal agent, or even son. Married women could not exercise control over their own children without the permission of their husbands. Moreover, women had little or no access to education and were barred from most professions. In some parts of the world, such restrictions on women continue today. Feminist and gender-study approaches to Shakespeare criticism made Mandating agency definition feminism gains after There is scant evidence of early organized protest against such circumscribed status.
That rebellion proved exceptional, however. For most of recorded history, only isolated voices spoke out against the inferior status of women, presaging the arguments to come. In late 14th- and early 15th-century France, the first feminist philosopher, Christine de Pisanchallenged prevailing attitudes toward women with a bold call for female education.
The defense of women had become a literary subgenre by the end of the 16th century, when Il merito delle donne ; The Worth of Womena feminist broadside by another Venetian author, Moderata Fonte, was published posthumously. Defenders of the status quo painted women as superficial and inherently immoral, while the emerging feminists produced long lists of women of courage and accomplishment and proclaimed that women would be the intellectual equals of men if they were given equal access to education.
After a series of satiric pieces mocking women was published, the first feminist pamphleteer in England, writing as Jane Anger, responded with Jane Anger, Her Protection for Women This volley of opinion continued for more than a century, until another English author, Mary Astell, issued a more reasoned rejoinder in A Serious Proposal to the Ladies The two-volume work suggested that women inclined neither toward marriage nor a religious vocation should set up secular Mandating agency definition feminism where they might live, study, and teach.
feminist voices of the Renaissance never coalesced into a coherent philosophy or movement. This happened only with the Enlightenmentwhen women began to demand that the new reformist rhetoric about libertyequality, and natural rights be applied to both sexes.
Initially, Enlightenment philosophers focused on the inequities of social class and caste to the exclusion of gender.
Swiss-born French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseaufor example, portrayed women as silly and frivolous creatures, born to be subordinate to men.
In addition, the Declaration of the Rights Mandating agency definition feminism Man and of the Citizenwhich defined French citizenship after the revolution ofpointedly failed to address the legal status of women. Female intellectuals of the Enlightenment were quick to point out this lack of inclusivity and the limited scope of reformist rhetoric.
Challenging the notion that women exist only to please men, she proposed that women and men be given equal opportunities in education, work, and politics. Women, she wrote, are as naturally rational as men. If they are silly, it is only because society trains them to be irrelevant. The Age of Enlightenment turned into an era of political ferment marked by revolutions in France, Germany, and Italy and the rise of abolitionism.
In the United States, feminist activism took root when female abolitionists sought to apply the concepts of freedom and equality to their own social and political situations.
Their work brought them in contact with female abolitionists in England who were reaching the same conclusions.
By the midth century, issues "Mandating agency definition feminism" feminism had added to the tumult of social changewith ideas being exchanged across Europe and North America. Yet by emphasizing education and political rights that were the privileges of the upper classes, the embryonic feminist movement had little connection with ordinary women cleaning houses in Liverpool or picking cotton in Georgia.
Instead, she promoted abolitionism and a land-distribution program for Mandating agency definition feminism former slaves. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! Concern in the United States turned to the pending Civil War, while in Europe the reformism of the s gave way to the repression of the late s. When the feminist movement rebounded, it became focused on a single issue, woman suffragea goal that would dominate international feminism for almost 70 years.
Civil War, American feminists assumed that woman suffrage would be included in the Fifteenth Amendment to the U. Constitution, which prohibited disfranchisement on the basis of race. Yet leading abolitionists refused to support such inclusion, which prompted Stanton and Susan B.
Anthonya temperance activist, to form the National Woman Suffrage Association in At first they Mandating agency definition feminism their demand for the vote on the Enlightenment principle of natural lawregularly invoking the concept of inalienable rights granted to all Americans by the Declaration of Independence.
Byhowever, the American passion for such principles as equality had been dampened by a flood of Eastern European immigrants and the growth of urban slums. Suffragist leaders, reflecting that shift in attitude, began appealing for the vote not on the principle of justice or on the common humanity of men and women but on racist and nativist grounds.
As early asCarrie Chapman Catt declared that the votes of literate, American-born, middle-class women would balance the votes of foreigners: This elitist inclination widened the divide between feminist organizers and the masses of American women who "Mandating agency definition feminism" in those slums or spoke with foreign accents. Anthony, however, ceded no ground. It was not until a different kind of radical, Alice Paulreignited the woman suffrage movement in the United States by copying English activists.