Throughout history, women have always struggled to gain equality, respect, and the same rights as men. This has been difficult because of patriarchy, an ideology in which men are superior to women and have the right to rule women. This ideology has permeated the social structures of societies throughout the world and as a result, even in the new millennium, women are still struggling for rights that most men take for granted. The struggle was even more difficult for women of color because not only were they dealing with issues of sexism, but also racism. In order to fight patriarchy, feminism and feminist theory was born.
What is feminism? By general definition, feminism is a philosophy in which women and their contributions are valued. It is based on social, political and economical equality for women. Feminists can be anyone in the population, men, women, girl or boys.
Feminism can also be described as a movement or a revolution that includes women and men who wish the world to be equal without boundaries. These boundaries or blockades are better known as discrimination and biases against gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status and economic status. Everyone views the world with his or her own sense of gender and equality. Feminists view the world as being unequal. They wish to see the gender gap and the idea that men are superior to women decreased or even abolished. There are many different types of feminist theory and each has had a profound impact on women and gender studies.
The first is cultural feminism, which is the theory that there are fundamental personality differences between men and women, and those women’s differences are special. This theory supports the idea that there are biological differences between men and women and sexism can be overcome by embracing the “women’s way.”
The second type is individualist or libertarian feminist. This feminism is based upon libertarian philosophies, with the focus on autonomy, rights, liberty, independence, and diversity. Next, there is the radical feminism; this theory began during the Sixties. This ideology focuses on social change, and “attempts to draw lines between biologically – determined behavior and culturally- determined behavior” in order to free both men and women as much as possible from their previous narrow gender roles.
Finally, there is liberal feminism, a theory that focuses on the idea that all people are created equal and that education is the primary means to change discrimination.