What Is Feminism?

Feminism is a movement that seeks gender equality. It focuses on securing social, political, and economic rights for women.

It is a complex set of ideologies and theories that aim to achieve equality for women. However, it does not seek to take away men's rights.


Feminism is the name given to various movements that defend women's rights and equality. It is an interdisciplinary approach to social issues, and its aim is to address gender, sex, and sexuality as well as inequalities between people based on these factors.

Several overlapping feminist ideologies have developed over the years. These include liberal, radical and socialist/Marxist feminisms.

There is also intersectional feminism, which considers how women's overlapping identities (e.g., race, class, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and disability status) affect their experiences of oppression and discrimination.

Although feminism has many nuances and differences, it is often used as a term for an intellectual commitment and political movement. It brings a variety of particular moral and political claims to philosophy and offers constructive and critical dialogue with mainstream philosophical views and methods. It encourages a diverse range of topics of inquiry, and brings feminist philosophers into contact with other traditions and styles of philosophical work.


The origins of feminism are often tied to political movements, such as anti-slavery and suffrage. The suffragette movement in Britain and the American women's suffrage campaign are among the most prominent examples of early feminist organizing.

The second wave of feminism emerged in the 1960s, focusing on economic and social discrimination with an emphasis on unity and sisterhood. It was influenced by a number of factors, including the anti-war movement and the civil rights movement.

The term 'cultural feminism' was first used to describe this phase of the feminist movement, and it came to mean a range of efforts to build alternatives to sex-based oppression (rather than pursuing change through direct activism). This approach to feminism also often included the notion that women are naturally "kinder and gentler" than men.

Radical Feminists

Radical feminists are a part of the women’s movement that seeks to dismantle patriarchy, which they see as the root of women’s oppression. Unlike liberal feminism, which seeks to adjust the existing system through legal or social efforts, radical feminists want to restructure society itself.

They often criticize the government and religion, which are based on patriarchal power assumptions. They also question motherhood and marriage, which they see as patriarchal institutions that primarily benefit men.

For example, radical feminists often oppose the pill, a contraceptive that was designed to prevent pregnancy. They argue that the pill encourages promiscuity and undermines traditional family values.

Another critique is the fact that radical feminists have a very strong stance against transgender people. They vehemently oppose them and believe that they should not be allowed to use women’s facilities or attend events exclusively for women.

The Future

As with any social movement, feminism has to be fueled by ideas and visions. These are rooted in a critical approach to the world.

Feminist thought is reliably suspicious of dualistic thinking: Any effort to separate the complex world into two opposing, dichotomous variables (such as reason and emotion, mind and body, or male and female) inevitably generates clear-cut boundaries and hierarchies, as one factor in the stand-off achieves dominance over the other, making it difficult to challenge power relationships.

Feminist materialists respond to this problem by attending to intra-actions, Barad’s (2007) term for relations between emergent components of existence. Such engagements create cross-species connections and displace old ontological orders that placed the human at the top of a great chain of being.