Women's rights vary from "access to employment, education, child care, contraception, and abortion, to equality in the workplace, changing family roles, redress for sexual harassment in the workplace, and the need for equal political representation." This faction for the political, social, and educational equality of women with men has occurred mainly in Europe and the United States with its heredity in the humanism of the 18th century and in the Industrial Revolution. Through the ages feminism has been a doctrine based on the view that women should be given the rights, opportunities and treatment accorded to men.

The noun feminism is derived from the Latin word femina meaning 'woman' and dates back to 1895 as "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes." Today it may mean something as simple as "an organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests." Many seem to think that the acquired rights and privileges of men are being threatened by the demand for equal rights and privileges for women and men, feminism is perceived by a number of women and men as going further than equality and claiming superiority for women. Depending on the context it is used in it can mean a great variety of ideals since the definitions have changed over the years; feminism has been converted by differing concepts that derive from what the group objectives may be.

Two researchers, Baumgardner & Richards, recently detailed the existence of seventeen kinds of feminism based on identity, including womanism. Other terms are post-feminism, neo feminism, liberal feminism, socialist feminism, materialist feminism, cultural feminism, and postmodernist feminism. Lately girl is being redefined in the framework of feminism. Girlie feminists say that feminism and girlishness can coexist under the same roof. By reclaiming the long ago fashion of girl culture they cultivate the pinks, the knitting and the makeup classifying these as their hallmarks of their feminism.

Clearly the usage of the words feminism and feminist are precarious. Specialized terms like womyn and feminazi do lead many to assume that equality does not, in many ways, exist. The resulting perception inescapably engages a struggle-whether to reach it, to stop it, or to paraphrase George Orwell make women "more equal than men". Even though the majority of advocates for feminism display beliefs in the interest of equality of the sexes, nevertheless the wide variety of agendas projected under the banner of feminism, along with so many extreme champions and adversaries of the movement today both terms feminism and feminist have become pejoratives to the point that oftentimes they become stigmatizing and are no longer useful in many coherent discussions.

Intermittently some feminists agree or disagree on a given usage's fairness or utility, but in many instances bring editorial protests until no one will dare to define what anyone else means by feminism. Given the passion of the emotions the issues presently attract and because these terms are unusable in many contexts, including several euphemisms, it's not surprising to hear many saying:

"I favor the equality of the sexes on all issues, but I'm no feminist."


Equal Rights Amendment Alice Paul, 1921:



feminism (n.), feminist (adj., n.):