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Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.
A feminist generally self-defines as advocating for or supporting the rights and equality of women.
Feminist theory, which emerged from feminist movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women's social roles and lived experience; it has developed theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues such as the social construction of sex and gender.Chodorow, Nancy (1989). Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.  Some forms of feminism have been criticized for taking into account only white, middle-class, educated perspectives. This led to the creation of ethnically specific or multiculturalist forms of feminism.
Feminist movements have and continue to campaign for many women's rights – such as the Equal Rights Amendment, the right to own property, equal health care coverage for equal pay, sexual freedom and liberation, and voting – while also promoting body autonomy/integrity, and reproductive rights for women.
Feminist campaigns are generally considered to be main force behind major historical societal changes, particularly in the West, where they are near-universally credited with having achieved women's suffrage, gender neutrality in English, equal pay for women, reproductive rights for women (including access to contraceptives and abortion), and the right to enter into contracts and own property.
Feminists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. Feminists have also advocated for workplace rights, including receiving the right to paid work, paid maternity leave, and eradicating all forms of discrimination against women.
- Feminism – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary. merriam-webster.com. Retrieved on 12 June 2011.
- Definition of feminism noun from Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus. dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved on 12 June 2011.
- "feminist". (3rd). (2012). Oxford University Press, “An advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women. 1852: De Bow’s Review (‘Our attention has happened to fall upon Mrs. E. O. Smith, who is, we are informed, among the most moderate of the feminist reformers!’)”
- Gilligan, Carol (1977). "'In a Different Voice: Women's Conceptions of Self and Morality'". Harvard Educational Review 47 (4): 481–517. Retrieved on 8 June 2008.
- Messer-Davidow, Ellen (2002). Disciplining Feminism: From Social Activism to Academic Discourse. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-2843-7.
- Echols, Alice (1989). Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967–1975. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-1787-2.
- Cornell, Drucilla (1998). At the Heart of Freedom: Feminism, Sex, and Equality. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-02896-5. Scholarly review: "The author’s … quarrel with the equal rights feminist movement is not new in academic feminism.… In Cornell’s opinion … feminists have failed to consider crucial differences between women…. Attempts to claim equality with men … cause injustice for women when they do not fit into the male ideal."
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