Self Help

The Feminism Book - DK

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 59 min read

“If you liked the book, you can purchase it using the links in the description below. By buying through these links, you contribute to the blog without paying any extra, as we receive a small commission. This helps us bring more quality content to you!”



Here is a summary of the contents section:

  • The book is divided into sections chronicling the history and major movements of feminism from the 18th century to the present day.

  • The sections include “The Birth of Feminism” covering early British, Scandinavian, and Enlightenment feminism.

  • “The Struggle for Equal Rights” covers the unionization movement, Marxist feminism, suffrage movements, and struggles for women’s rights in areas like marriage, medicine, and sexual double standards from 1840-1944.

  • “The Personal is Political” analyzes movements from 1945-1979 including consciousness raising, birth control activism, radical feminism, patriarchy as social control, and wages for housework.

  • “The Politics of Difference” discusses language and patriarchy, compulsory heterosexuality, anti-pornography feminism, ecofeminism, black feminism, and intersectionality from the 1980s.

  • Subsequent sections analyze third wave feminism, modern feminist issues, and current topics being debated such as online feminism, support for sex workers, and campus sexual assault.

  • The contents section concludes with a directory, glossary, list of contributors, and acknowledgements.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The text introduces the concept of feminism and provides historical context on its development over time. It discusses how the roots of feminism can be traced back to the 18th century, when some pioneering women began drawing attention to gender inequalities and pushing for greater rights and freedoms for women.

The passage then outlines the three major waves of feminism that sociologists identify - first-wave feminism in the 19th century focused on issues like suffrage, second-wave feminism in the 1960s addressed legal and social inequalities, and third-wave feminism from the 1990s onward encompassed diverse issues and the recognition of intersectionality.

It notes some of the key events, thinkers, and movements that advanced feminism during these periods. The personal is political concept of second-wave feminism and Rebecca Walker’s call for a third wave in response to an alleged rapist’s acquittal are highlighted.

In summarizing the provided text, the key points covered include the historical roots of feminism, the three waves as a framework to understand its development over time, and some notable influences and contributors to the feminist movement throughout history. The passage seeks to provide historical context on the evolution of feminist ideas.

In 18th century Sweden, some of the earliest expressions of feminist ideas emerged through the work of journalist Margareta Momma and poet Hedvig Nordenflycht. They helped develop feminist themes in print media, advocating for women’s education and rights. One of the first Swedish women to publicly argue for equal rights between men and women was Sophia Elisabet Brenner, an aristocrat who wrote poems in the 1690s asserting women’s intellectual equality. In the 1730s, journalist Margareta Momma satirized critics who said women were incapable, instead promoting women’s education and ability to debate. Poet Hedvig Nordenflycht also supported feminist messages. Their work was part of a progressive milieu in Sweden during the Age of Liberty in the 18th century, when some property and divorce rights were established for women in Swedish law. They helped advance early feminist thought in Scandinavia.

  • Writers in 18th century Sweden, like Hedvig Nordenflycht and Catharina Ahlgren, used the Swedish language rather than aristocratic French in their works. This allowed their ideas to have more widespread access and appeal to a broader audience.

  • Ahlgren in particular advocated for the use of English and Swedish over French, arguing that French was the language of frivolous romances while English and Swedish were better suited for studying science and serious discourse.

  • By writing and publishing in the native Swedish language instead of just French, these early Swedish feminist writers were able to promote new ideas about gender equality, women’s rights, and intellectual recognition of women to a larger segment of Swedish society at a time when access to ideas was typically limited by language and social class.

This passage discusses the progress of the women’s movement during the Enlightenment era in the 18th century. Known as the “Bluestockings”, educated women began transforming from figures of social stability to rebels and radicals as they proved their intellectual equality to men through successful literary careers. figures like Elizabeth Montagu hosted salons that brought influential thinkers together.

During this period, women sought ways to engage publicly in intellectual discussions and prove their equality. In London and other cities, debating societies allowed for mixed-gender gatherings. In North America and France, women participated more actively in revolutionary movements to challenge the established social order. Some took on political activism, business roles, or military roles when their male relatives fought in wars.

However, full equality was still an ongoing fight. During the French Revolution, women’s groups were formed but their petitions for equal rights were ignored. Writers like Olympe de Gouges and Mary Wollstonecraft advocated forcefully for women’s rights through pamphlets and essays. Their words kept the discussion alive, though legal victories for women were still limited even after the revolutionary upheavals.

The political activism and writings of three women during the French Revolution - Olympe de Gouges, Madame Roland, and Charlotte Corday - temporarily deterred French women from openly expressing political views due to their executions. However, their examples and the debates around gender equality during the Enlightenment helped lay the foundation for modern feminism and helped women gain momentum in fighting for equal rights. While their actions had a discouraging effect at the time, the discussions around women’s rights that emerged from these periods were hugely influential for feminist arguments going forward.

In the early 19th century, some feminist thinkers advocated for expanding women’s rights and roles in society as industrialization was changing social and economic structures. Figures like Frances Wright, Harriet Martineau, and Margaret Fuller argued for legal and economic independence and autonomy for women through publishing articles, books, and giving speeches. They drew from the philosophies of Charles Fourier who believed in cooperative relationships between men and women with equal opportunities. While change came gradually, these writers helped spark discussion and debate that influenced the growing women’s rights movement in the later 19th century.

Harriet Martineau worked as a journalist in the 19th century, despite being deaf. She advocated for women’s education and rights. Women at this time faced limited opportunities for employment outside the home. Factory work, like at the Lowell Mills, provided one option but conditions were often exploitative with long hours and low pay. Sarah Bagley helped organize the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association, one of the earliest labor unions led by women, to demand better wages and a 10-hour workday. Women wanting to unionize faced resistance, but collective action like strikes helped improve conditions for some working women during this period of industrialization. While work outside the home provided greater independence and income, the promises of fulfilling employment were undermined by ongoing issues of low pay and status perceived as “women’s work.”

Here is a summary of the key points about Marxist views on women and feminism:

  • Marx and Engels acknowledged that women are oppressed under capitalism and treated as subordinate citizens. They analyzed how the rise of the capitalist system exacerbated gender inequalities.

  • Engels traced how the nuclear family structure developed historically and led to women’s “world historical defeat” and oppression within the family. He described women becoming slaves to their husbands.

  • Marxist feminism later adapted these ideas to argue that dismantling capitalism is necessary to achieve women’s full emancipation and equality.

  • Marxist writings maintained that women’s unpaid domestic and care work is still productive and necessary, even if not formally recognized as “work.”

  • Subsequent Marxist feminists like Rosa Luxemburg and Clara Zetkin further developed analyses of patriarchy and how class and gender oppressions intersect under capitalism.

  • Marxist feminism inspired movements like Wages for Housework that sought to value and compensate women’s traditionally unpaid labor in the home. It remains an influential theoretical framework within feminist thought.

  • Early Marxist feminists believed that women’s oppression was linked to both capitalism and patriarchy. They viewed women as part of the working class and their emancipation as necessary for a classless society.

  • Clara Zetkin, Rosa Luxemburg, and Alexandra Kollontai were leading Marxist feminist theorists in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. They promoted women’s rights and saw the struggles against capitalism and patriarchy as intertwined.

  • Zetkin edited the socialist women’s newspaper Die Gleichheit and advocated for women’s suffrage and labor rights. Luxemburg saw women’s liberation as crucial to revolution and criticized the bourgeois feminist movement.

  • Kollontai placed female emancipation at the center of socialism. She advocated for independent economic roles for women and the socialization of childcare/housework.

  • International Women’s Day originated from socialist movements and commemorates working women’s rights protests. Leading figures like Zetkin were influential in establishing it as an annual event to highlight women’s issues.

  • The convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848 to discuss women’s rights.

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the only listed speaker at the convention. Her husband James chaired the event.

  • About 300 people attended, including 40 men. Noted abolitionist Frederick Douglass was invited by Elizabeth M’Clintock, Stanton’s friend.

  • Stanton read the “Declaration of Sentiments” outlining 16 ways women’s rights were denied, including the right to vote, own property, and get an education.

  • The declaration was followed by 12 resolutions to adopt equal rights. 11 passed but the suffrage resolution received less support, until Douglass advocated for it.

  • This convention launched the women’s rights movement in the US, demanding equal treatment under the law.

  • Early suffrage organizations in the late 19th century were led by elite, educated women and did not focus on working-class women or include them in leadership.

  • American women’s early advocacy for suffrage inspired movements in other countries like France, Britain, and Canada. Groups advocating for women’s rights proliferated internationally in the late 19th century.

  • Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton helped found the International Council of Women in 1888 to work on issues like health, education, peace, and equality internationally, though it did not initially advocate for suffrage.

  • The abolitionist movement in the early-mid 19th century helped catalyze the emergence of feminism, as women who advocated for the rights of enslaved Black people could not ignore the lack of rights for women. Many suffrage advocates like Anthony and Stanton were initially involved in abolitionism.

  • The two movements of abolitionism and women’s rights were closely linked and overlapping in their campaigns and shared causes throughout the 19th century before focus turned to the American Civil War.

  • After the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, abolitionist women worried it could be overturned and organized to petition for a Constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony collected 400,000 signatures in support of the 13th Amendment.

  • With slavery abolished, some organizations dissolved but others wanted to ensure voting rights for freed Black men. Stanton accelerated women’s activism through the American Equal Rights Association advocating universal suffrage.

  • Abolitionist Wendell Phillips objected, saying the priority was Black men’s rights. Activism and resources went towards the 15th Amendment granting Black men voting rights. Frederick Douglass argued this was necessary given the threat of racism.

  • Women’s suffrage efforts faced setbacks as the focus shifted to racial equality. Stanton grew angry at old allies and divisions emerged between organizations prioritizing women’s or Black men’s suffrage. The battles over women’s voting rights continued for decades.

  • Novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe intervened in the debate through Uncle Tom’s Cabin, dramatizing the issue of slavery and building support for abolition through her popular work. She argued all should speak for freedom regardless of gender.

  • In the 19th century, under the legal doctrine of coverture, married women had no independent legal status. All their rights and property passed to their husband upon marriage.

  • Caroline Norton suffered abuse at the hands of her violent husband George Norton. She was financially dependent on him even after they separated.

  • Norton campaigned for reforms to custody laws and mothers’ rights. Her writings helped expose the injustices faced by married women under the legal system.

  • Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon advocated for married women’s property rights and their ability to earn an independent income.

  • Leigh Smith helped found the Ladies of Langham Place, the first feminist organization in the UK. They successfully lobbied for legal reforms including the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870.

  • Norton and Leigh Smith’s campaigns were instrumental in dismantling the legal doctrine of coverture and establishing married women’s right to independent legal status through acts like the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 and the Married Women’s Property Acts of 1870 and 1882.

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States, graduating in 1849. She faced significant opposition from male colleagues and even some female patients who associated women doctors with abortionists. However, she was determined that women understood women’s health issues better than men.

Blackwell went on to study further in Europe but faced barriers as a woman. She returned to New York in 1857 and opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children with her sister and a colleague, as medicine was still a male-dominated field. Despite opposition, she succeeded in establishing that women could be competent physicians, and added a women’s medical school to the hospital in 1868.

Blackwell inspired other pioneers like Sophia Jex-Blake and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. Jex-Blake campaigned for women’s admission to Edinburgh University’s medical school, which was achieved in 1870. Anderson took lectures meant for male doctors and passed examinations to practice. In 1872 she opened the UK’s first women’s hospital. Blackwell, Jex-Blake and Anderson then founded the London School of Medicine for Women in 1874 to further train female physicians. Blackwell spent her later career campaigning for reforms in various areas including medicine, hygiene and women’s suffrage. She helped establish the principle that women were equally capable as doctors.

The passage discusses the suffragette movement in early 20th century Britain, which fought for women’s right to vote. It was led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, notably Christabel Pankhurst. They formed the militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) which used political violence and acts of civil disobedience to draw attention to their cause, setting them apart from earlier suffragist groups that used only peaceful means.

Under the Pankhursts’ leadership, the suffragettes were willing to risk arrest, injury, and even death through hunger strikes and other acts of protest. Their militant tactics gripped public attention and helped place pressure on the government. While campaigning for women’s suffrage had been ongoing since the 19th century, it was the suffragettes’ willingness to use forceful methods that marked a new phase in the movement. Their actions were a significant factor in helping British women finally gain the right to vote in 1918 and 1928, when women over 30 and all women respectively received equal suffrage rights to men.

  • In the 1830s, Mary Smith, a women’s rights activist, presented a petition to parliament asking to extend voting rights to women, but there was slow progress.

  • In the 1860s/1870s, efforts continued through organizations like the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), led by Millicent Fawcett. They used legal and constitutional methods like writing letters.

  • Emmeline Pankhurst formed a more militant breakaway group called the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903, adopting radical tactics inspired by Russian revolutionaries. They became known as “suffragettes”.

  • The suffragettes used civil disobedience, property damage, and hunger strikes to draw attention to their cause. Key figures like Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters were arrested multiple times.

  • Their tactics escalated to include arson attacks and window breaking. Some suffragettes trained in martial arts like jujitsu for self-defense against assaults.

  • The government responded with force-feeding of hunger-striking suffragettes, worsening treatment of arrested women. The bodyguard was formed to protect Emmeline Pankhurst.

  • While progress was slow, the suffragettes’ militant tactics gained momentum for the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s.

  • The Bodyguard was a group that protected the leader of the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union). They were prepared to use clubs hidden in their dresses in self-defense, as well as decoys and tricks, to help their leader evade capture by police.

  • Emily Davison threw herself under the king’s horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby horse race attended by the king, in an attempt to seize the horse’s bridle that was caught on film. Her death galvanized the suffragette movement.

  • Edith Garrud taught suffragettes jujitsu self-defense techniques through classes. This was depicted in a 1910 Punch cartoon showing a suffragette intimidating London policemen with her jujitsu skills.

  • Some high-profile male politicians like Keir Hardie and George Lansbury spoke in Parliament and at rallies in support of women’s suffrage, bolstering the movement. Retailer Henry Gordon Selfridge also showed solidarity by flying the WSPU flag above his store.

  • The outbreak of WWI in 1914 forced the WSPU to reconsider its militant tactics and support the war effort instead in order to help achieve suffrage afterward. This ultimately helped shift public and political support toward women’s right to vote.

  • Vida Goldstein was an Australian suffragist and the first woman to run for political office in the British Empire, becoming the first female member of an Australian legislature in 1903.

  • She published a journal called The Australian Women’s Sphere to promote women’s suffrage.

  • After Australian women gained the national vote in 1902, she ran for parliament and won, becoming the first elected female official.

  • She toured Britain in 1911, where she spoke to large crowds of women.

  • During WWI, she became an ardent pacifist and continued campaigning for social reforms like birth control.

  • She never achieved her goal of becoming prime minister but was a prominent advocate for women’s rights.

  • Goldstein died in 1949 at age 80, having significantly advanced the cause of women in Australia.

Here is a summary of the key points about María de los Dolores de Aza, also known as Dolores Campoamor:

  • She was a Spanish feminist and the first female lawyer to work in the Spanish Supreme Court, graduating at age 36.

  • In 1931, she became a member of the National Constituent Assembly formed to write a new constitution for Spain. She ensured universal suffrage was included, granting women the right to vote.

  • Later, under the Fascist dictator Francisco Franco, universal suffrage was cancelled.

  • After Franco rose to power, Campoamor fled Spain into exile as she was banned from returning by Franco.

  • She lived in exile in Switzerland, where she died in 1972 without ever being allowed to return to her home country of Spain.

  • She was a pioneering feminist who fought for women’s political rights in Spain, notably securing women’s suffrage in the 1931 constitution before it was later revoked by Franco.

Here is a summary of the key points about politicizing birth control:

  • Access to birth control can become politicized when governments and policies change. In the US, the Affordable Care Act initially required employers to provide contraceptive coverage but the Hobby Lobby decision made exemptions possible on religious grounds, harming some low-income employees.

  • Foreign aid for family planning in developing countries is also often controversial. The Trump administration banned US government funds to organizations that “actively promote” abortion abroad. Critics argue this will lead to more unsafe abortions and unwanted pregnancies.

  • Liberals typically support greater access to birth control and view exemptions negatively, while religious conservatives lobby for exemptions and limits on abortion-related services. Changes in administrations and policies in the US have swung access to contraception in both directions over time.

  • Overall, the issue of birth control availability becomes embroiled in broader ideological debates around religious liberty, reproductive rights, and the appropriate role of government versus employers in health insurance and services. Different political perspectives tend to clash on this issue.

Here is a summary of the key points about Virginia Woolf:

  • Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882 to a well-connected family but received no formal education. She experienced several family deaths during her adolescence that significantly impacted her mental health.

  • She studied at King’s College London where she was exposed to radical feminism. She also joined the Bloomsbury Group, a circle of intellectuals, where she met Vita Sackville-West and Leonard Woolf, who became her lifelong friend/lover and husband respectively.

  • In 1917, Virginia and Leonard founded the Hogarth Press, allowing her to independently publish her own work. She experimented with narrative styles and contributed to the modernist movement. Her works often addressed feminist and social issues.

  • Some of her major works include Orlando (1928), A Room of One’s Own (1929), and The Years (1937).

  • In 1941, deeply depressed, Virginia committed suicide by drowning. She was a pioneering modernist writer and key figure in feminist literature.

During the second-wave feminist movement of the 1960s-1970s, feminist issues and theories were extensively explored by scholars, artists, and academics. Historians like Sheila Rowbotham highlighted the exclusion of women from historical accounts. Artists such as Judy Chicago created feminist art to promote women’s perspectives and experiences. Film theorists like Laura Mulvey analyzed misogyny and the objectification of women within cinema. Simone de Beauvoir had provided an influential theoretical foundation for second-wave feminism with her 1949 book The Second Sex, which argued that femininity is a social construct rather than biological destiny, and that women are defined as the “Other” in relation to men. De Beauvoir believed women should seek autonomy, liberation, and equality through challenging social norms of femininity, intellectual pursuits, and political and social change. Her analysis of gender as a socially constructed role separate from sex was highly significant.

Here are summaries of the key concepts:

  • Patriarchy as social control: Friedan argued that patriarchal societal structures and norms were used to control women and keep them constrained to domestic roles like housewife and mother. This social control perpetuated gender inequality.

  • Uterus envy: Coined by Friedan, this refers to the idea that women were encouraged to find fulfillment exclusively through marriage, childrearing and domesticity. This denied their intellectual and professional potential.

  • Poststructuralism: A theoretical approach that critiques the idea of fixed meanings and identities. Poststructuralist feminist theorists drew on this to undermine essentialist notions of fixed gender identities and roles.

  • Language and patriarchy: Friedan and other feminist theorists argued that patriarchal language and discourse served to normalize and entrench gender inequality. Depictions of women in media, literature, advertisements etc. promoted the feminine mystique.

Here is a summary of the key ideas from the passages:

  • Mary Daly was a pioneering feminist theologian who criticized patriarchal structures and masculine language used for God in Christianity. She advocated for women’s leadership roles and spaces free from male domination.

  • Other influential early feminist theologians included Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Letty Russell, and Phyllis Trible. They developed new interpretations of religious texts and traditions that centered women.

  • Some feminist theologians like Carol P. Christ embraced goddess traditions and rejected masculine symbols for God altogether. Others moved beyond Christianity to critique other major world religions.

  • Second-wave feminists challenged prevailing assumptions that women’s sexuality should be dictated by men. Anne Koedt’s influential 1968 essay “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm” argued that women cannot reliably orgasm from penetration alone and that the focus on this myth was due to male priorities.

  • Kinsey, Masters/Johnson, and Shere Hite through surveys found that most women did not achieve orgasm through penetration as was commonly believed, influencing further feminist thinking around female sexuality and pleasure.

  • Feminist theology and feminist perspectives on sexuality both emerged as ways to critique and reconstruct religious and social systems that subordinate women and prioritize male viewpoints and needs. They both aimed to empower women’s autonomy and experiences.

Here is a summary of the context provided:

The passage provides context around the development of feminist art in the 1960s-1970s. Key pioneers mentioned include Carolee Schneemann, Yoko Ono, Marina Abramovich, Judy Chicago, and Miriam Schapiro who used performance art, body art, installation art, and other mediums to bring women’s experiences and reject traditional gender roles in art.

Artists like Frida Kahlo in the 1930s-40s paved the way by using their personal experiences as subject matter. Major exhibitions like WACK! in 2007 and exhibitions of Judy Chicago’s work brought greater recognition of feminist art. In the 1970s, artists directly challenged stereotypes of women in areas like Cindy Sherman’s photography. Later artists addressed issues like gender, race, and identity.

Judy Chicago was a leading figure who established the first Feminist Art Program and works like The Dinner Party, which incorporated craft mediums rejected by the male-dominated art world. Her works aimed to make art relating to human feminism during this period of history. The passage provides biographical details on Chicago and discusses how feminist art challenged hierarchies and incorporated previously excluded crafts. It situates the development of feminist art in the broader contexts of second-wave feminism and gender equality movements from the 1960s onward.

Here is a summary of the information provided:

The National Black Feminist Organization was founded in New York City in 1973 to specifically address the needs of black women, which civil rights activists and white feminists did not fully do. It argued that black women faced distinct forms of oppression due to the intersections of race and gender. This organization built on the activism and insights of earlier black feminist groups and leaders who highlighted these issues. Its founding showed the diversity of experiences and priorities within feminist movements in the United States during this period.

Here is a summary of the key events:

  • 1921 - Margaret Sanger forms the American Birth Control League (later called Planned Parenthood) to advance the birth control movement in the US.

  • 1960 - The oral contraceptive pill is approved for use in the US, marking a major scientific advancement. It provided women much greater control over pregnancy prevention than previous methods.

  • 1967 - More than 12.5 million women worldwide were using the pill as a popular contraceptive method.

  • 1970 - Feminists in the US challenged the safety of the pill at Congressional hearings, leading to changes in its formulation.

  • 1973 - The US Supreme Court case Eisenstadt v. Baird extended the right to use contraception to unmarried women as well, a major legal victory for reproductive rights.

The introduction of the pill in 1960 liberated women socially and sexually by giving them unprecedented control over their fertility and ability to delay or limit childbearing to pursue careers and education. However, health concerns prompted feminist activism that improved the pill’s formulation in the early 1970s. Overall, the pill marked a turning point in advancing women’s autonomy and gender equality.

  • The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer, published in 1970, was a seminal text of second-wave feminism that argued women have been “castrated” socially, sexually, and culturally.

  • Greer examines how women are viewed and treated as sexual objects for men’s pleasure. She says women are conditioned from birth to avoid independent thought and see themselves as “illogical” and “silly”.

  • Greer makes a powerful critique of the nuclear family structure as stifling for women. She proposes children be raised more communally.

  • The book was highly influential and controversial due to its explicit language about women’s sexuality and call for women’s liberation from patriarchal relationships and stereotypes.

  • Germaine Greer became a prominent public figure and scholar for her radical feminist perspectives challenging social norms around women. The Female Eunuch remains an iconic text of the women’s liberation movement.

Kate Millett received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honour. She was a noted American feminist and writer known for her 1970 book Sexual Politics, which analyzed patriarchy and how it oppresses women. Some of her other key works included Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983), Revolution from Within (1992), Moving Beyond Words (1994), and My Life on the Road (2015). Millett argued that patriarchy began in the family and was reinforced through education and socialization. She believed rape was one instance where patriarchal power relied on sexual force. While patriarchy was deeply embedded psychologically, Millett felt the gains of early feminism did not truly damage the system as political power remained in male hands.

In the 1970s, women’s experience of sexual and reproductive health was rarely understood or discussed by women themselves. Doctors would typically only discuss medical issues with patients’ husbands, not the women. Access to contraception was restricted and childbirth was often a medicated, surgical procedure with little input from women.

The second-wave feminism movement and the introduction of the contraceptive pill changed women’s relationship to pregnancy and sex. This context gave rise to the women’s health movement, which challenged medical and male control over women’s bodies. The goal was to give women knowledge about their own bodies and power over their sexual and reproductive health.

A key text was Our Bodies, Ourselves, first published in 1969. It sought to educate women about their anatomy, relationships, sexuality, contraception, pregnancy and childbirth in plain language. It dispelled stigma and encouraged women to take control of their healthcare. It emphasized the power imbalance between doctors and patients and argued women needed more medical knowledge to address this.

Access to contraception was a major issue. The book advised on various birth control methods and argued women should have the right to decide if and when to have children. It discussed the psychological impact of birth control and highlighted women’s responsibility if contraception failed.

The movement promoted a woman-centered approach to pregnancy and childbirth, encouraging women’s autonomy over these experiences. Figures like Sheila Kitzinger challenged the traditional doctor-patient power dynamic and medicalization of labor. Our Bodies, Ourselves incorporated women’s personal stories and experiences to give them control over their bodies.

  • Women’s history was initially led by amateur historians in women’s organizations in the late 19th century, who sought to record women’s contributions to key events in US history.

  • In the 1960s-70s, with the rise of second-wave feminism and movements like Women’s Liberation, academics like Sheila Rowbotham pushed for women’s history to be established as a formal academic discipline.

  • The first women’s studies course was introduced at Cornell in 1969. Associations and journals in the field also emerged during this time.

  • Access to safe and legal abortion became a major issue for feminists, who argued it was a human rights and bodily autonomy issue. Laws had previously driven many women to unsafe illegal abortions.

  • Countries like the UK and US began liberalizing abortion laws in the 1960s-70s due to campaigning. Key court cases and legislative changes took place that allowed abortion in more circumstances. However, restrictions remained.

  • Underground groups like the Jane Collective in Chicago helped women access abortions before full legalization, to address the costs and dangers of unsafe procedures. The fight for abortion rights continued in subsequent decades.

Here are some of the key struggles faced by women seeking an abortion when a friend became pregnant, as described in the context:

  • Abortion was illegal, so safe and legal options were not available. Women had to seek out illegal and dangerous back-alley abortions.

  • The Jane Collective in Chicago formed to train themselves to perform safe abortions for women. They charged $100 per abortion but provided interest-free loans since most women could not afford it.

  • By the time Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, the Jane Collective had performed around 11,000 abortions with no reported deaths, showing they provided safer options than illegal clinics.

  • The Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case in 1973 was a major legal victory that established a woman’s right to abortion under the 14th Amendment. However, states could still impose some regulations.

  • Even after legalization, abortion remained politically contentious and barriers like mandatory waiting periods, ultrasounds, and clinic regulations have made access difficult for many low-income women.

So in summary, prior to Roe v. Wade women faced danger seeking illegal abortions, and even after some legalization access remains a challenge due to political and socioeconomic barriers. The Jane Collective provided a clandestine but important service during a time when safe options were not available through legal and medical establishments.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, women began sharing their personal experiences of domestic abuse in consciousness-raising groups. This allowed women to realize that domestic violence was not an individual problem but rather a systemic issue requiring political action.

Erin Pizzey founded the first women’s refuge in Chiswick, London in 1971 to support victims of domestic violence. Her 1974 book highlighting women’s stories further brought attention to the issue. Following a publicity campaign, the numbers of women seeking refuge dramatically increased. Similar refuges were later established in other countries like Australia.

Groups like the National Action Committee in Canada and the White Ribbon Campaign internationally have pressed governments to implement stronger legal protections against domestic violence. While domestic abuse remains a problem, it is now widely recognized globally rather than ignored privately as it had been previously. Pizzey’s pioneering work in establishing the first women’s refuge was instrumental in exposing and addressing the realities of domestic violence.

  • In the 1970s, feminist writers like Susan Brownmiller challenged the view that rape was solely about male sexual desire and argued that it is fundamentally about power and control over women.

  • Brownmiller argued that since prehistory, rape has been used by men to assert their dominance over women and is a tool of political and systemic oppression. It was not treated seriously as a crime throughout much of history.

  • She highlighted how rape has been used as a weapon of war and conquest against different populations to dehumanize and dominate them. This included the mass rape of indigenous women during colonization and of enslaved black women.

  • Feminist activists in the 1970s established rape crisis centers which provided crucial support services for survivors that were lacking from the predominantly male police and legal system.

  • The feminist concept of “rape culture” emerged to describe how societies normalize and trivialize sexual violence. Activists have worked to improve laws, policies and public awareness since then.

  • However, rape and sexual violence remain enormous global problems that disproportionately impact women and some populations more than others. It is still normalized and obscured in many contexts.

Traditionally, it was believed that by entering into marriage, a woman consented to sex with her husband for life. However, in the 19th century, some early feminists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone argued that women should have autonomy over their own bodies and determine when they have sex with their husbands. Rape in marriage was not criminalized in the UK until 1991 and in the US until 1993, though some states criminalized it earlier. The UN established in 1993 that rape in marriage violates international human rights. Some key figures who advocated for recognizing and criminalizing rape in marriage include Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Victoria Woodhull, and British feminist Harriet Taylor Mill. It took until the late 20th century for these issues of marital rape and women’s autonomy to gain broader legal and social recognition.

Belly dancers from the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance convention in Boston promoted the fat positivity movement through their performance. At the convention, the belly dancers came together to do a belly dance routine, promoting positive body image and acceptance of all body sizes. Their performance was aimed at supporting the fat acceptance movement and encouraging people of all sizes to feel comfortable and confident in their own bodies.

Here is a summary of the key points about Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and the creation of the V-Day movement:

  • Eve Ensler’s one-woman play The Vagina Monologues surfaced off-Broadway in 1996. It was based on interviews with over 200 women about topics like sex, relationships, and violence against women.

  • While some criticized it as too narrow or body-centric, many saw it as raising important political issues about violence towards women like assault, incest, and human trafficking.

  • Since 1998, Ensler has used staged performances of the monologues as part of her global V-Day movement to protest violence against women and draw attention to these issues.

  • V-Day has helped translate the monologues into 48 languages and make them known worldwide as a way to highlight violence against women and spark discussion and action on related political issues.

So in summary, Ensler’s play sparked discussions but also led to the creation of the large-scale V-Day movement and worldwide efforts to end violence against women through annual performances that have spread her message globally.

Hélène Cixous was a French feminist philosopher who argued that women should pursue their underlying bisexual potential in order to create “multiplication of desire.” She believed that if women embraced both their heterosexual and homosexual desires freely, it would help dismantle compulsory heterosexuality and the patriarchal social order. Cixous thought this “multiplication of desire” would empower women sexually and help subvert traditional gender and power dynamics. Her theories encouraged women to embrace and explore their full range of sexual interests and potentials rather than restricting themselves based on social norms. Overall, Cixous promoted a more liberated and fluid view of female sexuality as a way for women to gain agency over their own bodies and desires.

Here is a summary of the key points about colonial movements from the passage:

  • Feminists from colonized regions analyzed indigenous women’s experiences in liberation movements and drew attention to patriarchal cultural practices imposed on women by colonizers, such as female genital cutting and polygamy.

  • Scholars like Chandra Talpade Mohanty criticized Western feminists’ portrayal of “third world women” as overly simplistic and based on stereotypes of them as poorly educated victims. Mohanty advocated for a “postcolonial feminism” that recognized theseoversimplifications.

  • Intersectionality, introduced by Kimberlé Crenshaw, identified how aspects like class, race, and gender interact to create multiple oppressions, particularly for marginalized women in colonized societies and women of color. It provided a new theoretical dimension accounting for these diverse experiences.

  • Colonial movements challenged the tendency of mainstream feminism to ignore the experiences of indigenous and women of color in former colonies, instead advocating perspectives that recognized their distinct oppressions under colonial patriarchal systems and cultural practices imposed by colonizers.

  • Adrienne Rich argued that all women exist on a continuum of love and desire for other women, regardless of their sexual identity. This prompted debate among feminists about the meaning and coherence of the term “lesbian”.

  • Many feminists rejected Rich’s concept of a continuum, but her framing of compulsory heterosexuality as a patriarchal institution was influential in feminist theory.

  • In the 1980s, feminist theorists like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon argued that pornography contributed to violence against women by depicting them as sex objects. They tried to pass antipornography laws.

  • Other feminists like Gayle Rubin were critical of this stance, arguing that censorship could harm sexual minorities. They took a more sex-positive view that consensual pornography and sexuality should not be prohibited.

  • There were bitter divisions between antipornography feminists and sex-positive/pro-sex feminists over these issues, culminating in confrontations like the protest of the 1982 Barnard Conference on Sexuality by Women Against Pornography members. The movement was ultimately unsuccessful in banning pornography.

  • The article discusses competing views within feminism around issues of sexuality, consent and pornography that emerged during the “feminist sex wars” of the 1980s.

  • Antipornography feminists viewed pornography and much heterosexual sex as inherently oppressive and violent against women. They opposed things like sadomasochism which involved violent role-playing or sexualized submissiveness.

  • Sex-positive feminists argued that sadomasochism and other sexual acts were acceptable as long as they involved consent among adults. They defended healthy, communicative sexual relationships.

  • These debates around sexuality, consent and pornography have continued into the 21st century as feminists disagree on issues like women’s sexual freedom and empowerment.

  • The “feminist sex wars” highlighted divisions within feminism around balancing women’s rights with acknowledging the role of consent, sexuality and relationships in women’s lives. Differing views remain on these complex issues.

  • Angela Davis explained that during slavery, black women were seen more as breeding animals to increase the slave workforce, rather than as mothers. Their main purpose, in the eyes of white enslavers, was their reproductive function.

  • After the international slave trade was banned in 1807, enslavers had to rely on breeding slaves within the US to grow their populations. This led to widespread sexual abuse and rape of enslaved black women by white enslavers. Enslaved black men and women were also often forced to reproduce.

  • The legacy of this was the stereotype of the sexually “loose” black woman that endured after slavery to deflect from the realities of the sexual violence during slavery. Strict gender roles also developed between white male/female work during this time.

  • After slavery, as eugenics movements grew, women of color and poor women were especially vulnerable to forced sterilization policies. Meanwhile white women were expected to have many children. This double standard in controlling women’s reproduction based on race/class led to feminist movements of color viewing issues like birth control differently than white feminists.

  • Davis’s work highlighted the need for diversity in feminist thought, leadership and tactics to reflect the differing experiences of women of different races and classes. This paved the way for a more inclusive feminism.

  • The Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp was established in 1981 outside a UK military base to protest the arrival of nuclear cruise missiles. Over time, it developed a strong community of women campaigning for nuclear disarmament.

  • The camp challenged the nuclear state through creative non-violent direct actions. Their commitment to non-violence helped shape later anti-war and environmental movements.

  • While the cruise missiles left in 1991, some women stayed at the camp until 2000 in continued protest of nuclear weapons.

  • In 2002, the campsite was designated a historic site, commemorating the women’s peaceful resistance and the important role the camp played in the anti-nuclear movement.

  • The camp provided a space for women activists to not only campaign against nuclear weapons, but also discuss their roles and situations as women. It enabled women to unite and find strength in solidarity.

  • Womanism was needed instead of feminism because feminism failed to address the specific issues faced by black women, who experienced both racism and sexism.

  • Black communities played an important role in Maya Angelou’s autobiography. She described how both men and women faced racism and how central the church was.

  • Black feminism sought to address inequalities in racism and sexism faced specifically by black women. It grew out of the belief these issues could not be addressed separately.

  • Figures like Ida B. Wells provided inspiration, but older organizations like NAACP were seen as outdated. Black women sought an ideology reflecting their unique experiences.

  • In the 1970s, groups like the National Black Feminist Organization and Combahee River Collective formed to advocate for black feminist issues and acknowledge the multiple oppressions black women faced.

  • Writers and works in the 1980s like bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and The Color Purple further developed black feminist thought and highlighted issues often excluded from mainstream feminism.

  • Womanism and black feminism created space for alternative theories within feminism that were more inclusive of racial and class perspectives. The movements continue today through groups like Black Lives Matter.

  • In the late 20th century, Marilyn Waring from New Zealand emerged as an important voice in feminist critique of mainstream economics. She argued that economics disregards women’s unpaid domestic labor, making women invisible.

  • Waring’s influential book “If Women Counted” (1988) examined how GDP and other economic measures exclude most of women’s work. She advocated rethinking these concepts to consider whole community wellbeing, including the productivity of women’s unpaid work.

  • Waring was the first to emphasize the importance of women’s time at the micro and macro community levels. Her work persuaded the UN to recalculate GDP and inspired new accounting methods.

  • Postcolonial feminism developed in response to both postcolonial theory and Western feminism failing to address the concerns of women in postcolonial worlds. Scholars like Chandra Talpade Mohanty critiqued Western feminism for homogenizing women’s experiences.

  • Mohanty argued Western feminism reduced women in non-Western nations to stereotypes like poor, uneducated victims, while portraying Western women as liberated and empowered. Postcolonial feminism aimed to challenge these overgeneralizations.

Here is a summary of Nadra Talpade Mohanty:

  • Nadra Talpade Mohanty is an influential Indian American postcolonial and transnational feminist theorist born in 1955 in Mumbai, India.

  • She studied English at the University of Delhi and earned her PhD from the University of Illinois. Her seminal 1986 essay “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses” brought her widespread recognition.

  • Her research focuses on the politics of difference and solidarity, decolonizing knowledge, and feminist transborder solidarity. She is currently a distinguished professor at Syracuse University.

  • Key works include Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (2003) and Transnational Feminist Crossings: On Neoliberalism and Radical Critique (2013).

  • Mohanty helped develop postcolonial feminist theory, which critiques the assumptions and perspectives of Western feminism. She argues feminism must be grounded in local experiences and cultures rather than imported wholesale.

  • Her work highlighted how Third World women face “triple colonization” through colonialism, patriarchy, and Western feminism and advocated for more inclusive, global understandings of feminism.

  • In 1974, the Native American women’s group Women of All Red Nations (WARN) was formed to address issues particularly affecting women, such as healthcare and reproductive rights, that were lacking focus from other organizations.

  • WARN embarked on campaigns highlighting issues like Native American women’s health, restoring treaty rights violated by the US government, and combating the commercialization of Indigenous culture.

  • One major issue WARN worked to publicize was the US government’s forced sterilization program in the 1970s, where an estimated 25-50% of Native American women were sterilized without proper consent. This interfered with women’s autonomy and Indigenous families’ ability to have children.

  • Another key issue Indigenous feminist groups advocated on was the high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women, which became recognized as a national crisis in Canada due to lack of resources devoted to solving these cases.

Here is a summary of the key points regarding criticism of Moynihan’s arguments:

  • Moynihan was criticized for placing too much blame on black families and culture, rather than acknowledging the role of structural racism and inequality in society. This focus on blame was seen as a convenient way to avoid analysing and addressing the underlying issues.

  • He was accused of promoting racist stereotypes about black families, particularly the idea of a “tangle of pathology” within black communities. Critics argued this ignored the impact of historical and ongoing discrimination.

  • His arguments downplayed the persistent effects of centuries of slavery, segregation, and racial oppression on black communities and families. They failed to acknowledge how these shaped contemporary inequality.

  • By focusing blame internally on black culture and pathology, his arguments distracted from the need to address external factors like poverty, lack of jobs/opportunities, inadequate education, mass incarceration, and other forms of systemic or institutional racism.

  • In summary, many argued Moynihan substituted blame and internal factors for a deeper analysis of the broader inequality in American society that marginalized and disadvantaged black communities, creating the conditions he described.

  • Forced marriage involves marrying someone without their consent, against their will. It violates human rights and autonomy.

  • Several Muslim-majority countries have declared forced marriage unlawful in recent decades under pressure from human rights groups. However, it persists in some communities due to social and family pressures.

  • In the UK, activist Jasvinder Sanghera set up a charity called Karma Nirvana in 1992 to support victims of forced marriage and honor-based abuse. Even with anti-forced marriage laws, many cases go unreported due to shame and secrecy.

  • Support groups run by community members play a vital role in eradicating forced marriage by offering practical and emotional support to victims.

  • Islamic scholars argue that under Islamic law, marriage requires the woman’s consent - otherwise it is considered void.

  • Feminist activist Zainah Anwar co-founded Sisters in Islam in Malaysia in 1988 to promote women’s rights in Islam using progressive Quranic interpretations and international human rights standards.

  • Ending harmful traditional practices like forced marriage requires addressing both legal issues and social/cultural factors within communities. Victim support groups are important for dismantling the secrecy and stigma that allows such abuses to persist.

The debate around sex-positivism remains ongoing, but it has undoubtedly gained more acceptance and ground in the 21st century. Most Western women now enjoy far greater sexual freedom and autonomy than just a few generations ago. However, sexual expression and speech remain among the most repressed and disdained forms of expression.

Carol Queen is a pioneering sex-positive author and educator who has worked to promote open discussion and education about sexuality since the 1980s. She helped establish organizations like Good Vibrations and the Center for Sex & Culture to provide sex education and resources focused on inclusion, diversity and pleasure. Her writing, such as the influential book “The Sex and Pleasure Book”, has helped advance acceptance of sex-positivism.

Meanwhile, figures like Susie Bright have argued that sexual speech remains one of the most suppressed areas of expression. Overall, while progress has been made, advocacy continues for greater openness, empowerment and liberation when it comes to sexuality and sexual communication.

Here is a summary of the key points about representational intersectionality and Kimberlé Crenshaw’s work:

  • Representational intersectionality describes how women of color are represented in popular culture and how this affects them in everyday life. Stereotypical portrayals can lead to stigma and marginalization.

  • Crenshaw stresses we should not take an additive approach to understanding oppression (e.g. racism + sexism). Rather, we must see how systems of oppression intersect and influence each other. For example, the “welfare queen” stereotype uniquely affected black single mothers.

  • Black women experience class oppression, like poverty, in gendered and racialized ways that white women do not face.

  • Crenshaw used examples of inadequate domestic violence shelters to show how institutions meant to help women can fail those at the intersections due to lack of consideration for race, class, language needs etc.

  • A woman’s experience of domestic violence depends on her individual intersecting identities like race, class, immigration status which shape the oppression she faces.

  • Crenshaw is a prominent critical race theorist who coined the term “intersectionality” and has extensively written on how we must consider multiple marginalized identities and how systems of oppression intersect.

  • In 1992, Rebecca Walker wrote an influential article for Ms. magazine titled “Becoming the Third Wave” declaring the emergence of a new wave of feminism.

  • She argued that the fights for women’s rights and equality were far from over, dismissing claims of a post-feminist era where women had achieved equality.

  • Third-wave feminism built upon second-wave achievements but sought to adapt feminism to changing times and issues like neoliberalism, sexuality, and intersectionality.

  • Figures like Walker recognized that ongoing sexism and backlashes against feminist gains required feminism to be reinvented for new generations.

  • The period saw debates around issues like sexual empowerment, beauty standards, gender and identity, as well as campaigns on healthcare, FGC, and violence against women internationally.

  • Conservative movements in the US and UK during the 1980s-90s fostered a broader backlash against progress on issues like civil rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights.

  • The ACT UP organization was founded in 1987 to advocate for AIDS awareness and treatment.

  • Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority mobilized evangelical Christians against feminist, pro-choice, and LGBT rights in the 1980s during the Reagan era.

  • The Equal Rights Amendment failed to be ratified by enough states by its 1982 deadline.

  • In the 1990s, debates emerged around Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas, and feminists protested violence against women at the Rally for Women’s Lives in 1995.

  • Black women organized the Million Woman March in 1997 after the 1995 Million Man March for civil rights. Gay rights activists also protested frequently in the 1990s and 2000 for equal rights.

  • Jennifer Baumgardner became a prominent third-wave feminist activist and writer in the 1990s and 2000s, focusing on topics like reproductive rights, bisexuality, and rape. She co-founded the feminist platform Soapbox Inc.

So in summary, it outlines some of the key feminist and LGBT rights organizations and events in the late 1980s through the 1990s, as well as introduces Jennifer Baumgardner as a prominent third-wave feminist figure.

  • Judith Butler was influenced by Simone de Beauvoir’s work distinguishing sex and gender, but critiqued the distinction and developed her own theories.

  • Butler draws on poststructuralism, particularly Michel Foucault’s view that social reality is constructed through language.

  • Butler focuses on performativity - how gender identity is created through repetitive acts like speech, behavior, appearance, etc. within a social context.

  • Gender is not something innate, but something “done” through these repetitive acts that give the illusion of a fixed identity.

  • Butler argues the gender binary of man/woman is socially constructed to enforce heterosexuality as the norm.

  • Butler’s work was influential in queer theory by challenging assumptions of heterosexuality as natural and critiquing how gender, sex and sexuality are imposed as aligning.

  • Her theories have been impactful for feminism by challenging notions of a shared female experience and questioning the constructions of what it means to be a woman.

  • Foucault examined how sexuality became a subject of regulation and control through the medicalization and pathologization of certain sexual behaviors as “perversions” in the 19th century. This led to the emergence of a science of sexuality to govern sexuality on behalf of the state.

  • Feminist theorists like Gayle Rubin and Adrienne Rich built on these ideas by analyzing what types of sex were deemed socially acceptable vs unacceptable, and critiquing the idea of “compulsory heterosexuality.”

  • Queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick further critiqued these ideas in her influential book Epistemology of the Closet. She challenged the binary division of heterosexual vs homosexual and emphasized recognizing differences between lesbians and gay men. Sedgwick argued that gender studies and anti-homophobia work are not the same.

  • Foucault, feminists, and queer theorists all contributed to understanding how sexuality and gender are socially constructed and regulated in ways that enforce normativity and marginalize those who do not conform.

Naomi Wolf explored the concept of the “beauty myth” and its harms in her influential 1990 book The Beauty Myth. She argued that unrealistic societal beauty standards imposed pressures and limitations on women. Since then, feminists have expanded on her findings and worked to dismantle oppressive beauty norms. Critics have pointed out racial biases in mainstream beauty ideals and called out industries like fashion for promoting unhealthy body images. The plus-sized modeling industry has grown, and terms like “body positivity” have entered feminist discourse. However, beauty standards and their effects still impact women’s self-worth. Overall, Wolf’s work helped spark important discussions around women’s objectification based on appearance.

Here is a summary of the text:

The passage discusses the work of Italian feminist philosopher Adriana Cavarero and her 1995 book “In Spite of Plato”. In it, Cavarero analyzes Plato’s philosophy to consider a feminist reinterpretation of ancient philosophy. She examines four female figures in Plato’s work, such as Penelope, wife of Odysseus, and criticizes how they are locked into patriarchal and inferior domestic roles in Plato’s narratives.

Cavarero argues that feminist philosophers should not reject Plato’s work as patriarchal, but apply feminist insights to reclaim ancient philosophy. She challenges the exclusion of female views in ancient philosophy. The passage presents Cavarero as showing that feminist philosophers can take ancient philosophy and reform it from a feminist perspective. It discusses how she argues for analyzing female characters like Penelope through a lens of birth rather than Plato’s emphasis on death. Overall, the summary explains Cavarero’s argument for feminist reinterpretation of ancient philosophy like Plato’s instead of outright rejection.

In the 1960s, liberation theology emerged in Latin America as a movement within the Roman Catholic Church that sought social change and liberation for the oppressed. Gustavo Gutierrez developed liberation theology and wrote “A Theology of Liberation” in 1971. Liberation theology asserts that God and the Bible prioritize the poor over the rich.

In the following decades, liberation theology expanded to address the oppression of indigenous women in Latin America. Feminist liberation theologians argued for a new world order to free poor women from unjust social structures. Figures like Gladys Parentelli advocated for women’s rights and criticized the Catholic Church and patriarchy.

In 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis. As head of the Catholic Church, he addressed issues of poverty and inequality, reflecting some of the priorities of liberation theology. Overall, liberation theology emerged as a progressive movement within the Catholic Church seeking social justice and liberation for the oppressed, especially the poor and indigenous women, in Latin America.

  • WfWI has worked in other conflict zones besides Afghanistan, including Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Sudan.

  • Zainab Salbi, the founder of WfWI, authored two books on her experiences. The first book documented stories of women in conflict zones about survival, peace, and hopes for the future.

  • Both books argue that aid to women in wartime must go beyond material support and promote women’s role in the peace process to create real change.

  • Salbi quotes that “It appears easier to talk about protecting women than it is to fully include women at all decision-making levels in peace talks and post-conflict planning.” This highlights the need to meaningfully involve women in conflict resolution and postwar governance.

Some third- and fourth-wave feminists have critiqued Levy’s concept of “raunch culture” as promoting a form of sexual “freedom” that ultimately serves the interests of misogynistic culture. They argue Levy focuses too much on sex workers and fails to address the underlying inequality in sex industries. Queer feminist practices have provided an alternative critique, challenging the assumption that women’s sexuality is always shaped by the “male gaze.” Groups like Club Burlesque Brutal, a queer femme burlesque troupe, aim to depict diverse femininities and portray overt queer desire rather than catering to heterosexual male desire. Overall, these critiques question whether embracing certain sexualized aspects of popular culture actually empowers women or simply placates patriarchal interests.

The statement “being openly who I am… happy and thriving, is a political act” by Laverne Cox suggests that simply existing as one’s authentic self, regardless of gender identity or expression, can be a powerful political statement. For marginalized groups, openly embracing who they are instead of feeling ashamed or hiding themselves pushes back against systemic oppression and social norms that seek to exclude or invalidate them. By finding happiness and fulfillment being true to who they are, individuals engage in grassroots activism and advocacy for greater acceptance and representation of all people. Their very presence and example promote the idea that everyone deserves to live freely without fear of discrimination or persecution based on characteristics over which they have no control.

Here is a summary of the key points about fourth-wave feminism and digital activism:

  • Fourth-wave feminism emerged in the early 2010s, influenced by third-wave intersectionality and sex positivity. It is associated with millennials and Gen Z who were raised with teachings of gender equality.

  • The rise of feminist blogging/websites like Feministing in the 2000s helped spread feminist ideas and connect diverse voices online. This increased visibility and accessibility of feminism.

  • Hashtag activism utilizes trending hashtags on social media to draw attention to issues and live-stream protests/injustices, helping spread information viral. Examples include #BringBackOurGirls, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo.

  • The #MeToo movement in particular highlighted the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and held perpetrators accountable. It gained global influence through social media.

  • However, some marginalized women activists are subjected to online harassment like doxxing, threats, and revenge porn by misogynists on the internet.

So in summary, digital platforms were pivotal in the development of fourth-wave grassroots feminism but also enable new forms of online abuse against women activists.

Emma Holten had nude photos of her stolen and posted online without her consent. In response, she published her own series of nude photos in a project called “Consent” to reclaim control over her image. She has since done other activist work on issues of online privacy, data rights, and revenge porn.

Most US states and several other countries have now introduced laws criminalizing revenge porn in recognition of the harms it can cause victims. However, stigma around sexuality and non-consensual sharing of intimate images continues to negatively impact people’s lives.

Jessica Valenti is a prominent American feminist writer and founder of the feminist website Feministing. She has authored several influential books on topics like feminism, sexuality, and women’s rights. Valenti advocates for issues like combating sexism and promoting sexual freedom and bodily autonomy.

  • The passage discusses the emergence of “common-sense feminism” in the late 2000s/early 2010s that promoted core ideas of gender equality and framed feminism as a matter of basic human rights and fairness.

  • Proponents like Caitlin Moran, Emma Watson, and Michelle Obama argued that feminism benefits both women and men by dismantling harmful gender stereotypes. They advocated reclaiming the term “feminism” and urged everyone to consider themselves a feminist.

  • Chimamanda Adichie delivered an influential TED talk called “We Should All Be Feminists” that condemned double standards faced by girls/women in Nigerian society and called for men to recognize their role in challenging patriarchal norms.

  • While common-sense feminism helped popularize the cause, some critics argue it is not radical enough and risks ignoring ongoing patriarchal power structures and inequities faced by disadvantaged groups.

  • The passage discusses how online debates in the 2000s brought renewed attention to feminist issues, though disagreements remained about feminism’s goals and whether further battles were still needed.

  • The stem of patriarchy refers to the underlying power structures in society that privilege men and oppress women.

  • Crispin is critical of “lean in” individualistic feminism promoted by Sheryl Sandberg, which advises women to work harder and emulate male strategies to get ahead.

  • Instead, Crispin calls for sustained struggle against the capitalist economic system in order to create profound social change.

  • She argues that minor adjustments will do little to help the multitudes of poor and oppressed women worldwide. Achieving systemic change is needed.

  • Educationalists (FAWE) promotes female education in sub-Saharan Africa at both child and adult levels. It was founded in 1992 by five women education ministers and now has 35 national chapters.

  • FAWE campaigns for equal policies and programs for girls and boys. It runs literacy classes and income-generation activities for adult women through mothers’ clubs in countries like Zambia, Gambia, Liberia, and Malawi.

  • Gender disparities in education exist globally, not just in developing countries. In the US, racial education gaps remain a challenge, with African American and Hispanic girls often performing less well than white girls.

  • Malala Yousafzai is a noted advocate for girls’ education. She was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan in 2012 for her activism promoting girls’ education and recovered to continue campaigning and write a bestselling memoir.

  • Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” urged women to “lean in” and reach for leadership positions. While popular, it also received criticism for putting responsibility on individual women and not addressing systemic barriers.

In her essay “Feminist Killjoys (and Other Willful Subjects)”, Sara Ahmed explores feminism and emotion, in particular how feminists are seen as violating social norms by refusing to be happy in the face of women’s oppression.

Ahmed uses the metaphor of a family gathered around a table sharing polite conversation. She says that for a feminist, working out how to respond to offensive statements from a family member can be traumatic. If she questions those statements, she risks being seen as a “killjoy” who has ruined the gathering by bringing up a problem and making herself the problem.

Similarly, people of color responding to white racism are often painted as the killjoy, seen as causing tension rather than the racism being recognized as the legitimate target. Ahmed argues feminists should embrace being “killjoys” and form supportive networks to confront sexism and racism openly. Speaking out about negative feelings is necessary for dismantling oppression. Her concept of the “feminist killjoy” asks women to rethink what constitutes joy and whose pain that joy is built on.

Here is a summary of the key points about the extent to which women earn less than men:

  • Data from various countries shows an unadjusted or adjusted pay gap between what women and men earn, with women typically earning 80-84% of what men earn.

  • The gap has narrowed over time due to factors like improved rights, unionization, and employment laws, but progress has slowed.

  • Explanations for the gap include voluntary factors like working part-time, and also involuntary discrimination and biases against women.

  • Myths suggest it’s due to women’s career choices, but data shows discrimination is a major factor through biases in hiring, pay, and promotion.

  • Motherhood impacts women’s pay through perceptions of lower commitment and challenges with things like breastfeeding and childcare responsibilities.

  • Even countries with strong policies like paid leave still see a motherhood penalty and wage gap, showing other systemic factors are also at play.

  • Closing the gap further requires ongoing efforts to address biases, lack of family support policies, and fight discrimination in the workplace.

  • The #MeToo movement began in 2006 when activist Tarana Burke used the phrase “Me Too” to promote solidarity among survivors of sexual abuse, especially young women of color.

  • Awareness of sexual harassment issues grew in the 2010s, with multiple high-profile cases against Bill Cosby and Donald Trump.

  • In October 2017, the New York Times published allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein spanning decades. This prompted many more women in Hollywood and other industries to come forward with their own stories of abuse.

  • Actor Alyssa Milano then tweeted “Me too” as a call for others to share their stories of sexual harassment or assault, which sparked the viral #MeToo movement on social media. Millions of posts shared experiences with sexual misconduct.

  • The movement drew attention to the prevalence of harassment across many professions and industries globally. It empowered more victims to speak out and call for accountability and policy changes.

  • While spotlighting Hollywood, #MeToo also drew attention to the heightened risks faced by vulnerable groups like migrant workers and those in low-wage jobs.

  • Tarana Burke’s early efforts establishing the movement focused especially on supporting young women of color, though #MeToo expanded the discussion more broadly.

  • A backlash emerged against the #MeToo movement, with some critics arguing it had gone too far and endangered sexual freedom.

  • An open letter signed by 100 prominent French women, including actress Catherine Deneuve, argued that while abuse should be condemned, seduction was not a crime and the movement risked making all men afraid to ask women out.

  • The letter claimed #MeToo had become too extreme, tyrannical and puritanical, portraying women only as perpetual victims and subjecting men accused of abuse to “media lynching” without due process.

  • Deneuve later defended the letter while apologizing to victims who were offended. She felt one solution was better education and stronger workplace protections against sexual abuse.

  • The passage discusses the argument that the #MeToo movement had started with valid goals but some felt it had progressed too far in a way that potentially infringed on liberties or due process. There was a backlash claiming it risked making all forms of male-female interaction too restricted.

The passage discusses the incremental victories for women’s suffrage in Ireland in the early 20th century, culminating in 1922 when all Irish women over 21 were finally given the right to vote. This followed years of activism by Irish suffragettes seeking equal voting rights. Some key figures mentioned include Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, who co-founded the Irish Women’s Franchise League in 1908 and advocated for both women’s suffrage and Irish independence. Overall the passage presents the gradual expansion of voting rights for women in Ireland as part of the broader global suffrage movement fighting for gender equality.

Here is a summary of the key points about Joke Smit:

  • Joke Smit was a Dutch feminist, journalist, and politician born in Vianen, Netherlands.

  • In 1967, she published the influential essay “The Discomfort of Women” which described Dutch women’s frustrations with traditional roles and is credited with starting the second-wave feminist movement in the Netherlands.

  • In 1968, she cofounded the feminist action group Man Vrouw Maatschappij (MVM, Man Woman Society) with Dutch politician Hedwig “Hedy” d’Ancona to promote non-hierarchical feminism.

  • In the 1970s, she wrote extensively about feminism, socialism, education for women, the division of labor between men and women, and lesbian liberation.

  • Overall, Joke Smit was an important early figure in launching the second-wave feminist movement in the Netherlands through her writing and activism in the late 1960s and 1970s. She advocated for expanding women’s roles beyond just wives and mothers.

Patrisse Cullors is an American activist and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. She entered political activism as a teenager focused on anti-police brutality and racial justice issues due to her own experiences with police brutality against her family members.

In 2013, Cullors co-founded Black Lives Matter along with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Black Lives Matter became a major social movement advocating for racial justice and against police violence.

Cullors has won multiple awards for her activism work. She is also involved with other organizations like the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights that focus on issues like police misconduct, racial justice, and urban violence prevention. Overall, Cullors is a prominent Black activist and queer rights activist who helped launch the major Black Lives Matter movement through her early work around criminal justice reform and racial equality issues.

In 2014, 57 girls were abducted in Nigeria. Many escaped or were rescued, but as of 2018 over 100 girls remained missing and some are presumed dead. Kidnappings have continued.

Here is a summary of key terms related to feminism, gender, and women’s studies:

Objectification - Treating women as sexual objects for male desire rather than as individuals.

Oppression - Exercising power and authority over others in a cruel or unjust manner.

Patriarchy - A social system where men hold most power and value, and women are excluded. It refers to male dominance in public and private spheres.

Pay gap - Unequal pay between genders or other groups doing the same work.

Performativity - How individuals enact and construct gender identities through feelings, appearance and actions.

Political lesbianism - The idea that women should reject men to combat patriarchy, regardless of sexual desires.

Positive discrimination - Favoring groups facing oppression to address inequalities.

Postcolonialism - Studying colonialism’s legacies on societies, cultures and power dynamics.

Privlege - Advantages certain groups have versus others based on gender, race or other attributes.

Queer - An umbrella term for gender and sexual minorities rejecting normative identities.

Radical feminism - Believing women can only be free when patriarchy ends through collective activism.

Rape culture - An environment where sexual assault is normalized or trivialized.

Sexism - Stereotyping, discrimination or disrespect toward a gender.

Sexual politics - Power dynamics between genders regarding sexuality and relationships.

Sisterhood - Solidarity and collective action among women to improve rights.

Victim-blaming - Holding victims responsible for crimes committed against them.

White feminism - Feminism focused on issues primarily affecting white women.

Womanism - Experiences of women of color overlooked by mainstream feminism.

Madelaine Ballard

Design: Soheila Forouzanfar

     Francis Jago, Studio Jago

David Pearson


Commissioning Editor Anchika Singh

Managing Editor Emma Heywood-Lonsdale

Project Designer Sonakshi Singh

Project Coordinator Nikunge Kurien

Pre-Production Manager Sunil Sharma

Creative Technical Support Rachana Kudal

Managing Art Editor Tanya Mahendru

Picture Researcher Taiyaba Khatoon


Cover Editor Rachana Kudal

Photography Coordinator Kapil Sharma

Pre-Press Supervisor Yogesh Kumar Mishra


Designers Charming Jiang, Vivian Fang, Kenny Liu

Illustrators Gabrielle Liang, Fiona Ren

Picture Researcher Zoe Chen, Flora Lei

Thanks to Mary Wolin and Douglas Adams for keeping us on track with patience, good humor, and wisdom.


Head of DK Production Craig Smith

Senior Production Controller Alison Gardner

Managing Editor Dawn Henderson

Managing Art Editor Marianne Markham

Assisting Jack

ISBN 978-0-241-37684-5

Copyright © 2019 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK, a Division of Penguin Random House LLC

18-22 Wenlock Road, London N1 7GU

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.



Here is a summary of the key people involved in editing and producing this book:

  • Emma Dawson - Editor

  • Stephanie Cheng Hui Tan - Jacket Designer

  • Sophia MTT - Jacket Design Development Manager

  • Gillian Reid - Producer, Pre-Production

  • Mandy Inness - Producer

  • Gareth Jones - Managing Editor

  • Lee Griffiths - Senior Managing Art Editor

  • Liz Wheeler - Associate Publishing Director

  • Karen Self - Art Director

  • Philip Ormerod - Design Director

  • Jonathan Metcalf - Publishing Director

  • DK Delhi team: Mahua Sharma, Meenal Goel, etc. involved in art editing, design, production.

  • Toucan Books team: Ellen Dupont, Thomas Keenes, Dorothy Stannard etc. involved in editing, design, production.

  • Manjari Hooda - Head of Digital Operations, Delhi

  • Rebecca Short - Senior Production Programme Manager

It lists the key editors, designers, producers and managers involved in editing, designing, producing and publishing this book from DK, Toucan Books and DK Delhi offices.

Author Photo

About Matheus Puppe