An essay covering the history of feminism

Essay by anxietyCollege, UndergraduateA, March 2005

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The "old" definition for feminism was defined as working towards an overall goal as a group, to achieve economic and political power. Today, this new definition no longer holds true, because many women are misrepresented and confused by many new definitions of feminism. This confusion has created women's ability to take matters into her own hands, and follow her own goals and inspirations-whatever they may be. The history of the feminist movement dates back many hundreds of years as a developing society slowly eased it's grip around women's oppression.

Women traditionally had been regarded as inferior to men physically, mentally and spiritually. Both the law and religion had ordered their subjection. Women could not possess property in their own names, engage in business, or control the disposal of their children or even of their own persons. Although Mary Astell and other activists had pleaded earlier for larger opportunities for women, the first feminist document was Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women written in 1972.

In the French Revolution, women's republican clubs demanded that liberty, equality, and fraternity be applied regardless of sex, but this movement was extinguished for the time by the Napoléonic code.

In North America, although Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren pressed for the inclusion of women's emancipation in the Constitution, the feminist movement began in earnest in 1848. At this time Elizabeth Cady Stanton , Lucretia Coffin Mott , and others, in a women's convention at Seneca Falls, N.Y., issued a declaration of independence for women, demanding full legal equality, full educational and commercial opportunity, equal compensation, the right to collect wages, and the right to vote. Led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Brownell Anthony , the movement spread rapidly and soon extended to Europe.

Over the next seventy years women's demands for...