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No Turning Back: The Feminist Resource Website

Some Definitions of Feminism

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Feminism: 1. The qualities of females (1851). 2. [After French feminisme] Advocacy of the rights of women (based on the theory of equality of the sexes) (1895). (Cf. Womanism).

Womanism: Advocacy of or enthusiasm for the rights, achievements, etc. of women (1863).

Feminist: adj. Of or pertaining to feminism, or to women. (1894) --Oxford English Dictionary

Feminism is a belief that although women and men are inherently of equal worth, most societies privilege men as a group. As a result, social movements are necessary to achieve political equality between women and men, with the understanding that gender always intersects with other social hierarchies. --Estelle Freedman

"We will ask two central questions throughout this course: 1. What difference does gender make? 2. For which women does it make a difference? Which women?" --Estelle Freedman, first lecture

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute..." --Rebecca West, The Clarion, 11/14/13

"Mother, what is a Feminist?"
"A Feminist, my daughter,
Is any woman now who cares
To think about her own affairs
As men don't think she oughter."
--Alice Duer Miller, 1915

"The reason racism is a feminist issue is easily explained by the inherent definition of feminism. Feminism is the political theory and practice to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, physically challenged women, lesbians, old women --as well as white economically privileged heterosexual women. Anything less than this is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement." --Barbara Smith, 1979

Feminism has as its goal to give every woman "the opportunity of becoming the best that her natural faculties make her capable of." --Millicent Garrett Fawcett 1878

Feminism is that part of the progress of democratic freedom which applies to women.
--Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale, 1914

Feminism means finally that we renounce our obedience to the fathers and recognize that the world they have described is not the whole world.... Feminism implies that we recognize fully the indadequacy for us, the distortion, of male-created ideologies, and that we proceed to think, and act, out of that recognition." --Adrienne Rich, 1976

"The beginning point at both conferences must be that everything is a woman's issue. That means racism in a woman's issue, just as is anti-Semitism, Palestinian homelessness, rural development, ecology, the persecution of lesbians, and the exploitative practices of global corporations." --Charlotte Bunch, 1985, UN Conference, Nairobi

"One type involves those who think women will only be free when they equal men in all their vices. This is called feminism... But compañeras, do we really want to smoke cigarettes? [The other type is] women being respected as human beings, who can solve problems and participate in everything-- culture, art, literature, politics, trade-unionism-- a liberation that means our opinion is respected at home and outside the home." --Domitila Barrios de la Chungara, 1975

"Third World feminism is about feeding people in all their hungers." --Cherrie Moraga, 1983

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