Definitions of Feminism

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“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, journalist and suffrage campaigner, 1913.

Ninety-five years later, feminism is still having that crisis of identity. No one can agree on what feminists believe. After all, anyone can call herself (or himself) a feminist. There are Second and Third Wave feminists, New Feminists (a Catholic Church phenomenon), Liberal Feminists, Radical Feminists, Marxist and Socialist Feminists, Cultural Feminists, and Eco-Feminists, to name a few.

See here for definitions.
For a more exhaustive list of types and definitions, go here.

What worries me the most about modern-day feminism is that it is largely ignored. It’s not much of a movement if no one is paying attention to it. While it’s true that it’s better to have many categories of feminism than no feminism at all, I do think that all the split-offs dilute the feminist message. Say what you will about Second Wave (and First Wave) feminists, they were a force to be reckoned with.

What can be learned from the Women’s Liberation Movement for today’s feminist movement? Was it Women’s Libbers’ ideology or their solidarity that made them so influential? Why don’t we have that same power today? Could it possibly have to do with the fact that we’re more concerned with categorizing ourselves than with working for common goals?

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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