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To what extent is women’s liberation being hindered by disunity amongst feminists?

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Introduction

TO WHAT EXTENT IS WOMEN'S LIBERATION BEING HINDERED BY DISUNITY AMONGST FEMINISTS? This paper will attempt to discuss what feminism is, what the movement has achieved in recent years and whether the discord between the various factions within the feminist movement is having a detrimental effect on women's fight for equality. "Feminism is the political theory and practice to free all women: women of color (sic), working-class women, poor women, physically challenged women, lesbians, old women, as well as white economically privileged heterosexual women. Anything lees than this is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement(sic)." (Barbara Smith 1979; quoted in Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua eds 1981, 61: Kramarae C. & Treichler, 1985, A Feminist Dictionary, Pandora Press, London) The Women's Movement is not a new phenomenon, the first written documentation dates back to the 16th Century but the first wave of feminism was seen between approximately 1850 and 1930. The most widely known feminist movement was that of the suffrage campaign which started in the 1860's when the first petition was presented to parliament demanding the right for women to vote on equal terms with men. ...read more.

Middle

Employers were given five years to phase in the Act, however even in 1975 when the Act was fully operational and legally binding women still retired earlier than men, which has only recently been changed, and benefited less from company pension schemes. The main fault of the Equal Pay Act was that the woman had to prove that she was doing equal the work of a male counterpart, thus leaving companies plenty of opportunity to assess the work as different in some way and pay the woman less. Whilst the Equal Pay Act was not perfect it did go a considerable way to closing the gap between men and women's pay. The Sex Discrimination Act was also passed in 1975, designed to outlaw sexual discrimination in the workplace, from recruitment and training through every stage to dismissal, redundancy or retirement. Only certain occupations were exempt from the Sex Discriminations Act such as certain posts within the Armed Forces. The Sex Discrimination Act also covered education. Feminists claimed that the education system was patriarchal and discriminated against girls. Subject matter was very different for boys and girls. ...read more.

Conclusion

The woman's ability to bear children has seemed to be her biggest personal hurdle in the fight for equality in recent years. In a work environment a woman will always have to take a career break to have children whereas the man does not have to. Women's income can be affected by having children, they may have to rely on their partner for support both financially and emotionally or if they do not have a partner they may have to rely on the welfare system to support them financially and bear the burden alone. The Feminist Movement could be said to have highlighted the inequalities and brought about changes in the home either directly or indirectly. Whilst there is a common goal amongst feminists groups there is also conflict between ideologies and politics. Socialist feminists are considered separatists, lesbian and radical feminists to be man-haters and Marxists Feminists accused all women's groups of being capitalist. Separatist feminists accused heterosexual women of being male-defined and the Liberal movement was generally disliked by other factions.(Ryan B, 1992, Feminism and the Women's Movement, p56) Whilst there may be divisions between the varying feminist groups it could be said that what unites the feminists is greater than what divides them! ...read more.

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