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Portal:Feminism

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International Women's Day, Bangladesh (2005)
Feminism involves various movements, theories and philosophies which are concerned with the issue of gender inequality, race inequality and humanitarian rights, that advocate eliminating the oppression of women, and that campaign for women's rights and interests. The history of feminism can be divided into three waves. The first wave was in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the second was in the 1960s and 1970s and the third extends from the 1990s to the present. Feminist theory emerged from these feminist movements. It manifests through a variety of disciplines such as feminist geography, feminist history and feminist literary criticism.

Feminism has altered predominant perspectives in a wide range of areas within Western society, ranging from culture to law. Feminist activists have campaigned for women's legal rights (rights of contract, property rights, voting rights); for rights to bodily integrity and autonomy, for abortion rights, and for reproductive rights (including access to contraception and quality prenatal care); for protection from domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape; for workplace rights, including maternity leave and equal pay; and against other forms of discrimination.

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The Penelopiad is a novella by Margaret Atwood. It was published in 2005 as part of the first set of books in the Canongate Myth Series where contemporary authors rewrite ancient myths. In The Penelopiad, Penelope reminisces on the events during the Odyssey, life in Hades, and her relationships with her parents, Odysseus, and Helen. A chorus of the twelve maids, whom Odysseus believed were disloyal and whom Telemachus hanged, interrupt Penelope's narrative to express their view on events. The maids' interludes use a new genre each time, including a jump-rope rhyme, a lament, an idyll, a ballad, a lecture, a court trial and several types of songs. The novella's central themes include the effects of story-telling perspectives, double standards between the genders and the classes, and the fairness of justice. Atwood had previously used characters and storylines from Greek mythology in fiction such as her novel The Robber Bride, short story The Elysium Lifestyle Mansions and poems "Circe: Mud Poems" and "Helen of Troy Does Counter Dancing" but used Robert GravesThe Greek Myths and E. V. Rieu and D. C. H. Rieu's version of the Odyssey to prepare for this novella. The book was translated into 28 languages and released simultaneously around the world by 33 publishers.

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Zuni girl with jar
Credit: Edward S. Curtis

A head-and-shoulders portrait of a Zuni girl with a pottery jar on her head, circa 1903. The Zuni are a Native American tribe, one of the Pueblo peoples, who live beside the Zuni River, in western New Mexico, United States. The Zuni language is unique and unrelated to the languages of the other Pueblo peoples. The Zuni continue to practice their traditional shamanistic religion with its regular ceremonies and dances and an independent mythology. Archaeological evidence shows they have lived in their present location for about 1,300 years.

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Mary Wollstonecraft (circa 1797) by John Opie
Mary Wollstonecraft was a British writer, philosopher, and early feminist. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, travel narratives, a conduct book, a history of the French Revolution, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in which she argued that women are not naturally inferior to men, but only appeared to be because they lacked education. She suggested that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagined a social order founded on reason. Among both the general public and feminists, Wollstonecraft's life has often received as much, if not more, interest than her writing because of her unconventional, and often tumultuous, relationships. After two unsuccessful affairs with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay, Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement. She was also the mother of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Wollstonecraft died at the age of thirty-eight due to complications from childbirth, leaving behind several unfinished manuscripts. Today, Wollstonecraft is considered a foundational thinker in feminist philosophy. Her early advocacy of women's equality and her attacks on conventional femininity and the degradation of women presaged the later emergence of the feminist political movement.

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Gloria Steinem
In my heart, I think a woman has two choices: Either she's a feminist or a masochist.
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