Liberal feminism

Liberal feminism

Liberal feminism, also known as "mainstream feminism," asserts the equality of men and women through political and legal reform. It is an individualistic form of feminism and theory, which focuses on women’s ability to show and maintain their equality through their own actions and choices. Liberal feminism looks at the personal interactions of men and women as the starting ground from which to transform society into a more gender-equitable place. According to liberal feminists, all women are capable of asserting their ability to achieve equality, therefore it is possible for change to happen without altering the structure of society. Issues important to liberal feminists include reproductive and abortion rights, sexual harassment, voting, education, "equal pay for equal work," affordable childcare, affordable health care, and bringing to light the frequency of sexual and domestic violence against women. [hooks, bell. "Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center" Cambridge, MA: South End Press 1984]

Liberal feminists generally work for the eradication of institutional bias and the implementation of better laws. In the United States, liberal feminists have historically worked for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment or Constitutional Equity Amendment, in the hopes it will ensure that men and women are treated as equals under the democratic laws that also influence important spheres of women's lives, including reproduction, work and equal pay issues.

Feminist writers associated with this tradition are amongst others Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill; second-wave feminists Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem; and the Third Wave feminist Rebecca Walker.

Liberal feminist organizational goals

United States

Organizations and their issues

The largest liberal feminist organization in the United States is the National Organization for Women (NOW).Fact|date=July 2008 Their priority issues are [ [ NOW Key Issues ] ] :

* Constitutional Equality through the Constitutional Equality Amendment
* Reproductive Freedom Issues/Abortion rights
* Ending Violence Against Women
* Promoting Diversity / Ending Racism
* Lesbian Rights
* Economic Justice

;Also important

* Affirmative Action
* Disability Rights
* Ecofeminism
* Family
* Fighting the Right
* Global Feminism
* Health

* Immigration
* Judicial Nominations
* Legislation
* Marriage Equality
* Media Activism
* Mothers' Economic Rights
* Working for Peace

* Social Security
* Supreme Court
* Title IX/Education
* Welfare
* Women-Friendly Workplace
* Women in the Military
* Young Feminist Programs

upport for the ERA and the CEA

Some American liberal feminists believe that equality in pay, job opportunities, political structure, social security and education needs to be guaranteed by U.S. Constitution.

History of the ERA:
Three years after women won the right to vote, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced in Congress by Senator Curtis and Representative Anthony, both Republicans. It was authored by Alice Paul, head of the National Women's Party, who led the suffrage campaign. Anthony was the nephew of suffragist Susan B. Anthony. Through the efforts of Alice Paul, the Amendment was introduced into each session of Congress. But it was buried in committee in both Houses of Congress. In 1946, it was narrowly defeated by the full Senate, 38-35. In February 1970 twenty NOW leaders disrupted the hearings of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, demanding the ERA be heard by the full Congress. In May of that year, the Senate Subcommittee began hearings on the ERA under Senator Birch Bayh. In June, the ERA finally left the House Judiciary Committee due to a discharge petition filed by Representative Martha Griffiths. In March 1972, the ERA was approved by the full Senate without changes — 84-8. Senator Sam Ervin and Representative Emanuel Celler succeeded in setting an arbitrary time limit of seven years for ratification. The ERA went to individual states to be ratified by the state legislatures.

In 1982, the ERA was stopped three states short of ratification. The state legislatures that were most hostile to the ERA were Utah, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Oklahoma.Fact|date=July 2008 The National Organization for Women believes that the single most obvious problem in passing the ERA was the gender and racial imbalance in the legislatures. More than 2/3 of the women and all of the African Americans in state legislatures voted for the ERA, but less than 50% of the white men in the targeted legislatures cast pro-ERA votes in 1982. [ [ Chronology of the Equal Rights Amendment, 1923-1996 ] ]

The CEA:
The Constitution Equality Amendment (CEA) was rolled out in 1995 by [ American Women's Organizations] . The CEA incorporated all of the concerns that have arose out of a two year study by NOW and other groups of the ERA which reviewed the history of the amendment from 1923 until the present. The items that were included in the CEA which were missing in the ERA include:

*Women and men shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place and entity subject to its jurisdiction;
*rights without discrimination on account of sex, race, sexual orientation, marital status, ethnicity, national origin, color or indigence;
*prohibits pregnancy discrimination and guarantees the absolute right of a woman to make her own reproductive decisions including the termination of pregnancy;

People of interest

18th century

* Mary Wollstonecraft

19th century

* John Stuart Mill
* Harriet Taylor


* Betty Friedan
* Gloria Steinem
* Rebecca Walker
* Naomi Wolf


United States

*National Organization for Women
*Feminist Majority Foundation
*Ms. Magazine


:"The goal of liberal feminism in the United States was embodied in the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was never ratified. It said, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”" – Judith Lorber, [ Gender Inequality: Feminist Theories and Politics, Second Edition]


Critics of liberal feminism argue that its individualist assumptions make it difficult to see the ways in which they argue that underlying social structures and values disadvantage women. They argue that even if women are no longer dependent upon individual men, they are still dependent upon a patriarchal state. These critics believe that institutional changes like the introduction of women's suffrage are insufficient to emancipate women. [Bryson, V. (1999): "Feminist Debates: Issues of Theory and Political Practise" (Basingstoke: Macmillan) pp.14-15]

Other critics such as black feminists and postcolonial feminists assert that mainstream liberal feminism reflects only the values of middle-class white women and has largely ignored women of different races, cultures or classes. [Mills, S. (1998): "Postcolonial Feminist Theory" in S. Jackson and J. Jones eds., "Contemporary Feminist Theories" (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press) pp.98-112]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • liberal feminism — либеральный феминизм …   Термины гендерных исследований

  • Sexually-liberal feminism — Sex positive feminism ist eine Bewegung, die in den USA in den frühen achtziger Jahren des 20. Jahrhunderts als Antwort auf die Versuche einiger antipornografisch orientierter Feministinnen wie Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin und Dorchen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sexually liberal feminism — Sex positive feminism ist eine Bewegung, die in den USA in den frühen achtziger Jahren des 20. Jahrhunderts als Antwort auf die Versuche einiger antipornografisch orientierter Feministinnen wie Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin und Dorchen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • feminism — feminist, n., adj. feministic, adj. /fem euh niz euhm/, n. 1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. 2. (sometimes cap.) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women. 3 …   Universalium

  • Feminism — Feminists redirects here. For other uses, see Feminists (disambiguation). See also: feminist movement and feminism in the United States …   Wikipedia

  • Liberal People's Party (Sweden) — Infobox Political party name english = Liberal People s Party name native = Folkpartiet liberalerna party chairman = Jan Björklund foundation = 23 February 1902 headquarters = Stora Nygatan 2A, Stockholm ideology = Liberalism Social liberalism… …   Wikipedia

  • Feminism in Egypt — has involved a number of social and political groups throughout its history. Although Egypt has in many respects been a forerunner in matters of reform particularly in developing movements of nationalism, of resistance to imperialism and of… …   Wikipedia

  • FEMINISM — FEMINISM, both a political movement seeking social equities for women and an ideological movement analyzing a wide range of phenomena in terms of gender politics. Jewish feminism in the modern era has played a significant and transformative role… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Feminism in international relations — is a broad term given to works of those scholars who have sought to bring gender concerns into the academic study of international politics. In terms of international relations (IR) theory it is important to understand that feminism is derived… …   Wikipedia

  • Liberal movements within Islam — This article is part of the series …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.