Monday, February 5, 2018

Feminism has been defined as the advocacy of social equality for men and women, in opposition to patriarchy and sexism. It is, historically; a very recent movement. It started in the 1840's with women who opposed slavery. It morphed to include women's suffrage and has developed into the modern feminist movement. The goals of feminism are:
  1. To bring about change towards equality between men and women.
  2. To expand human choice. They propose a means by which each human can develop all the human traits.
  3. Move towards elimination of gender stratification. What this means is that feminists oppose laws and cultural norms, which limit the education, income and job opportunities of women?
  4. End of sexual violence.
  5. Sexual autonomy- what this means is that feminism pushes for women's control over their sexuality and reproduction.
According to the first point, equality of men and women-in the past women were not considered as a separate entity in society. A woman was identified with the title of her husband. They did not have much freedom in expressing their thoughts to others. If we look at the history of Europe then we would see that witch-hunt blazed a trail across Europe over the 15th to 18th centuries. Among the accused witches 75% to 90% were female.

In the past women had no independence in making their own decisions in life. Women were not allowed to make their own choices either in their personal or social life. Her traits were identified by the title of her family, her father, her husband. Whether good or bad, rich of poor, they had to abide by the rules. That were created by the head of their family who was a male. According to the author: "When a woman was liable as she was in the fifteenth century to be beaten and flung about the room if she did not marry the man of her parent's choice"—the female had no chance of developing her own traits or broaden her world.

Feminism in Virginia Woolf’s “Women and Fiction”

In the past the social rules and regulations were against the rights of women's education, income and job opportunities: According to the author: “Law and customs were of course largely responsible for this strange intermission of silence and speech."

In Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth century women bore the brunt of the accusations of witch craft because they were thought to be morally weaker than men and driven by carnal lust. Weak morals and lusty appetites made them more susceptible to being bent by the Devil's will. This was the former notion about women and sex and in Europe. Women's sexual position was that women would give birth and raise children, and the male child was considered as the symbol of good fortune. If a woman could not give birth to a male child she was physically and mentally tortured by her family and her husband. Young girls also had to go through a lot of mental pressure because they could not freely move or go to any place. If a girl was sexually abused or raped she could not turn for justice as it would create a great scandal for the family and that woman could not marry anyone. There was also no system or law for birth control or abortion. Thus women had no control over their sex life and child birth.

In the essay Women and Fiction Virginia Woolf has particularly emphasized on the contribution of women in literature and their limitations and through revealing their conditions in the past society she tried to detail the needs of a woman writer.

Things have changed a lot since that early time, now women are also working like men and many countries have admitted and preserved their rights. Women are also coming forward in the field of study, science and literature. Some countries have accepted these changes some could not accept it but it is true that women are becoming more and more conscious about their rights and freedom.

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