Political Ideologies: Feminism
Feminism is a type of political movement and philosophy that intends to modernize the social role of females. It was one of the great political and social movements of the 19th and 20th century. The term feminism can be used to define a political, cultural or economic movement aimed at establishing equal rights and legal protection for women. Feminism involves political and sociological theories and philosophies concerned with issues of gender difference, as well as a movement that advocates gender equality for women and campaigns for women's rights and interests. Feminists have emphasized what they see as the political relationship between the sexes that is the supremacy of men and the domination of women in most of the societies.
Feminist ideology is categorized by two basis beliefs. First, women and men are treated differently because of their sex, and second, that imbalanced treatment can and should be overturned. Although most feminists embrace the goal of gender equality, it is misleading to define feminism in terms of this goal as some feminists distinguish between liberation and equality, debating that the latter implies that women should be 'like men'. The fundamental notion in feminist analysis is patriarchy, which draws attention to the totality of oppression and exploitation to which women are subject. This highlights the political importance of gender, understood to refer to socially imposed rather than biological differences between women and men. Most feminists view gender as a political paradigm, usually based upon stereotypes of 'feminine' and 'masculine' behaviour and social roles.
Concept of feminism:
Feminism is a group of social theories, moral philosophies and related political activities that supports social, political and economic equality between the sexes. The word �Feminism� denotes to an intense consciousness of identity as a woman and interest in feminine problems. The suppression of woman is core fact of history and it is the main cause of all psychological disorders in society. Janet Richards spoke that �The essence of Feminism has a strong fundamental case intended to mean only that there are excellent reasons for thinking that woman suffer from systematic social injustice because of their sex, the proposition is to be regarded as constituting feminism." According to Virginia Woolf, "A woman must have money and room of her own if she is to write fiction."
Francine and other feminists want to guarantee that women have all the same rights and opportunities as men, which has not been the case through much of history. In fact, women did not get the right to vote in the United States until 1919 with the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution well over 100 years after the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights were penned.
Feminism is a term that arose long after women started enquiring their substandard status and demanding an improvement in their social position. Even after the word feminism was coined, it was still not adopted as a term of identification by many of those who campaigned for women�s rights. Even many of the women�s rights organizations in the late 1960s and early 1970s did not call themselves feminist: the term feminism had a restricted use in relation to specific concerns and specific groups (Delmar 1986).
Many studies have shown that feminism is a struggle for equality of women, an effort to make women become like men. Feminism is visualized as the struggle against all forms of patriarchal and sexiest aggression, such as oppositional definition presents.
Eisenstein interprets the term feminism as, �In my understanding of the term �feminist� then I see an element of visionary futurist thoughts. This encompasses a concept of social transformation that as part of the eventual liberation of women with change all human relationships for the better. Although, centrally about women, their experience and condition. Feminism is also fundamentally about men and about social change.��
Maggie Humm and Rebecca Walker stated that the history of feminism can be divided into three waves. The first feminist 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 is manifest in a variety of disciplines such as feminist geography, feminist history and feminist literary criticism.
Modern feminism were emerged with the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill. Wollstonecraft wrote the Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792, which debated that women should have the equal rights as men, including the right to education, earnings and property. John Stuart Mill, in his 1869 book, The Subjection of Women, also discussed that women should be given same legal rights as males.
Historians described the first wave of feminism as being from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century. The feminist movement during the first wave was principally concerned with fundamental political rights, such as the right to vote; economic rights, such as the right to own property apart from a husband; rights to education and employment; and impartial marriage laws. The first wave of feminism was diligently related with the women's suffrage movement, which emerged in the 1840s and 1850s. The achievement of female suffrage in most Western countries in the early twentieth century. It meant that the campaign for legal and civil rights expected a lower profile and disadvantaged the women's movement of a combining focus.
The second wave of feminism arose during the 1960s and expressed, in addition to the established concern with equal rights, the more revolutionary demands of the rising Women's Liberation Movement. Since in the beginning of 1970s, feminism has undergone a process of de-radicalisation, leading some to pronounce the appearance of post-feminism. This was indisputably linked to a growing repercussion against feminism, related with the rise of the New Right, but it also reflects the development of more individualised and conventionalised forms of feminism, characterised by an unwillingness any longer to view women as 'victims'.
The focus of the second wave was on employment and reproductive rights. Some major laws were passed during this period, including the Equal Pay Act; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited gender discrimination in employment; and Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in education. The breakthrough Supreme Court decisions of Griswold v. Connecticut, involving birth control, and Roe v. Wade, regarding abortion, greatly stretched female reproductive rights.
The third wave of feminism is the recent movement. The third wave is in part a reaction to a perceived overemphasis of the movement to focus on middle-class ordinary white females. The third wave movement is more diverse and divergent as compared to the past waves and is spread from a national movement to the grassroots level. Major concerns of the third wave of feminism include such things as globalism, technology and other forces that affect women.
Another major attribute of third wave feminism is the respect of the value of the feminine. For example, because of traditional feminine characteristics of nurturing and empathy, females are often superior at dispute resolution. Additionally, modern feminism is also about choice. Modern feminism considers that women should have the choice to chase all the opportunities that are available to men but also have the right to choose 'traditional' roles as well. Main point is not what females choose to do but that they have the choice.
Feminist theory is an expansion of feminism into theoretical or philosophical arenas. It incorporates work in a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, economics, women's studies, literary criticism, art history, psychoanalysis and philosophy. Feminist theory has aim to understand gender inequality and focuses on gender politics, power relations and sexuality. While providing a evaluation of these social and political relations, much of feminist theory focuses on the promotion of women's rights and interests. Themes explored in feminist theory include discrimination, stereotyping, objectification (especially sexual objectification), oppression and patriarchy.
The American literary criticizer and feminist Elaine Showalter defines the phased development of feminist theory. The first she calls "feminist critique," in which the feminist reader examines the ideologies behind literary phenomena. The second Showalter calls "gynocriticism," in which the "woman is producer of textual meaning" including "the psychodynamics of female creativity; linguistics and the problem of a female language; the trajectory of the individual or collective female literary career and literary history." The last phase she calls "gender theory," in which the "ideological inscription and the literary effects of the sex/gender system" are explored. The scholar Toril Moi disparaged this model, seeing it as an essentialist and deterministic model for female bias that fails to account for the situation of women outside the West.
Ideologies of feminism:
Feminist philosophy and practice is highly dissimilar, however. Distinctive liberal, socialist/Marxist and radical forms of feminism are usually identified.
Liberal feminism replicates a commitment to individualism and formal equality, and is characterised by the quest for equal rights and opportunities in 'public' and political life. Liberal feminism proclaims the equality of men and women through political and legal reform. It is an individualistic form of feminism, which focuses on women's capability to show and maintain their impartiality through their own actions and choices. Liberal feminism uses the personal interactions between men and women as the place from which to change culture. Some prominent writers were Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria steward, The Grimke Sisters, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Molly Yard.
Liberal feminists stated that all women are capable of asserting their ability to accomplish equality, therefore it is possible for change to happen without changing the structure of society. Several 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, 1986).
Socialist feminism, largely derived from Marxism, highlights links between female subservience and the capitalist mode of production, drawing attention to the economic significance of women being confined to the family or domestic life. Eminent writers were Marx, Engels, Gilman, Kollontai and Eisenstein.
Socialist feminism links the oppression of women to Marxist philosophies about exploitation, oppression and labor. Socialist feminists consider unequal standing in both the workplace and the domestic areas holds women down. Socialist feminists perceive prostitution, domestic work, childcare, and marriage as ways in which women are browbeaten by a patriarchal system that diminishes women and the substantial work they do. Socialist feminists concentrate on far-reaching change that affects society as a whole instead of on an individual basis. They see the need to work alongside not just men but all other groups, as they see the oppression of women as a part of a larger pattern that affects everyone involved in the capitalist system (Ehrenreich, Barbara, 1976).
Marx sensed that when class oppression was overcome, gender oppression would disappear as well. Marxist feminism focuses their attention on women�s position in labor and in the capitalist system - women�s participation in the home and in wage work. Heidi Hartmann states that �the problem in the family, the labor market, economy, and society is not simply a division of labor between men and women, but a division that places men in a superior, and women in a subordinate, position�. As a result, Marxist feminists take on a revolutionary approach to overthrow capitalism in order to dismantle male privilege. This is the theory of Marxist feminism. Some socialist feminists, Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party asserted that the classic Marxist writings of Frederick Engels and August Bebel as a dominant explanation of the link between gender oppression and class exploitation. Other socialist feminists, this view of gender oppression is naive and much of the work of socialist feminists has gone towards separating gender phenomena from class phenomena. Some supporters of socialist feminism have disparaged these traditional Marxist ideas for being largely silent on gender oppression except to include it underneath broader class subjugation (Connolly, Clara, 1986).
In the end of nineteenth century and beginning of twentieth century, both Clara Zetkin and Eleanor Marx were against the demonization of men and supported a proletarian revolution that would overcome as many male�female disparities as possible. As their movement already had the most radical demands of women's equality, Marxist leaders such as Clara Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai counterpoised Marxism against feminism instead of conglomerate them.
Anarcha-feminism, also known as anarchist feminism and anarcho-feminism, conglomerates anarchism with feminism. It normally views patriarchy as an expression of involuntary hierarchy. Anarcha-feminists consider that the struggle against patriarchy is an indispensable part of class struggle and of the anarchist struggle against the state. In brief, the philosophy perceives anarchist struggle as an essential component of feminist struggle and vice versa. According to L. Susan Brown, �as anarchism is a political philosophy that opposes all relationships of power, it is inherently feminist" (Brown, Susan, 1990). Some dominant historic anarcha-feminists were Emma Goldman, Federica Montseny, Voltairine de Cleyre, Maria Lacerda de Moura, and Lucy Parsons. In the Spanish Civil War, an anarcha-feminist group, Mujeres Libres ("Free Women"), linked to the Federaci�n Anarquista Ib�rica, organized to protect both anarchist and feminist thoughts.
Radical feminism goes beyond the viewpoints of established political traditions in portraying gender divisions as the most fundamental and politically significant cleavages in society, and in calling for the radical, even revolutionary, reformation of personal, domestic and family life. Radical feminists pronounce that 'the personal is the political'. However, the breakdown of feminism into three traditions such as liberal, socialist and radical. That has become increasingly redundant since the 1970s as feminism has become yet more sophisticated and diverse. Among its more recent forms have been black feminism, psychoanalytic feminism, eco-feminism and postmodern feminism. Influential writers of the period are Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin, Kate Millet, and Juliet Mitchel.
Radical feminism created the slogan �The personal is political� to emphasize that individual experiences brings out political issues that need to be addressed and acknowledged. They take on a ground-breaking approach in that social and political changes are necessary in order to overthrow the structural framework of inequality between men and women. They argue that �individual female identity and experience is the first step to collective revolution� (Whelehan, 1995).
Radical feminism considers the male-controlled capitalist pyramid, which it defines as sexist, as the crucial feature of women's harassment. Radical feminists consider that women can free themselves only when they have done away with what they consider an innately oppressive and dominating patriarchal system. Radical feminists understand that there is a male dominating society and power structure and that it is responsible for subjugation and inequality, and that, as long as the system and its values are in place, society will not be reformed. Some radical feminists visualized that there is no alternatives other than the total displacing and modernisation of society in order to realise their goals (Echols, Alice, 1989).
Existentialist feminists highlight concepts such as freedom, interpersonal relationships, and the experience of living as a human body. They value the capacity for radical change, but identify that factors such as self-deception and the anxiety caused by the possibility of change can limit it. Many are devoted to exposing and undermining socially imposed gender roles and cultural constructs limiting women's self-determination, and criticize post-structuralist third-wave feminists who deny the intrinsic freedom of individual women. A female who makes considered choices regarding her way of life and suffers the anxiety related with that freedom, isolation, or nonconformity, yet remains free, demonstrates the tenets of existentialism. The novels of Kate Chopin, Doris Lessing, Joan Didion, Margaret Atwood, and Margaret Drabble include such existential heroines. Simone de Beauvoir was a famous existentialist and one of the principal creators of second-wave feminism.
Women have to assert her autonomy in defining herself against any men. She has to define her own identity, dealing herself a past and creating for her solidarity for other women.Simon De Beauvoir (the Second Sex).Individual Feminism:
Individualist feminists makes effort to change legal systems to eradicate class privileges and gender privileges and to ensure that individuals have equal rights, including an equal claim under the law to their own persons and property. Individualist feminism boosts women to take full responsibility for their own lives. It also opposes any government interference into the choices adults make with their own bodies because, it contends, such interference creates a coercive hierarchy. One central theme of individualist feminism revolves around the Free Love Movement, which indicates that a woman's sexual choices should be made by her and her alone, rather than by government regulations. It communicates about frustrations of middle class women. It emphasis on liberating sexuality of women Germaine Greer.
Black and womanist:
According to black feminism, sexism, class oppression, and racism are inseparably bound together. Forms of feminism that struggle to overcome sexism and class oppression but ignore race can discriminate against many people, including women, through racial prejudice. The National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO) was founded in 1973 by Florynce Kennedy, Margaret Sloan, and Doris Wright. According to Wright it, "more than any other organization in the century launched a frontal assault on sexism and racism". The NBFO also helped inspire the founding of the Boston-based organization the Combahee River Collective in 1974 which not only led the way for crucial antiracist activism in Boston through the decade, but also provided a scheme for Black feminism that still stands a quarter of a century later.
Combahee member Barbara Smith described that feminism still remains a model today and stated that, "feminism is the political theory and practice to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, physically challenged women, lesbians, old women, as well as white economically privileged heterosexual women. Anything less than this is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement" (Thompson, Becky, 2002).
The Combahee River Collective debated in 1974 that the freedom of black women involves freedom for all people, since it would require the expiration of racism, sexism, and class oppression. One of the theories that progressed from this movement was Alice Walker's womanism. It arose after the early feminist movements that were led specifically by white women, were principally white middle-class movements, and had generally overlooked oppression based on racism and classism. Alice Walker and other womanists indicated that black women experienced a different and more intense kind of oppression from that of white women (Walker, Alice, 1983).
Angela Davis pronounced the intersection of race, gender, and class in her book, Women, Race, and Class (1981). Kimberle Crenshaw, an eminent feminist law theorist, gave the idea of intersectionality in the late 1980s as part of her work in anti-discrimination law and as part of defining the effects of compound discrimination against black women.
Multiracial feminism offers a viewpoint theory and analysis of the lives and experiences of women of color. The theory developed in the 1990s and was developed by Dr. Maxine Baca Zinn, a Chicana feminist, and Dr. Bonnie Thornton Dill, a sociology expert on African American women and family.
It was observed that though often overlooked in the history of the Second Wave of feminism, Multiracial Feminists were establishing at the same time as white feminists. During the Second Wave of feminism stretching from the late 1960s /early 1970s until the 1990s, Multiracial Feminists worked alongside other women of colour and white feminists and also organized themselves outside of women only spaces. In the 1970s, women of color worked mainly on three fa�ades, "working with white dominated feminist groups, forming women�s caucuses in existing mixed-gender organizations and forming autonomous Black, Latina, Native American, and Asian feminist organizations" (Thompson, Becky, 2002). The standpoint of Multiracial Feminism attempts to go beyond recognition of diversity and difference among women, to scrutinise structures of dominance, specifically the importance of race in understanding the social construction of gender.Postcolonial feminism:
Postcolonial feminism, also known as Third World feminism, draws on postcolonialism, which deliberates experiences undergone during colonialism, including "migration, slavery, overpowering, resistance, representation, difference, race, gender, place and responses to the influential discourses of imperial Europe." Postcolonial feminism focusses on racism, ethnic issues, and the long-lasting economic, political, and cultural effects of colonialism, inextricably bound up with the unique gendered realities of non-White non-Western women (Weedon, C, 2002). It visualizes the parallels between recently decolonized nations and the state of women within patriarchy, both postcolonialism and postcolonial feminism take the "perspective of a socially marginalized subgroup in their relationship to the dominant culture." (Kramarae and Spender, 2000).
Western feminists universalize the issues of females, thereby eliminating social classes and ethnic identities, reinforcing homophobia, and disregarding the activity and voices of non-White non-Western women, as under one application of Orientalism. Some postcolonial feminists disparage radical and liberal feminism and some, such as Chandra Talpade Mohanty, criticized Western feminism for being ethnocentric (Mohanty, Chandra Talpade, 1991). Black feminists, such as Angela Davis and Alice Walker, share this view. Another opponent of Western viewpoints is Sarojini Sahoo. Postcolonial feminists can be defined as feminists who have responded against both universalizing tendencies in Western feminist thought and a lack of attention to gender issues in mainstream postcolonial thought (Mills, S, 1998).
Post-structural feminism, also called to as French feminism, adopted the insights of various epistemological movements such as psychoanalysis, linguistics, political theory (Marxist and post-Marxist theory), race theory, literary theory, and other intellectual currents for feminist concerns (Barbara Johnson, 2002). Many post-structural feminists uphold that difference is one of the most prevailing tools that women possess in their scuffle with patriarchal domination, and that to associate the feminist movement only with equality is to refute women a plethora of options because equality is still defined from the masculine or patriarchal viewpoint.
Postmodern feminism is a tactic to feminist theory that integrates postmodern and post-structuralist theory. Judith Butler maintains that sex, not just gender, is created through language (Butler, Judith, 1999). In her 1990 book, Gender Trouble, she draws on and critiques the work of Simone de Beauvoir, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Lacan. Butler appraises the distinction drawn by previous feminisms between biological sex and socially constructed gender. She opined that the sex/gender distinction does not allow for enough disapproval of essentialism. According to Butler, "woman" is a debatable category, complicated by class, ethnicity, sexuality, and other facets of identity�. She states that gender is performative. This argument concluded that there is no single cause for women's subservience and no single approach towards dealing with the issue (Butler, Judith, 1999).
The major strong point of feminist ideology is that it has exposed and challenged the gender prejudices that encompass society and which have been overlooked by conventional political thought. As such, feminism has gained growing decency as a distinguishing school of political thought. It illuminated established concepts such as power, domination and equality, but also introduced a new sensitivity and language into politics related to ideas such as connection, voice and difference.
Feminism in the Indian Context:
In India, feminism movement occurs speedily in modern time. To comprehend and sympathizes the responsiveness of feminism, it is important to observe that Indian feminist present altogether different picture sequence. The long and sore suffering of women, the bitter fight for the exception of the idea of equal pay for equal work, the continuing battles on behalf of woman�s right to abortion and to practice of birth control are some of the noticeable marks of the gender disparity that has continued and that woman had to fight. Feminist situation in India possess a different dispensation. Indian society has always been highly hierarchical. The several hierarchy within the family concreting age, sex and ordinal position, congenial and fine relationship or within the community referring to the caste lineage, learning, occupation and relationship with ruling power have been maintained very stringently.
One of the breakthroughs in the growth of an organized women�s movement was the formation of the All India Women�s Conference in 1927. Initially, it was set up to debate the issue of female education, but afterwards, this question could not be addressed without looking at other issues such as purdah and child-marriage.
The movement is visualized in three waves. The first movement started with the mass mobilization of women during the national movement. After independence, for over a decade, there was a stillness in political activity by women. The legitimacy accorded to the post-independence state and the developmental programmes launched by the government dulled the edge of combativeness. Gradually, the economic policies adopted by the ruling classes were describing its logic. Growing unemployment and rising prices led to mass rebellions, especially in Gujarat and Bihar. This period, from the late 1960s onwards, can be called the second wave, with a renaissance of political activity by women.
Since 1960s, it was clear that many of the promises of Independence were still unfulfilled. It was that the 1960s and 1970s saw an epidemic of movements in which women took part: campaigns against rising prices, movements for land rights, peasant movements. Women from different parts of the country joint together to form groups both inside and outside political parties. Ubiquitously, in the different movements that were sweeping the country, women participated at large scale. Everywhere, their participation resulted in altering the movements from within.
The Indian Left disintegrated in the early 1970s, and there was an inquiring of earlier analyses of revolution. In Maharashtra, the United Women�s Anti Price-Rise Front, formed in 1973 by Socialists and Communists, rapidly became a mass women�s movement for consumer protection. The movement spread and linked up with the students� agitation against corruption in Gujarat, and it became a huge middle class movement which soon shifted its focus to an overall appraisal of the Indian state. The struggle was crumpled by brutal police repression and the announcement of the Emergency. It was actually after the Emergency in 1975-76 that many of the modern women�s groups known as third wave feminists began to get formed, with their members often being women with a history of involvement in other political movements. This revolutionary move by the women activists spread all over speedily, uniting women of all the parts of India (Nivedita Menon, 1999).
The distinctive features of the new women�s groups were that they avowed themselves to be �feminist� in spite of the fact that most of their members were drawn from the Left, which saw feminism as conventional and troublesome. They insisted on being autonomous even though most of their members were affiliated to other political groups, generally of the far Left. This fact influenced the feminist movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s in multifaceted manner.
One of the first issues to receive nation-wide attention from women�s groups was violence against women, specifically in the form of rape, and dowry deaths in India. The killing of young married women for �dowry� and the money or goods is widespread in India in present situation also. This was also the beginning of a process of learning for women. Most of these protests were focused at the state level, because women were able to mobilize support, the State responded, seemingly positively, by changing the law on rape and dowry, making both more stringent. This seemed, at the time, like a great triumph. But the knowledge began to sink in that mere changes in the law meant little, unless there was a will and a mechanism to implement them at the grass-root level, and that the core problem of discrimination against women lay not only in the law, but was much more widespread.
Women movements against dowry deaths now began to be taken up by neighbourhood groups, teachers� associations, and trade unions. Within feminist groups a series of strategies were devised to enhance public mindfulness of the problems associated with dowry. Stri Sangharsh produced a street play, Om Swaha (priests� incantation around the ritual wedding fire) attracted large crowds all over India. Manushi, a Delhi-based feminist magazine, organized a series of public meetings at which people pledged neither to take nor give dowry. Overall the campaigning against dowry-related crimes led feminists to varying suppositions. On the one hand, they observed that they could get huge public support for campaigns against certain kinds of crimes against women, such as dowry-related murder. On the other hand, they found how difficult it was to work with the law against such crimes.
After few months of the campaign against dowry related crimes, the agitation against rape started with campaigns against police rape. The scale and frequency of police rape are quite surprising in India. When the new feminist groups were formed in the late 1970s, they were already familiar with the categories of police and landlord rape, for both, especially the former, had been addressed by the Maoist movement. The issue of police rape realised new significance in 1978. In 1979, there were women�s demonstrations against incidents of �police and landlord or employer rape� in many parts of the country. Campaigns against these incidents, however, remained inaccessible from each other until 1980, when an open letter by four senior lawyers against a judgment in a case of police rape in Maharashtra sparked off a campaign by feminist groups. The campaign against rape noticeable in a new stage in the development of feminism in India.
In the beginning of 1980s, feminism had diverged into a series of activities that range from the production of literature and audio visual material to slum-improvement work, employment generating schemes, health education, and trade unions. New attempts to organize women Worker�s unions were made. At this stage, the feminist movement had diversified from issue based groups into distinct organizational characteristics. Possibly the most noteworthy development for women in the last few decades has been the introduction of 33% reservation for women in local, village-level elections. In the early days, when this move was introduced, there was considerable skepticism.
Recently, the euphoria of the 1970s and early 1980s, symbolized by street-level protests, campaigns in which groups mobilized at a national level, the sense of a commonality of experience cutting across class, caste, region and religion, all this seems to have gone, replaced by a more considered and complex response to issues. In many parts of India, women are no longer to be seen out on the streets protesting about this or that form of injustice. This apparent lack of a visible movement has led to the complaint that the women�s movement is departed or disappearing.
To portray the reaction to the feminist movement in India, Suma Chitnis composes, �The most distinctive features of this movement that it was initiated by man. It was only towards the end of the century the women joined the fray. The list of who, champion the cause of women are Raja Ram Manohar Roy, Ishwarchandra Vidya Sagar, Keshav Chandra Sen, Matahari, Phule, Agarkar, Ranade, and many more. All these eminent personality did impressive reform to enhance the status of women. It reveals that their efforts spanned action to abolish the practice of Sati, the custom of child marriage, custom of distinguishing widows, the ban on remarriage of the upper caste Hindu widows and many other civil practices that affected women.
The feminist thought and feminist movement in the west have considerable impact on the woman�s movement in the developing country such as India. Yet, feminism as it exists today in India has gone beyond its western counter parts. Uma Narayan rightly stated it third world feminism is not mindless imitating of western agenda in one clear and simple sense. Due to historical and cultural specifications of the region in India, it has to think in terms of its agenda and strategies. In the Indian environment, several feminist have realized that the subject of women�s invasion in India should not be reduced to contradiction between men and women. The woman in order to literate herself and advance needs to empower herself to admit different institutional structures and cultural practices that subject herself to patriarchal domination and well-being.
A major development in modern Indian fiction is the development of a feminist or women cantered approach, that seeks to project and interpret experience, from the angle of a feminine consciousness and sensibility. Patricia Meyer Specks comments: �There seems to be something that we call a women�s point of view on outlook sufficiently distinct to be recognizable through the countries."
Many Indian women novelists have discovered female subjectivity in order to establish an identity, which is imposed as a patriarchal society. The subject is from childhood to woman-hood- developed society respecting women in general. The modern Indian women�s movement is a multifaceted, variously placed, and fertile undertaking. It is perhaps the only movement today that covers and links such issues as work, wages, environment, ecology, civil rights, sex, violence, representation, caste, class, allocation of basic resources, consumer rights, health, religion, community, and individual and social relationships.
In present situation, the women�s movement in India is a rich and effervescent movement, which has spread to various parts of the country. It is often believed that there is no one single cohesive movement in the country, but a number of fragmented campaigns. Activists see this as one of the strengths of the movement which takes different forms in different parts. While the movement may be dispersed all over India, they feel it is however a strong and plural force. Therefore, the future is bright and clear.
Feminism in its literary sense is the physical and psychic liberation of women from the painful traditional controls of man. Since ancient time, particularly in Asian countries and in India, the social custom and dogmas have overall control of man. Shashi Deshpande has sincerely been accepted as a significant literary figure on the contemporary literary scene. She was born in a famous educated Brahmin family in 1938 at Dhārwad in Karnataka. She acquired an intellectual determined of mind and love for learning from her father, Adya Rangacharya, a dramatist and Sanskrit scholar. At the age of fifteen, she went to Mumbai, graduated in Economics, and moved to Bangalore, where she also got degree in Law, English and followed by Diploma in Journalism. Shashi Deshpande�s novels signify the modern modern women�s struggle to define and attain an independent selfhood. Her female protagonists are at great pains to free themselves from stultifying, traditional restraints. The social and cultural change in the post- Independence India has made women conscious of the need to define themselves, their place in society, and their environments.
Shashi Deshpande has also been one of such writers and she makes an earnest effort to understand the inner aspect of the female characters. For the depiction of the predicament of middleclass educated Indian women, their inner conflict and quest for identity, issues pertaining to parent-child relationship, marriage and sex, and their exploitation.
Women in India have raised concern for their pains the age-old patriarchal domination. They are no longer dummies in hands of man. They have revealed their worth in the field of literature both qualitatively and quantitatively and are showing it them today without any obstacle. Today the works of Kamla Markandaya, Nayan Tara Sahgal, Shashi Deshpande, Anita Desai, Shobha De and many more is marvellous that portray female characters in their writings.
Feminism undertakes that women experience the world in a different way from men and write out of their different perspectives. Feminism in Indian fiction has not developed rapidly but it has developed slowly and steadily. Bankimchandra Chatterji and Rabindranath Tagore in Bengali, Jitendra kumar in Hindi, Saratchandra Chatterji created the remarkable portraits of women in Indian literature, it was something of a feminist by centurion. In Urdu language, Ismat Chustai had outraged many by her outspoken themes. Rashid Iqlam, 1930's written stories of �Angare� and 'Aurat' (The Woman) had dealt with the problem of woman.
In Marathi, Vasumati Dharkar published a number of stories from the 1930's to 1950's in which she has portrayed the strong woman's characters of their time. The major themes of these women writers were subjugation and exploitation of woman in a patriarchal society.
A major obsession in recent Indian Woman's writing has been a description of inner life and subtle interpersonal relationships. In a culture where individualism and protest have often remained unfamiliar ideas and marital ecstasy and the woman's role at home is a central focus. It is to observe the emergence of not just an essential Indian sensibility but an expression of cultural displacement. Women are more self-confident, more liberated in their view and more eloquent in their expression than the women of earlier time. To understand and sympathies the sensibility of feminism in its holistic perspective, it is important to observe that Indian Feminism presents an altogether different striking scene.
Suma Chitnis Describrd the reaction to the feminist movement in India and wrote that �The most distinctive feature of this movement is that it was initiated by man. It was only towards the end of the century the women joined the fray".
The authenticity of feminine sensibility and feminine experiences would demand a brief inspection of the changing position of women in India. The study of the Indian feminine psyche evolves a change from tradition to modernity. Opponents have proposed various methods to define these patterns of change. Shri K.S. Iyanger, divides the history of Indian writing in English in three general periods - '1875 to 1900', the new flowering of the creative Indian genius, 1990 to 1947, the Gandhi an Era 1947 onwards the post-Independence period.
Feminism has been criticised on the grounds that its internal divisions are now so sharp that feminist theory has lost all consistency and unity. Postmodern feminists even question whether 'woman' is a meaningful category. Others propose that feminism has become disengaged from a society that is increasingly post-feminist, in that the women's movement, the domestic, professional and public roles of women, at least in developed societies, have experienced a major revolution.
To appraise the feminism, it can be said that feminism has transformed principal perspectives in myriads 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 women's right to bodily integrity and autonomy, for abortion rights, and for reproductive rights (including access to contraception and quality prenatal care); for protection of women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape; for workplace rights, including maternity leave and equal pay; against misogyny; and against other forms of gender-specific discrimination against women.
To summarize, Feminist political philosophy is subdivision of philosophy that focuses on understanding and critiquing the way political philosophy is usually interpreted and on articulating how political theory might be recreated in a way that improves feminist concerns. Feminist political philosophy is a branch of both feminist philosophy and political philosophy. As a branch of feminist philosophy, it serves as a form of critique or a hermeneutics of suspicion (Ric�ur 1970). In the second decade of the twenty-first century, feminist theorists are involved in extraordinary work on matters political and democratic, including global ethics, human rights, disabilities studies, bioethics, climate change, and international development. It can be established that feminist political philosophy is a still developing field of thought that has much to offer mainstream political philosophy. In the past two decades, it has come to exert a stronger influence over mainstream political theorizing, raising oppositions that mainstream theorists have had to address, though not always very persuasively. It is well demonstrated in studies that feminism is a struggle for equality of women, an effort to make women become like men. The agonistic description of feminism sees it as the struggle against all forms of patriarchal and sexiest aggression.