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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Hélène Dutrieu
Credit: Bain News Service

Hélène Dutrieu in her airplane in 1911. Dutrieu was the fourth woman in the world to earn a pilot's license and possibly the first to carry passengers. She was the first woman to earn the French Legion of Honor for aviation. She was also world cycling champion, a stunt motorcyclist, an automobile racer, a wartime ambulance driver, and director of a military hospital.

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Portrait by her mother Alice Pike Barney (1896)
Natalie Clifford Barney (1876 - 1972) was an American expatriate who lived, wrote and hosted a literary salon in Paris. She was a noted poet, memoirist and epigrammatist. Barney's salon was held at her home on Paris's Left Bank for more than 60 years and brought together writers and artists from around the world, including many leading figures in French literature along with American and British Modernists of the Lost Generation. She worked to promote writing by women and formed a "Women's Academy" in response to the all-male French Academy while also giving support and inspiration to male writers from Remy de Gourmont to Truman Capote. She was openly lesbian and began publishing love poems to women under her own name as early as 1900, considering scandal as "the best way of getting rid of nuisances". In her writings she supported feminism, paganism and pacifism. She opposed monogamy and had many overlapping, long and short-term relationships, including an on-and-off romance with poet Renée Vivien and a 50-year relationship with painter Romaine Brooks. Her life and love affairs served as inspiration for many novels, ranging from the salacious French bestseller Sapphic Idyll to The Well of Loneliness, arguably the most famous lesbian novel of the 20th century.

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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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