Feminism is a word that is subject negative implication in the society today. An increased number of individuals negate the plausibility of feminism in the 21st century. Such inclination is predicated on the idea that feminism has long achieved its objectives given the establishment and enactment of legal frameworks that protect women against inequality Indeed, there are several milestones that have been achieved since the establishment of the feminist movement. However, majority women continue to experience hindrances which are occasioned by the inefficiency of the enacted policies and the lack of goodwill in the enforcement of the same by the relevant institutions. The assumption that feminism outlived its usefulness is further augmented by the increase in radical groups which are often inclined towards the framework. Such notions negate the intention of feminism as it was mainly intended to improve the lives and position of women in the society vis-à-vis the male members of the society Given the resistance that is often extended the feminist initiatives, it is plausible to state that feminism is under threat. The threat still hovers long after the establishment of metrics which were enacted to prevent such an outcome. Given the potency of the threat that is posed by the detractors of feminist principles in the 21st century, there is an overriding need to trace the roots of feminism and to capture some of the literary voices that globalised the movement and enabled the creation of policies which protected women’s rights in the society.
“Virginia Woolf comprises a significant factor in the feminist movement” (Freedman 26). Similarly, Mary Wollstonecraft delivers another leading proponent of the feminist stance. Working in different centuries, the authors engage different narration elements in expounding on the topic of feminism. The portrayal of women in the texts “A Room of One’s Own” and “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” converge around the notion that members of the female sex are subjected to inequalities and operational limitations that members of the male sex are not subjected to given the patriarchal nature of the society. Woolf recognized that “women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must need harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics” (Woolf 112). Similarly, Wollstonecraft, with regards to the aims of feminism, determined that “virtue can only flourish by equals” (Wollstonecraft 34). Thus, both authors were inclined towards the promotion of equality for women in the society and the negation of the discrimination based on gender. Whereas this goal is often overlooked in the modern day arguments against feminism, it provides the major intent of feminism. Feminism was not intended to undermine members of the male gender. Instead, it was intended to streamline the rights that were being extended to both men and women to better the standards of living among women and allow them a greater influence in the social processes.
The primary objective of this diagnostic exploration is to learn the origins of feminism through the analysis of the literary opinions established by Mary Wollstonecraft and Virginia Woolf. The two authors approach the feminist topic from different angles. However, all of them converge around the notion which reinforces the emancipation and empowerment of women in the society. Woolf and Wollstonecraft mission different stances with regards to the degrees of freedom that women should be extended. However, this is a consequence of the cultural disparities that existed in Wollstonecraft’s and Woolf’s era. In reflecting on the issue of the origins of feminism, it is necessary to examine the differences and similarities in the opinions of the two authors with regards to feminism. Similarly, the study will seek to determine the influences of the two authors on the spread of the feminist stance in the 18th and 20th century respectively. In achieving its goal, the paper will augment its analysis through the use of feminist theoretical perspectives.
The analysis of the origins of feminism will be predicated on several theoretical contexts. Similarly, it will engage the analysis of related texts to establish the background of feminism in the society. To begin with, the employ of the social cognitive theory can be used to establish the motivations behind the development of feminist calls in the society. The social cognitive theory was developed by Albert Bandura and provides an appropriate theory in the attempt to determine the structure of the society and why it tilts against the women. Essentially, it explores the influences of social norms and gender inequality.
Gender inequality, which gave rise to feminism, could be a consequence of indoctrination and the socialisation that one is subject to during growth from childhood to adulthood. Based on the social cognitive theory, a society that is patriarchal is more likely to discriminate against women. Such a society is often divided along the lines of gender roles. As children grow up in such settings, they are often informed of the limitations of their initiatives depending on their genders. Consequently, such children begin “to form expectations about the response of others to her or his behaviour and interests” (Galliano 54). Societies that align themselves to the gender roles framework encourage disintegration among women and men by alluding to the differences that exist between members of the male sex and the females.