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Feminism in culture

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Title: Feminism in culture  
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Subject: Feminism, Index of feminism articles, Women's rights, History of feminism, War on Women
Collection: Culture, Feminism, Women's Culture, Women's Rights
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Feminism in culture

Feminism has affected society in many ways, a few of which are sketched briefly here.


  • Distinction between sex and gender 1
  • Women's writing 2
    • Science fiction 2.1
  • Women's films 3
  • Women's music 4
  • Riot grrrl movement 5
  • Pornography 6
    • Anti-pornography movement 6.1
    • Sex-positive movement 6.2
  • Prostitution and trafficking 7
  • References 8

Distinction between sex and gender

The distinction between sex and gender is generally that sex is biological (e.g., chromosomal or morphological) while gender is social or cultural (e.g., how societies structure relationships).

Women's writing

Women's writing came to exist as a separate category of scholarly interest relatively recently. In the West, second-wave feminism prompted a general reevaluation of women's historical contributions, and various academic sub-disciplines, such as Women's history (or herstory) and women's writing (including in English) (a list is available), developed in response to the belief that women's lives and contributions have been underrepresented as areas of scholarly interest.[1] Virginia Blain et al. characterize the growth in interest since 1970 in women's writing as "powerful".[1] Much of this early period of feminist literary scholarship was given over to the rediscovery and reclamation of texts written by women. Studies such as Dale Spender's Mothers of the Novel (1986) and Jane Spencer's The Rise of the Woman Novelist (1986) were ground-breaking in their insistence that women have always been writing. Commensurate with this growth in scholarly interest, various presses began the task of reissuing long-out-of-print texts. Virago Press began to publish its large list of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century novels in 1975 and became one of the first commercial presses to join in the project of reclamation. In the 1980s, Pandora Press, responsible for publishing Spender's study, issued a companion line of eighteenth-century novels written by women.[2] More recently, Broadview Press has begun to issue eighteenth- and nineteenth-century works, many hitherto out of print, and the University of Kentucky has a series of republications of early women's novels. There has been commensurate growth in the area of biographical dictionaries of women writers due to a perception, according to one editor, that "most of our women are not represented in the 'standard' reference books in the field".[1]

Science fiction

In the 1960s, the genre of science fiction combined its sensationalism with political and technological critiques of society to produce feminist science fiction. With the advent of feminism, questioning women's roles became fair game to this "subversive, mind expanding genre".[3] Two early texts are Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) and Joanna Russ' The Female Man (1970). They serve to highlight the socially constructed nature of gender roles by creating utopias that do away with gender.[4] Both authors were also pioneers in feminist criticism of science fiction in the 1960s and '70s, in essays collected in The Language of the Night (Le Guin, 1979) and How To Suppress Women's Writing (Russ, 1983). Another major work of feminist science fiction has been[5] Kindred by Octavia Butler.

Women's films

The term women's cinema usually refers to the work of women film directors. It can also designate the work of other women behind the camera such as cinematographers and screenwriters. Although the participation of women film editors, costume designers, and production designers is usually not considered to be decisive enough to justify the term "women's cinema", it does have a large influence on the visual impression of any movie.

In a film from popular culture although not in women's film, an early reference to the "feminist movement" is heard from Katharine Hepburn in the 1942 movie Woman of the Year.

Women's music

  1. ^ a b c Blain, Virginia; Clements, Patricia; Grundy, Isobel (1990). The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers From the Middle Ages to the Present. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 1231.  
  2. ^ , May 4, 1986New York Times, in Paperbacks: From Our Mothers' Libraries: Women Who Created the NovelGilbert, Sandra M., .
  3. ^ Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter (1995). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 1386.  
  4. ^ Helford, Elyce Rae, in Westfahl, Gary, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Greenwood Press, 2005), 290.
  5. ^ Sturgis, Susanna, Octavia E. Butler: June 22, 1947 — February 24, 2006, in The Women's Review of Books, 23(3): 19 May 2006.
  6. ^ a b Lont, Cynthia, Women's Music: No Longer a Small Private Party, in Reebee Garofalo, ed., Rockin' the Boat: Mass Music & Mass Movements (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1992 (ISBN 0-89608-427-2), p. 242).
  7. ^ Peraino, Judith, Girls with Guitars and Other Strange Stories, in Journal of the American Musicological Society, vol. 54, no. 3 (2001), p. 693.
  8. ^ a b Mosbacher, Dee, Radical Harmonies, Woman Vision (2002 (OCLC 53071762)). See also [1].
  9. ^ a b c d Rowe-Finkbeiner, Kristin (2004). The F-Word: Feminism In Jeopardy—Women, Politics and the Future. Seal Press.  
  10. ^ Rosenberg, Jessica; Gitana Garofalo (1998). "Riot Grrrl: Revolutions From Within; Spring 1998". Signs 23 (Feminisms and Youth Cultures; number 3): 809.  
  11. ^ Schilt, Kristen (2003). A Little Too Ironic': The Appropriation and Packaging of Riot Grrrl Politics by Mainstream Female Musicians"'". Popular Music and Society 26 (1). 
  12. ^ Code, Lorraine (2004). Encyclopedia of Feminist Theories. London: Routledge. p. 560.  
  13. ^ Duggan, Lisa; Hunter, Nan D. (1995). Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Culture. New York: Routledge.  
  14. ^ Hansen, Karen Tranberg;; Philipson, Ilene J. (1990). Women, Class, and the Feminist Imagination: A Socialist-Feminist Reader. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.  
  15. ^ Gerhard, Jane F. (2001). Desiring Revolution: Second-Wave Feminism and the Rewriting of American Sexual Thought, 1920 to 1982. New York: Columbia University Press.  
  16. ^  
  17. ^ Vance, Carole S. (1989). Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality. Thorsons Publishers.  
  18. ^ McElroy, Wendy (1995). XXX: A Woman's Right to Pornography. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 243.  
  19. ^ a b  
  20. ^ Brownmiller, Susan (1999). In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution. New York: Dial Press. p. 360.  
  21. ^ Willis, Ellen (1981-06-17). "Lust Horizons: Is the Women's Movement Pro-Sex?".  


enslaved, sexism, denial of law enforcement against sexual assault, limits on health care, higher rates of disease including AIDS, and child prostitution as to be inseparable in practice. However, feminists generally agree in opposing punishment of prostituted women, because of the power imbalance between them and their bosses and customers.

Prostitution and trafficking

Sex-positive feminists are also strongly opposed to radical feminist calls for legislation against pornography, a strategy they decried as censorship, and something that could, they argued, be used by social conservatives to censor the sexual expression of women, gay people, and other sexual minorities. The initial period of intense debate and acrimony between sex-positive and anti-pornography feminists during the early 1980s is often referred to as the feminist sex wars. Other sex-positive feminists became involved not in opposition to other feminists but in direct response to what they saw as patriarchal control of sexuality.

Although some sex-positive feminists, such as Betty Dodson, were active in the early 1970s, much of sex-positive feminism largely began in the late 1970s and 1980s as a response to the increasing emphasis in radical feminism on anti-pornography activism.

Sex-positive feminism is a movement that was formed in order to address issues of women's sexual pleasure, freedom of expression, sex work, and inclusive gender identities. Ellen Willis' 1981 essay, "Lust Horizons: Is the Women's Movement Pro-Sex?" is the origin of the term, "pro-sex feminism"; the more commonly used variant, "sex positive feminism" arose soon after.[21]

Sex-positive movement

Beginning in the late 1970s, Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media in San Francisco, became highly active in various U.S. cities during the late 1970s.[19]

Some feminists, such as Page Mellish, argue that pornography is degrading of women and complicit in violence against women both in its production (whereby, they charge, abuse and exploitation of women performing in pornography is rampant) and in its consumption (whereby, they charge, pornography eroticizes the domination, humiliation, and coercion of women and reinforces sexual and cultural attitudes that are complicit in rape and sexual harassment).[19]

Dorchen Leidholdt, put pornography at the center of a feminist explanation of women's oppression.[18]

Anti-pornography movement

The feminist sex wars is a term for the acrimonious debates within the feminist movement in the late 1970s through the 1980s around the issues of feminism, sexuality, sexual representation, pornography, sadomasochism, the role of transwomen in the lesbian community, and other sexual issues. The feminist debate on porn pitted anti-pornography feminism against sex-positive feminism, and parts of the feminist movement were deeply divided by these debates.[13][14][15][16][17]


The riot grrrls' links to social and political issues are where the beginnings of third-wave feminism can be seen. The music and zine writings are strong examples of "cultural politics in action, with strong women giving voice to important social issues though an empowered, a female oriented community, many people link the emergence of the third-wave feminism to this time".[9] The movement encouraged and made "adolescent girls' standpoints central", allowing them to express themselves fully.[12]

The riot grrrl movement sprang out of Olympia, Washington, and Washington, D.C., in the early 1990s. It sought to give women the power to control their voices and artistic expressions.[9] Riot grrrls took a growling double or triple r, placing it in the word girl as a way to take back the derogatory use of the term.[9]


Kathleen Hanna was the lead singer of Bikini Kill, a riot grrrl music band formed in 1990.

Riot grrrl movement


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