Recently, I have read several discussions of comic books purporting to hold up feminist ideals, and quite a few people arguing about the writers' success. However, there are different forms of feminist practice, and so I offer here some definitions within feminist theory to help with Comic Vine users' understanding of feminism. There are many derivations of feminism not described here, but the movements I have chosen to describe here should give you a background for your own research.
Feminism—Umbrella term for various approaches for defining, establishing, and protecting the agency of women. The respective movements and philosophies that define themselves as Feminist have different agendas; a contemporary American 20something has different concerns than an Egyptian woman resisting misogynist laws, even as suffragettes in the late 19th century had different concerns than radical feminists of the 1970s. While some contend men’s liberation is essential for change to occur, while other movements concentrate solely on women’s issues. Gender equality is the bottom line.
Liberal Feminism—Seeks political reform and legislation as primary means of guaranteeing gender equality. This is the movement most associated with women’s suffrage [theright to vote].
Cultural Feminism—An essentialist perspective of Feminism, attempting to define femininityand womanhood. However, this movement was criticized for being exclusionary to the identities of women from marginalized ethnic groups and nonwhite cultures, and for its shortcomings in promoting political agency for women.
Radical Feminism (a.k.a. “Women’s Liberation”)—Sees patriarchal institutions as responsible for women’s oppression, and believes society needs to be completely overhauled. Their idea of hell would (justifiably) be that described in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, while paradise might be Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man.
Postmodern Feminism—Uses the work of French post-structuralists like Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan as the foundation for reinterpreting gender in order to make effective change in an evolving world. Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble is an extremely significantwork for this movement, as is Hélène Cixous’ “The Laugh of the Medusa.”