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The difference between Feminism and Womanism

The difference between feminism and womanism

There are more to feminism than women campaigning for the rights of women.

What is feminism?

Feminism is a broad concept with various element. These elements can be seen as separate or a whole to define feminism, and not all of them need to be present to identify feminism.

  • It is a set of beliefs and ideas of the broad social and political movement to promote the rights of women
  • It’s directs and guides the women’s movement to self-empowerment
  • Includes the broader movement for equality of women in all spheres of life
  • It is seen as a guide of reform for women rights, including laws and codes of conduct
  • In most spheres of society feminism and women rights are a special concern to the community
  • It is not only a philosophical view
  • There are concerns in the scientific community that feminism influence the outcome of scientific studies if the studies are either run by women or researching female issues.
  • Female researchers are seen as emotional, personal and subjective, and in the masculine scientific world it is assumed that female researchers cannot make objective findings, something that feminism is trying to prove wrong.
  • It is a global movement that was made popular by the United Nations World Conference in 1995, placing the role of women in society in the spotlight

In short, feminism can be seen as the global movement to promote women rights.

The difference between feminism and womanism-1

What is womanism?

Womanism is seen by some researchers as part of feminism. It can be broadly defined to include the following elements:

  • The school of thought was developed in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s
  • It mainly focuses on the rights of African American women
  • It’s main goal was to place the rights and voices of black women in the spotlight
  • It lead to the development of a new school of thought where the black woman’s role in the society is more defined
  • Black women must now except their peers in positions that were previously dominated by males
  • African American women had to redefine themselves in a space that they created

Is feminism and womanism the same thing?

Feminism and womanism is seen as different school of thoughts, however there are some similarities between the two. The similarities can be summarized as follows:

  1. Both are fighting for the rights and equal treatment of women
  2. The main goal for both is to improve the lives of women
  3. The main “enemy” for both is the patriarchal system, a male dominated world
  4. Both are controversial schools of thought.

What does feminism achieve?

The best example of the success of feminism is the fact that more women are appointed in high profile positions such as Supreme Court Justices and CEO’s of international companies.

Various males in top positions now claim that they are deprived of promotions or better opportunities because of the success of females and feminism.

There are various countries in the world where women do not have any rights, but their rights have improved since the globalization of feminism. Only recently women were allowed to obtain driver’s permits in Saudi Arabia, a country which previously did not allow women to go anywhere without a male companion.

What does womanism achieve?

The womanism movement in the United States have led to black women achieving prominent positions in government and the corporate world. However, womanism has also led to black women not acknowledging black women in prominent positions.

Due to the oppression that black women have suffered throughout history, it became difficult for normal citizens to acknowledge the success of other black women. Today, a lot of black women in prominent positions are seen as only puppets for the patriarchal system. Black women are also mostly labelled as not earning their positions or if they have achieved it on their own, then they are labelled as women who use their bodies to achieve the positions.

The main differences between feminism and womanism

Feminism Womanism
An age old school of thought becoming prominent in 1995 A relative new school of thought, that originated in the late 1980’s
Focus on women’s rights across the different social levels Focus on the rights of African American women
Strive to improve the life of women Strive to improve the life of African American women
Led to women being respected by their colleagues, no matter their gender Led to African American women in prominent positions being envied by their peers and other African American women

In summary

Feminism and womanism have both tried to improve the life of women. Feminism can be seen as mostly successful, with some of the major biases against women being dispelled by their school of thought.

Womanism can be seen as successful to a certain extent, however, it also led to the alienation of successful African American women.

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1 Comment

  1. Good article, but why is “lavender” spelled incorrectly in that meme?

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References :

[0]Ferree, M. M. et al. Global Feminism: Transnational Women's Activism, Organizing, and Human Rights. NYU Press, 2006. EBook

[1]Collins, P. H. What's in a Name? Womanism, Black Feminism, and Beyond. The Black Scholar: Journal of Black studies and research, Volume 26, 1996, Pages 9 – 17. Journal

[2]Fiss, Owen M. "What is feminism." Ariz. St. LJ 26 (1994): 413.

[3]Delmar, Rosalind. "2 What is Feminism?." (1986).

[4]Image Credit: https://crackernationnews.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/the-blue-dress-chronicles-october-winner/

[5]Image Credit: http://www.blackfeminisms.com/quotes-black-feminists/

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