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Seen by many to be a negative term, feminism has undergone dramatic changes since the term was coined. Seen on both the radical and conservative ends of the political, social, and economic spectrum, feminism today takes on just as many varying positions, reflecting the diverse concerns of women and the society in which they live. Each of these different schools of feminist thought, though, are concerned first and foremost with the experiences of women in an overly patriarchal society.
Feminist thought encompasses nearly every aspect of psychological and sociological thinking, from language to race to politics. By breaking down each of these unique components of society, feminist scholars are able to consider the role of women in these groups and in the larger society as a whole. Within each breakdown, the schools of feminist thought run the gamut from the conservative to the radical, with numerous arguments existing between the two extremes. From something as ubiquitous as the physical appearance of women and what society expects from them to something as obscure as the question of whether or not the way knowledge is generated and produced can vary between men and women, feminist thought seeks to examine every potential aspect of society and women. These different focal points have changed over time; early feminists were concerned with basic human rights, such as legal citizenship and rights or the right to seek employment or own property, while today’s feminists focus on entirely different aspects of society, such as the media, higher education, or racial interactions. Whatever the era, though, the underlying goal has always been the same: identify women’s place in society, how they are perceived, what they experience, and what can be done to eliminate any bias or discrimination against them.