The time when feminism was a movement to be talked about in the singular form is over. When it first saw the light of day in Europe, at the end of the eighteenth century, where writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft initiated the fight for women’s rights, this movement was associated with the assertion of the democratic ideal and the birth of homo aequalis, as the anthropologist Louis Dumont had named it.
Men were declared free and equal in rights but women (colonized and enslaved too) were not equals due to their nature. This fight has gone on, grown bigger, become organized and even globalised. The UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women which took place in Beijing in 1995 marked the first occurrence of an official statement on women rights, among which was the right to be in charge of their own life. A new concept was also used there, the concept of « gender ». It states that the relations between the sexes are not defined by biology but by a social construction and calls for a re-evaluation of male-female relations.
Sonia Dayan Herzbrun