Liberal feminism has been labeled as the mainstream form of feminism by all subtypes.
Liberal feminism is said to be an individualistic form that focuses on women’s ability to maintain their equality by being responsible for their own actions and decisions.
The liberal feminist’s ideology is that women will transform society through their own personal interactions with the opposite sex.
The liberal feminist believes: “All women are capable of asserting their capacity for equality, so it is possible for change to take place without changing the structure of society.”
The liberal feminist also believes that gender equality can only be achieved through political and legal reform. They want the elimination of institutional biases and the introduction of fairer laws against women.
Major issues of liberal feminism include reproductive and abortion rights, sexual harassment, the right to vote, education, affordable childcare, and affordable health care.
United States liberal feminists are campaigning for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and the Constitutional Equity Amendment. They want to ensure that men and women are treated equally under the democratic laws that affect and govern women’s lives.
They also bring to the fore the issues of sexual and domestic violence against women.
Other issues that liberal feminists identify with include disability rights, ecofeminism, family, marital equality, maternal economic rights, and media activism.
Liberal feminist writers, Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill, published during the first wave of feminism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Second wave feminism during the 1960s-1970s produced liberal feminist writers such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem and Rebecca Walker, who is one of the third wave liberal feminist writers.
Critics of liberal feminism say “single assumptions make it difficult to see how underlying social structures and values disadvantage women.”
They explain that even if a woman is no longer dependent on a single man, she will still live in a patriarchal state. Therefore, institutional changes alone are not enough to make women equal in society.
The liberal feminist has also been criticized further for drawing on the issues of middle-class white women. They were found to have ignored the plight of other women of other races, cultures, or classes.