Word Power | Lesson 4: Feminism

Chúng ta cùng nhau tìm hiểu phong trào nữ quyền (feminism) ở Anh và Mỹ nhé!

Women’s liberation movement in Washington, DC, August 26, 1970. Photo: Don Carl Steffen/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

The issue of equality (= equal treatment) for women in British society first attracted national attention in the early 20th century, when the suffragettes won for women the right to vote. In the 1960s feminism (= the belief that women and men are equal in abilities and should have equal rights and opportunities) became the subject of intense debate when the women’s liberation movement encouraged women to reject their traditional supporting role and to demand equal status and equal rights with men in areas such as employment.

Since then, the gender gap between the sexes, though still present, has been reduced. The Equal Pay Act of 1970, for instance, made it illegal for women to be paid less than men for doing the same work, and in 1975 the Sex Discrimination Act aimed to prevent either sex having an unfair advantage when applying for jobs. These two acts were replaced by the Equality Act in 2010. In 1975, the Equal Opportunities Commission was set up to help people claim their rights to equal treatment and to publish research and statistics to show where improvements in opportunities for women need to be made. Women now have much better employment opportunities than they did in the past, though they still tend to get less well-paid jobs than men (a situation known as the gender pay gap), and very few are given top jobs in industry.

Many people believe that there is still a long way to go before women are treated as equals in employment. In education, however, girls’ and women’s opportunities have improved rapidly and in public employment there are policies to increase the percentage of women employed in senior management roles and in areas such as engineering and science.

In the US the movement that is often called the ‘first wave of feminism’ began in the middle of the 1800s. Susan B Anthony worked for the right to vote, Margaret Sanger wanted to provide women with the means of contraception so that they could decide whether or not to have children, and Elizabeth Blackwell, who had to fight for the chance to become a doctor, wanted women to have greater opportunities to study. Many feminists were interested in other social issues.

The second wave of feminism began in the 1960s. Women like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem became associated with the fight to get equal rights and opportunities for women under the law. An important issue was the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which was intended to change the Constitution. Although the ERA was not passed there was progress in other areas. It became illegal for employers, schools, clubs, etc. to discriminate against women. But women still find it hard to advance beyond a certain point in their careers, the so-called glass ceiling that prevents them from having high-level jobs. Although there is greater equality in some homes, women also still face the problem of the second shift, which is the work they do at home, running a household and caring for children. However, both British and American women have more opportunities than anyone thought possible in previous generations.

In the 1980s feminism became less popular in the US and there was less interest in solving the remaining problems, such as the fact that many women still earn less than men. In the late 2010s feminism experienced a new rise in popularity when women spoke out about the abuse of power, especially by men in the film industry. Social media was an important factor: the #MeToo hashtag was used to draw attention to women’s experiences of poor treatment and abuse at work, and in their lives in general. One of the biggest changes is in how people think. Although there is still discrimination, the principle that it should not exist is widely accepted.

Feminism has brought about many changes in the English language. Many words for job titles that included ‘man’ have been replaced, for example ‘police officer’ is used instead of ‘policeman’ and ‘ chair ‘ or ‘ chairperson ‘ for ‘chairman’. ‘He’ is now rarely used to refer to a person when the person could be either a man or woman. Instead, he or she, or sometimes (s)he, and in Britain in particular, they, is preferred. The title Ms is commonly used for women instead of ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’, since, like ‘Mr’, it does not show whether a person is married or not.

Source: The Oxford Guide to British and American Culture


1. equality /iˈkwɑːləti/ (n): [U] ​the fact of being equal in rights, status, advantages, etc. (sự bình đẳng)

E.g. Women fought for equality throughout the twentieth century.

2. suffragette /ˌsʌfrəˈdʒet/ (n): a member of a group of women who, in the UK and the US in the early part of the 20th century, worked to get the right for women to vote in political elections (thành viên của nhóm phụ nữ giành quyền bỏ phiếu cho phụ nữ)

E.g. Six months later she went to prison as a suffragette, having lied about her age and enrolled as a militant.

3. feminism /ˈfemənɪzəm/ (n): [U] ​the belief and aim that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men; the struggle to achieve this aim (thuyết nữ quyền, phong trào nữ quyền)

E.g. There were many close links between social reform movements and feminism.

→ feminist /ˈfemənɪst/ (n): a person who supports the belief that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men (người ủng hộ thuyết nữ quyền)

E.g. In the 19th century, feminists argued that women should be allowed to vote.

→ feminist /ˈfemənɪst/ (adj): [usually before noun] having or based on the belief that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men

E.g. the feminist movement

4. intense /ɪnˈtens/​ (adj): serious and often involving a lot of action in a short period of time (dữ dội, quyết liệt)

E.g. It was a period of intense debate.

5. liberation /ˌlɪbəˈreɪʃn/ (n): [uncountable, singular] the act or process of freeing somebody from something that limits their control over or pleasure in their own life (sự giải phóng)

E.g. the struggle for women’s liberation in the 1970s

6. reject /rɪˈdʒekt/ (v): to refuse to accept or consider something (từ chối, bác bỏ)

E.g. Sarah rejected her brother’s offer of help.

7. supporting /səˈpɔːrtɪŋ/ (adj): [only before noun] a supporting actor in a play or film has an important part but not the leading one ((vai trò) phụ)

E.g. The movie featured Robert Lindsay in a supporting role.

8. demand /dɪˈmænd/​ (v): to make a very strong request for something (đòi hỏi, yêu cầu)

E.g. Nineteenth-century feminists demanded equal education and employment opportunities for single women.

9. status /ˈsteɪtəs; ˈstætəs/ (n): [U, C, usually singular] the social or professional position of somebody/something in relation to others (địa vị xã hội; vị thế trong nghề nghiệp)

E.g. Women are only asking to be given equal status with men.

10. gender gap /ˈdʒendər ɡæp/ (n): the difference that separates men and women, in terms of attitudes, opportunities and status (khoảng cách giới tính)

E.g. Women have closed the gender gap in education in recent years.

11. discriminate /dɪˈskrɪmɪneɪt/ (v): [I] to treat one person or group worse/better than another in an unfair way (phân biệt đối xử)

E.g. Was she discriminated against because she is a woman?

→ discrimination /dɪˌskrɪmɪˈneɪʃn/ (n): [U] the practice of treating somebody or a particular group in society less fairly than others (sự phân biệt đối xử)

E.g. Progress has been made in eliminating job discrimination.

12. unfair advantage /ˌʌnˈfer ədˈvæntɪdʒ/ (exp): something that benefits you, but not your opponents (lợi thế không công bằng, lợi thế cạnh tranh độc quyền)

E.g. Companies that receive government subsidies have an unfair advantage.

13. equal /ˈiːkwəl/ (n): ​a person or thing of the same quality or with the same status, rights, etc. as another (người/vật có phẩm chất, địa vị, quyền lợi tương đương/ngang nhau)

E.g. She treats the people who work for her as her equals.

14. contraception /ˌkɑːntrəˈsepʃn/ (n): [U] ​the practice of using artificial methods to avoid becoming pregnant when having sex; the methods of doing this (sự/phương pháp ngừa thai)

E.g. The pill is one of the most effective methods of contraception.

15. amendment /əˈmendmənt/ (n): [C] a statement of a change to the Constitution of the US (tu chính án)

E.g. The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.

16. advance /ədˈvæns/ (v): [T] to help something to succeed (thúc đẩy)

E.g. Studying for new qualifications is one way of advancing your career.

17. glass ceiling /ˌɡlæs ˈsiːlɪŋ/ (n): [usually singular] the way in which unfair attitudes can stop women, or other groups, from getting the best jobs in a company, etc. although there are no official rules to prevent them from getting these jobs (sự phân biệt đối xử)

E.g. She is one of a handful of women who have broken the glass ceiling in business.

18. speak out (against sth) /spiːk aʊt/ (phr v): to state your opinions publicly, especially in opposition to something and in a way that takes courage (công khai trình bày ý kiến (nhất là phản đối điều gì một cách dũng cảm))

E.g. He was the only one to speak out against the decision.

19. bring sth <> about /brɪŋ əˈbaʊt/ (brought, brought /brɔːt/) (phr v): to make something happen (gây ra)

E.g. What brought about the change in his attitude?

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