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Feminism is a movement that argues for women's rights and full gender equality across all aspects of culture, politics, economics, and even daily life. It began to gain traction in the nineteenth century over such issues as divorce, married women's property rights, women's education, and women's right to vote. In literary circles, it was expressed as a demand for women to be taken seriously as writers and to be paid as much as men doing the same work.

In  modern literary criticism, feminism aims to accomplish several tasks. The first is "recovery", or rediscovery and promotion of female writers from all periods and cultures. Feminist critics are attempting to change the "literary canon" or standard works that form cultural touchstones to make it more gender-inclusive. 

The second major task is feminist reading of works both by men and women. Feminist critics interrogate literary works to explain how they reveal narratives of female oppression or empowerment. In newer genres of media, feminist critics can reveal implicit elements of patriarchy, such as the Feminist Frequency project which shows how patriarchy operates in the world of video games.