Some forms of feminist theory question basic assumptions about gender, gender difference, and sexuality, including the category of "woman" itself as a holistic concept, further some are interested in questioning the male/female binary completely (offering instead a multiplicity of genders). Other forms of feminist theory take for granted the concept of "woman" and provide specific analyzes and critiques of gender inequality, and most feminist social movements promote women's rights, interests, and issues. Feminism is not a single ideology. Over-time several sub-types of feminist ideology have developed. Early feminists and primary feminist movements are often called the first-wave feminists, and feminists after about 1960 the second-wave feminists. More recently, a new generation of feminists have started third-wave feminism. Whether this will be a lasting evolution remains to be seen as the second-wave has by no means ended nor has it ceded to the third-wave feminists. Moreover, some commentators have asserted that the silent majority of modern feminists have more in common ideologically with the first-wave feminists than the second-wave. For example, many of the ideas arising from Radical feminism and Gender feminism (prominent second-wave movements) have yet to gain traction within the broader community and outside of Gender Studies departments within the academy.
For example, Radical feminism argues that there exists an oppressive patriarchy that is the root cause of the most serious social problems. Violence and oppression of women, because they are women, is more fundamental than oppressions related to class, ethnicity, religion, etc. Radical feminists have been very vocal and active in influencing attitudes and state-wide school curriculum standards. Thus, it is not unusual for feminism to be equated with the ideas proposed by Radical feminism. Some find that the prioritization of oppression and the universalization of the idea of "Woman," which was part of traditional Radical feminist thinking, too generic, and that women in other countries would never experience the same experience of being "woman" than women in Western countries did.
Some radical feminists advocate separatism—a complete separation of male and female in society and culture—while others question not only the relationship between men and women, but the very meaning of "man" and "woman" as well (see Queer theory). Some argue that gender roles, gender identity, and sexuality are themselves social constructs (see also heteronormativity). For these feminists, feminism is a primary means to human liberation (i.e., the liberation of men as well as women, and men and women from other social problems).
Other feminists believe that there may be social problems separate from or prior to patriarchy (e.g., racism or class divisions); they see feminism as one movement of liberation among many, each affecting the others. In this section, we will explore some of the main schools of feminist thought.