Another Feminism Essay, Research Paper
Q.1(b) Feminist approaches to sociological theory have developed out of
historical sites of struggle for equality. Describe the strengths and
weaknesses of four (4) different feminist theoretical orientations.
Sociological theory is broadly concerned with structured forms
of social inequality. Therefore, sociologist generally attempt to approach
human behaviour and relations in terms of the particular social setting of
different social groups, classes and etc. However, feminist critics of
sociology have pointed out that sociological theorists have neglected gender
as a central principle of social differentiation.
Feminist sociologist argue that most sociological theory is
characterised by a ‘malestream’ view of the social world in which women are
either overlooked altogether or discussed as if they were identical to men.
The concept used most frequently to capture structured power relations
between the sexes is ‘patriarchy’. This essay will discuss the strengths
and weaknesses of four different feminist theoretical orientations.
Liberal feminists are the least ‘radical’ of all feminist
perspectives. The main aim of the liberal feminists is the creation of
equal opportunities, particularly in education and work. Probably the most
positive thing liberal feminism has for itself is the fact that it has
contributed to considerable social change, especially in relation to
employment opportunities and conditions, and social policy.
Liberal feminist themselves have not produced a clearly developed
theory of gender, but they generally rely on role theory. One of the main
strengths of liberal feminism is that they aim for gradual change in the
political, economic and social systems of Western societies which, it is
assumed, will in turn transform gender roles. This is considered a strength
because it is a reasonable and realistic accomplishment. Liberal feminism
is willing to take the appropriate time it may take to produce gender
equality. With this time liberal feminist pursue an aim through the
introduction of legislation and by attempting to change attitudes. They
encourage and support such measures as anti-discrimination and equal pay
legislation in the hope that they will help to end discrimination.
Liberal feminists do not seek revolutionary changes in society,
but rather reforms that take place within existing social and political
structures. If there are any weaknesses to he liberal feminists this may be
it. Other feminist may argue that the liberals are not aggressive enough
and rely too much on hope.
Radical feminists turn their explanatory focus onto
heterosexuality as a social construction. Radical feminists thus often see
the social context of heterosexuality, family life, as central to women’s
oppression in modern societies. If men oppress women, then surely
heterosexuality constitutes ’sleeping with the enemy’; the slogan which
emerged in the 1070’s-’feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the
practice’-captures the essence of this perspective.
The radical feminism perspective is filled with weaknesses. The
largest weakness among the radical feminists comes from the separatist
feminist, who argues that women should organise independently of men. This
argument usually leads to the view that only lesbians can be true feminists,
since only they can be fully independent of men, which in turn downgrades
all other feminists. For the radical feminist the subordination of women is
seen primarily in terms of relations of dominance between men and women as
distinct social groups. Because men as a group are seen as being opposed to
women’s liberation by definition, many radical feminists reject any
cooperation with them in their struggle to achieve the social change they
seek. Looking at all men as a ‘group’ and then deciding to turn against
them is a serious weakness for any feminism. This would only suit the
lesbian feminist, and would hold no relevance for heterosexual feminist.
Another weakness in the radical feminist perspective is the way
they group. Radical feminists use patriarchy as the most important concept
for explaining gender inequality. They use this term to provide a detailed
explanation of how power operates within sexual relationships. They argue
that politics was not just an activity confined to political parties and
parliaments, but one, which exist in ‘all’ relationships. The radical
feminists go on to argue that rape and other forms of sexual violence are
ever-present possibilities and ways in which ‘all’ men intimidate ‘all’
Marxist and socialist feminism
Marxist and socialist feminists regard capitalism rather than
patriarchy as being the principal source of women’s oppression, and
capitalists as the main beneficiaries. Marxist/socialist feminists and
radical feminists have many similarities when it comes to what they see as a
problem, however, their solutions are not exactly the same. For example,
like radicals they see women’s unpaid work as housewives and mothers as one
of the main ways in which they are exploited. However, although individual
men benefit from this arrangement, it is especially capitalists who gain
from women’s work, since new generations of workers are reproduced at not
cost to them. Marxist feminists also place much greater stress on the
exploitation of women in paid employment. The disadvantaged position of
women is held to be a consequence of the emergence of private property and
subsequently their lack of ownership of the means of production, which in
turn deprives them of power.
The biggest strength of the Marxist/socialist feminism is their
ability and willingness to cooperate with the opposite sex, rather than turn
completely against them. For example, although they agree with radical
feminists that women as a group are exploited, particularly since the advent
of capitalism, they pay more attention to the differences between women
belonging to ruling-class and working class families. In this respect women
have interests in common with the whole working class, and Marxist and
socialist feminists often see greater scope for cooperation between women
and working class men than do radical feminists.
One major weakness to the solutions provided by Marxist and
socialist is that it may explain why capitalist exploit workers but not why
men exploit women.
One difference between the Marxist and the socialist is in
Marxist theories of class women tend to appear insignificant. Marxists have
a tenancy to sideline themselves when it comes to the struggle between
capital and labour. The simple explanation they give of capitalism is good
but it does not automatically explain patriarchy.
Showing result 1 - 5 of 217 essays containing the word feminism.1. The feminist behind the veil: Experiences of Muslim women in Sweden
University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för samhällsstudier (SS)
Abstract. This research builds upon Islamic feminism as an alternative mean to the typical Western way of perceiving feminism, when looking into the situation of Muslim women in Sweden through a qualitative field study. Moreover, this is linked to the discussion of gender equality and diversity which is on the agenda in the West due to contemporary migration flows. READ MORE2. THE FALSE PROMISE OF ‘USTOPIA’. Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy: Utopian Feminist Romp or Dystopian Postfeminist Cautionary Tale?
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Abstract. The Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s dystopian MaddAddam trilogy is a text that attempts a critical rebalancing of an established gender hierarchy. The novels expose the fundamental power imbalances present in a binary gender system. READ MORE3. THE TENSIONS BETWEEN FEMINISM AND LOVE IN SIRI HUSTVEDT’S THE SUMMER WITHOUT MEN
University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för språk och litteraturer
Abstract. Abstract: This essay investigates why and how inequalities in heterosexual love relationships persist in The Summer without Men, even though the protagonist as a narrator is engaged in a feminist critique throughout the novel. Materialist feminism and previous research on the novel is used to examine how the protagonist and the other women in the novel balance between conforming to and resisting patriarchal norms. READ MORE4. Liberalism, Radical Feminism and Prostitution. A Reassessment of Two Perspectives on Prostitution
University essay from Umeå universitet/Institutionen för idé- och samhällsstudier
Abstract. The current philosophical debate about prostitution is mainly concerned with two different points of view: (a) the permissibility of prostitution and if paternalistic interference on behalf of prostitutes is legitimate in a liberal democracy, and (b) feminist objections claiming that it is the unjust structures of the patriarchy that enables and affirms the institution of female bodies being sold on an open market for the sexual desires of males. The aim of this paper is to investigate if both of these perspectives take on too narrow a view when trying to address the phenomenon of prostitution. READ MORE5. “Half women, half men” - A field study on gender complementarity and its impact on female participation in community politics in rural Bolivia.
University essay from Lunds universitet/Graduate School; Lunds universitet/Master of Science in Social Studies of Gender; Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
Abstract. Gender complementarity is an indigenous model of gender relations that values the female position and her tasks by tradition the same way as that of the man. The idea is that the man and woman complement each other as opposite parts of the cosmos. In Bolivia, with 65% of its population and the president being indigenous, the concept is widely used. READ MORE
GradeSaver provides access to 765 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5092 literature essays, 1553 sample college application essays, 195 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.Medea: Feminism in a Man's World Amanda Cook
Although Euripides was known for his propensity to challenge tradition and complacency, his Medea was quite controversial when it was introduced in 431 B.C. in Classical Greece (ca. 479-323 B.C. ). Athenian society, a man's world by organization, had no place for women outside of the home. When a girl was young, she was ruled over by her father, and after he chose whom she would marry, her new master was her husband, and she "received much male advice on the subject of staying home and being quiet" (Bowra 85). Women basically shared an equal status with slaves in Athenian society, having no privileges and certainly no power other than that power held within the home over servants. The culture expected women to display great virtue and to fully submit to their husbands. Not only is Medea a woman, she is also a foreigner, placing her at an even lower status. Nevertheless, she exercises power over her husband as well as every other character whether female or male, and she does so using extreme violence. Written in what certainly could be called a male-dominated society and time, Euripides' Medea is a feminist piece and Euripides' himself, traditionally believed to be a misogynist, is quite the opposite.Join Now to View Premium Content
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Published: 23rd March, 2015 Last Edited: 23rd March, 2015
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.
The purpose of this essay is to identify the formation of gender roles from childhood and how these roles or expectations determine life chances in society. Firstly, the definition of gender through socialization will be looked at from Feminist and Functionalist perspectives followed by studies into the nature of gender, i.e. parental expectations, exploitation of females through children's books and the media etc. A conclusion will then be made based on the research looked at.
The word Gender is not commonly confused with sex which is incorrect. It was first differentiated by Dr. Robert Stoller (an American Psychoanalyst) in the year 1968. According to Stoller, sex is a biological composition that differentiates between men and women, i.e. Genitalia (internal and external). He further pointed out that feminine or masculine qualities are defined by the gender and that the gender and sex are not dependent upon each other.
According to the dictionary, the word feminism is the conviction in economic, political and social equality among both sexes. People perceive feminism in many different ways as people have different experiences in their lives and hence every one takes it in a different way. Therefore, there is no one best way to define feminism. One very vital aspect of feminism is that greatly affects our society including culture and religion.
Gender refers to the factors like psychology, physiology, anatomy, society, and culture of a person. These are the factors one thinks about while describing any other person as masculine or feminine. Gender and sex are not only the aspect by which people see us, but it is also the way we understand ourselves.
Gender, Sex and Feminism
According to the feminist belief, women are being exploited by the sources like books, media, and the society by means of children's toys. Feminists are of the view that the society aims to put conditions on children from their birth about their anticipated roles in society. These conditions are generally related to masculine dominance and feminine subordination. The feminist perspective of gender and sex is sub-divided into Radical Feminism and Marxist Feminism
Radical feminists take the argument of masculine dominance and feminine subordination further by labeling the society as patriarchal or that the world is dominated and ruled by men. Radical feminists believe that women have always been under 'the thumb' of men and if men feel threatened, they may resort to violence in order to maintain and exert their power.
This form of feminism and also a few other perspectives believe that patriarchy is the reason for war, conflict, and damaging the environment. Feminists believe that patriarchy is taught and learned in every generation, "the terms valued, control, privilege, domination, power, ideology and culture, all terms that are familiar in sociology. If this is such a regular feature of society, patriarchy becomes a structure which exists and is created and re-created with each generation. It is learned by males and females through socialization and culture -- boys and men learn to be dominant and girls and women to be subordinate (and accept this legitimate form of domination). It is continued in the everyday forms of male-female interaction in society, and also perpetuated in the institutions and structures of patriarchy."
Some radical feminists, female supremacist would argue that society would be better off if a 'matriarchy' system was enforced.
In the statement, 'pink is for girls and blue is for boys', radical feminists would strongly argue that through parental expectations, toys, books, television etc, begins the exploitation of women. For instance, girls are given dolls to play with, kitchens, prams, tea sets etc, feminists would claim that this conditions girls into their expected roles, i.e. playing the housewife and caring for children. On the other hand, boys are given footballs, computer games, cars, trucks etc, and are encouraged to 'dummy fight' mainly by their fathers. This, as feminists would argue, is encouraging boys to be masculine, strong, and aggressive. Radical feminist, Kate Millet (197) pointed out many areas in society were men have been able to exploit women. She began by arguing that male strength is no longer a reason for male dominance because as technology evolves, most modern work doesn't require strength. Also, she emphasized the importance of women socializing their sons in an attempt to fight against male dominance. Education and religion are also areas in which women are exploited, Millet argued. She pointed out that education enforces inequality in men and women. Religion emphasizes the role of masculinity through the stature of God.
Radical feminist take on the view of women being victims of male dominance and some critics would argue that this is heavily exaggerating both female and male roles in society.
Marxist feminists are slightly different in their view of exploitation. They agree that men play a large part in exercising power over women; however capitalism is the main source. They would argue that although the socialization of children into their gender roles does benefit men, it benefits the capitalists more. By encouraging young girls to play with dolls, cook and clean etc, is endorsing women's role of becoming a housewife and childcarer which allows the men to go out and work, therefore keeping capitalism in force. Feminist, Ann Oakley (1974) stated that all paid work is simply an extension of the work women do at home: childcare, cleaning and caring.
Like radical feminism, Marxist feminist do agree on the need of revolutionary change, however instead of it being a matriarchal system, as proposed by the radical feminists, Marxist feminists state that a communist society should be established.
The functionalism view of gender is very different to that of feminism. Functionalists believe that socialization is one of the key factors in maintaining social harmony or in other words functionalism focuses on society as a whole and how parts of society contribute positively to the whole to make the society run smoothly without conflict. The family is a key instrument in the process of socialization for children and a reinforcement of traditional or functional gender roles.
In recent years, feminists have argued that through the media, television, advertisements / commercials etc, young children are becoming more conscious of their physical appearance, 'advertising also negatively portrays minority women and exploits a child-like image of innocence to define women's roles. grown women of all colors (races) are demoted to infant status. A late '90s trend turned women into little-girl sex objects-not that the depiction of women as sex objects is anything, but their depiction as innocent, yet sexy, children is. In advertising, and to some extent general society, innocence is equated with sexy. Hence, an abundance of barely pubescent models parades across billboards and magazine spreads'.
From a feminist viewpoint, this not only accentuates women subordination, but it also degrades women and children.
A feminist would argue that the media and television etc, has a negative impact on the socialization process of children due to male domination but the above extract would show that it is not only male dominated roles in children's book and the media that is the problem, but women demoralizing themselves to please men.
To conclude on the matter on how gender differences determine life chances in society, it has been made apparent that the exploitation of women begins at birth through parental expectation, i.e. enforcing the rules and norm of society through socialization on how girls and boys should act. Most parents don't want a child that is 'different' therefore, if a baby boy is born, they bestow the rules of masculinity and likewise for a girl.
Studies have shown that society is evolving with regard to the suppression of women; however there are still masses of evidence to show that it still goes on.
There is so much emphasis on equality in today's society through schools, the government etc, therefore young girls do have slightly better life chances than they did 50 years ago but unfortunately not as much as boys.
The essay length is 1200 word maximum; this is approximately 5 pages, reference pages are in addition to this length.
The essay must be a sociologically and/or anthropologically based critical analysis of a topic incorporating a discussion of sex, gender and feminism (this could take the form of feminist theory or works on the topic written from a feminist perspective).
Given the short length of the essay this will be a brief exploratory work, however it must use the structure of a formal essay
It should also be written using formal language and APA style citation of all sources used. Any course material may be used as references; in addition a minimum of four academic articles and/or books must also be used in the essay.
PO4022 Modern European Political Thought
Feminism is a term which one must use with caution as it can cause much debate when taken out of the right context. However as we move into an ever more globalised world feminism is fast becoming an accepted term within social and political discourse although this may not be seen by everyone within society. (Kerr et al, 2004, p. x) Feminism challenges and critiques the bias towards men within society, feminism stands for equality in terms of gender within society. In order to study feminism we need to take into account the theoretical background to feminism by studying past perspectives on feminism. (Kerr et al, 2004, p.4) In this essay I will discuss two different political thoughts on feminism, radical feminism and postmodern feminism and how both these perspectives can be compared and contrasted. I aim to discuss how successful each has been in relation to furthering women’s interests within society. Radical feminism gained momentum in the late sixties to the early seventies. However radical feminism has since been seen to disappear from society. Radical feminist try to highlight that within a society dominated by men that changing the oppression felt by women is a ‘political necessity’ which must involve putting women first. (Beasley, 1989, p. 54) Radical feminist are said to have first coined the term “sexism”, they saw that women were being oppressed by a society which was dominated by men. This led to a shared oppression felt by women as they felt oppressed within society due to their sex. Radical feminism is in its nature a radical movement and which is to be expected, they find that a revolutionary style approach to removing sexual oppression from society is a good method to shift the balance of power. (Beasley, 1999, pp.54-56) Radical feminist highlighted social issues such as domestic violence, divorce, single motherhood, gay rights etc. although it would be too simple to suggest that radical feminism.
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