Types Of Feminism

Submitted By callumghilton
Words: 1929
Pages: 8

Feminism sees society as male dominated and it seeks to describe, explain and change the position of women in society. It is therefore both a theory of women’s subordination and a political movement. There 3 main types of feminism: liberal, Radical and Marxist. The roots of feminism can be related back to the late 18th century Enlightenment. Feminists argued that since both sexes had the same power of reason, these principles should apply to women as much as to men and that women’s emancipation must be included as part of the Enlightenment project. However poststructuralist feminists argue that the enlightenment project is simply a form of power/knowledge. Butler argues it legitimated the domination of western, white, middle-class males over other groups and oppressed other groups such as black people. A first wave of feminism appeared in the late 19th century, with the suffragettes’ campaign for the right to vote. The 1960s saw a second wave emerge on a global scale. Since then feminism has had a major influence on sociology as well contemporary society. Liberal feminists believe women can achieve gender equality by reformism. This is the idea that progress towards equal rights can be achieved by gradual reforms or piecemeal changes in society, without the need of revolution. For example they argue that laws and policies against sex discrimination in employment and education can secure equal opportunities for women, without them having to start a revolution about this. As well as campaigning for the changes in the law, liberal feminists call for cultural change. In their view, traditional prejudices and stereotypes about gender differences are a barrier to equality. For example beliefs that women are less rational and more dominated by emotion and instinct are used to legitimate their exclusion from decision-making role and their confinement to childbearing and housework. This is still true for contemporary society, as in some cultures particularly Pakistani women play their traditional role of housewife, but culture may not be a major factor as Naomi Wolf author of ‘The Beauty Myth’ states that “a Pakistani woman spends sixty-three hours per week on domestic work alone, while a Western housewife, despite her modern appliances, works just 6 hours less”. This shows how even in a contemporary society the traditional housewife still exists even if the ‘cereal packet’ family has been eliminated to some extent. There is contemporary scientific evidence today that tells us, testosterone in men can have a significant impact to their personality, such as men being ‘macho’ but a liberal feminist would reject this view as they argue biological differences do not make women less competent or rational that men or that men are biologically less emotional and nurturing than women. Liberal feminists have produced evidence documenting the extent of gender inequality and discrimination, and legitimising the demand for reform in areas such as equal pay and employment practices that were created by a contemporary society, showing that there was an inequality in the work place, and there was a need for change. Their work has also helped to demonstrate that gender differences are not inborn but the result of different treatment and socialisation patterns. Like Oakley liberal feminists distinguish between sex and gender. They believe that sex refers to biological differences between males and females and gender refers to culturally constructed differences between the ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ roles and identities assigned to males and females. While sex differences are seen as fixed, gender differences vary between cultures over time. An example would be the ‘roaring 60s’ women started becoming more independent, however countries like Saudi Arabia even over time would forbid there women to wear revealing clothes thus, what is considered a proper role for women in one society or at one time may be disapproved of or forbidden in another. Therefore