Feminism Perspective

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  • Feminism
    • Structural theory; conflict theory, which examines the power struggle between men and women.
      • There are 5 approaches or varieties of feminism which reflect differences in feminist opinions: radical, marxist, liberal, postmodernist and black.
      • The first wave: 19th century and early 20th century UK & US, it won improvements for women in marriage and property. Biggest achievement was winning some political power. In the UK suffragettes campaigned for the women's vote.
        • The Third  Wave: Widened the feminist movement and its ides beyond middle class, white women, addressing the different disadvantages women experience.
        • The Second Wave: it extended fight beyond political rights to education, work and home. Betty Freidan argues that women were unhappy because of the feminine mystique. She said this was a damaging ideal of femininity which she called the 'Happy Housewife'
    • Liberal
      • Men are also oppressed by rigid gender roles.
      • Socioloization and discrimination limits men and women to narrow expressions of gendered behavious.
      • Main aim of liberal feminism is the creation of equal opportunities for both men and women.
      • Want rid of sexism and stereotyping.
      • Criticisms: 1. The belief of liberal feminists are based on male norms and values, such as competition and achieved status- encouraging them to be more like men.
        • Emphasises public at the expense of private life, substitutes relationships for power.
    • Radical
      • Women are exploited by all men and society is patriarchal; dominated and rules by and for the benefit of men
      • The family is the main institution of women's oppression, only revolution can release women from oppression.
      • Separation from men socially & sexually is the only way to achieve independence from men
      • Some radical feminists see womens oppression as due to culture which advocates rape and male violence to maintain power.
      • Criticisms: 1. Ignores other forms of oppression due to race and social class.
        • 2. Ignores positive relationships with men and demonises marriage.
        • 3. It isn't workable to demand separation from men.
        • 4. it sees men as just bad, they cant be trusted as dads or friends.
    • Marxist
      • Women are exploited by capitalism and their unpaid labour in families. Workers and consumers are maintained and reproduced by women.
      • This is all caused by the development of private property; men took charge of this and married women to guarantee paternity of children who would inherit this property.
      • Marxist feminists see women as having a lot in common with the working class, and urge them to corporate with working class men and women in order to challenge capitalist oppression.
      • Criticisms: 1. Marxism is a male theory which does not adapt well to womens lives because it ignores culture,violence and sexuality.
        • Communist societies have exploited women more than capitalist ones; they never reach positions of authority.
    • Black
      • Black and White women have different experiences due to the existence of racism as well as sexism.
      • Black and Asian women in developing countries have had barbaric issues to contend with such as female genital mutilation, mass rape and HIV epidemic.
      • Race, class and gender impact on women's lives in the form of racism, poverty and sexism.
      • Black women still do not have the freedom that white women have; they are still slaves and often not allowed any education.
      • Criticisms: Black feminists emphasises race way over sex or class in its analysis of Black womens lives.
        • It fails to address the oppression of white women, who are of different ethnicity to the majority of the population.
    • Postmodern
      • Women are exploited by many different things in postmodern society because all women are different, with varied identities.
      • The focus is very much on language and unravelling the sexist ways in which language frames our thoughts.
      • Women are treated as the insignificant other.
      • Helene Cixous calls language phallocentric (a word relating to male genitalia). She argues that this shapes our language, and how we think about things. This is what prevents women from freely speaking out unlike male comedians/politicians.
      • Criticisms: 1. Women are having the male gaze put upon them e.g. the pill.
    • Germain Greer: Attacked the nuclear family, romantic role and the limits on womens sexuality. She argued that gender roles were not natural but learned. Girls have been conditioned to conform to this femininity.

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