Edexcel Feminism notes

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  • Created on: 25-03-14 12:28
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Feminism Notes
Core themes
`Redefining the political'
Public/ Private divide- Public = Government institutions, parties, pressure groups, public
Private= Family life, personal relationships, domestic responsibilities.
Kate Millet- `Power structured relationships, arrangements whereby one group of persons Is
controlled by another'
Sexual Inequality preserved by Sexual divisions of labour.
Public sphere= Literature, art, politics, work, women confined to domestic responsibilities.
Radical: `the personal is the political', `the politics of everyday life' , transfer responsibility
of pivate life to state/ public bodies.
Socialist: Private sphere is political, women's role in family-maintenance of capitalist
economic system.
Liberal: Object to restrictions on women accessing public sphere, warn against politicizing
private sphere- realm of personal choice+ freedom.
Patriarchy: `Rule by the father', describes dominance of men and subordination of women in
Gender/ Social class = politically significant social cleavage.
Use Patriarchy to describe power structured relationships between men and women.
`Male supremacy' / `Male Dominance' describe gender relations in society.
Male dominance in family symbolizes male supremacy in all other institutions ­ patriarchal
family at heart of systematic process of male domination. `Rule by men'.
Millet on `Patriarchal Government' says `That half of the populace which is female is
controlled by that half which is male'.
Liberal: Unequal distribution of rights and entitlements in society + highlight
under-representation of women in public sphere.
Socialist: economic aspects of patriarchy. Capitalism, gender subordination and class
inequality interlinked systems of oppression.
Some reject Patriarchy ­gender inequality consequence of class system.
Radical: Systematic, institutionalized, pervasive form of male power rooted in the family.
Pattern of male domination+ female subordination reflection of power structures in domestic

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Sex and gender
`Biology is destiny'
Biology should not determine social role/ destiny.
Link between child bearing and child rearing =cultural not biological.
Domestic Responsibilities shared ­ `symmetrical family'
Sex= Biological differences- natural + unalterable
Gender= cultural; refers to roles that society ascribes to men and women- imposed
stereotypes `masculinity', `femininity'.
Simone De Beauvoir ­ `Women are made they are not born' ­ gender differences
socially/politically constructed.
Human nature= Androgynous, blend of male + female. Sex differences no social/ political/
economic significance.
Achieve genderless `Personhood'.…read more

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Individualism- equal moral worth, rational grounds, equal rights, participate + gain access to
political life.
Suffrage based on liberal individualism, female emancipation gained through equal voting
Want to break legal/social pressures restrict women from careers, representation+ being
politically active.
Reformist-open public life + equal competition
Do not want to abolish distinction between public/private life.
Reform: establish equal rights in public sphere.
Men+ women different natures- natural impulses incline women to domestic life.
Freidan: Difficulty with reconciling `personhood' +home and family.…read more

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Juliet Mitchell: Women fulfil 4 social functions: 1) Members of workforce. 2) Bear children. 3)
Socialize children. 4) Sex objects: Liberation requires emancipation is all 4 areas.
Radical Feminism
Gender most important of all social divisions.
Uncover Patriarchy social, personal+ sexual existence.
Women portrayed as inferior+ subordinate to men- Stereotype of `femininity' imposed
on women by men.
Women conditioned to passive sexual role-repressed true sexuality + active side of
Women `Castrated'- turned into `sexless' objects.…read more

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Third-Wave feminism and beyond
Since 1970's divisions in core traditions have both deepened and blurred-new forms
emerged: `Third-wave', `new feminism', `post feminism'
`Third wave feminism' adopted by younger generation- believed campaigns and
demands of 60's+70's not relevant to them due to new issues and social
Adopted radical engagement with the politics of difference- show a great concern for
the differences amongst women.
Tried to rectify over emphasis of earlier forms of feminism on middle class women.…read more

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