The three main aspects of feminism

description and evaluation of radical, liberal and marxist feminism

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The three main theories of feminism:
Radical Feminism~ Radical feminists would say that women are exploited by men, society
needs to change, so that women are the more dominant gender within society.
Sociologists: Firestone, Abbot and Wallace
Strengths:
A powerful force for claiming women's worth and demonstrating the nature of
oppression and exploitation.
Appeal on the behalf of women for a revolutionary change and the end of oppression.
Weaknesses:
Ignores ideas of class and ethnic conflict, merely focuses on gender aspects.
Portrays women as `good' and men as `bad', promoting further inequality, where
women are superior to men.
Liberal Feminism~ Liberal feminists aim for equality between males and females, this being a
gradual change within society. They suggest that gender inequality is the result of the sexual
division of labour.
Sociologists: Trowler, Bernard, Duncombe and Marsden
Strengths:
Presents the most idealistic approach to addressing the women's inequality, as well as
the most realistic changes that could be made.
Has promoted equality of opportunity e.g. equal pay.
Weaknesses:
Shows little interest in the historical subjection of women.
No theory has been developed to explore women's experiences or challenge
`malestream' knowledge.
Marxist Feminism~ Marxist feminists believe that women are not only oppressed by men due
to their gender, but also due to their class. They suggest that if there was a communist society
the gender inequalities would disappear.

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Sociologists: Mitchell
Strengths:
Draws attention to the economic position of women, alerts them of potential
exploitation.
Provides a structuralist interpretation of oppression which can be applied to all areas of
life.
Weaknesses:
Little emphasis is placed on the ways which men exploit women in society and the
home.
Assumes all women are of a cohesive group which suffers from exploitation, doesn't
account for others.…read more

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