Feminism

Different types of feminism.

Marxist feminism sees he exploitation of women as essential to the success of capitalism. The family produces and cares for the next generation of workers for society at almost no cost to the capitalist system. Its cost free because society accepts housework should be unpaid. Men are paid for work out side of the home, but women aren’t paid for work inside the home, this is because women are stereotyped and habitual to these duties expected of them.

Radical feminist theory also highlights housework as an area of exploitation of women, but radical feminists don’t see this as a fault to capitalist system. Radical feminists see the exploitation of women down to the domination of men in society.-They believe men will always oppress women.

Liberal feminists emphasise the cultural norms and values which are reinforced by the family and by other institutions in society, they believe that the family is only sexist because it supports main stream culture which is sexist. Liberal feminists believe that social change is possible, they ty to put pressure on the legal system and government to change laws and social policies which discriminate against women.

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Feminist Criticisms

  • Women’s roles are not the same in all families. (House husbands, extended families, cohabitation)
  • Women do have choices. Some women enjoy becoming housewives or pursuing a career – they have a choice.
  • More women have independent incomes.
  • 70% of divorces are initiated by women, showing that they can leave ‘oppressive’ relationships.
  • Children have more status in families and are becoming Child Centred. It is not solely down to women to socialised children.
  • Somerville (2000) – women’s position in society have greatly improved! (Symmetrical family, Equal Pay Act (1963), Sexual Discrimination Act (1975), increase in divorce rates, protection for women).
  • Liberal feminists are often criticised for failing to challenge the underlying causes of women’s oppression.

  • Jenny Somerville (2000): radical feminists fail to recognise that women’s position has improved considerably (it is therefore dated) and argues that separatism is unlikely to work.

  • Most women want to spend time with men, marry them and have children together

  • The New Right: equality is not always a good thing

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Main radical feminists


Radical Feminists:


Shulamith Firestone


Kate Millet


Germaine Greer




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Different types of feminism and the sociologists

Delphy and Leonard (1992) are radical feminists who see the family as a patriarchal institution in which women do most of the work and men get most of the benefit.

Benston (1969) areMarxist feministspoints out that if housework were paid even at minimum wage levels it would damage capitalist profits hugely. -Women are also a reserve labour force!

Liberal feministsbelieve women can provide a cheap and effective workforce when required.

Liberal feminists believe that there gender is not a natural thing.

 They believe men and women should be treated exactly the same. There is no nature of the sexes just human nature.

Liberal Feminists do not see men as the enemy because they believe that changes will benefit men as well as women.

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Liberal Feminists with sociologists and quotes

Liberal feminists:

Do not see gender inequality in the family as the product of a system or structure.

Oakley (1981) gender inequality in the family is a product of discrimination by individuals and those who run institutions and this discrimination is based on ignorance, prejudice and a mistaken view of the biogenetic differences between males and females.

Bryson (1999) notes that this viewpoint has labelled liberal feminism as ‘common-sense’ feminism which Bradley suggests was the ‘acceptable face of feminism’ as the other two are too extreme.

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