What is feminism?
Feminism is a social movement that aims to achieve equality between the sexes.
Feminist sociology recognises gender divisions in society and how these benefit men.
Feminism is divided into two stages:
1. First wave feminism: Events between 1890 and 1920s
2. Second wave feminism: From 1969 onwards
Feminists pursue equality by:
Conscious raising groups
Pressure groups for change in legislation
Establishing hostels for battered women
The two main branches are Liberals and Radicals. Then there are dual-system theories such as Marxist feminists and Black feminists.
Aim: To seek equal rights with men.
People should be treated according to their merits, not gender
Women should be free to compete with men and have the same priviledges and opportunities
Equality does not exist because of discrimination against women
How do they campaign?
Campaign for the removal of social, economic, political and legal obstacles that prevent women having the same freedom of choice as men.
Liberal feminists have been successful in campaigning with the equal Opportunities Commission which monitors discrimination in the UK.
Aim: To free women from patriarchy.
Radical feminists hate patriarchy and believe men use their power to ensure that society is run in their interests
Men seize most of the material rewards and social priviledges
Men inflict physical and sexual violence on women
Recognise there are natural differences between men and woman but do not believe this makes patriarchy OK.
How do they campaign?
Believe the way to stop patriarchy is through separatism. Women should be totally segregated from men sexually and socially
Firestone (1979) says childbearing has put women at a disadvantage. She argues that women should use test tube fertilisation instead to free women from their dependence on men.
Social class is the main factor affecting relationships between men and women
Under capitalism men try to gain control over the labour power of women in ways such as:
1. Women as the reserve army of labour
2. Male workers exclude women from trade
3. Husbands exploit their wives upaid housework
The role of the woman as a housewife is to produce the next generation of workers, to socialise and educate children into a capitalist society, to relieve the burden of housework for men and to make sure the husband is well fed and dressed for work
Mitchell (1971) says there must be cultural, social and economic change. Women must achieve freedom from these four functions: 1. member of workforce 2. bear children 3. socialise children 4. sex objects
Equal relationships can only be established when capitalism is replaced by a non-exploitive system.