The embodiment of this essay
will include elements of feminists’ theories and their relevance today in
society. For example, Radical feminism, Liberal feminism and Black feminism.
This essay will also consist a range of information about what these theories
believe and why, what changes they have made to society today. Feminism is the
idea that women and men should both be equal in society for instance: being
able to vote and equal pay. Feminism is a movement which is devoted to women’s
in society who are facing inequality, they see society as a patriarchy unit and
that women are inferior to men. Feminism main attention is the inequality between men and women
in society. Feminist theories tend to this by shining light on social problems
e.g. voting, workplace, trends e.g. domestic abuse, roles within the household,
and topics that are disregarded in society. Ian Marsh outlines that feminists’
sociologists believe that sociological theories are written by a male
perspective which means that women’s experiences have been marginalized (Marsh, 2006, p. 70). This shows how women’s ideas are being left out  “Feminism, the belief in the social, economic, and
political equality of the sexes. Feminism is manifested worldwide and is
represented by various institutions committed to activity on behalf
of women’s rights and interests” (Elinor Burket, 2017). Feminist
theories aims are to explore the inequalities in society.

However, some people often
forget that feminist do not only focus about how women are inferior in society.
They also look at some of the problems in the social world and how the social
world illustrates and supports inequality, oppression, and injustice. feminist theories
have focused on women’s interactions and their experiences within society.

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During the 19th and
mid-20th century, this when women started to represent their
thoughts. Feminist theories done this by explaining women’s depression and
oppression in society. (Jennifer Carlson, 2011)

There are several strands
inside feminist approaches, but the core ones are Radical feminism, Marxist
feminism and Liberal feminism.

Radical feminists tend to
focus solely on the problems of patriarchy in society, for example institutions
where men are usually dominant over women e.g. household, domestic abuse, workplace
and politics. Kate Millett was a radical feminist writer who wrote a book in
1970 about patriarchal power called ‘The basis of Sexual Politics’. In her book
she expressed her views about male dominance. “analysing the way in which females are socialised into accepting
patriarchal values and norms, which challenged the notion that female
subservience is somehow natural” (Bindel, 2017).

Liberal feminists’ stresses
over the rights that women are meant to have in society. They focus on rights
off women and trying to provide equal opportunities for women in society so
that they have the same rights as men in society. Also, to stop all forms of
discrimination (Jones, 2003, p. 92). For instance, in
the family, they identify how women carry out all the major responsibilities
within the household e.g. ‘triple shift’ this is known when the mother carries
out the emotional, domestic and paid work. However, this can have effect on their
career and their power at home. They believe the best way to eliminate
discrimination within the household to improve the position of women so that
there can be equality is by changing socialisation roles. (Earlham
sociology , 2017)
this means not stereotyping women that they are meant to carrying out the
domestic role which is the idea that women are meant to be housewives. This can
be prevented by not brainwashing children at a young age about carrying out the
expressive or instrumental role. Another point is allowing women to have legal
rights e.g. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975, The Equal Pay Act 1970 and The
Equality Act 2010. Allowing men and women to share the domestic and childcare
also promotes equality because they both able to share roles.

Marxist feminists emphasize on
how women are exploited in society, workplace and in the household. Marxist
feminists usually take a marxist approach when studying women’s interests. (Jones, 2003) Jones talks about
how women providing the domestic roles is essential to “sustain the male worker and reproducing a new generation of workers
through childcare, women being the wife and mother is providing a crucial
service for capitalism” (Jones, 2003, p. 92). This shows how
women are supposed to the one at home looking after children while the husband
is at work. This benefits capitalism because it is easy for women to be
domestic labourers because the work is unpaid. “Britain at least, radical feminism has never been particularly
dominant, partly because – in the eyes of many socialist and postcolonial
feminists – it has been insufficiently attentive to the intersections between
gender inequality and other categories, such as race and class” (Dean, 2011).

Key
areas of feminist theories that is relevant in today in society is gender differences. Majority of feminist
theories offers a systematic outline for understanding how women’s and
experience of, social situations differ from men’s. For example, Marxists
feminists look at how women are exploited in society and they look at the
experiences that they face and why. Other feminist theorists believe that the
different roles assigned to women and men within institutions better explain
gender difference, including the sexual division of labor in the household. Feminists
main concentration is about on how women have been marginalized and defined as
important in patriarchal societies and in the workplace, they are
important within the household. Also, some of their attention is about how masculinity
is developed through primary and secondary socialization, and how it has made
an impact on males in society today and it portrayed within the workplace and
family. “Men
were equally distributed throughout the profiles, whereas women were
underrepresented in the Work category. More women than men fit the Family
profile, and more men than women fit the Work profile.” (Gali-Cinamon, 2011) This supports
the idea that there is no equality between men and women. It tells us how women
are better off carrying out the expressive role and men are better off at the
workplace and carrying out the instrumental role. Therefore, gender difference
is still relevance today in society.

 

Another
key idea is gender inequality. Feminist theories whose main focus about gender
inequality identify that women who experience in equality social situations are
not only different but also unequal to men’s. Liberal feminists argue that
women have the same size as men for moral reasoning and intervention, but that
patriarchy, especially the division of labor within the home and workplace ,
has historically deprived women the opportunity to express their choices about
their life course. These changing aspects helps marginalize women within society
because they are too busy carrying out their domestics within the household.
Therefore, this excludes them for being able to participate in society.

 

Differences within Categories

Another
difficulty with any attempt to classify feminist theory in the ways described
is that it implies that there is some kind of unity in approach and intention
between those writers placed in each category. Many of those who have written
about feminist thought have been at pains to draw attention to differences of
emphasis existing within the labels used. Nonetheless, the implication is
always that there is sufficient similarity between those allocated to each
group to warrant the claim that there is a degree of coherence within it.
Certainly, there is the assumption that more unites those thinkers collected
together under a particular heading than they could be expected to share with
writers allocated to other categories. But is such an assumption correct? Why,
for instance, when considering the work of early second wave feminists, should
the writings of Firestone and of Millett both be regarded as examples of
radical feminism? Although they are both concerned with analysing men’s power
over women. Firestone adopts a Marxist dialectical and historical materialist
approach and argues for the existence of a sex class system based on men’s
control of reproduction. Millett, by contrast, uses a far less systematic and
more pluralistic methodology to focus on a range of situations which are
oppressive to women and which contribute to the system she refers to as
patriarchy.

Further,
there is a significant difference between Millett’s approach, which underplays
the use of direct force in maintaining patriarchy, arguing instead that this is
largely done through cultural legitimation, acceptance and consent, and that of
other ‘radical feminists’ who emphasize the importance of a range of forms of
violence and their threat in intimidating and controlling women. A similar
point could be made about those feminists classified as Marxist or socialist
(depending, as we have seen, on the criteria used). There seems to be a world
of difference, for example, between those writers, (epitomised perhaps by those
involved in the, so-called, domestic labour debate), who rather slavishly tried
to apply Marx’s conceptual schema for and analysis of the capitalist system to
an understanding of women’s situation, and other theorists who acknowledge the
role of ideology and culture in women’s oppression. Whereas those involved in
the domestic labour debate were concerned with the primacy of economic factors,
writers such as Michele Barrett have been prepared to recognise the significance
of phenomena such as sexuality and violence in women’s lives. Additionally, the
notion of a coherent Marxist feminist framework is rendered further problematic
by taking into account both the differing traditions of Marxism within which it
is located and the tendency to draw on differing contemporary intellectual
ideas, for example those of Foucault and Lacan. All these things lead to
distinct forms of analysis.

One
major problem in assigning theories to a pre-defined category is that this
encourages the idea that a particular writer’s understanding of women’s
subordination and inferior position can simply be inferred from the
characteristics generally ascribed to that category. It is commonplace, for
instance, to criticise all radical feminism for being essentialist, despite the
fact that many of those associated with the radical feminist label have made
considerable efforts to dissociate themselves from essentialism. Another result
of categorisation is that a focus on one particular area of women’s oppression
is taken as an indication of a complete lack of interest in any others. Thus,
to take the example of radical feminism again, because this approach is
characterised by its concern with patriarchy, violence and sexuality, it tends
to be assumed that its protagonists are not interested in matters relating to
social class and economic change. Yet, this is clearly not the case. Radical
feminist work has paid attention to how women’s material circumstances effect
their ability to escape violence and abuse, for example, and how a poor
material background might influence whether their claims about an attack are
taken seriously. While radical feminists may not have devoted space to
analysing the capitalist system per se, they have included a class
dimension in their work, where appropriate. In addition, in polarizing
Marxist/socialist against radical feminism, as is so often done, the
implication is given that feminists who see men as oppressors are not
socialists. Yet, there are few feminists of any persuasion who would defend a
class society or argue against the need for mechanisms of restraint and control
within capitalism.

A
further example of why we should be wary of assuming that the categories of
feminist thought imply an unproblematic uniformity within them can be seen in
the taken-for-granted assumption that only liberal feminists support policy and
political reform. But while it is the case that feminists who have been located
in the other perspectives have been critical of treating reform as the ultimate
and only political goal, it is certainly not the case that they have been
absent from campaigns and protests, as activity around such issues as abortion,
equal value for equal work and rape in marriage testify. For all these reasons,
then, it is possible to question the taken-for-granted homogeneity of the
categories with which feminist thought has been classified.