The embodiment of this essaywill include elements of feminists’ theories and their relevance today insociety. For example, Radical feminism, Liberal feminism and Black feminism.This essay will also consist a range of information about what these theoriesbelieve and why, what changes they have made to society today. Feminism is theidea that women and men should both be equal in society for instance: beingable to vote and equal pay. Feminism is a movement which is devoted to women’sin society who are facing inequality, they see society as a patriarchy unit andthat women are inferior to men. Feminism main attention is the inequality between men and womenin society.
Feminist theories tend to this by shining light on social problemse.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 maleperspective 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, andpolitical equality of the sexes. Feminism is manifested worldwide and isrepresented by various institutions committed to activity on behalfof women’s rights and interests” (Elinor Burket, 2017). Feministtheories aims are to explore the inequalities in society.
However, some people oftenforget 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 socialworld illustrates and supports inequality, oppression, and injustice. feminist theorieshave focused on women’s interactions and their experiences within society. During the 19th andmid-20th century, this when women started to represent theirthoughts.
Feminist theories done this by explaining women’s depression andoppression in society. (Jennifer Carlson, 2011)There are several strandsinside feminist approaches, but the core ones are Radical feminism, Marxistfeminism and Liberal feminism.Radical feminists tend tofocus solely on the problems of patriarchy in society, for example institutionswhere men are usually dominant over women e.
g. household, domestic abuse, workplaceand politics. Kate Millett was a radical feminist writer who wrote a book in1970 about patriarchal power called ‘The basis of Sexual Politics’. In her bookshe expressed her views about male dominance.
“analysing the way in which females are socialised into acceptingpatriarchal values and norms, which challenged the notion that femalesubservience is somehow natural” (Bindel, 2017).Liberal feminists’ stressesover the rights that women are meant to have in society. They focus on rightsoff women and trying to provide equal opportunities for women in society sothat they have the same rights as men in society. Also, to stop all forms ofdiscrimination (Jones, 2003, p.
92). For instance, inthe family, they identify how women carry out all the major responsibilitieswithin the household e.g. ‘triple shift’ this is known when the mother carriesout the emotional, domestic and paid work.
However, this can have effect on theircareer and their power at home. They believe the best way to eliminatediscrimination within the household to improve the position of women so thatthere can be equality is by changing socialisation roles. (Earlham sociology , 2017)this means not stereotyping women that they are meant to carrying out thedomestic role which is the idea that women are meant to be housewives. This canbe prevented by not brainwashing children at a young age about carrying out theexpressive or instrumental role. Another point is allowing women to have legalrights e.
g. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975, The Equal Pay Act 1970 and TheEquality Act 2010. Allowing men and women to share the domestic and childcarealso promotes equality because they both able to share roles.
Marxist feminists emphasize onhow women are exploited in society, workplace and in the household. Marxistfeminists usually take a marxist approach when studying women’s interests. (Jones, 2003) Jones talks abouthow women providing the domestic roles is essential to “sustain the male worker and reproducing a new generation of workersthrough childcare, women being the wife and mother is providing a crucialservice for capitalism” (Jones, 2003, p. 92). This shows howwomen are supposed to the one at home looking after children while the husbandis at work. This benefits capitalism because it is easy for women to bedomestic labourers because the work is unpaid. “Britain at least, radical feminism has never been particularlydominant, partly because – in the eyes of many socialist and postcolonialfeminists – it has been insufficiently attentive to the intersections betweengender inequality and other categories, such as race and class” (Dean, 2011).
Keyareas of feminist theories that is relevant in today in society is gender differences. Majority of feministtheories offers a systematic outline for understanding how women’s andexperience of, social situations differ from men’s. For example, Marxistsfeminists look at how women are exploited in society and they look at theexperiences that they face and why. Other feminist theorists believe that thedifferent roles assigned to women and men within institutions better explaingender difference, including the sexual division of labor in the household. Feministsmain concentration is about on how women have been marginalized and defined asimportant in patriarchal societies and in the workplace, they areimportant within the household. Also, some of their attention is about how masculinityis developed through primary and secondary socialization, and how it has madean impact on males in society today and it portrayed within the workplace andfamily. “Menwere equally distributed throughout the profiles, whereas women wereunderrepresented in the Work category. More women than men fit the Familyprofile, and more men than women fit the Work profile.
” (Gali-Cinamon, 2011) This supportsthe idea that there is no equality between men and women. It tells us how womenare better off carrying out the expressive role and men are better off at theworkplace and carrying out the instrumental role. Therefore, gender differenceis still relevance today in society. Anotherkey idea is gender inequality. Feminist theories whose main focus about genderinequality identify that women who experience in equality social situations arenot only different but also unequal to men’s.
Liberal feminists argue thatwomen have the same size as men for moral reasoning and intervention, but thatpatriarchy, especially the division of labor within the home and workplace ,has historically deprived women the opportunity to express their choices abouttheir life course. These changing aspects helps marginalize women within societybecause they are too busy carrying out their domestics within the household.Therefore, this excludes them for being able to participate in society.
Differences within CategoriesAnotherdifficulty with any attempt to classify feminist theory in the ways describedis that it implies that there is some kind of unity in approach and intentionbetween those writers placed in each category. Many of those who have writtenabout feminist thought have been at pains to draw attention to differences ofemphasis existing within the labels used. Nonetheless, the implication isalways that there is sufficient similarity between those allocated to eachgroup to warrant the claim that there is a degree of coherence within it.Certainly, there is the assumption that more unites those thinkers collectedtogether under a particular heading than they could be expected to share withwriters allocated to other categories. But is such an assumption correct? Why,for instance, when considering the work of early second wave feminists, shouldthe writings of Firestone and of Millett both be regarded as examples ofradical feminism? Although they are both concerned with analysing men’s powerover women. Firestone adopts a Marxist dialectical and historical materialistapproach and argues for the existence of a sex class system based on men’scontrol of reproduction. Millett, by contrast, uses a far less systematic andmore pluralistic methodology to focus on a range of situations which areoppressive to women and which contribute to the system she refers to aspatriarchy.
Further,there is a significant difference between Millett’s approach, which underplaysthe use of direct force in maintaining patriarchy, arguing instead that this islargely done through cultural legitimation, acceptance and consent, and that ofother ‘radical feminists’ who emphasize the importance of a range of forms ofviolence and their threat in intimidating and controlling women. A similarpoint 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 worldof difference, for example, between those writers, (epitomised perhaps by thoseinvolved in the, so-called, domestic labour debate), who rather slavishly triedto apply Marx’s conceptual schema for and analysis of the capitalist system toan understanding of women’s situation, and other theorists who acknowledge therole of ideology and culture in women’s oppression. Whereas those involved inthe domestic labour debate were concerned with the primacy of economic factors,writers such as Michele Barrett have been prepared to recognise the significanceof phenomena such as sexuality and violence in women’s lives. Additionally, thenotion of a coherent Marxist feminist framework is rendered further problematicby taking into account both the differing traditions of Marxism within which itis located and the tendency to draw on differing contemporary intellectualideas, for example those of Foucault and Lacan.
All these things lead todistinct forms of analysis.Onemajor problem in assigning theories to a pre-defined category is that thisencourages the idea that a particular writer’s understanding of women’ssubordination and inferior position can simply be inferred from thecharacteristics generally ascribed to that category. It is commonplace, forinstance, to criticise all radical feminism for being essentialist, despite thefact that many of those associated with the radical feminist label have madeconsiderable efforts to dissociate themselves from essentialism. Another resultof categorisation is that a focus on one particular area of women’s oppressionis 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 ischaracterised by its concern with patriarchy, violence and sexuality, it tendsto be assumed that its protagonists are not interested in matters relating tosocial class and economic change.
Yet, this is clearly not the case. Radicalfeminist work has paid attention to how women’s material circumstances effecttheir ability to escape violence and abuse, for example, and how a poormaterial background might influence whether their claims about an attack aretaken seriously. While radical feminists may not have devoted space toanalysing the capitalist system per se, they have included a classdimension in their work, where appropriate. In addition, in polarizingMarxist/socialist against radical feminism, as is so often done, theimplication is given that feminists who see men as oppressors are notsocialists. Yet, there are few feminists of any persuasion who would defend aclass society or argue against the need for mechanisms of restraint and controlwithin capitalism.Afurther example of why we should be wary of assuming that the categories offeminist thought imply an unproblematic uniformity within them can be seen inthe taken-for-granted assumption that only liberal feminists support policy andpolitical reform. But while it is the case that feminists who have been locatedin the other perspectives have been critical of treating reform as the ultimateand only political goal, it is certainly not the case that they have beenabsent 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 thecategories with which feminist thought has been classified.