Women In The State The purpose of this paper is to define the different types of feminism and describe whether there is still potential for a unified consensus among the different feminist groups. The four main types of feminism can be separated into the following categories: liberal, radical, socialist and identity.
These types of feminism may be easily divided academically, but there are many aspects that people consider from all angles to form their own opinion. The following is a description and general understanding of the movements mentioned. First, the idea of liberal feminism sees all people as equal; therefore there should be equality for all. They see sexism as dysfunctional because it deprives society of one-half of its creative work force.Oppression exists because of our socialization process with education being the primary aspect. Liberalism emphasizes “man’s” ability to be rational, setting them apart from other creatures and therefore deeming them worthy or rights.
Liberal feminists recognize the importance or rights and seek a system of equal rights for men and women. A central idea of liberalism that has been “includes a belief in the equal rights of all human beings and a faith in educated human reason”. (MacIvor 40) Education, being a key to recognizing equality, is one of the prime aspects of liberal feminism.It’s believed that “women were equal to men in natural intelligence, and only appeared to be inferior because they were denied a proper education”. (40) Overall women are as intelligent as men but are deprived of equal rights and opportunities because of education and reason.
Now reason itself is a key concept within the school of liberal feminism. “Reason is a higher quality, separate from and superior to the body. Reason is also an individual quality; hence the liberal focus on the individual person”. (41) Liberal feminist strive to focus the mainstream of ideas towards the idea of accepting women’s reason as much as man giving the ultimate view of individualism and freedom without bias towards sex.Some examples of liberal feminist ideas are campaigns for equal pay, employment equity and greater female representation in politics.
The second type of feminist approach that is recognized in this paper is the radical feminist approach. In radical feminist theory, the oppression of women is seen as the root of all other power inequalities in society. There are many diverse actions and views that can be considered “radical” but one there are some common threads as well that hold together the “radical view”. First all radical feminists agree that “distinction of gender, based on sex, structure virtually every aspect of our lives and are indeed are so all-pervasive that ordinarily they go quite unrecognized”.(46) The goal of radical feminists is to ensure that women are aware of these distinctions of gender exist and that they injure women in all parts of their lives. It is important for them to know that men are the oppressors and men derive their concrete benefits from their oppression of women.
Because of this, radical feminists must struggle to achieve liberation. Another distinction within the radical feminist views is the fact that the radicals believe that women have a unique sexual and reproductive power. In other words “women’s ability to give birth is a unique power that leads to enforced powerlessness at the hands of men”. (47) On the other hand, radical feminists have argued that men weaken women and because the physical demand that men have towards childbirth. Men understand that pregnancy is formed ultimately by their power, and with this, the root of women’s oppression is established.One downfall of this type of thought is that with the continual growth of evolution in the economic and public sphere, it seems that most of the women are middle class educated white women. Radical view has not dealt very well with the issues of race and class and cannot differentiate between the class types that our economy holds.
It cannot tell us about the economic difference or exploitations of women in the state. Overall, radical feminism is bound and contained by the biological aspects of women’s lives and fails to consider the social aspect of women oppression. Social feminism can be considered an almost neutral position between the liberal and radical feminists.It holds various views from each side of the spectrum to compose the idea of a social or Marxist feminism. At one end social feminism is like liberal feminism where “the result of women’s attempts to apply male-derived analysis to the problem of gender inequality”. (56) Another unity between the liberals and the socialists is the demand of “freedom”.
On the other side of the spectrum, social feminism agree with radical feminists with the recognition of capitalism, patriarchy as the enemy; or racism vs. sexism.Both these views recognize patriarchy as a system where men in general benefit at the expense of women. The idea that freedom amongst all public and private spheres is the main parallel between the three views, but the difference between social feminism and others is the distinction between classes inside these public and private spheres. Social, or often called Marxist feminism, primarily concern them with the class struggle or struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In Marxism the “proletariats have no means of survival except to sell their labor power to the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie use this power in combination with the other factors of production, to produce commodities.
” (56) Social feminists concern themselves with the fact that me, the equality and means of “survival of the fittest” primarily dominate the bourgeoisie can never be achieved with the dominance and oppression from make oppression.”Social feminists point out that women are brought up to accept their assigned gender role. It is reinforced in the school, in the workplace, in the home, and in the images of themselves that women see everywhere around them.” (63) With this view, it is far easier for women to be guided into a proletariat atmosphere so that man can dominate the workforce. Finally, the school of identity feminism is a recent ideology approached by the women who are not white, middle-class academics. This type of approach “has emerged from the women who have been excluded from the academic currents”. (68) Black women, lesbians, native women etc.have conjured up a type of feminism that describes their own type of oppression.
Overall they represent that “the recognition that if the personal is political, then race, sexual orientation, physical condition, and origin are just as relevant to women’s oppression as gender”. (69) Overall, identity feminism is based on experience within the state and not on abstract concepts such as the other schools of feminists. Here are a few examples of the types of identity feminism held today within the state. The first and perhaps the oldest form of identity feminism is black feminism.Although it generally bases itself on books and theory, black feminists believe that “it goes beyond theory. Black feminism is a process of self-conscious struggle that empowers women and men to actualize a humanist vision of community”. (70) Humanist vision encourages a society or state that structures itself without the discrimination against color or sex. This is how black feminism approaches oppression.
Another example of identity feminism is lesbian feminism. This can be defined as “the shift from lesbianism as a sexual identity to lesbianism as a political definition”.(72) As a complete form of patriarchy, men tend to believe that women are there to serve men. Lesbians disrupt this view by showing that they do not need men.
Lesbians basically threat male dominance and oppression at the core. To this point, “the sense of threat to the established order is embraced enthusiastically by many lesbian feminists”. (73) Overall, in my view, I find a strong sense of direction amongst all the feminist schools to abandon the idea of male dominance and annihilate the structure of male patriarchal oppression.With this as a common goal, I believe that feminism has the potential to exist under a unified form of though or movement.
It is hard to conform into one ideology when there are so many different aspects and views of feminism that include drastic differences in philosophical and strategic approaches, but under the skin of these different movements a main objective is still held amongst all. This objective being a change and reaction against the domineering and oppressive force of men and the deterioration of the education, employment, and disadvantage barriers that surround the state as a whole. With this objective, unity and consensus amongst feminists can be obtained. Bibliography 1.
MacIvor, H. Women and Politics in Canada Toronto: Broadway Press, 1996. Political Issues.