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Feminism

The public/private divide:

A fragmented, cross-cutting ideology with some common ground themes: The public/private divides Patriarchy Sex and Gender Equality and Difference

Traditional view: The public sphere is one of government institution, public debate, parties & pressure groups POLITICAL. The private sphere is that of the family and personal relationships = NON-POLITICAL. Modernist view: Politics operates within all social groups, not merely government. Millett defined politics as powerstructured relationships. E.g. The socialisation of family: husbands exert power over wives = power/political nature. Sexual inequality has often been equated with the sexual division of labour. People have mistaken what is political for what is natural. E.g. Male professions are stereotypically politics, art & literature, whereas women are confined to a private existence. Women thus seek to challenge the divide between the public man & private woman. Radical feminists: The keenest opponents of the spheres, they state that the personal is the political. Patriarchy is manifested in the family. Reconstructing domestic life would make patriarchy unsustainable. Transferring domestic responsibility to the state is implied. E.g. welfare or child-rearing. If politics is only relevant in the public sphere, are women therefore of no political importance? Is there a danger of politicising the private sphere = a realm of freedom?

Patriarchy:
Gender is like class, race or religion: it is a social cleavage. Feminists have identified sexual politics like class politics. Similarly, sexism is equated with racism. Patriarchy is used to describe the power relationship between men and women, or literally rule by father. Some feminists use broad terms like male supremacy whereas others see the patriarchal family as the heart of male domination, in that it breeds in education, work & politics. Millett: There are two principles of patriarchy: male shall dominate female, elder male shall dominate younger A hierarchal society = sexual and generational. Oppression has varied enormously in different countries. In Britain, female positions have improved: the right to vote, access to education, legalisation of abortion, changes in marriage/divorce legislation, Equal Pay Act. However, in Africa 80 million women are subject to circumcision. Patriarchy is generally used to draw attention to equal distribution of rights & the underrepresentation of women in senior positions. The pattern of male domination largely reflects the power structures in domestic life.

Sex and Gender:


Traditionally, feminists defend the belief that biology is not destiny: there is a sharp distinction between sex & gender. SEX = GIVEN biological, differences. GENDER = CONSTRUCTED social stereotypes of masculinity & femininity: Women are made, they are not born Beauvoir. Gender differences of socially/politically constructed. Sex differences are minor: human nature is androgynous. Sex differences are biologically undeniable, but have no political implications. People should be judged as individuals or personhood. Gender should thus be divorced from sex, if social transformation can be made possible. Difference feminists: Often adopt an essentialist approach, identifying fundamental differences between men & women. There are deeper biological differences, for e.g. such as the exclusivity of maternal instinct to women. Postmodern feminists: There is no clear-cut definition of sex or biological womanhood. Some women, for e.g. cannot bear children and some are not sexually inclined towards men.

Equality and difference: A dispute of methods.


Despite tensions, gender differences tend to be viewed in a negative light. Egalitarian forms of feminism seek to liberate women from difference, as its inherently linked to patriarchy.

PRO-EQUALITY/ANTI-DIFFERENCE Why do feminists support equality? Hasnt been asked.


Liberal feminism: Embraces the notion of equality: both political and legal. The have adopted an equal rights agenda, based on the androgyny of human nature and need to overcome the private sphere. Socialist feminism: Reject generic equality, branding it as meaningless. Social equality can only be achieved through economic power and this can only be achieved through addressing issues such as ownership of wealth, waged/unwaged labour. The base-superstructure is economic equality = social equality. Radical feminism: The family is the main concern with regards to equality. Equality is perceived in terms of childcare, domestic responsibility, sexual fulfilment and ultimately, control of ones own body.

PRO-DIFFERENCE/ANTI-EQUALITY
Difference feminism: Celebrates difference & brands equality is undesirable. A need for equality implies that a womens goals are male identified, based on a desire to be like men. There is a danger of modelling women on men = aggressive behaviour. This is unable to fulfil the notion of women identified or fulfilled feminism. Essentialism: There are fundamental psycho-biological differences. Men are naturally competitive (breadwinners) & women are empathetic (child-raisers). Differences are hormonal, not just socially. Mary Daley stressed the need for women to connect with female nature. Androgyny: Is undesirable because it demeans/blurs distinctive characteristics of the female sex. Women should play to their unique strengths: crafts, art & literature. This stresses sisterhood over personhood.

Sex and Equality:


Conservatism/Anti-feminism: A hierarchal ideology, the division of labour between public man and private woman is natural. Biology IS destiny: women are born to be housewives. Conservatism may support sexual equality on the grounds that family responsibility is of equal worth to mens duties. Women are thus equal but different. Beauvoirs theory of otherness: women are different to men in all walks of life & men will never understand this. Feminists say women have merely internalised this otherness. Reactionary feminism: Rapid social change threatens the traditional position of women. For e.g. Western attitudes have been criticised as enhancing the status of women, such as Sharia law, the veil and dress codes.

Liberal feminism (Use spider-diagrams/worksheet not Heywood)


Public sphere focus: Liberal feminism seeks to overcome legal, political and institutional struggles in order to emancipate women from gender stereotypes and prejudice. Dispelling such bonds can be done through education. This is the key to achieving equality, public citizenship, individual autonomy and ultimately, freedom. Human nature is androgynous: there is assumed commonality between men and women. It supports personhood as opposed to womanhood. The idea of sex wars is a falsity. Reform: Change can be gradual, within existing systems. Naomi Wolf stressed that reform is more desirable that revolution. The Equal Pay Act (1970) and Sex Discrimination Act (1975) demonstrate liberal feminisms success.

Criticisms:
Neglects the private sphere: Some second wavers view the public/private spheres as political/non-political = reinforcing the sexual divisions between men and women. To neglect this creates self-perpetuating oppression. E.g. Not taking domestic violence seriously, means the state should have limited intervention, implying the condoning of subordination. White, middle-class bias: By focusing on middle-class, white women, minorities are neglected. Such disadvantaged peoples may be working class women, black women or developing world women. Superficial: Liberal feminism fails to tackle the deeper ideological traditions that subordinate women. Its not just a matter of attitudes in society. Underplays capitalism (Socialist): The unwaged labour of women, stabilises capitalism. Women are a reserve army in needs of production. Economic positions determine social ones & liberal feminism underestimates this. Underplays patriarchy/male aggression (Radical): Relationships are a systematic tool, used to oppress. The faade of romance keeps the wife at home: a product of natural male aggression. Private sphere coercion manifests itself all over. The dilemma of westernisation (Orientalism): Liberals have struggled with issues of non-western cultures. Female circumcision & forced marriage raises the question of whether feminists should westernise or interfere with cultures.

Marxist (not socialist) feminism:


Economics: The base-superstructure approach, social relations are shaped by the economic distribution of power. In other words, it is economic factors that perpetuate sexual inequality NOT attitudes. Class politics: Hierarchal class relations are the source of oppression. Male dominance predates this coercion through the handing down of private property to their sons. Engels branded this, the bourgeois family. Public sphere: Waged/unwaged labour is a focus of Marxist feminism. It believes that female labour stabilises capitalism and is a reserve army of labour, at the disposal of the need for production. Similarity: Men and women are not dissimilar. They are both oppressed by capitalism, so have similar interests. Revolution: A necessary precondition in order to topple patriarchy and capitalism.

Socialist feminism: three main strands.


Sexual oppression is a psychological model of sexual power. This is a result of social construction NOT economic-related factors. Mitchell said this is shaped by contextual historical economics. Draws on Marxist & radical theory, in a unified system of capitalist patriarchy. This strand is a critique of dualist theories. Jaggar & Young said that alienation for e.g. a big enough concept to encompass both phenomena.

Patriarchy and capitalism are separate entities, each with its own agenda. Sexual oppression & class division may interact with one another but are not necessarily interdependent: they are equally significant. Hartman branded this the dynamic duo approach.

Socialist feminism recognises the decline of Marxist feminism, so attempts to have a dual focus on capitalism AND patriarchy. All strands are shaped by their views on: Class Sex and Capitalism patriarchy

Criticisms (of Marxist-Socialist feminism)


Liberal feminism: 1.The importance of capitalism has been overemphasised. Gender inequality existed in pre-capitalist societies, such as the former USSR. 2.Revolution is neither necessary or desirable. Reform has proved successful: Equal Pay & Sex Discrimination Acts. Radical feminism: 1. Capitalism has been overstated, neglecting the role of patriarchy. 2. All radical feminists stress the need to focus on private sphere relationships as a source of oppression. 3. Some radical feminists highlight the need to recognise womens biology as a source of female disadvantage.

Radical feminism:
Sexual oppression(patriarchy) oppression(patriarchy): defines womens oppression as a whole. Women are coerced because of their sex NOT social class (Marxism) or ethnicity (Black). Celebrates difference. There is a sharp distinction between men and women: sensitivity vs. aggression. These virtues accepted as natural & inevitable = a positive view of femininity. Radical libertarianism: Adopting the best qualities of both sexes, means gender differences can be eliminated or at least, greatly reduced. Sex difference is social, not natural. Androgyny is the best policy. Women should not be assimilated into arenas of activity, associated with males. This stresses the positive outlook on womanhood. womanhood.

Essentialism: Gender should be eliminated. It encompasses sexual status & roles constructed under patriarchy. Women must collectively isolate themselves from institutions, upholding male privilege. Revolution: Sexual oppression is an original source of coercive power, deeply embedded in society. There should be multiple revolutions, organised by small groups, not formal, central administration. Radical culturalism: Womens qualities are superior to mens. There should be no attempt to model women onto men. Biological differences, exclusive to women, should be celebrated (peaceful, egalitarian seekers).

Lesbian separatism separatism:places placesan an emphasis on sisterhood. sisterhood. Heterosexuality is sometimes an expression of patriarchy. Lesbianism is thus an internal rejection of patriarchal sexuality. It puts women first as a mutual recognition. recognition. Private sphere: Patriarchal concerns of motherhood & sex stem from here (the family). The state itself is patriarchal. It is thus suspicious of state intervention.

Criticisms:
The trap of essentialism: By accepting the compassionate woman & aggressive man as NATURAL, radical feminists accept the very stereotype theyre trying to overcome. How do you thus escape something, which you yourself, identify as inescapable? Too optimistic of female similarities: Marxist feminists: women are diverse in aims & backgrounds (particularly working class & upper class women). Black feminists: women are divided by ethnicity and culture. E.g. Third World women are immensely different to western women. Are heterosexual relationships really dominative? Liberal feminists identify male-female relationships as potentially fulfilling. Bad relationships can be remedied through education.

Alienation: Lesbian separatism may alienate heterosexual women, who are already devoted to motherhood or family life.

Marxist/social feminists say cooperation between men & women is a necessary precondition to end capitalism via revolution. Reform: Liberal feminists have argued that gradual processes have worked. E.g. Equal Pay Act & Sex Discrimination Act have extended gender equality.

21st Century:

Underplays role of capitalism: Marxist feminists: Women are likely to be poorly paid, represented (by trade unions) & exploited under capitalism. The family, under capitalism, is influenced by the exploitative nature of capitalism as a whole.

Feminism has undergone a decline, particularly since the politically hostile nature of the 1980s. Reagan & Thatcher were openly antifeminist & pro family values = social stability. In the UK/USA, single mothers were demonised as a welfare burden. Second Wave Feminism has successfully achieved equal pay, abortion & anti-discrimination legislation. It has even contributed towards a new man, who is willing to share responsibilities in the symmetrical family. Some have said feminism has gone too far: it has deprived men of their breadwinner status, forcing them to retreat into a culture of non-achievement and female future. Greer, however, condemns the idea of women having it all: women have settled for the goal of liberation & phoney equality on the model of men. Quite simply, feminism will survive as long as patriarchy persists.

Anti-feminism:
Biology critique: The most common of anti-feminist arguments, the sexual division of labour is a natural factor of prescribed social roles. Womens maternal instinct, justifies their domestic role in society. Biology is, therefore, destiny. Womens capacity to bear children is unique, but does not necessarily socially disadvantage them. Traditionalist critique: This is the view that the traditional patriarchal family has been vindicated by history, embodying values and existing over long periods of time and in a wide range of societies. The family is the natural unity of society and womens role within it is so fundamental to its survival that any attempt to alter the structure must produce extreme negative results that will destabilise the order of society as a whole. Social cohesion critique: Attempts to move women away from the family model will be socially dysfunctional, provoking an increased incidence of family breakdown. Children will be ineffectively parented and socialised, which will in turn lead to increased levels of anti-social behaviour. Conservatives demonised single mothers in the 1980s. E.g. US Neo Conservatives: The New Right tried to re-assert pro-family patriarchal values, viewed as a guarantee of social order and stability. Pat Robertson spoke for the moral majority, identifying the rise in crime and vandalism among young people as a result of working mothers.

First Wave
This wave focused on the public, or political sphere. Women sought to rectify legal and mandate inequalities between men and women. John Mill campaigned for women suffrage in 1867, but this was defeated. Women over 30, with property were granted the vote in 1918 and this was extended in 1928. This movement wasnt universal: white, middle-class women participated = limited.

Second Wave
This was a regeneration of the First Waves work, in the 1960s. Betty Friedans The Feminine Mystique identified the issue of the frustrated and unhappy private woman or problem that has no name, confined to domestic responsibilities. Germaine Greers The Female Eunuch stated true emancipation to be psychological, personal and sexual, not just political. The right to vote was not enough to topple patriarchy.

Third Wave
This wave was heavily influenced by postmodernism. This wave challenges meta narratives and essentialism. Generally, this wave supported the idea that gender is not the sole source of identity: culture, religion, sexual and class collectively makes up a womans identity.