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Feminist Theory


Feminist Theory Sanela Zahirovic Danielle West Feminism and It s Roots Feminist theory is an outgrowth of the general movement to empower women worldwide. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Feminist Theory

Feminist Theory
  • Sanela Zahirovic
  • Danielle West

Feminism and Its Roots
  • Feminist theory is an outgrowth of the general
    movement to empower women worldwide.
  • Feminism is a women-centered approach to the
    study of human behavior.
  • Through analysis of gender roles and gender
    appropriateness, feminist theory demonstrates how
    women have historically been subjected to a
    double standard in both treatment and in the
    evaluation of their worth.

  • Feminism is a recognition and critique of male
    supremacy combined with efforts to change it.
  • Feminists fight for the equality of women and
    argue that women should share equally in
    societys opportunities and scarce resources.

First Womens Convention
  • Seneca Falls, New York, 1848 (Birthplace of
  • More than 300 people attended
  • Discussed social, civil, and religious condition
    of women
  • Marked the beginning of a 72 year battle to gain
    right to vote in the US
  • 1920, US became 17 country in the world to give
    voting rights to women. New Zealand was the
  • Declaration of Sentiments

Declaration of Sentiments
  • First draft written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Modeled on Declaration of Independence
  • Paragraph 2 states We hold these truths to be
    self-evident that all men and women are created
    equal that they are endowed by their creator
    with certain inalienable rights that among these
    are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
    that to secure these rights governments are
    instituted, derived their just powers from the
    consent of the governed

Feminism in Germany
  • Feminism though led by Marianne Weber in early
    20th century Germany.
  • Active attempt to reach economic and political
    equality between men and women
  • 1905, another German feminist group emerged.
  • Concerned with sexual autonomy, led to what is
    known as erotic movement.
  • Helen Stoker became the leader of erotic movement
    in 1906. Issues of sexual politics and
    matrimonial law became the focus-Right of women
    to engage in sexual relations regardless of
    marital and legal considerations

Max and Marianne Weber
  • Criticized these women
  • Believed the promoted rights of free love and
    illegitimate children.
  • View the erotic movement as unethical and
  • Marianne Weber, agreed with her husband
  • Ehefrau und Mutter in der Rechtesentwicklung-1907
  • Believed that womens movement should focus on
    equality of women and not sexual and moral
  • Women should be financial independent
  • Paid for domestic chores
  • Women should be treated equally in social
    institutions of marriage
  • Believed in marriage between man and woman only
  • Alienated many other feminists (especially
    lesbian feminists)

Contemporary Feminist Movement
  • Second wave of Feminism-1960s
  • Free love helped women escape the sexual double
  • Divorce became easier to obtain
  • Women found fulfillment outside the home.
  • Focused on women having equal rights and reaching
    this goal through legal reform and legislating
    antidiscriminatory policies

Contemporary Feminist Movement
  • Examining the race-class-gender linkage
    originated with African American feminists in the
  • Feminization of Poverty
  • Women more likely then men to be poor
  • Usually single women, women of color and elderly
    women living alone
  • Mainstream white feminists often negligent of the
    reality of women of color
  • More concerned with poverty than disadvantages
    associated with gender

Liberal Feminism
  • Most mainstream perspective
  • Based on idea that all people are created equal
    and should not be denied equal opportunity based
    on gender
  • Best exemplified by National Organization for
    women (NOW)
  • Formed in 1966
  • Works within established socioeconomic and
    political systems to advocate social change on
    behalf of women

Liberal Feminism
  • Obstacles to equality lie in traditional laws and
  • Primary obstacle is sexism
  • Sexists attitude about appropriate gender roles
    for men and women continues to lead to
    discrimination and prejudice against women
  • Equality also hampered by women who are reluctant
    to exercise their rights
  • Strive for equality and civil rights for all

Liberal Feminism
  • Equality is best accomplished through programs
    that prohibit discrimination and education
    program that teach children that society's roles
    are not gender-specific
  • Ex. men-doctors, women-nurses
  • Educating that gender roles are learned not
  • Criticized for failing to explain
    institutionalized social classes and racial

Marxist Feminism
  • Similar to thoughts of Karl Marx and conflict
  • Division of labor was related to gender role
  • women-homemakers, men-breadwinners
  • Means of production controlled by men
  • Women exploited by existing social systems
  • Working class women are paid less then their male

Marxist Feminism
  • Social system needs to change to the point where
    women have equal access to the control of the
    means of production
  • Steps to equality
  • First step entering workforce
  • Second step advancing to management
  • Ultimate goal women owning the means of
  • Acknowledged class differences
  • Invites all women to understand that the womens
    oppression is the product of political, social,
    and economic structures associated with capitalism

Radical Feminism
  • Views patriarchy as sexual system of power in
    which male possesses superior power and economic
  • Sexism is the ultimate tool used by men, to keep
    women oppressed
  • Male power and privilege is the basis of social
  • View patriarchy as having emerged from mens
    attempt to control, females sexuality
  • Through patriarchal gender socialization
  • Creation of norms of acceptable sexual behavior
  • Men exercise sexual power in many violent forms
  • Rape, incest, sexual harassment and battery
  • Not always physical-ex. encouraging certain style
    of dress, motherhood, unpaid housework

Radical Feminism
  • Heterosexuality as a tool of male dominance
  • Many ways to escape the cage of femininity
  • Androgynous culture, replacing male culture with
    female culture, celibacy, lesbianism
  • Refusing to reproduce is the most effective way
    for women to escape
  • All existing structures are created by men
  • Ex religion God is male.

Socialist Feminism
  • Womens oppression as stemming from their work in
    the family and economy
  • Inferior positions of women in the social system
    is the result of class-based capitalism (similar
    to Marxist Feminism)
  • Ex. Unpaid housework
  • Capitalism is not the only cause
  • Attempts to adapt socialist principles to both
    the workplace and at the home to increase gender
  • Social change will occur through increased
    consciousness and knowledge of how societys
    social structures are designed and operate to
    oppress women

Socialist Feminism
  • Private and public sphere
  • Men-public (workplace), women-private (home)
  • Private-invisible
  • Argue for two things
  • 1. An increased emphasis on the private sphere
    and the role of women in household
  • 2. Equal opportunities for women in the public

Postmodern Feminism
  • Attempt to criticize the dominant order and to
    valorize the feminine woman
  • Utilizes postmodern theory and its assumption
    that we no longer live under conditions of
    modernity, but of postmodernity
  • Postmodern world is a global world highlighted by
    technology that controls and promotes consumerism

Postmodern Feminism
  • Believe that concepts and outlooks used to
    examine the world in the past no longer apply to
    the analysis of the world today
  • All theory is socially constructed and resent the
    claim of modernists that only rational, abstract
    thought and scientific methodology can lead to
    valid knowledge

Dorothy E. Smith
  • Born 1926 in Great Britain
  • 1955 B.A. in sociology from London School of
  • 1963 Ph.D. in sociology from U of California at
  • Feminist thinking and sociological approach are
    deeply influenced by experiences of being a
    lecturer at Berkeley in an almost all-male staff
    and being a single mother.

  • conceptual distinction between the world as we
    experience it and the world as we come to know it
    through the conceptual frameworks that science
  • Attempt to expose gender-biased assumptions
    within the social sciences
  • Male-power-based gender construction of roles has
    legitimized gender inequality in society
  • Proposed reorganization of sociology

Sandra Harding
  • Born 1935
  • Professor of education and womens studies at
  • Director of the Center for the Study of Women
  • Leading feminist and philosopher who taught for
    two decades at University of Delaware
  • Given over 200 lectures internationally and has
    served as a consultant to UN organizations.

Feminist Theory
  • Criticized all sociological theories
  • Does not believe in idea of universal theory, but
    specific theories should be designed for specific
    categories of people
  • Empirical research is biased
  • Believes all males and all whites benefit from
    their ascribed status (ignores empirical data
    like the poor, war vets, and homeless)

Neutrality and Objectivity in Science
  • Science is male-dominated, biased, and lacking in
  • Objectivist methods are encouraged to eliminate
    the social and political values and interests of
  • Encouraged women to stop disagreeing among
    themselves and encourage more feminists to enter
    science. (For whistleblowing purposes

Patricia Hill Collins
  • Born 1948 in Philadelphia
  • 1969 B.A. from Brandeis
  • 1970 M.A. from Harvard
  • 1984 Ph.D. from Brandeis
  • Sociological concerns mirror experiences as an
    African American woman who broke many barriers
    and who often felt marginalized.
  • Outsider within (Similar to Simmels idea of the
    stranger) One part of the group feels distanced
    from the group.

Feminist Theory and Methodology
  • Believes that the focus of sociological theory
    should be the outsider groups that usually lack
    a voice in scientific framework
  • Promotes using subjective analysis to study all
    of these voices
  • Agrees with Harding regarding white male
    interests saturating traditional scholarship.
  • She also rejects empirical data and statistical
    analysis in favor of documentation of voices of
    black women in all social settings.

Theory and Methodology Cont
  • Collins describes positivism as Eurocentric
  • Emotional components like feelings are important
    in the gathering of knowledge.
  • Values SI approach
  • Individual level of analysis

Black Feminism
  • Ideas produced by Black women that clarify a
    standpoint of and for Black women
  • 1. The meaning of self-definition and
  • Studying social reality of Black women
  • Take that self image to black women learning to
    value themselves and empower themselves in
    societal structure
  • 2. The interlocking nature of oppression
  • Society has taught black women that racism,
    sexism, and poverty are inevitable for them and
    keep them oppressed
  • Awareness will empower and unite to fight system
  • 3. The importance of African-American womens
  • Examination of family life and relationship
    between mother/child (expectations and
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