I found a paper I wrote a couple years ago before I was writing regular. My stance on the issue has evolved, but in light of recent discussions here I am posting it. I feel some of the content I still stand by. Some my theories and education in the area has evolved since writing this a couple of years ago. This is from a point where I was not yet looking at womanism. Enjoy…
What is feminism? According to Merriam Webster it is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, or organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests. Those simple statements can be dissected to shed a great deal on the subject. What is political equality? What is economic equality? What is social equality? What are a woman’s rights? And what exactly is in the best interest of women?
Despite great advances in politics and society in regards to women there remain many points that seem to still be in need of advancement. Much of culture is founded on the male dominant structure created and paved for ages. This may be intentional or unintentional that point is null. What is relevant is the fact that it does happen and exist. Cultural bias expectations still seem to paint certain roles which men and women have certain places. The primaries and presidential campaign in 2008 can be telling with this in the way candidates and issues were handled, perceived and treated. There is a common misconception that feminism consists of women trying to be like men, or take on male aspects.
Feminism is a logical dedication as well as a political movement seeking justice for women as well as the end to all forms of sexism. However, with feminism branching in so many directions that many disagree on not only what sexism is, but how and what should be done to bring about the equality and social class that gave birth to the cause. Feminists disagree about the implications of what gender roles has to play as well as what social and political rules apply to both men and women. Through the origins of society and culture men have dominated. They have molded society to their benefit and mindset. Even Aristotle placed women in a lower classification with slaves. This mindset was educated and dominant in politics, logic, health, and almost every other topic. The evolution of these thought processes can be seen as something that has been handed down from generation to generation. Little girls see mothers put into these roles and abiding by these cultural concepts. They see fathers falling into the gender roles that were dictated to them, and begin to conceive their purpose for existence as such. They took on these roles such as domestic help, cooking, cleaning, and raising children as their main purpose. Male and female roles have changed in culture over time, but much is still to be done in these areas.
One philosophy is Radical feminism, which emphasizes the deep roots of injustice between the sexes. Radical feminism views the division of privileges; power and rights between the sexes as oppressing women and favoring men. The radical feminists are more aggressive to their method of opposing the existing political and social structure as well as their support for social change.
A single parent household has become commonplace in culture, and men have given up roles of responsibility all too often. Some may ask about a concept such as chivalry. If a woman wishes to be equal why should a man open a door for her? Feminism is not attempting to destroy respect that a woman does receive. Men should not approach it with a mindset that is angered or threatened in a manner to take such respects from a woman. This concept could possibly begin to work both ways with respect to human beings as a whole instead of becoming a point of anger or discourse. Truly opening a door is trivial compared to the larger picture.
Some important concepts in feminist theory are social class, work, human rights, and popular culture. Are women given equal treatment in there areas? Are they dominated by men? Have men traditionally been given the opportunities? Education, work, recognition, and opportunities to excel in most areas seem to have been historically male dominant. This gives us a basis for knowledge, education, art, and most areas of academia that is founded with masculine concepts. Would it not be better for knowledge and education as a whole to begin to infuse concepts with a wider range while not throwing out what we have currently? Feminism is about equality across the board not dominance of one over another. Dominance is in itself a masculine concept, and a historical which reason women were put into a place they are.
Here are some concepts that need to be evaluated in culture. A woman often sees their purpose as being an individual whose children depend upon for care. As time progresses the children grow independent leaving a woman without her purpose in life. Masculine concepts are seen as rational and stable while the feminist perspective is seen as emotional and often unstable irrationality. Perhaps concepts of logic and rationality need to be explored further from the female perspective. This warrants further consideration. Does one gender excel or is one genders perspective accepted while the other is not? The later is the proper perspective on which to further focus. Often from childhood through adulthood women find themselves scaling down goals and desires for life to fit a more acceptable or realistic logical life in culture. This in itself presents a problem (Meyers, 04).
Susan James describes feminism as: “Feminism is grounded on the belief that women are oppressed or disadvantaged by comparison with men, and that their oppression is in some way illegitimate or unjustified. Under the umbrella of this general characterization there are, however, many interpretations of women and their oppression, so that it is a mistake to think of feminism as a single philosophical doctrine, or as implying an agreed political program.” (James 2000, 576)
Often through society this sexism and male dominance was not seen, and not done with intent but driven by an underline prejudice that was not obvious to many. People accepted culture as it was as the way things were and did not see need for change or fault with it. Most were almost incapable of seeing any problem or inequality at all. This is seen in even our language, and wording. Many terms of masculinity have been adopted as slang and proper English in a positive light while many feminine terms have been taken with a negative connotation. Why would a concept of femininity be seen as undesirable compared to a masculine concept? This is a perfect example of this sexism most seem to not see.
Olype de Gouges in 1791 published the Declaration of rights of women and citizens. When she wrote this, she took her inspiration from the 1789 Declaration of the National Assembly, which took the declaration and extended its rights to women. Olype de Gouges both affirmed the women’s competence to both reason as well as deal with moral decisions, taking into account women’s qualities for emotion and empathy, stating that women were not only the same as man but was equally his partner.
Somewhere along the way select men and women have lost sight of the concepts presented by feminist thinking and have been drawn astray. Some see feminism as woman dominating over man and less an equality of all. Some see a concept of a woman taking on male ideas and male life styles throwing away the unique feminism perspectives. The best example of this would be in pornography. Some will say it empowers women. Women have degraded themselves for their exploitation by men. They see liberation to take off clothing and exposing ones self as taking charge, and some women have lost sight of basic morality by taking on the chauvinist concepts and flaws of men (Levey, 06).
To look at a modern example one can turn to the current political arena. In the 2008 elections two women stand in the lime light as candidates that stuck out to most Americans. These women are Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Both have been examined with this male stereotype of what a woman is to be. Their fashion and child rearing have constantly been brought to light as subjects of their qualifications. Why is it one rarely focuses on a male politicians ability to raise children but a woman is automatically assumed to be responsible for this even in current politics?
during a speech of Hilary Clinton guys would have the nerve to shout “Iron my Shirt”, the scary fact is that It didn’t seem to bother the media, women or anyone else for that matter. This show’s disrespect as well as discrimination to all women not just women of power look at the way Sarah Palin has been ridiculed for anything that she says regarding her family her life or her career, society looks at her as though she is some dingy white girl getting buy on her looks, not the accomplishment’s she has achieved. Some people predict that in 2012 could be two women running for president basically plain versus Clinton. Due to fact of the possibility of McCain wins he would be extremely old to want to run for reelection. So that would leave Clinton and Plain as America’s two favorites. However the day men allow women to run the country pigs may fly; women have not gained all the equality from men as well as other women that are one of the reasons Obama beat out Hilary. The only reason Clinton got as far as she did in the election is because of her husband, Mrs. Clinton had four different groups of voter’s first group are dedicated feminists who have been a Clinton follower from the very beginning, the second group look at it as a package deal we get two presidents for the price of one. This meaning if Hillary becomes president bill comes with her, third groups are racist who would do anything to keep a black man out of the white house and then the fourth group doesn’t really care either way they are not pro life or feminist, with saying this the fourth group could easily sway to the plain side because these voters see her as a woman and someone who didn’t have someone so closely connected to the white house, the press believes she appeals to the single mom which is 27 percent of the national vote.
Leroy, Margaret. Pleasure: The Truth about Female Sexuality. London: Harper Collins, 1993.
Levey, Ariel. chauvinist pigs: Women and the rise of raunchy culture New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 2006
Frye, Marilyn. The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory. Berkley, CA:The Crossing Press,1983
Porter, Marilyn. Home, Work and Class Consciousness. Great Britain: Manchester University Press, 1983.
Meyers Diana, (2004). Feminist Perspectives on the Self. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-self