Feminist Theories - Sociology (Marxist Feminism (Evaluation of Marxist…
Feminist Theories - Sociology
Liberal or Reformist Feminism
Sex and Gender
, liberal feminists distinguish between both sex and gender
while sex remains fixed, gender differences change over time, meaning that what is considered a proper role for a women at one time may be forbidden at another. e.g lady bus drivers in Britain, and women in saudi not being able to drive ( but this has changed now under the new princes regime.
For liberal feminsts,then, sexist attitudes and sterotypical beliefs about gender are culturally constructed and transmitted through socialisation, and therefore in order to achieve equality we must first change society's socialisation patterns.
liberalism in an optimistic theory, very much in keeping with the enlightenment project and its faith in progress, and they believe that
changes in socialistion and culture
- are graudually leading to more rational attitdes to gender and overcoming ignorance and prejudice.
Politcial action to introduce anti- discrimiatory laws and policies
- is steadily bringin about progress.
Liberal feminism can be seen as a critique of the functionalist view of gender roles . Functionalists such as
distiguish between instrumental and expressive roles
- are performed in the
of paid work, politics, and decision-making, this sphere involves rationality, detachtement and objectivity
- are performed in the
of unpaid domestic labour, childbearing and caring for family memebers. this sphere involves emotion, attachtement and subjectivity
Evaluation of Liberal feminism
studies conducted by Liberal feminists have produced evidence documenting the extent of gender inequality and discrimination, and legitimating the demand practises, media representation of gender.
However, liberal feminists are criticised for over optimism. they see obstacles to emancipation as simply as simply the prejudices of individuals - Walby
Marxist feminists and radical feminists argue that liberal feminism fails to recognise the underlying causes of women's subordination.
Patriarchy is the priamtryand most fundamental form of inequality and conflict
Patriarchy is universal:male domination of women exists in all known socities. - Firestone - the origins of patriarchy lie in womens biology to bare children
All men opress all women = men benefit from patriarchy
The personal is political
For radical feminists, patriarchal oppression is direct and personal. for them it occurs in the public, politcal and the private spheres
radical feminists see the personal as political, and all relationships involve power meaning they are political due to one person dominating another.
radical feminists focus on the ways in which patriarchal power is excersied through personal relationships (controlling women)
she notes that the fear of rape is a powerful deterrrent against women going out alone at night
- Radical feminism also sheds new light on the nature of sexuality, malestream sociology regards sexuality as a biological urge and therefore outside the scope of sociology
- argues that men continue to force women into a narrow and unsatisfying 'compulsory heterosexuality'
- Given that men's oppression of women is excercised through intimate domestic and sexual relationships, some radical feminists advocate separatism.
(living apart from men therefore creating a new female world)
. EXAMPLE -
- argues for the creation of all female households as an alternative to the hetersexual family
through sharing their experiences in women-only consciousness groups they will come to see that women share the same problems
Evalutaion of Radical
Marxist - assert that class is the primary form of inequality
Radical Feminsim offeres no explanation of why female subordination takes different forms in different socities
- argues that the concept of patriarchy is of little value because it involves a circular argument
- argues that heterosexual attraction makes it unlikely that the nuclearfamily will be replacesd by single sex households
They dismiss the liberal view
- they see women's subordination as rooted in capitalism, this is due to their primary role being a housemaker
Women are a source of cheap labour
Women are a reserve army of labour
Women reproduce the labour force
Women absorb anger
Argues that we must give more emphasis to women's consciousness and motivations, and to the role of ideology
Evaluation of Marxist Feminism
It fails to explain women's subordination
unpaid domestic labour may benefit capitalism
doesnt explain the ways in which men oppress women
An economic system - capitalism
a sex-gender system - patriarchy
Difference feminism and Post-Structuralism
The problem with essentialism
it is the idea that all women share the same fundamental ' essence'
they argue that liberal, marxist and radical feminists are essentialst
as a result they fail to reflect the diversity of women's experiences
- offers an alternative approach
discourses are a way of seeing thinking or speaking
argue that the enlightenment project, with its talk of reason, humanity and progress
Butler argues that the Enlightenment ideals were simply a form of power and knowledge