Cultural feminism



'Cultural feminism' is another feminist school of thought. It was something I said before while talking about women's reproductive authority. 

In some ways, the word is deceptive, but if we consider women's contributions to social existence as a kind of "culture," the name may be accurate. Cultural feminists concentrate on gender rather than biological sex as the source of oppression, whereas radical feminists focus on biological sex as the source of oppression. That is, the core of women's oppression is the devaluation of uniquely feminine characteristics within any particular community. 

Caring and nurturing abilities are undervalued, ignored, or omitted from politics and morals in most Western nations. Because women are usually the major givers of care in families and society, this devaluing of caring oppresses women. Care is undervalued, as are the women who provide it. Women, as one might expect, are in a catch-22 situation. 

Despite the fact that the caring labor they undertake is rarely sufficiently recognized or appreciated, society relies on it and often criticizes women who fail to fulfil it. Furthermore, this critique may be applied to epistemology as well. Women's ways of knowing, which are frequently described as intuitive or maternal, are not included in the categories of knowledge claims that are deemed reliable sources. 

Carol Gilligan's research of the moral psychological patterns of boys and girls, published in the classic book In a Different Voice, was perhaps the most important contribution to cultural feminism (1982). According to Gilligan's study, women respond to moral problems by focusing on the connections between the individuals in the situation. 

Men, on the other hand, are more concerned with their own rights. This is a distinction (a "different voice") that adds a new paradigm for moral decision-making based on women's experiences. Strong varieties of cultural feminism urge for more calm, loving, intuitive, and life affirming feminine attributes. Weaker variants avoid the essentialist claim entirely, but nonetheless provide a set of qualities that distinguish women from males essentially. 


Other feminist schools of thought believe that those attributes may have their origins in a patriarchal society that demands women to care for children and men, but the cultural feminist believes that the key thing is that women have these attributes. 


Oppression is defined as a failing to recognize the need of caring and nurturing in human existence. Women's roles as family caretakers assist to instill some of these life affirming ideals in society, but cultural feminists would quickly point out that much more needs to be done both to appreciate women's labor in the home and to promote more compassion in other aspects of social life. 

Sara Ruddick's book Maternal Thinking is an outstanding theoretical example of attempts to improve social life by infusing it with caring (1995). Maternal thinking is the way a mother thinks (although Ruddick is keen to point out that ‘mothers' are people who play a certain function in childrearing — they don't have to be female, though they often are). 

She claims that women participate in behaviors such as protection, nurturing, and training. Children's needs are the source of these approaches. Children want 'preservation,' which implies they must be safeguarded. Mothers undertake a lot of labor as a kind of protection; they safeguard their children from problems like starvation, injury, and neglect. Furthermore, youngsters require aid with their development. 

This growth is aided by mothers providing age-appropriate nourishment. Finally, moms provide training in what Ruddick refers to as "social acceptability." 

Ruddick was motivated by her personal mothering experience as well as the wealth of knowledge she gained through interacting with other moms at playgrounds, schools, and other child-centered events. 

That wisdom was not recognized as wisdom by dominant theories of knowing, and it was rarely respected or given much attention by popular culture. 

Ruddick explains how mothers' behaviors give rise to knowledge. Mothers and maternal ideas must alter to meet new difficulties since practices are continuously evolving. Ruddick goes on to say that maternal thought can and should serve as the foundation for a feminist peace politics. S

he uses her personal experience in social movements as well as the stories of other mother-activists to show how maternal thought can be effective in politics. 


These mother-activists' motivations and actions introduced a new focus to peace politics: one based on caring. 


Ruddick claimed, in other words, that maternal behaviors and ideas may, and presumably should, be found across society rather than being exclusive to family relationships. 

As can be seen, maternal thinking is more pacifist than other modes of thought, and Ruddick and other cultural feminists depend on this idea when advocating for broader societal change based on caring. In most liberal cultures, caring and nurturing are not universally recognized societal ideals. 

Many of the barriers to women's participation in public and political life are based on the notion that their compassion would interfere with their ability to behave logically. 

Rationality and compassion or caring, on the other hand, are not mutually incompatible or otherwise antagonistic to each other for the cultural feminism. 


Men and women must be free to care in any social situation for liberation to be realized. 


As Ruddick's peace politics demonstrate, the logic of nonviolence supersedes the logic of conflict and even the logic of competitiveness. Consider a company strategy that aimed to help or cultivate the maximum potential of all parties involved in a transaction. 

This approach would stand in stark contrast to the competitive paradigm, which attempts to maximize self-interest. One of the most important arguments in moral philosophy over the last two decades has been between justice and compassion. 

Some individuals claimed that if care is feminine, then justice is male. The link between the two became the focus of the dispute. The great majority of cultural feminists do not want to delegitimize justice as a moral objective, but rather to emphasize the significance of care and compassion in conjunction with or within justice.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 




You may also want to read more about Feminism and Activism here.










No comments:

Post a Comment