Second Wave Of Feminism - Epistemology From A Female Vantage.



One of several feminist models of knowing is standpoint epistemology. 

I'll go through some current developments in feminist epistemology and philosophy of science, but I'd want to start with perspective since it intersects with identity politics and the ethics of caring. 



Marxist ideas influenced standpoint epistemology. 

  • Marx believed that workers in a more involved position had a better grasp of the oppressive system and structure – in other words, a clearer image of reality – than privileged capitalists who had no real motivation to examine social institutions. 


Feminists, according to Nancy Hartsock, should use this approach to articulate a feminist epistemology. 

  • She claimed that we might identify a feminist viewpoint by looking at the tangible realities of women's domestic labor. 

Hartsock's viewpoint epistemology, like Marx's, starts with the assumption that there are two opposing factions. 



The proletariat, according to Marx, was in opposition to the bourgeoisie. 


  • Women, apparently are assumed to be in opposition to males. 
  • Importantly, neither theory asserts any kind of essentialist claim about workers or women. Both believe that society's organization is to blame for the conflict. 
  • The ruling class, whether bourgeois or male, determines what is ‘true' and establishes the criteria for acceptable information sources. 
  • However, Marx and Hartsock believe that the oppressed have a sharper perspective as a result of their battles, seeing that the strong merely set criteria for knowledge and reality in order to preserve their control. 

The criteria are incorrect, or at the very least misleading. 



In a stratified society, the downtrodden acquire a perspective via their labor and suffering. 


  • Keep in mind that a viewpoint is context-dependent; it is based on a certain moment and location. 
    • A women's job is both childrearing and contributing to sustenance since the division of labor is based in a sex divide. 
  • Along this axis, further distinctions between women's and men's work become evident. 
    • A woman's workday is twice as long as a man's. 
    • They will have a disproportionate quantity of work when they come home if they work outside the house. 
    • Women's labor also tends to be more utilitarian, focusing on all aspects of reproduction rather than manufacturing. 
    • A women's job is more boring and repetitious than men's, and that it consumes the majority of their spare time. 

It's worth noting that women's reproductive labor is embodied. It defies the duality by including both the intellect and the body. 




Other viewpoint theorists have expanded the idea in a variety of ways, including creating black feminist and Latina feminist perspectives, among others. 


However, standpoint theory is not without flaws. 

  • The use of a dichotomy between oppressor and victimized by perspective has been criticized by certain feminists. Others believe that putting a premium on employment or activity is harmful. 
  • Furthermore, as with identity politics, there is a danger of viewpoints multiplying to the point where everyone has a privileged knowledge of others on at least one issue. 

Nonetheless, perspective theorists may and have replied to these objections, and the theory has made considerable progress in displacing more conventional epistemological methods. 


One of the most important findings from perspective is that knowledge standards are socially created by the strong in order to preserve their authority. 

In third wave feminism, challenging conventions becomes critical as well. 


~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan


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