Showing posts with label Sexist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sexist. Show all posts

8 Types of Feminism and their Definitions

Feminist Schools of Thought 

When feminists decide to take action to combat sexist oppression, they are generally inspired by something. Often, personal suffering or the understanding that women as a group are damaged serves as motivation. 

Different motives can be informally grouped into schools of thought. These provide some reason for pursuing some acts over others, as well as illustrating what aims feminists may have. 

While categorizing a feminist into a certain school of thought is not always straightforward or desirable, recognizing the many schools may help identify social change objectives and highlight ideological differences among feminists. 

I'll analyze and contrast eight different schools of feminist theory, the majority of which come from the Anglo-American heritage, and their descriptions of women's oppression and liberation efforts. 

It's important to remember, though, that while these categories reflect a wide range of feminisms, they're not mutually exclusive, restrictive, or complete. There are different approaches to understanding women's oppression, as well as different forms of feminism. 

Please click on the links below to learn more about each type of Feminism in detail:

  1. Third World and postcolonial feminism
  2. Postmodern feminism
  3. Womanist theory
  4. Cultural feminism
  5. Socialist feminism
  6. Liberal Feminism
  7. Marxist Feminism
  8. Radical Feminism

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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

Third World and postcolonial feminism

Third World feminism arises from Third World women, as the term implies. However, in this case, ‘Third World' should be viewed as a political rather than a geographic categorization. Chandra Mohanty has argued persuasively that the term "Third World Woman" refers to the formation of coalitions and solidarity among women who make political commitments. 

These groups of women voluntarily choose to unite in order to effect social, cultural, or political change. The imperialism, racism, and sexism that so many women face drives some to band together in opposition and resistance. 

Women who identify as ‘Third World Women' or ‘Third World Feminists' do so in the context of an opposing battle. 

Men and women in former colonies responding to and resisting the legacy of colonialism in their history is referred to as ‘postcolonial.' Third World feminism and postcolonial feminism contend that colonialism, exploitation, imperialism, sexism, and racism are at the foundation of oppression. When we look at the global allocation of resources, sexism and racism take on global dimensions. 

Wealthy countries misappropriate valuable assets from less developed parts of the world, and this misappropriation is frequently accompanied by the dumping of garbage and dangerous materials. The impoverished of the globe are disproportionately affected by this exploitation, and women account for the majority of the world's destitute. 

Importantly, the Third World feminist understanding of oppression also includes a critique of many mainstream Western feminist schools of thought. 

While feminists in developed countries had the luxury of fighting for the freedom to work and participate in politics, or for equal pay for equal labor, women in underdeveloped countries faced frequently brutal social and political repression. Of course, in certain situations, this was also a fight for survival. Women bear a disproportionate share of the burden of poverty. 

Another way to think about it is that Third World feminist philosophy highlights the relevance of colonial histories and how nations demarcate or confine individuals' daily lives. Survival, not simply supplies, becomes a political issue. Third-world and postcolonial thinkers stress history, memory, and narrative when thinking about emancipation. 

The memory of colonial oppression aids in maintaining a resistance mindset in liberation attempts. Racism, imperialism, misogyny, and other types of oppression have all played a role in the history of political marginalization and economic exploitation.

We are more able to understand the complexity of oppressive factors in day-to-day living if we know that human beings involved in praxis arise from these histories and circumstances of struggle. 

There are strong ties with socialist feminism and Womanist theory, both of which, like Third World feminism, seek to recognize the intersections and linkages between various types of oppression. 

Of course, there are distinctions, such as the fact that Third World feminism focuses on the context of struggle or resistance rather than the commonalities across oppression kinds. 

Another part of the postcolonial historical viewpoint is the Marxist criticism of history. If the colonizers record history, it will, of course, reflect not just their interpretation of reality but also their social standing in the process. 

The freedom of all people (particularly women) to construct their futures according to their own visions and in light of their suppressed histories is therefore interpreted as liberation from hegemonic culture. 

This would necessitate political, economic, and social autonomy, as well as the absence of sexual assault. 

Of course, there are other schools of feminist thinking, including ecofeminism, queer theory, and global feminism. Whatever drives feminist activity or explains feminist conflicts, all feminists believe that there is something about culture or society that affects women and has to be changed. To put it another way, they are linked by a critical activism effort aimed at ending sexism and other forms of oppression. 

Despite the fact that I have portrayed these schools of feminist thinking as unique, I believe it is evident that they have a lot in common. 

In truth, categorizing any particular feminist into a single school of thought is frequently both foolish and impossible. 

For one problem, a feminist could support Marxist techniques and motivations, but for another, she could support cultural feminism. 

Another feminist may have been a socialist feminist for much of her life, but when her focus shifts to larger global concerns, she may accept ecofeminism or postcolonial feminism. Nonetheless, these many approaches to feminism allow us to observe some of the great variation among feminists, as well as their reasons and recommendations for change.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

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

Postmodern feminism


Because of the nature of postmodernism, the following school of feminist thought is a little more difficult to define clearly. Grand narratives, or more or less comprehensive explanatory theories, are rejected by postmodernism. 

As a result, while considering postmodern feminism, we should conceive of it as a collection of ideas rather than a theory. Of course, all of the previously listed schools of thought may be regarded as groupings of comparable ideas. 

The rejection to hunt for a single explanation for women's oppression distinguishes postmodern feminism. Phallogocentrism, psychoanalysis, and sexual difference are three key concepts in postmodern feminist thinking. Phallocentrism (as opposed to phallologocentrism) literally refers to the phallus's centrality. 

The phallus is the penis's metaphorical depiction. Phallologocentrism, or phallogocentrism, is a term that refers to the ‘centrality of the word.' Given the context, logos, the basis of logic and all those ‘ologies' we study, may imply a multitude of things. 

It might refer to a term, a law, a concept, or an idea. The structure of consciousness, according to postmodern feminism, is masculine-centered, resulting in phallologocentrism. 

The phallus' prominence, on the other hand, indicates something slightly different than what radical feminists may label "male centered" or "a man's world," as liberal feminists may put it. Instead, postmodern feminists contend that the penis' uniqueness as a male sex organ symbolizes the singularity of mind. 

Consider the process of learning a new language. Small toddlers experience the world in a rainbow of hues, but they are taught to label hues that are quite different as "red." They are trained to think of the world in terms of particular categories during this process. There is, in effect, a single correct method of viewing the world's hues. 

A postmodern feminist, on the other hand, values diversity and difference. 

They don't perceive otherness as a flaw, but rather as a source of pride. As an author, Hélène Cixous encouraged women to engage in feminine writing (l'écriture féminine) and contrasted it with masculine writing (l'écriture macho) (literatur). 

Phallocentrism is visible in masculine literature (and Cixous famously drew the parallel of Penis/phallus/pen). L'écriture féminine was an attempt to write in a way that defied grammatical and linguistic conventions. Women were to write the unthinkable/unthinkable in order to tackle women's role in society. 

Writing about women's bodies necessitates the use of white ink rather than black, and Cixous is making a literary reference to breast milk here. Feminine writing encourages subversive thought through its openness and overt challenge to the forms and substance of writing. 

According to Cixous, although masculine writing is unique, feminine writing, like women's sexual experience, is numerous, varied, and pleasurable. Psychoanalysis is the second major notion or approach in postmodern feminism. 

All of the key postmodern feminists (Hélène Cixious, Julia Kristeva, Annie LeClerc, Luce Irigaray, and Judith Butler, among others) adopt a psychoanalytic technique developed by Sigmund Freud or Jacques Lacan. Psychoanalysis encourages us to reflect on our upbringing – or even our infantile condition – in order to discover the origins of our present style of thinking. In their psychoanalytic writings, Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan were infamously sexist, and important postmodern feminists adapt and critique parts of psychoanalysis' methods. 

The third major notion is that of sexual difference. 

Postmodern feminists believe that sexual difference is socially manufactured rather than biologically rooted, as they do with phallocentrism and psychoanalysis. Language assigns two genders (masculine and feminine), and while gender has traditionally been seen to be a function of social circumstances, postmodernists go even farther, claiming that sex is both socially and linguistically determined rather than a natural truth. 

This emphasizes their commitment to diversity, uniqueness, and plurality while simultaneously challenging the concept of ‘woman.' Perhaps the term "woman" is a construct concocted by an oppressive language framework. 

If the term "woman" does not relate to any basically defined category, postmodern feminists say, more diversity and liberation from the repressive binary thinking that defines so much Western dogma becomes possible. 

Although postmodern feminism encourages readers to think in new ways, it has been attacked for being overly focused on academic disputes and not being relevant or accessible to the great majority of people. A related objection is that some postmodern feminist stances appear to undermine any prospect of political action on behalf of women or female political unity.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

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

Womanist theory


Of fact, the notion that we can pinpoint the source of women's oppression - as if there were a single source or reason that affects all women in the same way - is not only deceptive, but also alienating to many women. 

Feminist arguments can turn off some women who are fighting sexist oppression, regardless of whether they are liberal, radical, socialist, or a mixture of these. 

Traditional articulations of feminist thought are challenged by womanist theory. 

Proponents compel a reexamination of what constitutes a "feminist" by publicly rejecting the term. Womanist theory, in particular, examines the interconnections of race, class, and gender. After all, a woman's life is influenced by more than her sex or gender identity. 

Women are stereotyped, violated, objectified, and dominated by a slew of other societal forces. Black Liberation Theology has some origins in womanist ideology. 

There is no coherent body of theory, as there is with the other schools of feminist thought. Instead, the word refers to a wide category that encompasses a variety of problems and challenges. 

Many women reject the name "feminism" exactly because there are so many variations of feminisms, according to bell hooks (her chosen pseudonym, based on matrilineal links, is written in lower case as an express rejection of patriarchal naming and control of women). 

Women appear to be divided in this way, implying that there is no unity among them. It might also imply that feminism is more preoccupied with academic intellectual arguments than with bringing about social change for actual women worldwide. 

Another reason, according to Hooks, is that feminism has historically been a racist movement aimed at equalizing white middle and upper class women with white middle and upper class males. Feminism, according to hooks, fails in its mission by disregarding the impact of racism and class on black women. Furthermore, many of the concerns that a white, middle-class feminist might consider vital are either refuted or tangential to the reality of many black women. 

Instead, hooks proposes redefining feminism as a "fight to eradicate sexist oppression." There are a few noteworthy aspects to this definition. 

Feminism is inherently a revolutionary collective movement as a fight. 

She distinguishes between feminism as a way of life and feminism as a political movement. Individual feminists make only a commitment to themselves as a lifestyle choice, and they promote a feminist agenda exclusively through their own personal actions. There is no requirement to engage with people or to effect social change. 

In that sense, feminism may just be about changing certain specific societal behaviors that are harmful to a certain woman. Feminism, on the other hand, is a broader commitment to others as a political movement, actively working to bring about good change in the lives of women who are subjected to sexist oppression. It's both political and collective. Hooks defines sexist oppression as "all types of oppression that influence women's political life." 

Women face racism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, ageism, and a variety of other types of oppression on a daily basis, but not all women face all of them. 

The key is that oppression has a cultural foundation. The basic underpinnings of all types of oppression remain in existence when efforts are only focused on eradicating one kind of oppression. 

In many ways, this is analogous to the socialist feminist endeavor of finding a unifying notion. 'The cultural underpinning of group oppression,' according to Hooks, is founded at least in part in either/or thinking. According to hooks, either/or thinking may be seen in all types of dominance in Western culture. 

We divide individuals into two categories that are mutually exclusive, yet these two groupings do not coexist. 

Domination renders one group inferior and another superior (see the dichotomies of Men/Women, White/Black, and Rich/Poor). Womanist solutions include intersectionality or intersectional thinking, in addition to hooks' recommendations. 

Intersectionality was initially proposed by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, who saw how race was often left out of feminist domestic violence and rape discourses, as well as how the gendered character of these crimes was frequently concealed by some of the prevailing discourses in the black community. 

The goal of intersectional thinking is to avoid prioritizing any one voice above another; neither one's ethnicity nor gender are important considerations. Human beings, on the other hand, are in some ways products of their sex, race, and social class experiences. 

These cultural rules and experiences have an impact on all knowledge (some of which are oppressive and some of which are dominating). Crenshaw claimed that intersectional thinking was not only desirable but also required in order to fully and correctly address violence in the lives of women, particularly black women. The many schools of feminist philosophy each have their own definition of freedom or liberation. 

The emphasis in Womanist ideology is on everyone's full self-development, but there is also acknowledgment that we are all associated with families, communities, governmental entities, and other organizations that have a significant impact on our self-development. 

The essential (and this seems to apply to all of the schools) is that no one should be subjected to any kind of dominance. However, in order to realize this vision, greater attention must be paid to the ways in which oppressive forms cross, link, or overlap.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

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

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.

Socialist feminism


Another school of feminist thinking attempts to reconcile patriarchal and capitalist critiques. Both ideological systems, according to socialist feminists, are harmful to women and must be combated. Although they draw inspiration from socialist ideas (particularly utopian socialists), the socialist movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were frequently sexist in their policies and practices. 

Socialist feminists want to include feminist politics within the socialist agenda while staying away from the excesses of both Marxist and radical feminists. 

The second question is how, and socialist feminists have a variety of approaches to both patriarchy and capitalism. One of the most important distinctions between radical, Marxist, and socialist feminism is how they see the origin or foundations of women's oppression. 

Radical feminists argue that oppression stems from women's biological role in reproduction or their position in a sex-divided society, while Marxist feminists argue that it stems from capitalism, and socialist feminists argue that both are true and then try to figure out how capitalism and patriarchy are linked. 

Of course, there may be a deeper relationship, and some socialist feminists prefer to look for a "unifying concept": something that not only connects capitalism and patriarchy, but also explains all kinds of oppression. 

If we imagine each form of oppression as a branch of a very large tree, we can better understand the conceptual structure of oppression by recognizing the "unifying concept," and we can tear out all oppression by its roots rather than continuing to trim away at branches that appear to grow and even flourish despite near constant attack. In feminist writing, a variety of competitors for the unifying theme have been proposed. 

One is the concept of 'labor division.' This is understandable because both patriarchy and capitalism use some form of labor division, whether based on sex or class. Of course, the gender distribution of work has its limitations. 

Other ideas for a unifying notion include "dominance systems," "alienation," and "either/or dichotomous thinking." Each of these characteristics may be found in many types of oppression, but in different ways. 

However, much like with the gender distribution of work, any of these might have issues. Feminism, as a critical movement, must not only provide recommendations, but also evaluate those suggestions for their merits and flaws. 

Capitalism and patriarchy, according to certain socialist feminists, are inseparable. 

Heidi Hartmann, for example, notably contends that patriarchy is a material state or economic relationship that supports males controlling women's joint labor. She contends that the gender wage gap, which requires women to care for children while men work in the public sector, promotes women's subjugation in all parts of society. 

Battling patriarchy will be futile until capitalism is also deposed. 

Other socialist feminists see capitalism and patriarchy as two separate ideological systems that exist side by side. 

Each oppresses women in various ways, necessitating diverse strategies for fighting oppression. For example, a radical feminist would examine sexism by pointing to the biological basis of women's position in the home and their exclusion from public and political activity. 

That same feminist may believe that capitalism is to blame for part of the economic exploitation of women's domestic labor. In other words, the subjugation of women is a result of both women's reproductive potential and capitalism's need on a huge unpaid workforce. 

Socialist feminists suggest a variety of answers, but they are unified in their desire to alter or abolish capitalism and patriarchy. 

Although some of the proposals to end oppression are more revolutionary than others, socialist feminists generally agree that challenging patriarchy without also challenging society's class divisions, or challenging class division without also addressing sex-based divisions, will not be sufficient to end women's oppression. 

They also tend to think that arguing over whether kind of oppression is worse or which kind should take precedence is detrimental for feminists. Instead, socialist feminism contends that all types of oppression are interdependent or interlinked, as the unifying notion demonstrates. 

For the socialist feminist, women's liberation, and indeed all emancipation, is defined as independence from social and historical class and gender roles. 

But socialist feminists go much farther, emphasizing each individual's right to self-determination within a community. Between the individual and the community, there is a balance. Individual rights should not take precedence over collective responsibility. 

One assumption is that people are already part of a community. Humans are biological organisms whose identities or natures are shaped by the community in which they live, as well as their physical makeup and surroundings. 

Women's metaphysical and epistemological claims must take into consideration this jumble of influences. Some feminists link socialist feminism to what they call "standpoint epistemology." 

To summarize, perspective epistemology is a theory of knowing that maintains that one's perspective or social position affects (or even determines) one's knowledge claims. This is in contrast to liberal feminism, which believes that objectivity in science and knowledge is attainable.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

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

Radical Feminism


Although Marxist feminists blame capitalism for women's oppression, many feminists feel patriarchy is a more basic and insidious ideological structure. In general, patriarchy refers to a societal structure that consistently oppresses women while benefiting males. 

The name comes from political theory and means "rule of the father," but radical feminists use it to refer to more than the political order of society. 

Patriarchy refers to a system or network of males controlling women and their bodies. It's a power system that categorizes women based on their biological sex and, more specifically, their reproductive capacity. 

Radical feminists believe that sex-based childbearing and childrearing duties, as well as women's connection with their sexualized bodies, are at the foundation of female oppression. 

Another approach to consider this is to simply ask, "What distinguishes men and women?" The ordinary individual would most likely respond with a physiologically grounded response. This is the response that radical feminists point to as the foundation of women's oppression. 

Women have been consigned to the private domain of the family or domestic life because they may produce children; they are considered accountable for reproduction (while males are excused from reproductive activities), and sexual intercourse is defined by men's pleasure. Monogamous heterosexuality is thus a socially imposed rather than a freely chosen norm. 

It's utilized as an ideological weapon to make women socially subordinate to males and maintain men's control over their sexuality. Radical feminists propose a variety of alternative answers to this oppression, the most of which are, well, radical. They're intended to be together. 

Radical feminists challenge us to think more creatively about our social relationships and gender roles by offering very drastic remedies to the problem of female oppression. 

One approach is to employ technology advancements to replace biological reproduction with technological reproduction, for example. Infants might be conceived outside the body, in incubators or pods. 

This would liberate women from the "tyranny of reproductive biology," while simultaneously allowing males to engage more fully in the reproductive process. 

If oppression is built on an unfair power relationship, and if women have a power that men do not have – even if it is now employed against them – then some radical feminists believe that women should give up their power as well. This suggestion isn't as outlandish as it appears. 

Extra-uterine pregnancy appears to be a feasible possibility because to technological advancements in reproductive health. Of course, one critique levelled at this suggestion as a radical feminist idea is that if technology stays in the hands of males, women's social status would stay same, if not worsen. Another argument is that such a technological revolution will deprive women of their only authority. 

Cultural feminists make this last argument, and the explanation for it is addressed below. In support of the radical feminist notion, eliminating biological reproduction would go a long way toward eliminating societal sex and gender roles. Freedom would be a broad idea that includes the ability to be free of those duties. 

Families could be reimagined in novel and flexible ways. 

Families can be gay, single parent, group (much like a communal or shared parenting extended family structure), or any number of different arrangements in addition to the standard heterosexual family.

Women cannot be free, according to a radical feminist, unless they are free to make their own decisions regarding their bodies, particularly their reproductive capacity. 

The radical feminist view considers human nature as essentially structured by a sex-gender system by positing patriarchy as the dominant ideology that oppresses women. Humans are sexual beings that decide their social status based on their reproductive abilities. 

Whether or whether women's childrearing talents are "natural," the radical feminist sees those talents or that embodied sexual function as defining and determining – and so oppressing – women. However, sex-based social roles do not represent the whole amount of women's subjugation. 

According to some radical feminists, imposed heterosexuality and biologically based reproductive roles have an impact on everything from language and knowledge to economics and literature. 

To overcome such an established oppressive system, bold alternatives are required. The Dialectic of Sex (1970) by Shulamith Firestone uses Marx's dialectical materialism reasoning but swaps class division with sex. According to Firestone, the sex divide is society's most fundamental separation, and that other types of oppression (racial, class, age, etc.) are modelled after men's oppression of women. 

According to Firestone, biological reproduction is at the basis of women's oppression since sex-based childbearing responsibilities ground and explain sex-based childrearing duties, as well as other social inequalities. 

Her recommendations to end this oppression are among feminist theory's most far-reaching and creative (some may say absurd) ideas. She also advocates for the "liberation of women from the tyranny of their reproductive nature." 

Firestone advocates for the division of child-rearing and child-bearing responsibilities. Clearly, this would necessitate a technological revolution similar to the one described above. 

However, Firestone contends that children are oppressed as well, and that their oppression is connected with women's oppression. Women require children in order to maintain their status in the patriarchal system, but children also acquire patriarchal norms and responsibilities from women. 

As a result, Firestone argues for children's and women's social, economic, and sexual emancipation. Children should be able to explore their sexuality without being constrained by social norms. 

In The Dialectic of Sex, Firestone memorably characterized delivery as "like shitting a pumpkin." Considering sex as a core or basic component of society's repressive framework also necessitates a close examination of how women's bodies are utilized, depicted, or otherwise represented. Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon are two well-known radical feminists who rose to prominence as a result of their anti-pornography campaigns. 

Pornography, they claimed, was a sign of male dominance of female sexuality in society. 

Dworkin and Mackinnon were instrumental in making pornography illegal in Minneapolis and Indianapolis, as well as influencing pornographic judgments in other cities. 

They defined pornography as "the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women, whether in pictures or words," and went on to say that sexual objectification of women could include being conquered, dominated, or servile; enjoying pain, humiliation, rape, mutilation, or physical abuse; or being otherwise violated by objects or animals. 

They go on to say that pornography includes anybody who is subjected to the degradation portrayed (males, children, transsexuals). The word 'woman' in the definition denotes a person who is dominated. 

They contend that pornography promotes violence against women – both extreme kinds of violence and more basic types of humiliation – seem normal or acceptable. 

To put it another way, pornography isn't only direct violence against women; it's also a kind of practice ground for the mental, physical, and emotional abuse males inflict on women on a daily basis. Although many individuals believe radical feminism goes too far in its societal critique, and some even believe it is out of date, many feminists continue to make startling radical suggestions that help highlight problems of women's oppression and provide novel solutions for social change.

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

Marxist Feminism


In contrast to liberal feminist views on women's oppression and liberation prospects, the Marxist feminist believes that women's freedom is hampered by material realities of existence rather than legal impediments. 

Whereas liberal feminists blame legal, social, and intellectual inequalities for women's oppression, Marxist feminists argue that capitalism is to blame for women's oppression in society.

Marxist feminists, as their name implies, depend on and expand on Marxist theory; for Marxists, class oppression is the basis of all other types of oppression, as well as the most ubiquitous.

 Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx's long-time intellectual companion, was the first and possibly most influential Marxist feminist. 

Friedrich Engels traces the emergence of women's oppression in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, using Marx's critique of capitalism and the method of historical materialism (a method of analyzing human history from the perspective of materialism, the understanding that it is the material aspects of human existence that are real). 

According to Engels, we can understand how women's influence in the home changed through time by looking at how production developed. Whereas families were once matrilineal (since mothers are the only ones who know for sure who their offspring are), a shift in production – that is, a shift in how humans satisfy their material needs – resulted in a shift in the familial structure. 

The ‘world historical defeat of the female sex,' according to Engels, is the domestication of animals, the formation of private property, and the fall of the ‘mother-right.' Men became the ‘owners' of the means of production, and women's social standing plummeted. Furthermore, Engels demonstrates how laws prohibiting adultery were enacted to preserve the male head of household's private property. ‘The collapse of mother-right was the female sex's worst historical setback. 

The woman was degraded and subjected to slavery in the household as well; she became the slave of his passion and a simple instrument for the creation of offspring.' The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, Friedrich Engels (1884). Marxist feminists after him have continued Engels' argument by examining women's position in capitalism today. 

Wages for housekeeping are one of the most prominent modern Marxist feminist debates. 

Capitalism is based on a class of individuals who do unpaid ‘productive' labor (including everything from bearing and raising children to making lunches, mending socks, and caring for the elderly). Marxist feminists have advocated that reproductive labor should be viewed as productive and rewarded, or that it should be socialized so that women are not consigned to the unpaid job. Insofar as it implies a historical beginning point for women's oppression, Marxist feminism is unique among feminist schools of thought. 

If the foundations of oppression can be located in capitalism's class structure and private property, then theoretically, in order to end women's oppression, capitalism must be eliminated. 

The eradication of a class society and private property is the first step. Women must work in the producing sector or in the public sector. 

Furthermore, the family as an economic unit must be destroyed, as Engels contended. This last idea indicates that every adult would work for a living income and that marriages would no longer be based on financial need. This does not rule out the possibility of marriages or families. 

Although this explanation of Marxist feminism is brief, it demonstrates the importance of society's economic structure in understanding and alleviating women's oppression. According to Marxist feminists and Marxists, freedom is defined as the absence of economic necessity's compulsion, rather than a refined conception of autonomy. 

Similarly, the social and political value of equality is defined as the absence of social class distinctions and near equality in the capacity to meet material demands, rather than formal civil equality.

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Liberal Feminism

At least part of the inspiration for the first two schools of feminist philosophy comes from classical political theory. 

Liberal feminism and Marxist feminism are the two types of feminism. Liberal feminism, as the name implies, is a feminist ideology based on classical liberalism. Liberal feminism does so by adopting liberal notions of human nature and human freedom and using them to build a feminist liberation vision. 

Humans are rational, self-aware people, according to liberalism. Part of functioning rationally includes acting in one's own best interests, which frequently takes the shape of competition. Liberalism, which has its origins in social contract theory, particularly the classical forms of Hobbes and Locke, concentrates on individual independence or liberty. 

Rousseau's social contract theory emphasizes equality, but his definition of equality is so broad that he isn't necessarily considered a classical liberal. 

Liberalism, in general, maintains that everyone of us should be free to pursue our own notion of happiness. Feminists who draw on this basis of classical liberalism see the absence of legal rights and equal opportunity for women as the source of women's oppression. 

Liberal feminists think that by examining how the state regards women and tackling areas where women are disadvantaged, women's oppression may be alleviated. 

Consider how, in many Western societies, women were only recently recognized as full citizens rather than merely members of families represented by the male head of household, or how women were not allowed to own property or sign contracts, or how women were protected from rape not as individuals but as the property of their husbands or fathers. 

Obtaining equal chances for women and granting equal legal rights is, of course, far more difficult than it appears at first look. 

Feminists must first argue that women are fully human, which in the context of liberalism means demonstrating that women have the same logical capability as men. It is necessary to examine not just social and legal procedures, but also the metaphysical and epistemological assumptions that underpin them. 

Most liberal feminists maintain the conventional epistemological viewpoint that knowledge is objectively verifiable and value neutral, in keeping with classical liberalism. 

If we could all assume the perspective of an unbiased observer, for example, we should all be able to come up with real information about the world. Women's education will be organized differently from men's if they are not accepted to the domain of "knowers" in the same way that men are. 

The struggle to admit women to universities and workplaces on an equal footing with men; the struggle for equal pay for equal work; the struggle to gain admission to social roles, clubs, and events previously reserved only for men; and similar efforts to obtain equal liberty to pursue each woman's own vision of the good life are among the many campaigns of liberal feminists.

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Feminism Must Rename Patriarchy


Patriarchy must be challenged, and the world must be renamed.


Identifying patriarchy is the first step in combating it. This isn't just a thought experiment; it's part of a larger shift in thinking that helps strip masculine authority of its "naturalness." Such naming has the potential to affect change in the real world. It's crucial to keep the notion alive, even if it makes people uncomfortable; as Enloe points out, "the fact that patriarchy is a phrase that so many people avoid saying is one of the factors that allows it to thrive."

The other terminology presented can also help women recognize things they previously didn't perceive because they didn't know how to articulate them. They can also reshape public views and discussions in this way. 

Despite its flaws, I have argued that the sex/gender distinction remains a useful reminder that socially ascribed gender roles, attributes, and behavior are not the inevitable result of biology, and that the terms "sexual harassment" and "sexism" enable us to identify and combat oppressive and/or discriminatory forms of behavior that were previously experienced as isolated events.

In this context, the term "patriarchy" refers to an umbrella concept that brings together seemingly disparate aspects of life to reveal the cumulative and interconnected nature of seemingly unrelated aspects of life, from the bedroom to the boardroom, the classroom to the government, and the rape crisis center to the internet. 

A few additional words, such as 'mansplaining' and 'manspreading,' have also become popular. Some feminists object to these phrases because they are insignificant and/or unjust to many males.

For example, Rebecca Solnit, who is frequently mistakenly credited with coining the word "mansplaining" after describing how a man insisted on teaching her everything about a book she had written, is concerned that the phrase unfairly criticizes all men for the terrible behavior of a few.

However, many women have expressed interest in the term "mansplaining," suggesting that it represents a broadly shared experience that has previously gone unspoken. This and other new phrases are revolutionary not because they accuse all men of something, but because they look at men through the eyes of women, in the context of a larger social milieu that gives many of them a privileged sense of superiority and entitlement.

I'd want to advocate for more feminist usage of the word "phallic drift," coined by Diane Bell and Renate Klein to describe "the powerful propensity for public debate of gender issues to drift, inexorably, back to the masculine point of view."

Some feminists have also attempted to reclaim phrases that have been used to disparage women in the past.

The ‘slutwalk' movement, for example, began in 2011 after a Canadian police officer said women should stop dressing like ‘sluts' if they wanted to avoid being assaulted; feminists who marched and demonstrated under the ‘slutwalk' banner in many countries were not only protesting against the view that women were to blame if they were assaulted, but they were also redefining a negative term for a woman.

Similarly, the feminist magazine Bitch's webpage justifies its usage of the term: When used as an insult, the term "bitch" is used to women who speak their minds, who have strong ideas and don't hesitate to voice them, and who don't sit by and grin awkwardly when they're annoyed or insulted. We'll take that as a complement if being an outspoken woman means being a bitch. Some women feel empowered by reclaiming labels like "slut" and "bitch." However, some women of color have objected to feminists' usage of the term "slut," claiming that it fails to recognize the strength, depth, and virulence of the scorn it represents when used to black women.

Similarly, while it may appear subversive for feminists to reject conventionally ‘ladylike' language in favor of swearing, if such taboo-breaking involves a viciously negative portrayal of women's genitals, it is hardly empowering: thus, at the end of what she had found to be a very funny and feminist show by a young woman comedian, my friend Penny was moved to queue up at the end to congratulate her but also to express her disappointment. 

More broadly, developing a feminist vocabulary that both articulates and contextualizes women's specific experiences is a crucial aspect of collective political action.

It's a means of combating women's silence while simultaneously protecting us from being drawn into disputes about terminology we'd never use. ‘If the right to speak, having credibility, and being heard is a type of wealth, that wealth is now being redistributed,' as Solnit puts it. 

Such redistribution has just begun, and it is crucial for feminists to continue to refine the terminology they have.

Any redistribution is skewed substantially in favor of the wealthiest women. 

Gender inequality and oppression, as I argue, cannot be understood, or resisted in isolation from their economic, political, and cultural contexts, and they are inextricably linked to other kinds of inequality and oppression.

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Feminism Must Adapt to the Ever-Changing Complexities of Patriarchy



While I feel the term of 'patriarchy' is a vital feminist tool, I also feel it is frequently misunderstood. This article provides a series of interlinked cautionary statements against naïve interpretations that might distort our knowledge and be politically unproductive. 

First, the term "patriarchy" should not be used in isolation. 

It is not the sole type of oppression, and it must be considered as part of a larger investigation of how male dominance intersects with other forms of inequality and exploitation, as well as how they are linked to the logic of the global capitalist system.

I advocate for broadly socialist solutions, expand on the ramifications of such a multidimensional approach.

Second, I disagree with some of the concept's early proponents, such as Mary Daly, Adrienne Rich, and Robin Morgan, as well as Millett. These writers have appeared to suggest that, because all known civilizations are patriarchal, they are all basically ‘the same,' that all women are joined as victims of global patriarchy, that patriarchal power must trump class and race barriers, and that, as a result, ‘sisterhood is global.'

There are similarities to be identified, and women from fundamentally diverse civilizations typically share sexual exploitation, lack of reproductive choice, economic exploitation, and/or exclusion or marginalization from mainstream social, cultural, and political life. 

Some women oppress other women, and over-generalized accusations run the risk of trivializing the depths of anguish and humiliation imposed on some by comparing them with minor annoyances.

The problem with generalizing is not just that women's experiences are vastly different, but that relatively privileged women assume the centrality of their own concerns in much the same way that men have assumed the centrality of theirs, so that "there are disturbing parallels between what feminists find disconcerting in Western political thought and what many black women have found troubling." However, I believe that if the notion is linked with race and class analysis and utilized to investigate the links between various types of discrimination, inequality, and oppression, it may be saved from oversimplification and generalization.

A third cautionary note derives from the erroneous assumption that patriarchy is eternal and unchangeable. A moment's thought reveals this to be nonsense. Although patriarchy remained in force generally, Millett said that by 1970, it had become "significantly transformed and weakened" in the United States and Europe. She credited this to previous women's efforts, and her own effort was driven by the hope that her writing may help bring about more change. At first glance, it appears that the roots of western patriarchy have been rocked, if not yet overturned, in the half-century since Millett established the notion.

Most obviously, the western world described by Millett, in which women were virtually absent from political life or high-status employment, most were economically dependent on a husband, and ‘nice girls' did not have sex before or outside marriage, is not a world familiar to most young women today, despite the fact that the sexual double-standard still exists. 

There has also been a significant shift in official attitudes, with many national and international organizations now declaring gender equality and/or the abolition of violence against women as their declared goals.

In 2017, feminist writer Naomi Wolf said that the #MeToo movement's capacity to hold prominent men accountable had "ripped the fabric of patriarchy," while a headline in the Guardian newspaper posed the question, "Is the patriarchy over?"

As other feminists have pointed out, recent advances do not signal the end of patriarchy, but rather a shift in its character. Patriarchy, for example, is a system — a dynamic web – of specific beliefs and interactions, according to Enloe. That system is neither fragile nor stagnant. Patriarchy may be modernized and modified. It's adaptive. In many parts of the globe, such adaptation has historically entailed a shift away from private patriarchy, which is based on individual authority within the house, and toward public patriarchy, which is based on structures outside the family.

Most western women are no longer financially dependent on their husbands, but many are reliant on the male-run state for employment or benefits; similarly, most are no longer sexually controlled by family members, but the rising use of pornography represents a "more collective, impersonal, male control of women's bodies." Sylvia Walby has succinctly summarized such arguments:

‘Women are no longer restricted to the domestic hearth, but have the entire society in which to roam and be exploited,' 

There is no clear distinction between private and public forms of patriarchy

We must fully examine the complex gains and losses experienced by various groups of women in various aspects of their lives.

One factor for patriarchy's evolution is the evolution of the capitalist economic system with which it is inextricably linked. 

Our era of global capitalism, as Beatrix Campbell has argued, is witnessing a new type of patriarchy, which she dubs "neopatriarchal neoliberalism, an ugly word for an awful bargain."

At first glance, this new system appears to have responded to feminist pressures by allowing girls to become astronauts, bankers, or whatever they want, but in practice, it resists any genuine change in the gender division of labor, it exploits women on a global scale, and, in line with neoliberal economic theory, it dismantles welfare provisions and state benefits.

While this may sound depressing, it serves as a reminder of the complexity, rather than the impossibility, of the task ahead of feminists; here, Enloe, who shares many of Campbell's concerns, also insists that "updated patriarchy is not invincible," that feminist campaigns are having some success around the world, and that what we need now is "organized, cross-race, inter-gene activism." 

Because patriarchy is a dynamic and complicated structure, we should avoid using the term "the patriarchy." This phrase, which has just lately entered feminist lexicon, appears to imply a steady, monolithic domination by a unified group.

I feel it is overly simple, and that talking about ‘the patriarchy' makes no more sense than talking about ‘capitalism' or ‘democracy.' Finally, claiming that patriarchy can aid our understanding of the world does not imply that all women are hapless victims and all males are active oppressors. This is obviously not the case: many courageous women have always fought for their own rights as well as the oppression of others, and many feminist women have received personal and/or political encouragement and support from males.

When we label society patriarchal, we're pinpointing men's collective authority as the root of the problem, and we need to focus on that rather than individual men's poor behavior. 

We can't eliminate misogyny "individually," as Jessa Crispin puts it, while "casual demonization of white straight men follows the same pattern of bias and hatred that fuels misogyny, racism, and homophobia... the same lazy thinking, easy scapegoating, and pleasurable anger that all other forms of hatred have."

At its most fundamental level, the prioritization of men's interests and concerns is systematic, not arbitrary.

Patriarchy, on the other hand, lacks the same essential energy as capitalism, which is founded on the ruthless pursuit of expansion and profit as goals in themselves. Because of this dynamic, it is difficult to be a decent, non-exploitative capitalist in the long run without going out of business.

In a patriarchal culture, however, it is theoretically possible to be a nice guy, even a feminist or pro-feminist man – but this is not easy, and many men are more privileged than they know (not least because of their comfortable, unreflective sense of their own ‘normality'). It is also apparent that living in a patriarchal culture does not benefit all men equally.

Many men, are unable to meet Western society's ideals of masculinity; for those whose lives have been blighted by poverty, racism, and/or homophobia, any suggestion that their interests are systematically favored may feel like a cruel joke.

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