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Author Topic: F E M I N I S M  (Read 2629 times)
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« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2008, 11:16:04 am »

Post-structural and postmodern feminism

Post-structural feminism, also referred to as French feminism, uses the insights of various epistemological movements, including psychoanalysis, linguistics, political theory (Marxist and post-Marxist theory), race theory, literary theory, and other intellectual currents for feminist concerns.

Many post-structural feminists maintain that difference is one of the most powerful tools that females possess in their struggle with patriarchal domination, and that to equate the feminist movement only with equality is to deny women a plethora of options because equality is still defined from the masculine or patriarchal perspective.


Judith Butler at a lecture at the University of Hamburg.

Postmodern feminism is an approach to feminist theory that incorporates postmodern and post-structuralist theory. The largest departure from other branches of feminism, is the argument that gender is constructed through language.

The most notable proponent of this argument is Judith Butler. In her 1990 book, Gender Trouble, she draws on and criticizes the work of Simone de Beauvoir, Michel Foucault and Jacques Lacan. Butler criticizes the distinction drawn by previous feminisms between biological sex and socially constructed gender.

She says that this does not allow for a sufficient criticism of essentialism. For Butler "woman" is a debatable category, complicated by class, ethnicity, sexuality, and other facets of identity. She suggests that gender is performative. This argument leads to the conclusion that there is no single cause for women's subordination and no single approach towards dealing with the issue.


Donna Haraway, author of A Cyborg Manifesto, with her dog CayenneIn A Cyborg Manifesto Donna Haraway criticizes traditional notions of feminism, particularly its emphasis on identity, rather than affinity. She uses the metaphor of a cyborg in order to construct a postmodern feminism that moves beyond dualisms and the limitations of traditional gender, feminism, and politics.

Haraway's cyborg is an attempt to break away from Oedipal narratives and Christian origin-myths like Genesis. She writes: "The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust."

A major branch in postmodern feminist thought has emerged from the contemporary psychoanalytic French feminism. Other postmodern feminist works highlight stereotypical gender roles, only to portray them as parodies
of the original beliefs.

The history of feminism is not important in these writings—only what is going to be done about it. The history is dismissed and used to depict how ridiculous past beliefs were. Modern feminist theory has been extensively criticized as being predominantly, though not exclusively, associated with Western middle class academia.

Mainstream feminism has been criticized as being too narrowly focused and inattentive to related issues of race
and class.

See also: French feminism, Deconstruction, Poststructuralism, and Postmodernism
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« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2008, 11:22:16 am »

Janet Biehl

is one of the premier authors on
Social Ecology


Ecofeminism links ecology with feminism.

Ecofeminists see the domination of women as stemming from the same ideologies that bring about the domination of the environment.

Patriarchal systems, where men own and control the land, are seen as responsible for the oppression of women and destruction of the natural environment.

Since the men in power control the land, they are able to exploit it for their own profit and success. In this same situation, women are exploited by men in power for their own profit, success, and pleasure. Women and the environment are both exploited as passive pawns in the race to domination.

Those people in power are able to take advantage of them distinctly because they are seen as passive and rather helpless.

Ecofeminism connects the exploitation and domination of women with that of the environment. As a way of repairing social and ecological injustices, ecofeminists feel that women must work towards creating a healthy environment and ending the destruction of the lands that most women rely on to provide for their families.

Ecofeminism argues that there is a connection between women and nature that comes from their shared history of oppression by a patriarchal Western society.

Vandana Shiva explains how women's special connection to the environment through their daily interactions with it have been ignored. She says that "women in subsistence economies, producing
and reproducing wealth in partnership with nature, have been experts in their own right of holistic
and ecological knowledge of nature’s processes.

But these alternative modes of knowing, which are oriented to the social benefits and sustenance needs are not recognized by the [capitalist] reductionist paradigm, because it fails to perceive the interconnectedness of nature, or the connection of women’s lives, work and knowledge with the creation of wealth.”

Ecofeminism also criticizes Western lifestyle choices, such as consuming food that has traveled thousands of miles and playing sports (such as golf and bobsledding) which inherently require ecological destruction.

However, feminist and social ecologist Janet Biehl has criticized ecofeminism for focusing too much on a mystical connection between women and nature and not enough on the actual conditions of women.

See also: Environmentalism
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« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2008, 11:35:31 am »

                                                     Feminism and society

Feminist movement

The feminist movement has effected change in Western society, including

women's suffrage;

the right to initiate divorce proceedings and "no fault" divorce; and

the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy (including access to contraceptives and abortion);

and the right to own property.

Civil rights

Feminism has effected many changes in Western society, including

women's suffrage,

broad employment for women at more equitable wages,

the right to initiate divorce proceedings and the introduction of "no fault" divorce,

the right to obtain contraception and safe abortions, and access to university education.

The United Nations Human Development Report 2004 estimated that when both paid employment and unpaid household tasks are accounted for, on average women work more than men.

In rural areas of selected developing countries women performed an average of 20% more work than men, or an additional 102 minutes per day.

In the OECD countries surveyed, on average women performed 5% more work than men, or 20 minutes per day.

At the UN's Pan Pacific Southeast Asia Women's Association 21st International Conference in 2001 it was stated that

"in the world as a whole, women comprise 51 percent of the population, do 66 percent of the work,

 receive 10 percent of the income and own less than one percent of the property".


For more details on this topic, see Gender-neutral language in English.

Gender-neutral language is a description of language usages which are aimed at minimizing assumptions regarding the biological sex of human referents.

The advocacy of gender-neutral language reflects, at least, two different agendas: one aims to clarify the inclusion of both sexes or genders (gender-inclusive language); the other proposes that gender, as a category, is rarely worth marking in language (gender-neutral language).

Gender-neutral language is sometimes described as non-sexist language by advocates and politically-correct language by opponents.

Heterosexual relationships

The increased entry of women into the workplace beginning in the twentieth century has affected gender roles and the division of labor within households.

Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild in 'The Second Shift and The Time Bind' presents evidence that
in two-career couples, men and women, on average, spend about equal amounts of time working,
but women still spend more time on housework.

Feminist criticisms of men's contributions to child care and domestic labor in the Western middle class are typically centered around the idea that it is unfair for women to be expected to perform more than half of a household's domestic work and child care when both members of the relationship also work outside the home.

Several studies provide statistical evidence that the financial income of married men does not affect their rate of attending to household duties.

'In Dubious Conceptions', Kristin Luker discusses the effect of feminism on teenage women's choices to bear children, both in and out of wedlock.

She says that as childbearing out of wedlock has become more socially acceptable, young women, especially poor young women, while not bearing children at a higher rate than in the 1950s, now see less of a reason to get married before having a child. Her explanation for this is that the economic prospects for poor men are slim, hence poor women have a low chance of finding a husband who will be able to provide reliable financial support.

Although research suggests that to an extent, both women and men perceive feminism to be in conflict with romance, studies of undergraduates and older adults have shown that feminism has positive impacts on relationship health for women and sexual satisfaction for men, and found no support for negative stereotypes of feminists.
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« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2008, 11:38:07 am »

Virginia Woolf


See also:

Women's cinema and Women's music

Women's writing

For more details on Women's literature written in English, see

                                                          Women's writing in English.

Women's writing came to exist as a separate category of scholarly interest relatively recently.

In the West, second-wave feminism prompted a general reevaluation of women's historical contributions, and various academic sub-disciplines, such as women's history and women's writing, developed in response to the
belief that women's lives and contributions have been underrepresented as areas of scholarly interest.

Virginia Balisn et al. characterize the growth in interest since 1970 in women's writing as "powerful".

Much of this early period of feminist literary scholarship was given over to the rediscovery and reclamation of texts written by women.

Studies such as Dale Spender's Mothers of the Novel (1986) and Jane Spencer's 'The Rise of the Woman Novelist' (1986) were ground-breaking in their insistence that women have always been writing.

Commensurate with this growth in scholarly interest, various presses began the task of reissuing long-out-of-print texts. Virago Press began to publish its large list of nineteenth and early-twentieth-century novels in 1975 and became one of the first commercial presses to join in the project of reclamation.

In the 1980s Pandora Press, responsible for publishing Spender's study, issued a companion line of eighteenth-century novels written by women.

More recently, Broadview Press has begun to issue eighteenth- and nineteenth-century works, many hitherto out of print and the University of Kentucky has a series of republications of early women's novels. There has been commensurate growth in the area of biographical dictionaries of women writers due to a perception, according to one editor, that "[m]ost of our women are not represented in the 'standard' reference books in the field".

Feminist science fiction

In the 1960s the genre of science fiction combined its sensationalism with political and technological critiques of society. With the advent of feminism, questioning women’s roles became fair game to this "subversive, mind expanding genre".

Two early texts are Ursula K. Le Guin's 'The Left Hand of Darkness' (1969) and Joanna Russ' 'The Female Man' (1970). They serve to highlight the socially constructed nature of gender roles by creating utopias that do away with gender.

Both authors were also pioneers in feminist criticism of science fiction in the 1960s and 70s, in essays collected in 'The Language of the Night' (Le Guin, 1979) and 'How To Suppress Women's Writing' (Russ, 1983).

Other major works of feminist science fiction have been 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood[ and 'Kindred'
by Octavia Butler.
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« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2008, 11:52:16 am »


For more details on this topic, see

Feminist theology.

See also:

God and gender and
Difference feminism

Feminist theology is a movement that reconsiders the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of religions from a feminist perspective. Some of the goals of feminist theology include increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, reinterpreting male-dominated imagery and language about God, determining women's place in relation to career and motherhood, and studying images of women in the religion's sacred texts.

Christian feminism

Christian feminism is a branch of feminist theology which seeks to interpret and understand Christianity in light of the equality of women and men.

Because this equality has been historically ignored, Christian feminists believe their contributions are necessary for a complete understanding of Christianity.

While there is no standard set of beliefs among Christian feminists, most agree that God does not discriminate on the basis of biologically-determined characteristics such as sex.

Their major issues are the ordination of women, male dominance in Christian marriage, and claims of moral deficiency and inferiority of abilities of women compared to men.

They also are concerned with the balance of parenting between mothers and fathers and the overall treatment of women in the church.

Islamic feminism

Islamic feminism is concerned with the role of women in Islam and aims for the full equality of all Muslims, regardless of gender, in public and private life.

Islamic feminists advocate:

women's rights,

gender equality, and

social justice grounded in an Islamic framework.

Although rooted in Islam, the movement's pioneers have also utilized secular and Western feminist discourses and recognize the role of Islamic feminism as part of an integrated global feminist movement.

Advocates of the movement seek to highlight the deeply rooted teachings of equality in the Quran and encourage a questioning of the patriarchal interpretation of Islamic teaching through the Quran, hadith (sayings of Muhammad), and sharia (law) towards the creation of a more equal and just society.

Jewish feminism

Jewish feminism is a movement that seeks to improve the religious, legal, and social status of women within Judaism and to open up new opportunities for religious experience and leadership for Jewish women.

Feminist movements, with varying approaches and successes, have opened up within all major branches of Judaism.

In its modern form, the movement can be traced to the early 1970s in the United States. According
to Judith Plaskow, who has focused on feminism in Reform Judaism, the main issues for early Jewish feminists in these movements were the exclusion from the all-male prayer group or minyan, the exemption from positive time-bound mitzvot, and women's inability to function as witnesses and to initiate divorce.

Wiccan Feminism

Main article:
Dianic Wicca

Related terms:

This is a female focused, Goddess-centered Wiccan sect; also known as a feminist religion that teaches witchcraft as every woman’s right.

It is also one sect of the many practiced in Wicca.

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« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2008, 11:56:35 am »

                                             Feminism and political movements

Feminism and socialism

Main article: The left and feminism

Some early twentieth century feminists allied with socialism.

In 1907 there was an International Conference of Socialist Women in Stuttgart where suffrage was described as a tool of class struggle.

Clara Zetkin of the Social Democratic Party of Germany called for women's suffrage to build a "socialist order, the only one that allows for a radical solution to the women's question".

In Britain, the women's movement was allied with the Labour party.

In America, Betty Friedan emerged from a radical background to take command of the organized movement.

Radical Women, founded in 1967 in Seattle is the oldest (and still active) socialist feminist organization in the U.S.

During the Spanish Civil War, Dolores Ibárruri (La Pasionaria) led the Communist Party of Spain. Although she supported equal rights for women, she opposed women fighting on the front and clashed with the anarcho-feminist Mujeres Libres.

Revolutions in Latin America brought changes in women's status in countries such as Nicaragua
where Feminist ideology during the Sandinista Revolution was largely responsible for improvements in the quality of life for women but fell short of achieving a social and ideological change.

See also:

Post-Communism Gender Roles in Eastern Europe and Role of women in Nicaraguan Revolution

Feminism and fascism

Scholars have argued that Nazi Germany and the other fascist states of the 1930s and 1940s illustrates the disastrous consequences for society of a state ideology that, in glorifying women, becomes antifeminist.

In Germany after the political shift of 1933, there was a rapid dissolution of the political rights and economic opportunities that feminists had fought for during the prewar period and to some extent during the 1920s.

In Franco's Spain, the right wing Catholic conservatives undid the work of feminists during the Republic. Fascist society was hierarchical with an emphasis and idealization of virility, with women maintaining a largely subordinate position to men.
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« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2008, 12:01:20 pm »

                                                       Feminism and science

Feminists has been critical of traditional scientific discourse, arguing that the field has historically been biased towards a masculine perspective.

Evelyn Fox Keller argues that the rhetoric of science reflects a masculine perspective, and she questions the idea of scientific objectivity.

Primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy notes the prevalence of masculine-coined stereotypes and theories, such as the non-sexual female, despite "the accumulation of abundant openly available evidence contradicting it".

Some natural and social scientists have examined feminist ideas using scientific methods.

Feminism and the biology of gender

Related terms:
Biology of gender

Modern feminist science is based on the view that many differences between the sexes are based on socially constructed gender identities rather than on biological sex differences.

For example, Anne Fausto-Sterling's book Myths of Gender explores the assumptions embodied in scientific research that purports to support a biologically essentialist view of gender.

However, in The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine argues that brain differences between the sexes are a biological reality with significant implications for sex-specific functional differences.

Steven Rhoads' book 'Taking Sex Differences Seriously' illustrates sex-dependent differences across a wide scope.

Carol Tavris, in 'The Mismeasure of Woman', uses psychology and sociology to critique theories that use biological reductionism to explain differences between men and women. She argues rather than using evidence of innate gender difference there is an over-changing hypothesis to justify inequality and perpetuate stereotypes.

Feminism and evolutionary biology

Related terms:

Evolutionary biology

Sarah Kember—drawing from numerous areas such as evolutionary biology, sociobiology, artificial intelligence, and cybernetics in development with a new evolutionism—discusses the biologization of technology.

She notes how feminists and sociologists have become suspect of evolutionary psychology, particularly inasmuch as sociobiology is subjected to complexity in order to strengthen sexual difference as immutable through pre-existing cultural value judgments about human nature and natural selection.

Where feminist theory is criticized for its "false beliefs about human nature," Kember then argues in conclusion that "feminism is in the interesting position of needing to do more biology and evolutionary theory in order not to simply oppose their renewed hegemony, but in order to understand the conditions that make this possible, and to have a say in the construction of new ideas and artefacts.
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« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2008, 12:02:22 pm »

Anti-suffragists in 1911

                                                          Men and feminism

Anti-suffragists in 1911The relationship between men and feminism has been complex. Men have taken part in significant responses to feminism in each 'wave' of the movement. There have been positive and negative reactions and responses, depending on the individual man and the social context of the time.

These responses have varied from pro-feminism to masculism to anti-feminism.

In the twenty-first century new reactions to feminist ideologies have emerged including a generation of male scholars involved in gender studies, and also men's rights activists who promote of male equality (rights to equal treatment in family, divorce and anti-discrimination law).

Historically a number of men have engaged with feminism.

Philosopher Jeremy Bentham demanded equal rights for women in the eighteenth century.

In 1866, philosopher John Stuart Mill (author of “The Subjection of Women”) presented a women’s petition to the British parliament; and supported an amendment to the 1867 Reform Bill.

Others have lobbied and campaigned against feminism.

Today, academics like Michael Flood, Michael Messner and Michael Kimmel are involved with men's studies and pro-feminism.

A number of feminist writers maintain that identifying as a feminist is the strongest stand men can take in the struggle against sexism. They have argued that men should be allowed, or even be encouraged, to participate in the feminist movement.

Other female feminists argue that men cannot be feminists simply because they are not women. They maintain that men are granted inherent privileges that prevent them from identifying with feminist struggles, thus making it impossible for them to identify with feminists.[153] Fidelma Ashe has approached the issue of male feminism by arguing that traditional feminist views of male experience and of "men doing feminism" have been monolithic.

She explores the multiple political discourses and practices of pro-feminist politics, and evaluates each strand through an interrogation based upon its effect on feminist politics.
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« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2008, 12:10:19 pm »

                                                          Other concepts


Pro-feminism is the support of feminism without implying that the supporter is a member of the feminist movement. The term is most often used in reference to men who are actively supportive of feminism and of efforts to bring about gender equality.

The activities of pro-feminist men's groups include anti-violence work with boys and young men in schools, offering sexual harassment workshops in workplaces, running community education campaigns, and counseling male perpetrators of violence.

Pro-feminist men also are involved in men's health, activism against pornography including anti-pornography legislation, men's studies, and the development of gender equity curricula in schools.

This work is sometimes in collaboration with feminists and women's services, such as domestic violence and **** crisis centers.

Some activists of both genders will not refer to men as "feminists" at all, and will refer to all pro-feminist men as "pro-feminists".


Antifeminism is opposition to feminism in some or all of its forms.

Feminists such as Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers, Jean Bethke Elshtain and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese have been labeled "anti-feminists" by other feminists.

Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge argue that in this way the term "anti-feminist" is used to silence academic debate about feminism.

Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young's books 'Spreading Misandry' and 'Legalizing Misandry' explore what they argue is feminist-inspired misandry.

Christina Hoff-Sommers argues feminist misandry leads directly to misogyny by what shecalls
"establishment feminists" against (the majority of) women who love men in
'Who Stole Feminism: How Women Have Betrayed Women.'

"Marriage rights" advocates criticize feminists like Sheila Cronan who take the view that marriage constitutes slavery for women, and that freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage.
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« Reply #24 on: May 18, 2008, 12:19:37 pm »


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^ Mica Howe & Sarah A. Aguiar (eds.), He Said, She Says. Fairleigh Dickinson University press & London: Associated University Press, 2001.
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