What is Feminism and Its Purposes

Feminism is the name of a movement that says that women deserve to be treated as equals to men.

To understand What is Feminism and Its Purposes, let have some discussion. Apparently, it appears to be an obvious right, and yet throughout history women have been oppressed by men-they have not had the same employment opportunities, educational openings, or even the right to vote.

Indeed women have been treated like second-class citizens, and still are being treated as such in many countries where the principles behind feminism are not widely accepted.

Feminism is a theory that men and women should be equal politically, economically, and socially. This is the core of all feminist theories. Sometimes this definition is also referred to as “core feminism” or “core feminist theory.”

Notice that this theory does not subscribe to differences between men and women or similarities between men and women, nor does it refer to excluding men or only furthering women’s causes. Most other branches of feminism do.

One who believes that men and women should be equal politically, economically, and socially as defined above.

Feminist Theories

  • Attempts to develop a comprehensive account of the subordination of women, including it, supposes essence and origin;
  • Is a prerequisite for developing effective strategies to liberate women
  • Identifies the underlying causes of women’s subordination

Rosemarie Tong suggests that feminist theory attempts to describe women’s oppression, explain its causes and consequences, and prescribe strategies for women’s liberation.

Feminism Purposes

According to Flax, feminist theory Feminism has several purposes:

  • To understand the power differential between men and women to understand women’s oppression-how it evolved, how it changes over time, how it is related to other forms of oppression
  • how to overcome oppression

Flax suggests that feminist theory is intimately related to action: “Feminist theory is the foundation of action and there is no pretense that theory can be neutral.

Within feminist theory is a commitment to change oppressive structures and to connect abstract ideas with concrete problems for political action. There has to be a commitment to do something about the situation of women.”

Marilyn Frye addresses the theme of feminist theory in her essay “The Possibility of Feminist Theory,” where she notes that the dominant approach to theory in Western philosophy has focused on generalization: enumerative, statistical, and metaphysical generalization, none of which is kind to particulars.

Metaphysical generalization especially, she notes, declares this or that to be the what-it-is of a thing, threatening the annihilation of that which does not fit its prescription. Frye says you have to have some sort of genuinely general generality to have a theory.

In “Tapestries of Life,” Bettina Aptheker recommends a “bottom-up” approach, a search for the meanings that can be found in the daily activities of women’s lives. Discovering and connecting these meanings, she contends, will help feminists develop what she calls a “map” of women’s reality from women’s point of view, a view that she refers to as a “women’s standpoint.”

Aptheker argues that women’s lives are fragmented, dispersed, and episodic. They are often determined by events outside of women’s control. She focuses on the dailiness of women’s lives: the patterns women create and the meanings women invent each day and over time as a result of their labors and in the context of their subordinated status to men. The point is to suggest a way of knowing from the meanings women give to their laborers.

The Diversity of Feminism Thaught

It would be a mistake to expect a brief and clear definition in a sentence or two of feminism or feminist thought. Feminism, after all, has a long history, going back at least to the 18th century and the work of early liberal feminist thinkers such as Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill.

Feminism is also a response to women’s lives and experiences and the varieties of feminism reflect the changing and varied nature of women’s experiences.

Despite these difficulties, all varieties of feminism agree that women have been oppressed and unjustly treated. But as Jean Grimshaw notes, how feminists conceptualize that oppression, its causes, and the responses to it, varies. The editors of the anthology Feminist Frameworks use the metaphor of lenses to understand the variety and diversity of feminist theory.

Feminists, they suggest, use a variety of categories to organize and understand women’s social reality and women’s lives and subordination can be understood adequately only in terms of several categories.

Drawing on the work of several feminist philosophers, this outline of several distinct feminist theories is impartial and brief, and programmatic but should provide a little introductory background into the varieties of second-wave feminist thought.

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