Assess The Contribution Of Feminist Perspectives To Our Understanding Of Society

912 words - 4 pages

Assess the contribution of feminist perspectives to our understanding of society. (33 marks)

Feminism is a set of ideologies used to advance the cause of women’s equality and to end the sexist theory and practice of social oppression. It is a structuralist theory which is made up of several versions, but they all argue that society is patriarchal. The types of feminism I will be reviewing are liberal feminism, radical feminism, marxist feminism, and difference feminism. Aside from all agreeing that society is patriarchal, these versions of feminism disagree on two levels; the extent of patriarchy in society and also what needs to be done to create gender equality.

Firstly, liberal ...view middle of the document...

Firstly, a criticism of the idea that women only perform their feminine roles because of the way they have been socialised can be criticised by functionalism and Parsons in particular who believes that it is due to their biological differences that men and women perform different roles. A second criticism of liberal feminism comes from a different version of feminism. Radical feminists would criticise liberal feminism on the grounds that they exaggerate the move towards equality between men and women and argue that men are in fact the enemy to women in society and are the root cause of women’s oppression.

A second version of feminism is radical feminism. Radical feminists argue that patriarchy is the cause of women’s oppression, which they say occurs everywhere; in the home, at work and in public. This can be attributed to the threat of male violence such as fear of rape, which would occur in public. Furthermore, radical feminists would argue that all relationships involve power and they become more political when one side dominates the other. Radical feminists suggest three changes which would free women from their oppression; firstly they suggest separatism, in which men and women should live apart from each other, which would give men no opportunities to oppress women, secondly they suggest consciousness-raising where women unite and share their experiences of oppression where the women would become a collective, and finally political lesbianism where a non oppressive sexuality is encouraged.
However, radical feminism would come under the criticism of Marxists, who would instead suggest that it is class, not patriarchy, which is the main form of inequality. Further, capitalism also benefits from women’s oppression, not just men, through the reproduction of the workforce for example. Another criticism of radical feminism comes from Marxist feminists, who would argue that it is in fact the...

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