Definitions of Feminism

Essay by travishenryUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, March 2005

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Definitions of Feminism

In order for international organizations to eliminate gender inequality or oppression they must understand and employ the varying nature, content, and consequence of feminist theory. Elliot and Mandell argue that despite definitional differences, feminist theorists generally share four concerns . First, they assert that feminist theorists seek to understand the gendered nature of virtually all social and institutional relations . Second, or so this argument goes, gender relations are constructed as problematic and as related to other inequities and contradictions in social life . For example, family, education and welfare, worlds of work and politics, culture and leisure is socially constructed through relations of gender, power, class, race and sexuality. Third, gender relations are not viewed as either natural or immutable but as historical and sociocultural productions, subject to reconstitution . Finally, feminist theorists tend to be explicitly political in their advocacy of social change. According to this argument, feminists challenge what they call traditional race-class-sexuality-power arrangements that favour men over women, whites over non-whites, adults over children, residents over nonresidents, and the employed over the unemployed .

Hence, it is worth mentioning that comprehensive feminist theories remain unfinished in spite of the struggles to embrace them.

Critique of Liberal Feminism

Liberal reforms have indeed resulted in increased opportunities for women and increased public consciousness of women's rights, particularly in many developing nations. Nevertheless, critics suggest all women have not shared all these liberal feminism reforms equally because these changes have not addressed issues of socially structured inequality . For example, liberal feminists focus on how to achieve collective equality without jeopardizing individual freedom. However, they fail to recognize that inequities of class, race, ethnicity and disability are institutionalized and difficult to dislodge through individual action . Therefore, it is often claimed that liberal feminist thinking has...