Same Sex Marriage: A Dialogue between Liberal Feminism and Radical Cultural Feminism

Essay by mercedezUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, March 2006

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Feminism is by no means a homogenous movement. Rather, it is characterized by diverse viewpoints. This is quite evident when looking at the issue of same sex marriage. Indeed, when we apply two specific feminist perspectives, particularly liberal and radical cultural feminism, to an analysis of same sex marriage, we learn that the two approach the issue quite differently, often conflicting and contradicting one another. I will argue in this paper that liberal feminism, by relying upon the law to bring about change ignores the reality that the law itself is patriarchal, which has the ultimate effect of undermining the women's movement. This is most evident in their pursuit to extend the right to marry for same sex couples, specifically lesbian couples to ensure equal rights, and their understanding of lesbianism. Radical cultural feminists, on the other hand, are aware of the patriarchal nature of the law; and as a result, value the pursuit of women's liberation from patriarchal oppression over the simple promotion of women's rights within the legal system.

Liberal feminism promotes the idea that all individuals should be equal under the law. As such, its main goal has been to establish conditions where women and men are afforded equal opportunities to pursue their own terms. The emphasis has been on "women's rights" rather than "women's liberation"; this means that liberal feminists have been concerned with identifying sources of inequality that are encoded into institutions such as the legal system, challenging them and having them overturned. Universal human rights are promoted by this perspective; legal conditions that advantage men while disadvantaging women are targeted by liberal feminists.

Proponents of liberal feminists argue that legal as well as other socio-structural conditions such as economics and politics are constructed in ways that result in male success at the expense...