Feminist Theory

2 February 2017

Feminist Theory Feminist theory is the extension of feminism into theoretical, or philosophical discourse, it aims to understand the nature of gender inequality. It examines women’s social roles and lived experience, and feminist politics in a variety of fields, such as anthropology and sociology, communication, psychoanalysis, economics, literary criticism, education, and philosophy. While generally providing a critique of social relations, much of feminist theory also focuses on analyzing gender inequality and the promotion of women’s rights, interests, and issues.Themes explored in feminism include art history and contemporary art, aesthetics, discrimination, stereotyping, objectification (especially sexual objectification), oppression, and patriarchy.

The feminist theory dates back to as early as the 18th century and to this day is still around with women trying to fight for the rights women deserve to be treated as equal as men and respected as an equal to men. From research I have found the feminist theory can be roughly broken down into three waves. First-wave feminism, from the 18th until the beginning of the 20th century, was a movement to liberate women legally, economically, and politically. Feminists of that period sought equal rights for women with respect to owning property, engaging in labor, protection from violence, and voting. Of special note is that first-wave feminists came from all sides of the ideological spectrum: Libertarian, Christian conservative, Socialist, Anarchist. Not all supported suffrage, and some advocated for free love and the abolition of marriage. The second wave of feminism began in the 1960s and lasted until about the 1990s.

Feminist Theory Essay Example

It focused on increasing economic opportunity for and ending social discrimination against women Third-wave feminism is said to begin in the early 1990s in response to a perceived backlash against the outcomes of second-wave feminism, and a concern that young women were no longer interested in feminist issues. But this wave continues to be concerned with the issues of the second wave: reproductive rights, gay and transgender rights, eliminating sexism and racism, achieving economic equality and social justice for women and other oppressed groups, and environmentalism. Intellectual Takeout, 2011). ” According to liberal feminism, equality of women is asserted through political and legal reforms. For liberal feminists, the subordination of women is primarily due to women not having equal access to the political system or any direct influence on legislation and policy. Issues such as voting, reproductive rights, equal access to education, family-friendly work policies, and affordable healthcare are emphasized by liberal feminists. Socialist feminists looks at women’s subordination as a function of an oppressive capitalist economy.

Socialist feminists view men as the primary players in the economic system, borrowing from Marxist theory the idea that there is gender oppression in addition to class oppression. In order to achieve full liberation, then, the economic system as a whole needs to be restructured so that it is more equitable for women. Issues such as women’s work rights and property ownership would be important to socialist feminists. Radical feminism holds the idea that patriarchy is the primary system of power which oppresses women.Equality can only be actualized if the system of patriarchy is abolished and women are able to hold equal power. Radical feminists view male supremacy as barring women from social institutions according to traditional gender roles. Domestic violence towards women reinforces a man’s power over a woman.

Radical feminists are also concerned with the restructuring of cultural institutions to include women, as well as redefining gender roles, sexuality, and the family. When it comes to implementating the feminist theory into our cliental there are a few thing that we need to take into consideration and understanding.Poverty, depression, stressful life conditions, traumatic events, physical health problems, substance abuse, stigma, and social isolation. The one article I found on this touched my heart and opened my eyes to what we as women go through and experience in our daily lives. “At the heart of a social justice perspective generally, and a feminist perspective more specifically, is a recognition that the individual struggles experienced by so many people are rooted in oppressive social, political, and cultural forces (Atkinson, Thompson, & Grant, 1993; Morrow &Hawxhurt, 1998). According to this view, helping clients from oppressed communities to explore the psychodynamic or co nitive contributors to their emotional difficulties, although potentially valuable, can do no more than help people adjust to an oppressive status quo; feelings of alienation, disempowerment, or despair experienced by so many oppressed people cannot truly be resolved without changing the systems and structures from which they arise (Goodman, Belle, Helms, Latta, & Weintraub, 2004).This idea has placed many social justice-oriented psychologists and social workers in a quandary: How can we, as mental health professionals trained to work with individuals and groups, possibly make a difference in this realm? Should we have become lawyers, community organizers, political advocates instead? (Goodman, 2011)”.

The article focuses on empowerment of low income and depressed females. Feminist theory in social work focuses on understanding and taking action against the oppressed position of women in society.In the field of social work the majority of services are delivered by women for women; feminist theory aids in the explanation of a women’s social role and position in society (Payne, 2005). Not only does feminist theory focus on changing the structure and position of women’s needs in society, it also seeks to raise awareness about the importance of women working with women. Without feminist informed services, gender specific treatment would not be possible. Since the social work system sees an unprecedented amount of women, it is extremely important to educate social workers about different women’s issues. Feminist theory argues that women are born into Western societies with unequal and unjust amounts of power given to men.

This creates an environment in which women are vulnerable to a man’s need for control over a woman. This may be why incidents of physical and sexual abuse are so high among women. Unfortunately this is also a risk factor for women developing a substance use disorder and/or an eating disorder. (Faddoul, 2008)”. To me this theory has come a long way in the help of women’s rights and suppression. We as social workers work with women everyday with the issues they face on a daily basis.The feminist theory helps to make women feel empowered and able to stand up and fight for what they feel is right and the way men all over the world try to belittle and bring women down and suppress them under any circumstances they deem fit.

The feminist movement may have created confusion regarding the permissible dynamics between the sexes. Men and women no longer trust their Darwinian instincts; instead they seek to adhere to new “feminist” rules of intersexual conduct, as they are highly fearful of being accused of being “sexist pigs” or “tools of the patriarchy. Others see the feminist theory as having pros and cons to it. I see it as having many pros and little cons. The feminist theory has opened the eyes of everyone on how the actions one takes against a woman are not tolerable. God created us all as equals. God did not create women to be a man’s slave or to be suppressed by them.

I have known the effects of being pushed down by men and have learned through everything my education and readings that I am just as equal as any man on many levels. Women need a reason to stand up and speak their voices and be heard.

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