Feminist theory as a ‘tool’
“The master’s tools never dismantle the master’s house.” – Audre Lorde
“Every tool is a weapon, if you hold it right.” – Ani DiFranco
Central questions for Lecture 2
What is critical thinking?
Feminist standpoint theory, emerged from Second Wave feminism, is a mode of critical thinking.
What did they say about the dominant mode of critical thinking?
Which premises in feminist standpoint theory have been challenged?
Also, requirements for Analytical Response will be discussed.
Progress of thought (or not?)
Richard Giblett Mycelium Rhizome (2008)
Modernism is characterized by movement from one point to another
Analyzing: Breaking material into constituent parts, determining how the parts relate to one another
and to an overall structure or purpose through differentiating, organizing, and attributing.
(Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Objectives, Revised by Lorin Anderson, 2001)
What is critical thinking?
A definition of critical thinking: metacognition; thinking about one's own thinking. “Metacognition is being aware of one's thinking as one performs specific tasks and then using this
awareness to control what one is doing" (Jones & Ratcliff, 1993, p.10).
Jones, E.A., & Ratcliff, G. (1993). Critical thinking skills for college students. University Park, PA:
National Center on Postsecondary Teaching, Learning, and Assessment.
Critical thinking in Feminism for Everybody
On the contrary, are there cases in which one is not aware of own thoughts?
Karl Mannheim (18931947)
Ideologie und Utopie (1929)
Sociology of knowledge
Asserted that material conditions (i.e. class structure) underpin one’s thoughts by expanding the
idea of Marx and Engels.
academics don’t belong to working or economic class?
1926 United Kingdom General Strike
Inclass journal questions: Academia as a social institution
(1) What material (social, cultural, political) environment is typically an intellectual’s work located
(2) What happens to feminism when it becomes part of the institution of academia (hooks Chapter
“The Castle of the Pyrenees”
(1959) Feminist standpoint theory
Critical thinking is gendered.
Dorothy E. Smith
Both critiqued Marxist analysis of material conditions
Feminist scholars in the 1980s: Hilary Rose, Iris Young, Mary O’Brien, Alison Jaggar, Jane Flax
Race and gender: Patricia Hill Collins’s critique on feminist theorization of motherhood
Feminist standpoint theory (cont.)
They argued that “feminist standpoint is rooted in a ‘reality’ that is the opposite of the abstract
conceptual world inhabited by men, particularly the men of the ruling class, and that in this reality
lies the truth of the human condition.” (Heckman 1997, 348)
Women’s difference from men rooted in social relations (i.e. Dualsystems theory)
Feminist standpoint as a more truthful, ‘real’ account of social reality than men’s
Challenged by postmodern feminists (re: truth claim) and Third Wave feminists (re: intersectionality)
A main concern in the sociology of gender is how gender differences are produced.
(vs. biological determinism)
How to debunk biological
determinism on sex?
Classic Marxist view on gender difference Radical feminist theory postulates that male dominance in the private sphere is at the basis of the
inequality between women and men. “Personal is political.”
Sexuality is primarily considered
as a site of male dominance:
DV, rape and pornography.
Radical feminist view on gender difference
The society is organized by the principle of capitalist patriarchy: the domestic space deals with the
reproduction of wage workers, which is a ‘shadow work’ that is made invisible from the market
economy (re: Heidi Hartmann, Roxana Ng)
Unpaid work as a foundational component of capitalism
Capitalist system of paid work
Gendered division of Labour
N. Hartsock, “The Feminist Standpoint” (1983)
“Women’s labor both for wages and even more in household production involves a unification of
mind and body for the purpose of transforming natural substances into socially defined goods. This
too is true of the labor of the male worker. There are, however, important differences.”