Introduction to Women’s Studies
Basic terms and concepts
*why it is so hard for women to break free of injustice?
*Women’s oppression is rooted in the structures (economic, political, geographical,
historical, social, educational, emotional) of a given society, neighbourhood, and
*The explanations, justifications, rationales for women’s oppression may be biological,
psychological, social, historical, etc but their effects and ability to influence
women’s lives occur and are reinforced on a very social level, which hides the
many ways “beliefs” are used to justify social practices. Oppression is not rooted
in individual strengths, weaknesses, or abilities nor from individual’s choices and
informed decisions, but rather from membership in a particular category.
*Certainly boys (and men) experience restrictions too. However, the cumulative effect
is not the same. In fact, the things that men tend to be told “men do not do” end up
being those very things that do not hold any elevated economic, political, socio-
cultural or national value.
Feminisms and oppression
*Different feminist theories approach the question of the roots of women’s oppression
from different angles.
*Liberal feminists would argue that women’s oppression is rooted in their lack of
equal civil rights, equal political representation, and equal opportunities of
education and employment.
*Marxist feminists concentrate primarily on capitalism as a male-dominated
economic system which relies on an hence is responsible for maintaining
*Radical feminists would argue that women’s oppression is continued because of
men’s inability and unwillingness to give up their male privilege.
*Radical feminism concentrates it’s analysis of women’s oppression on the following
1) that women were the first oppressed group historically
2) that women are the most widely oppre