Week 2 Liberal Feminism Notes.doc

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Women's and Gender Studies
Victoria Tahmasebi

Liberal Feminism •“The belief that reason distinguishes us from other animals” (tong, 11) •“Reason is defined as the ability to comprehend the rational principles of morality, then the value of individual autonomy is stressed. In contrast, when reason is defined as the ability to determine the best means to achieve some desired end, then the value of self-fulfillment is stressed.” (tong, 11) •“the liberals claim that the right must be given priority over the good. In other words, our entire system of individual rights is justified because these rights constitute a framework within which we can choose our own separate goods, provided we do not deprive others of theirs.” (tong, 12) •“when it comes to state interventions in the private sphere (family or domestic society), liberals agree that the less we see of Big Brother in our bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, recreation rooms, and nurseries, the better. We need places where we can, among family and friends, shed our public personae and be our real selves.” (tong, 12) •Two types of liberals when it comes state intervention in the public sphere (civil or political), like the classical or welfare/egalitarian. o Classical: liberals think the state should confine itself to protecting civil liberties (rights, voting, etc). They think instead of interfering with the free market, the state should simply provide everyone with an equal opportunity to determine his or her own accumulations within that market. (12) o Welfare: liberals believe the state should focus on economic disparities as well as civil liberties. (12) o Liberal feminists seem to favour welfare liberalism (12) • One of the modern political goals most closely associated with liberal feminism is equality of opportunity. (12) •Very few favor the elimination of government-funded safety nets for societys most vulnerable members. (12) • The overall goal of liberal feminism is the worthy one of creating a “just and compassionate society in which freedom flourishes.” Only in such a society can women and men thrive equally. (13) 18 Century Thought: Equal Education • Up until the eighteenth century, productive work (work that generated an income from which a family could live) had been done in and around the family home by women as well as men. (13) •Then the forces of industrial capitalism began to draw labour, and slowly making its strongest impact on married, bourgeois women. These women were the first to find themselves left at home with little productive work to do. Married to relatively wealthy professional and entrepreneurial men, these women had o incentive to work outside the home or if they had several servants, even inside it. (13) •Middle-class ladies were, kept women who sacrificed health, liberty, and virtue for whatever prestige, pleasure, and power their husbands could provide. (13) (Goes more into detail of each characteristic) th •Most men when it came to education in the 18 century thought that women should be educated in virtues such as patience, docility, good humour, and flexibility. Whereas men should be educated in virtues such as courage, temperance, justice, and fortitude. Therefore this way they would complement each other and men would be self-governing citizens and dutiful paterfamilias and women would be understanding, responsive wives and caring and loving mothers. •Mary Wollstonecraft a writer wrote, “if rationality is the capacity distinguishing human beings from animals, then unless females are mere animals, women as well as men have this capacity. Thus, society owes girls the same education that it owes boys, simply because all human beings deserve an equal chance to develop their rational and moral capacities sp they can achieve full personhood.” (15) •Wollstonecraft decided that “well-educated women did not need to be economically self-sufficient or politically active in order to be autonomous.” (15) 19 Century Thought: Equal Liberty •Feminists insisted that “if society is to achieve sexual equality, or gender justice, then society must provide women with the same political rights and economic opportunities as well as the same education that men enjoy.” (16) •Some liberal feminists believe, “that even if all women are worse than all men at something, this still does not justify forbidding women from trying to do that thing, for “what women by nature cannot do, it is quite superfluous to forbid them from doing. What they can do, but not so well as the men who are their competitors, competition suffices to exclude then from.” (19)Occasionally biologically sex
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