PREPARATION FOR WEEK 3: September 24: LIBERAL FEMINISM
Lorber, Chapter 1 (pp. 23-50)
1) Make some notes about the main characteristics of liberal feminism. Also note the points that you are
not sure about or questions that you may have about liberal feminism.
2) Explain the following concepts using your own words:
Gatekeeping: it is a concept that explains how most women are kept from getting to the top in occupations and
professions dominated by men.
Glass ceiling: it is a concept that explains how women have the motivation, ambition, and capacity for
positions of power and prestige, but hidden barriers keep them from reaching the top.
Gendered job queues: it is a theory that argues that the best jobs are kept for men of the dominant racial or
ethnic group, but when the job is not paying well or has deteriorating work conditions, dominant men leave for
other work, and men of disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups and all women can move into them. Ex. White
men in the US monopolize the most rewarding financial and banking jobs.
Affirmative action: bringing women into occupations and professions dominated by men and promoting them
to positions of authority.
Flextime: workplace policy that offers employees a choice of what hours and what days of the week to work.
Gender flexibility: transgressing traditional gender boundaries and creating new ways of earning and caring.
Ex. The mother can work and build a career, and father begins to take a more active role in childcare.
3) Read the part on of Kathleen Gerson’s research on the “Children of the Gender Revolution” (38-
50). Look at the different views expressed by the persons interviewed and note some that you
share, and some that you do not share.
Different view expressed by the persons interviewed:
- When the gender roles in the family were more flexible, there was more support from other family
members (Ex. Grandparents for working moms) and families were more stable
- When gender roles were inflexible, the family sometimes eroded (husbands left women who insisted on
going out to work)
- Children of families where the parental roles crossed gender boundries, also hold gender flexible views
4) Sum the main critiques of liberal feminism. Which aspects of liberal feminism do you, yourself,
regard as most problematic?
o It emphasizes women to be the same as men to be equal
o Lib fem wants a society that is not based on dividing people into two
o Disingrates womenliness (speaks of pregnancy as an illness) PREPARATION FOR WEEK 4: October 1: MARXIST FEMINISM
Read ONE of the 2 chapters (chapter 2 or chapter 3) from Lorber (pp. 51-89)
And make some notes about the main characteristics of Marxist (or Socialist) feminist theory and its
1) Main characteristics:
- The social structure of capitalism applies to all people, either as capitalists or as proletariats EXCEPT
- Wives and mothers are vital to capitalism: their unpaid work at home maintains bosses and workers and
reproduces the next generation of bosses and workers
- Yet, Marx‟s division of society into capitalists or workers blurs when it comes to women
- Women role of social reproduction (teaching children how to be part of society and doing domestic
work) is an INVISIBLE part of the economic process.
- Source of gender inequality: WOMEN‟S WORK IS EXPLOITED in the home and in the society.
- Joan Acker: a sociologists who formulated the theory that social class is GENDERED and
o Ex. employers in certain restaurants hire only young, white, attractive women as waitresses.
This hiring practice is gendered and racialized. It leads to a gender-, race-, age-segregated
- Proposes that women should get paid for housework and child care
- Evelyn Nakano Glenn: a sociologist who described the complexities of gender, class, racial, and ethnic
status among women doing reproductive labor in the home and in the public sphere: there is a division
b/w white women and women of colour. Women of colour became race-gender inferiors.
- Gender consciousness: the outlook men and women have on life (gender consciousness) is shaped by
their roles in societies NOT because their mind is wired differently (pg. 69)
- Getting paid for housework and child care from the state just changes women being dependent on their
husbands to being dependent on the state
- State payment for child care keep women out of the paid marketplace or encourage part-time work or
work in low-paying jobs
- This maintains the notion of women as reserve army of cheaper paid labour
- A shift to greater control over women by the state (controls abortions...)
- The gendered social order is reformed BUT NOT CHANGED
PREPARATION FOR WEEK 5: RADICAL FEMINISM
1) Please make notes about what you see as the main points of the chapter on radical theory.
- A major branch of feminism
- Originally: it was used as a term for feminists who wanted to get rid of traditional family and motherhood
- Now: its seen to make motherhood into a valuable way of thinking and behaving
- It continues to criticize the family
- It says that Family is the prime source of patriarchal oppression of women - It condemns the violent aspects of heterosexuality (in rape, assaults, harassment, pornography, and sex
- A concept expanded and defined by radical feminism
- It is a worldwide system of subordination of women legitimated by medicine, religion, science, law, and other
- The values embedded in these major institutions favour men as a group over women as a group
o Men‟s quality of objectivity, control and individual achievement are lauded (praised)
o Womanly qualities are of empathy, nurturance, and care are downplayed
- Men‟s domination of the women gives them patriarchal privileges –to feel superior to their women
How do men control women?
- Through sexual and emotional exploitation
- According to the radical feminists, men control women due to the western societies encouragement of
aggressiveness in men and sexual display in women
Sexual violence against women:
- It is seen as a continuum
- It goes from sexual harassment to rape to sexual murder
- This keeps women in their place
- Advertisement sexualise women‟s bodies
- This sexual objectification encourages men‟s use of women for their own needs
Physical, political, and economic oppression of women reflects a society‟s inherent violence:
- Ex. masculine violence
o The destruction of the World Trade Center and part of the pentagon
- Women‟s liberation is not just about a good job and career advancement, but it‟s about protection from sexual
- Since all men get power from their dominant social status, andy sexual and emotional relationship between
women and men takes place in a socially unequal context
- Concent by women to heterosexual intercourse is, often forced by emotional appeals and threats to end the
- Means of SOCIAL CONTROL of women by men
- Most common manisfestation of sexual attacks against women in western societies
- Unwanted sexual invitations
- Sexually loaded remarks and jokes
- Inappropriate comments on dress or appearance
- Threats of a boss or a teacher to be fired or to given a low grade
- In military or other hierarchal organization, women feel that reporting sexual violence or sexual harassment is
useless since the higher-ups have the same sexual attitude
- Sexual harassment becomes a form of discrimination when it effects a worker‟s or student‟s concentration
- MANIFESTATION of hatred, dislike for, and discomfort around women IN verbal and visual depictions OF
WOMEN AND GIRLS as dangerous, destructive, and bitchy
- Ex. depiction of Hilarry Clinton in a picture as “Hillary nutcracker” with metal spikes splayed b/w thighs
Valorizing Mothering: (something radical fem. does)
- Turns the male dominated culture on its head - Takes all the characteristics that are valued by men in Western societies (objectivity, distance, control, coolness,
aggressiveness, and competetiveness) and blames them for wars and poverty
- Praises what women value and do (feed, nurture, cooperate and reciprocate, and attend to bodies, minds and
Values of importance (according to rad. fem):
- Intimacy, persuasion, warmth, caring, and sharing
- Women develop these characteristics in their hands-on everyday experiences with their children and with the
work of daily living
- Men could develop these values if they “mothered”
- Much more prevalent in women
POLITICAL results of men mothering:
- They would be less prone to the violence, aggression, and militarism that radical feminists have complained of
- STUDY: testosterone levels of new fathers who do hands-on child care drops significantly
- Just as animals are exploited for fur and meat or mines and forests are stripped for natural resources, women‟s
bodies are also exploited
- Ecofeminists have linked women‟s nurturance to caring for the nature
- Others see men‟s exploitation of women‟s bodies as analogous to their exploitation of natural resources
- In a materialistic view, women‟s work, lives, and knowledge of nature is connected with the creation of wealth
- Bioprospecting –the commercial use of natural resources –can be better termed biopiracy –corporations loot
local resources and leave the community poorer
Bodies are also subject biopiracy:
- An exerpt by Susan Hawthorne
- Corporations argue that bioprospecting is beneficial to the community when it actually isn‟t
- Indigenous bodies:
o Research for the Human Genome Project require body based resources
o Bodies of indigenous peoples have been used to colonize DNA make a profit
o This does not insure the integrity of the human body
o When Australia was colonized, body parts and skulls of Aboriginal people were collected by scientists.
Profits from these researches were not returned!
- Women‟s bodies:
o Used in reproductive technologies and stem-cell and cloning research using the by-products of abortions
o Used for stem-cell research
o Women‟s bodies are seen as intert, passive and empty, that is, ripe for exploitation and appropriations
- Bodies with disabilities
o Their bodies are used for researching genetic basis of diseases
o Attempts to biologizing sexual orientations are picking up pace
o People are reduced to their genetic makeup
- Bioprospecting women‟s bodies is an aggressive instrument of corporate globalizers to make profits
Women‟s health care:
- Resists the medical practices dominated by men:
o Women entered into med schools
o (1970s)Men‟s bodies were norm in textbooks because women‟s bodies menstruated gave birth and had a
o Standard medical technologies treated normal pregnancies as illnesses
o New technologies for intertile couples detach sexual intimacy from conception
- It took the control of women‟s bodies out of the hands of the medical system
o The men doctors didn‟t consider the overall needs of women
- It encourages the training and employment of midwives and the experience
- It encourages the experience of family-oriented childbirth at home and in birthing centers separate from hospitals
- It has been critical of new procreative technologies - Research has been promoted for women‟s medical needs
- Women have been pushed for being part of new clinical trial teams for drugs
- Female bodies are no longer seen as the deviation from the male norm
- The definition of “normal” has been altered
- Radical feminisms praise of the qualities of women has led to feminist religions and ethics.
- Religious practices are reformed with putting more women clergy
- Reinterpreting religious texts to be gender neutral
- Its defence of valuing “mothering” above paid work has led women with careers and childless women to feel
- Its condemnation of patriarchal societies encouragement of men‟s violence and its rejection of unequal power has
alienated heterosexual women in relationships with men
- Pornography may not be that harmful to women
- Its fury at the throwaway use of women‟s bodies, sexuality, and emotions made us realize how misogynist our
- Those who praise motherhood are critized of trying to maintain the traditional view of keeping women out of the
- It puts women on the social map as different from men but worth just as much, if not more.
- Combat sexual violence by mounting campaigns to raise awareness of rape victims and battered women and to
condemn pornography and prostitution
- Sexual harassment guidelines and penalties in many schools and workplaces
PREPARATION FOR WEEK 6: October 22: LESBIAN FEMINISM
Lorber, Chapter 6 (pp. 151-167)
Make notes about the main characteristics, contributions and limitations of lesbian feminism.
- Source of gender inequality: oppressive heterosexuality, surbordination of women in emotional relationships
- The core of lesbian feminism is a RESISTANCE to heteronormativity: the assumption that everyone is
heterosexual and that only heterosexual relationships are normal
- Chrys Ingraham, a lesbian feminist sociologist, argues that heteronormativity makes up the dominant paradigm
in Western society. She claims that the basic building block of the gendered social order is the oppression of
women inherent in heterosexuality.
- Like radical feminist, lesbian feminism