WSTA03; midterm notes.docx

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Department
Women and Gender Studies
Course
WGS160Y1
Professor
Dube
Semester
Summer

Description
MIDTERM NOTES WHAT IS THEORY? A theory is a related set of concepts and principles about a phenomenon, and the purpose of which is to explain or predict the phenomenon. WHY IS THEORY IMPORTANT? Provides us with concepts to name what we observe and to explain relationships between concepts Allows us to explain what we see and to figure out how to bring about change A tool that enables us to identify a problem and to plan for means of altering the situation DEVELOPMENT OF THEORIES; speculative stage, descriptive stage, de/constructive stage CORE ASPECTS Feminism consists of ideas and beliefs about what culture is like for women just because they are women, compared to what the world is like for men just because they are men Also includes ideas and beliefs about how culture can be and should be different Includes ideas and beliefs about the importance and value of moving from point A to point B, where there needs to be statements and actions of commitment to transformative behaviour and action that produces positive change A movement of a collection of loosely connected groups and individuals committed to organized action, including changes in behaviour of members of the movement and persuasion of others outside the movement to make change WHAT IS FEMINIST THEORY? Patricia Eliiot and Nancy Mandell (1998) 1. Feminist theorists seek to understand the gendered nature of virtually all-social and institutional relations 2. Gendered relations are constructed as problematic and as related to other inequities 3. Gender relations are not viewed as natural or immutable, but as historical and socio-cultural productions 4. Feminist theories tend to be explicitly political in their advocacy for social change Maria Lugones and Elizabeth Spelman’s (1983) 1. Enables one to see how parts of one’s life fit together 2. Enables one locate oneself concretely in the world 3. Enables one to think about the extent to which one is responsible/ or not for being in that location 4. Provides criteria for change and suggests modes of resistance that reflect a broad understanding of oppression 5. Has connections to resistance and change Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, and Bell Hooks Margaret Anderson (1997) ‘Feminism begins with the premise that women and men’s positions in society are the result of social, not natural or biological factors’ Feminism is also about seeing the connection between our day-to-day activities and experiences as gendered beings in relation to varied social processes such as law, politics, economics, religion, and other socio-cultural institutions Calixte, Johnson, and Motapanyane in Mandell (2010) Feminist theories ‘typically offer an analysis of systems of power in society and indicate how the unequal distribution of power shapes the lives of men and women’ LIBERAL FEMINISM Calixte, Johnson, and Motapanyane in Mandell (2010) Concentrated ‘on achieving equal opportunity for women by ensuring that all the rights, benefits, and responsibilities that accrueTHo men alTH accrue to women THE ENLIGHTENMENT (17 AND 18 CE) Some of the major philosophers of the age associated with liberalism; David Hume (1711-1776), John Locke (1632-1704), John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), Jacque Rousseau (1712-1778) KEY IDEAS OF LIBERALISM 1. All human beings are inherently rational, and therefore, should be considered equal to one another in their shared humanity 2. Meritocracy; people should be able to earn their status in society 3. Equal opportunity 4. All rational beings should have freedom of choice CORE ASPECTS OF LIBERAL FEMINISM 1. LFs are concerned with establishing women’s capacity for rational thought and their shared humanity with men 2. LFs endorse the concept of meritocracy 3. LFs are concerned with establishing equal opportunity for women in all areas of economic, legal, political, and social life 4. LFs are concerned with the principle of ‘freedom of choice’ CLASSICAL LIBERAL FEMINISTS Christine de Pizan and Mary Astell Both challenged the dominant idea of their times that women were weak-minded, frail, and irrational by nature Mary Wollstonecraft Harriet Taylor Mill Argued very strongly for the desirability of women to earn money and have control of their own property Argued for women’s right to vote for what is called suffrage or enfranchisement 1960’S AND 1970’S LIBERAL FEMINISTS IN NORTH AMERICA 1. The right to choose homemaking or paid employment 2. The right to special treatment of women relating to their maternity 3. Shared responsibility for childcare among mothers, fathers, and society at large 4. Special treatment of women to help them overcome the adverse effects of discriminatory practices WHAT CONTEMPORARY EXAMPLES OF LIBERAL FEMINISMS CAN YOU PROVIDE? Liberal feminist theories are selectively about and privileges the objective of white middle and upper class women Liberal feminists’ understandings of women’s oppression and methods of social change incorporate women’s presence into existing political and economic institutions without necessarily transforming the relations of power RADICAL FEMINISM HISTORICAL CONTEXT Arose in the late 1960s as a political movement in the background of the student life, civil rights, and antiwar movements Identified the oppression of women, as a sex-based class, as the most pernicious oppression of them all Through various groups like the New York Radical Women, Cell 16, the Redstockings, The Feminists, and WITCH, radical feminists declared the personal to be political Pioneered the now-classic feminist strategy of consciousness-raising: using the sharing of personal experience as the first step toward political consciousness DEFINITION Radical feminist theorists investigate what they believe to be the root cause of women’s oppression- namely, sex oppression of women as a class by men KEY CONCEPTS 1. Sex oppression; defined as women’s oppression based on the relations of domination and subordination between the sexes, where women are seen as a sex class whose sexuality is directly controlled by men Calixte, Johnson, and Motapanyane; ‘Women and men are not equals in society, and if men wield power over women, then loving and sexual relationships between the two are always mediated by unequal power exchanges, where one person (man) controls the other (woman)’ 2. ‘Power’ – understood both as force exerted through domination and exploitation (power over) on the one hand; and as empowerment – the power to act, think, speak, and demand change on the other hand 3. ‘Patriarchy’ – defined as a sexual system of power in which the male possesses superior power and economic privilege CORE ASPECTS OF RADICAL FEMINIST THEORIES 1. RFs argue that the state is founded on and is emblematic of male interests. Therefore, engaging with the state the way lib
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