WS100 Midterm Notes.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Women & Gender Studies
Lorraine Vander Hoef

Basic Definitions Feminism is a commitment to breaking down the social and political structures that keep women lower in status and power. - Adapted from Shawn Meghan Burn, Women Across Cultures Post-feminism is a contemporary argument that feminism has already served its purpose in achieving women's equality, and is now socially and politically dead. Anti-feminism is opposition to feminism or to feminist activism that may define feminism as destructive of the family or as a project to disempower men. Debate on Feminism POSITIVE PERCEPTIONS Equality of women Voting, political rights Glass ceiling for women Positive representations of women, powerful women Feminist activism, education “Independent working women” NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS Men-haters Exclusive to men, rather than equal rights Bra-burners Hairy-legged Defensive/angry Victims Cocky/think more highly of themselves/superior to men Inflexible/stubborn All feminists are women; need to be broader to include men Three Strands of Feminism  Liberal, Socialist, and Radical Feminism Liberal: Roots, liberal philosophy developed from the European Enlightenment Ie. the printing press allowed getting information to poorer classes, can reflect human reason as individuals Focused on gender inequality, liberal feminists feel that children are being raised into gender roles; feel there is an unequal opportunity Focused also on the politics of the workplace Criticized for focuses on career women, and ignoring differences among women ie. white women and black women and viewed as white world feminism rather than for every women Their contributions: creating workplace equality and political and legal rights for women Socialist: Roots, Marxist theory Focused on economic oppression of marginalized groups on the basis of gender, race and class, viewed as “feminization of poverty”, broadly addresses how women are impoverished Focused also on the politics of the family and society (more global) Criticized for focuses on gender discrimination Their contributions: visibility to complex social structures and exploitation and significance of unpaid domestic labour, values the unpaid work of women Radical: Roots, feminist praxis and theory in the 1960’s and 1970’s Focused on gender inequality, not just in the work place or class, but the structural oppression of women (patriarchy) Focused also on the politics of the body, the experiences of women, excludes men from the movement because it is focused on the women body and relating to their experiences Criticized for alienating working and heterosexual women and essentialism and global distrust of men Their contributions: theory of patriarchy, attention to violence against women, and visibility to environmental damage and its effects on women’s lives First-wave Feminism Important figures and times: Mary Wollenstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Frederick Denison Maurice, George Eliot, Mid nineteenth-century evangelical Christianity, Karl Marx and Friedrick Engels – Mary Wollenstonecraft o Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) – John Stuart Mill o The Subjection of Women (1869) o Mid-nineteenth century liberalism – Frederick Denison Maurice o Reforms to women’s education; Queen’s College – George Eliot o New realism in novels – Mid nineteenth-century evangelical Christianity o New roles for women o Early social reform and anti-slavery movements – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels o Origin of the Family, Private Property, and State, Engels, 1884 Three branches: shared evolutionary and moral discourses The New Women (the literary view of women, arguing through fiction) o Literary voices o Featured in the press  The New Women Characteristics (1880-1910)  White, middle-class  Educated  Daughters  Writers and journalists  Same-sex desires  Athletic  The New Women and Change o Independence  Homes  Careers  Travel; bicycle, train o Dress reform  Shorter hems  Bloomers o Sexuality  New frankness  Same-sex desire o Moral equality o Criticism of religious elite  The New Women Icons o Cigar o Drinking glass o Latch-key o Bangs o Pince-nez (reading glasses)  Press Criticisms of the New Women o Unwomanly o Manly o Anti-marriage o Grotesque o “Revolting daughters” o “Girton girls” (Girton was a women’s college) Maternal Feminism (organized through women’s groups, politically active) o More organized o Political activism  Maternal Feminism Characteristics (1880-1920) o White, middle-class o Wives o Mothers o Social reformers o Lecturers o Activists o Social purists o Christians  Maternal Feminism and Social Reform o Temperance  Prohibition in 1920’s  Women’s Christian Temperance Union (Frances Willard) o Suffrage  Vote by 1920 (Susan B. Anthony)  New Zealand: 1890, first  Canada: 1918  National Association of Coloured Women: 1896 o Social Reform  Animal rights  Property rights  Birth control (Emma Goldman)  Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act (Josephine Butler)  Maternal Feminism in Canada o Nellie McClung  Manitoba vote: 1916  Mock parliament  The Famous Five and the Persons Case (1925, women should also have a right to participate in the senate)  Sowing Seeds in Danny (1908)  W.C.T.U. o Marshall Saunders  Beautiful Joe (1893) Socialist Feminism (less visible, involved in broader socialist movements) o Less organized o Social activism o Shared in other feminisms and the socialist movement  “Decline of mother right” - Friedrich Engels o Oppression of women is central in property-based economies beginning with agrarian societies o Rise of the family and the state to control women’s sexuality and ensure paternity rights to children so that property is handed down through the father  Socialist Solutions o Women’s oppression linked to class oppression o Women’s emancipation tied to the abolition of private ownership of income-producing property  Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Women and Economics (1896)  “Sexuo-economic relation” – women’s economic dependence on men  Socialist essentialism, argued for women’s superiority over men Second-wave Feminism - Liberal Feminism 1966-mid-1970s Social and Cultural Roots Social and Cultural Roots: in the ’50s, after both World Wars, there was the Cold War, and women were encouraged to take up traditional domestic roles in greater numbers to create strong citizens. They would then be well prepared to fight the Soviet threat of communism. • 1950s Truman’s Coldwar Policy of Containment (1947) – Attempt to contain the “Soviet threat” of communism – Led to an unofficial policy of domestic containment as women were encouraged to take up the traditional domestic role in greater numbers to create strong citizens 1960s Rebellion 1960s Rebellion: there was fear that if women didn’t do their “job as mothers” than communism would win. In the ‘60s the Cultural Revolution and civil rights movement took place and gave women experience in activism, networking and protesting. There were fewer boundaries on femininity and domestic positions for women. • 1960s Cultural Revolution and Civil Rights Movement – Roots in 1950s rock & roll, beatnik rebel culture – “flower children” and “hippies”: unconventional dress, art, behaviour – Student protests – Vietnam War protests – Gave women experience in activism, networking, and protesting Feminist Roots: Theory The theory and thinking of what being a woman was changed; Simone de Beauvoir, “one is not born a woman, but becomes one,” this means that children were learning how to be “feminine” and were socialized into traditional gender roles by society. Betty Friedan argued against the policy of domestic containment and spoke out about how women were not happy being isolated in the home • Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949) – “one is not born a woman, but becomes one” – Women are socialized into traditional gender roles • Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1963) – Argued against the policy of domestic containment – Women were not happy being isolated in the home Feminist Roots: Political Activism • 1961 Presidential Commission on the Status of Women – Payback for women’s support in Kennedy’s election in 1960 – Chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt – 1963 report recommendations: • Equal pay for comparable work • Child care services • Paid maternity benefits • State Feminism – Two ongoing federal committees on women’s status • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – 1965 Civil Rights Act: protections from sex discrimination – 1967: state women’s commissions in every state Liberal Feminism: Organization Membership of liberal feminism and the NOW organization included well- connected, professional women, some male feminists, and some black women. Their activism included lobbying for legal and political change using ties to social and political leaders. Their major issues were to fight against sex discrimination in the workplace, they supported more “equitable sharing” of domestic duties and were less likely to endorse women’s reproductive rights as too controversial. • 1966 National Organization for Women (NOW) – Membership: • Well-connected, adult professional women • Some male feminists • Some black women – Activism: • Method: lobbying for legal and political change using ties to social and political leaders • Issues: – Against sex discrimination in the workplace – Supported more “equitable sharing” of domestic duties
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