POLS 1150 Chapter Notes -Betty Friedan, Global Greens, Ecosophy

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Published on 16 Apr 2013
School
University of Guelph
Department
Political Science
Course
POLS 1150
Page:
of 10
Feminism
-feminism is often thought of in the terms of achieving equality for women
-this involves not only establishing equal rights and opportunities for women and eliminating
discriminatory practices, but also challenging the traditional views about women that have often had
the effects of confining women to domestic life and restricting freedom
-many feminists argue that political decisions should give greater emphasis to the different experiences
and values of women instead of being based primarily on male values
-according to feminists, all societies are, to varying extents, characterized by patriarchy
-Lorraine Code (1988, p. 18) “patriarchal societies are those in which men have more power than
women, readier access than women to what is valued in the society and, in consequence, are in control
over many, if not most aspects of women’s lives”
-changing the patriarchal nature of society is a basic goal of feminism
Background
-a sexual division of labour has always been prevalent in societies and seen as natural; women are seen
as suited for household duties, including raising the children, and men are seen as best suited for
politics, ruling, and other public activities
-some argue that women needed to be protected from the harsh realities of politics, while others
viewed women as too prone to emotion more so than reason
-Aristotle even asserted that “the male, unless constituted in some respect contrary to nature, is by
nature more adept in leading than the female”
-Aristotle therefore argued that men should rule in both the household and the political community
-“The Declaration of the Rights of Man”, a product of the French Revolution in 1789, inspired one of the
first statements on feminist ideas when Mary Wollstonecraft rejected the common notion that women’s
natural role was to please men and bear and raise children in her own charter, A Vindication of the
Rights of Women (1792)
-Wollstonecraft advocated that women are human beings with the sae capacity for rational thinking as
men, and should therefore have the same rights as men
-as with other perspectives, there are a variety of different versions of contemporary feminism; the
three basic categories are:
1. liberal feminism
2. socialist feminism
3. radical feminism
Liberal Feminism
-liberal feminism continues the struggles for women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for equal
legal and political rights, (often termed the “first wave” of feminism) and equal opportunities in areas
such as education and employment
-influential American feminist Betty Friedan said “my definition of feminism is simply that women are
people in every sense of the word, who must be free to move in society with all the privileges and
opportunities and responsibilities that are in their human and America right”
-she stated that women suffered by being confined to the role of housewife, by pursuing a career and
gaining economic independence it would allow women to lead more fulfilling lives
-the key problem for liberal feminists is the discrimination against women that limits their opportunities
-liberal feminism focuses on ensuring that women have the freedom and opportunity to engage in
politics, business, careers, and employment on the same basis of men
-it has been successful to some degree in that laws and policies that discriminated against women have
been eliminated in many countries and many women have taken that opportunity to obtain higher
education and pursue professional careers
-although the proportion of women in top positions in politics and business is much higher than it was
several decades ago, women are still strongly under-represented in most countries’ important positions
Socialist Feminism
-socialist feminism views women as oppressed by both the male-dominated character of society and the
capitalist system
-socialist feminists argue that male-female relations reflect the exploitative relationships of capitalists to
workers; EX: just as the capitalist boss dominates and exploits workers, so, too, husbands are dominant
in the home and exploit the labour of their wives
-socialist feminists argue that the liberation of women involves both a struggle against patriarchy and
the transformation of capitalism into a more co-operative and egalitarian socialist society
-overcoming the sexual division of labour in which women have primary responsibility for most domestic
duties, along with transforming the division of labour in the capitalist system, would also enable
everyone to live more creative, fulfilling lives
Radical Feminism
-in the radical feminist perspective, patriarchal values are deeply embedded in culture and affect the
way that women, as well as men, see themselves
-male supremacy is maintained through the dominant values, ideas, and practices of society, which
encourage women to be dependent upon and subservient to men and also, according to radical
feminists, by the use of force in the form of violence against women, including threat of rape, to keep
women under control and subordinate
-radical feminism views the oppression of women as the oldest, most pervasive, and most deeply
entrenched form of oppression
-Robin Morgan (a leading feminist writer) argued that “sexism is the root oppression, the one which,
until and unless we uproot it, will continue to put fort the branches of racism, class hatred, ageism,
competition, ecological disaster, and economic exploitation” (1977)
-the implication is that the struggle of women against oppression is fundamentally revolutionary
because it has the potential to end various forms of domination and subordination
Liberation
-the goal of radical feminism is liberation
-liberation involves freeing the human potential that has been stifled by the organization and values of
society
-oppression warps the personality of the oppressed, particularly by forcing them to adopt the values of
the oppressor
-in other words, radical feminists argue that the way society defines what it is to be female and make is
restrictive to both women and men
-patriarchal values not only are oppressive to women but men as well as it can force men to adopt
socially defined masculine values and behaviours rather than develop a fully rounded character
-for radical feminists, liberation will ultimately be the for the good of all
-liberation is not simply a matter of ending male domination of positions of governing authority or of
limiting the power of the state over women, rather radical feminism seeks a fundamental
transformation of social institutions, values, and personal relationships
-many radical feminists view male dominance in the family as the root of male social, political, and
economic domination
-many radical feminists argue that women must organize separately from men in order to free
themselves from oppression
-the prevalence of male power and values make it necessary for women as an oppressed class to
organize themselves collectively as women and more so because those who are oppressed and have
internalized the values of male-dominated society, radical feminists argue that a key task is to raise

Document Summary

Feminism is often thought of in the terms of achieving equality for women. This involves not only establishing equal rights and opportunities for women and eliminating discriminatory practices, but also challenging the traditional views about women that have often had the effects of confining women to domestic life and restricting freedom. Many feminists argue that political decisions should give greater emphasis to the different experiences and values of women instead of being based primarily on male values. According to feminists, all societies are, to varying extents, characterized by patriarchy. Changing the patriarchal nature of society is a basic goal of feminism. Some argue that women needed to be protected from the harsh realities of politics, while others viewed women as too prone to emotion more so than reason. Aristotle even asserted that the male, unless constituted in some respect contrary to nature, is by nature more adept in leading than the female .