Define Feminism and explain different school of thoughts within feminist theory?

(1) Introduction

Feminism is a structuralism theory: it looks at the ways in which society is structured. It argues that men hold power while women are not allowed to share power in the society. It criticize that women suffer from social inequalities and such inequalities are gender based.

(2) Definition

(i) Belief

Feminism is a belief that women must have equal rights and opportunities to men in the society.”

(ii) Collection Of Movements & Ideologies

Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies to define, establish and defend equal political, economic and social rights for women and to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.

(3) Explanation

Feminism can be explained in the following words:

  • (i) History of feminism
  • (ii) Is an understanding of concepts of feminism necessary for people, who are working in field of law?

(i) History Of Feminism

  • (a) First wave feminism
  • (b) Second wave feminism
  • (c) Third wave feminism

(a) First Wave Feminism

First wave feminism started during the 19th century and ended with early twentieth century:

  • (a-i) Key points
  • (a-ii) Goal

(a-i) Key Points

The key points of first wave feminism were education, employment, marriage laws and unfortunate situation of middle-class unmarried women.

(a-ii) Goal

The goal of first wave feminism was to improve the legal position for women so that women could get right to vote.

(b) Second Wave Feminism

Second wave feminism happened during 1960 to 1980:

  • (b-i) Key points
  • (b-ii) Goal

(b-i) Key Points

Followings were key points of second wave feminism:

  • (x) Inequality of law
  • (y) Inferior treatment

(x)  Inequality Of Law

Women were facing inequality of law.

(y) Inferior Treatment

Some legal rights were though available to women, yet they were treated as inferior.

(b-ii) Goal

The goal of second wave feminism was that women must be equal to men in all respects.

Third Wave Feminism

Third wave feminism started from 1991:

  • (c-i) Key points
  • (c-ii) Goal
  • (c-iii) Is Feminism still in its third wave or not?

(c-i) Key Points

Followings were key points of third wave feminism:

(x) Continuation & response

(y) Sexism, racism, social class inequality & hormophobia

(x) Continuation & Response

“Third wave feminism was continuation and response to the failure of the second wave feminism.

(y) Sexism, Racism, Social Class Inequality & Homophobis

Third wave feminism launched a struggle to address the problems that emerged from sexism, racism, social class inequality and homophobia.

(c-ii) Goal

The goal of third wave feminism was to establish favourable situation where woman could decide to live her life.

(c-iii) Is Feminism Still In Its Third Wave Or Not?

Some people think that feminism is still in its third wave.. But others think that feminism has been passing through its fourth wave after 2012. The people, who support fourth wave feminism, are critics of white feminism: white feminism ignores the unique struggle of women of colour and exposes how non-white women have been and are suppressed.

(ii) Is an Understanding of Concepts of Feminism Necessary for People, Who are Working in Field of Law?

The feminists argue that law has been fundamental in women’s historical and continuous subordination. This argument is the basis of feminist jurisprudence. The feminist jurisprudence tries to transform rules and principles of particular kinds of law so as to make them more effective to the women’s needs. For it is considered that an understanding of concepts of feminism is necessary for the people, who are working in the field of law:

  • (a) Feminist jurisprudence
  • (b) Partiality of law
  • (c) Schools or forms or types of feminism

(a) Feminist Jurisprudence

Feminist jurisprudence is also known as feminist legal theory. It means a philosophy of law that is based on political economic and social equality of sexes

(b) Partiality Of Law

Feminists believe that law is not neutral or impartial because it either causes or does not stop inferior treatment to women: it systematically maintains and legitimates male domination in the society by putting power into male hands and by converting mainstream into malestream.

(c) Schools Or Forms Or Types Of Feminism

Followings are major schools or forms of feminism:

  • (c-i) Liberal feminism
  • (c-ii) Radical Feminism:
  • (c-iii) Marxist feminism
  • (c-iv) Difference or cultural feminism)
  • (c-v) Postmodern feminism

(c-i) Liberal Feminism

Liberal feminism asserts that women are similar to men in their ability to work in public world:

  • (x) Challenge
  • (y) Demand

(x) Challenge

It challenges male authority and superiority in the society.

(y) Demand

It demands individualistic equality of men and women through political and legal reform without altering the structure of society.

(c-ii) Radical Feminism

Radical feminism believes that existing political and social organization is tied by male domination. Therefore, it opposes this organization:

  • (x) Challenge
  • (y) Demand

(x) Challenge

It challenges physical, psychological and ideological control of men over women.

(y) Demand

It demands reconstruction of society to solve this male control.

(c-iii) Marxist Feminism

Marxist feminism suggests that capitalism is the main cause of women’s oppression, and that capitalist ideologies are responsible for discrimination against women in domestic life and employment.

(e-iv) Difference Or Cultural Feminism

Difference or cultural feminism focuses on women’s physical and physiological differences from men:

  • (x) Challenge
  • (y) Demands

(x) Challenge

It challenges male domination in the society.

(y) Demands

Followings are its demands

  • (y-i) Women values
  • (y-ii) Special rights for women
  • (y-iii) Separate laws

(y-i) Women Values

It demands that women’s values must be included in law.

(y-ii) Special Rights For Women

It demands that law must recognize some special rights for women so that they can participate in public world on equal basis.

(y-iii) Separate Laws

Some cultural feminists even demand that there must be. Separate laws for men and women.

(c-v) Postmodern Feminism

Recognition of difference of sexuality, age and race is the central point of postmodern feminism. It demands to deconstruct male language and masculine view of the world.

(4) Conclusion

It can be finally stated that feminism is correct to some extent: it is need of time that there must be less gender discrimination and there must also be better political, economic and social treatment of women. However, the feminists must realize that men and women are born with different characteristics. Therefore, it is not always possible for society to grant equal status and power to the women.

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