There are various feminist critiques of the welfare state. They all exist to examine and develop their critiques on the individual welfare services ¡V health, housing, education, social security and the personal services. The aim of this paper is to examine the various feminist critiques and thus to decide which perspectives are effective in analyzing the gender inequality in Hong Kong.
This paper is divided into three parts. The first part will discuss the different theoretical and strategic positions within feminism ¡V Libertarian Feminism; Liberal Feminism; Welfare Feminism; Radical Feminism; Socialist Feminism and Black Feminism. The second part will try to look at the situation of gender inequality in Hong Kong. At last, this paper will try to make a conclusion on which perspectives of feminism are effective in analyzing the gender inequality in Hong Kong.
FEMINIST CRITIQUES OF THE WELFARE STATE
According to article ¡§Feminist Critique of the Welfare State¡¨ wrote by Fiona William, there are six dominant perspectives, which were raised by the feminist critique, posing criticism on the existing approaches to welfare within the discipline of social policy. All these feminist critiques of the welfare state are focusing on some areas known as ¡§reproduction¡¨ or ¡§social reproduction¡¨. These significant feminist critiques are: Libertarian Feminism; Liberal Feminism; Welfare Feminism; Radical Feminism; Socialist Feminism and Black Feminism. They share the idea of why it must be the responsibilities of women to play a major role in social reproduction; or should it be changed to other status. In order to have a clear picture on the thesis of the perspectives of feminist critiques held, in the following paragraphs, this paper tries to define the views from different feminist critiques.
Libertarian Feminism is considered as the offshoot of neo-liberalism. It emphasises on achieving individual liberty through the freedom of the market rather than through laws for equality and social justice. The descendants think that the partly state intervention is the cause of women¡¦s oppression which prevents women from achieving liberty. They think that the protective employment legislation is the causes of the employers not to hire women employees. Besides, some benefits like child benefit, or rights to custody, which reinforce a particular domestic role for women. They think these institutional discriminations can be removed only by fostering greater competition where firms would be forced to hire according to abilities.
Basically, libertarian feminists retain the individualism of neo-liberalism proposed. They are generally regarded as the mixing of some supporters reject the biological determinism and deny the significance of women¡¦s biology; and some of them see the women¡¦s biology as a fundamental role in women¡¦s lives. However, they share the belief in individualism and neo-liberalism. They do not acknowledge the impact of structural forces ¡V the family, the labour market, class and other divisions ¡V on women¡¦s lives. They think women should have the right to determine their roles as mothers and homemakers.
Liberal feminism has been developed in 18th century. They oppose the rising of bourgeoisie to feudalism. They think that women¡¦s oppression is caused by the sex-discrimiation and sex-biased laws. They advocate social status should be determined by individual ability and skill, and these could be measured through competition in the market place. Hence, women should be granted equal rights with men since they have equal power to men. They believe that society¡¦s treatment of women violates their rights to liberty, equality and justice, and in addition creates a waste of women¡¦s skills and abilities. Hence, they launch various campaigns for seeking the right to vote, to equal education and equal employment.