Feminist Theory

Topics: Feminism, Gender, Sociology Pages: 9 (2762 words) Published: June 4, 2005

Since the beginning of time women have been considered inferior to men, which seem to proceed to affect everyday lives of all social beings in this world. Women have a disease, a disease that will prevent them for ever having the political drive to achieve political, social or economic opportunities men have. This "disease" is the need for independency and self-respect or the lack there of. This is what we have come to know as feminism. Feminism refers to the body of thought on the cause and nature of women's disadvantaged and subordinate position in society, and efforts to minimize and eliminate the subordination (Hughes, 2002:160). Understanding that the need for independency and self-respect is not a real disease, it is just a metaphor for how women go about trying to achieve them. "For nearly one hundred and fifty years, women have fought for equality and been oppressed by men, and no matter what they do, they will never be considered equals" (Hughes, 2002:161). Feminism focuses on the relations between genders and how both male and female become classified as distinct groups rather than a team united as one.

The preceding was what feminists and historians want us believe, however, this is not always the case and quite possibly, it has never been the case. For some reason feminism became an international phenomenon. The feminist theory is fairly comparable to this explanation and determinedly claims that the basic structure of society is patriarchal, or male-dominated. The purpose of this paper is to prove that society has changed for women, but women have not changed for society. Women of today have not fought for anything, but they have simply protested their demands and expected society to cater them. This will continue to be true for as long as society takes sympathy upon women and their "needs."

Historical Development of Feminist Theory
Both Third World leaders and Western development specialists assumed that Western development policies would position fragile Third World economics for a "take-off." Few questioned whether this prosperity would extend equally to all classes, races, and gender groups. Ester Boserup's (1970) Women's Role in Economic Development investigated the impact of development projects on Third World women. Boserup discovered that most of these projects ignored women and that many technologically sophisticated projects undermined women's economic opportunities and autonomy (1970:4). Training in new technologies was usually offered to men, which meant that most "modern" projects improved male opportunities and technology and employment. Boserup's study seriously challenged the argument that benefits from development projects would automatically "trickle-down" to women and other disadvantaged groups in Third World nations (1970:8). Women involved with development issues in the United States lobbied to bring this evidence to the attention of policymakers. These women challenged the assumption that modernization would automatically increase gender equality.

The first formal dating of feminism began in the 1630s, for example Abigail Adams' famous "Remember the Ladies" letter to her husband has been referred to in numerous histories of women's rights in America (Rossi, 1973). The high points of feminist activity and writing occurred in the liberationist moments of modern Western history. According to Sheila Rowbotham, "feminism came, like socialism, out of the tangled, confused response of men and women to capitalism"(Kandal, 1998). In the 1780s and the 1790s, there were debates surrounding the American and French Revolution. The problems surrounding the American and French Revolution causes chaos and disorder to spread rapidly through society, especially in France. As a result, women were subjected to a double oppression, at home as well as in the workplace (Kandal, 1998). The chaos and disorder gave women the initiative to fight for their...

References: 2. Boserup, E. 1970. Women 's role in economic development. Allen & Unwin, London, UK.
3. Chafetz, Janet Saltzman, and Anthony Gary Dworkin, 1986. Female revolt: Women 's movements in world and historical perspective. New York: Rowman & Allanheld.
4. Donovan, Josephine. Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions of American Feminism. Third edition. New York: Continuum, 2000. (Second edition. New York: Continuum, 1992, First edition. New York: Ungar, 1985.
6. Jaggar, John and Rothenberg, E.A. Women and the Rise of the Novel. New York: St.Martin 's 1999; paperback, 2000.
7. Kandal P. Women and the Rise of the Novel, 1405-1726. New York: St. Martin 's Press, 1998.
8. Kemp C. and Sqries. Jeffrey. Theory That Matters. New York & London: Roulege, 1997.
9. Eagleton M. A Concise Companion to Feminist Theory. New York: Blackwell, 2003.
10. Ritzer, George. 2000. Classical Sociological Theory. Third edition Boston: McGraw Hill.
11. Rossi, Alexander. 1973. Capitalism and Modern Social Theory. London Cambridge University Press.
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