What is "feminism"? Lorber tackles this question, showing that feminism is much more intellectual than mainstream media would portray. As she says, "popular books criticizing feminism and women's studies have jumbled and caricatured complex ideas and portrayed feminists as man-hating, puritanical women's libbers. Feminist activism has been coopted to sell Nikes" (p. ix). She shows that there are many feminisms. Most people aren't purists. Instead, they borrow ideas from many.
There are 3 major categories, with subcategories. See where you fit-- and I'm sure you fit somewhere!
1) Gender reform feminism-- argues that women should be valued
as much as men and should be free to live their lives according to their
human potential. They want equal participation of women and men in all
walks of life.
Note: they use the male standard as the goal-- androcentric. Also have been criticized for taking the existing structure for granted and wanting to work within the structure for women?s gain. Are pleased when some women succeed even if significant barriers remain for other women.
A) Liberal feminism: gender differences are not biological-- they are
learned. Men and women?s commonalities should be stressed rather than differences.
Want equal opportunities for men and women.
Key concepts: socialization; gendered job queues (sex segregation at work); tokenism; gatekeeping; glass ceiling..
Key authors: Moss Kanter; Fuchs Epstein
Key criticism: propose a genderless society-- not possible or even desirable for most people.
B) Marxist/socialist feminism: economic structure is the root of all
gender inequality. Competition for jobs. Housewives benefit the capitalists
because they free up time for men to work for paid employment. Also-- the
housewife helps reproduce the next generation of workers. She is also part
of the reserve army of workers. Thus, need to abolish the gendered division
of labor at home in order to change the work structure.
Key concepts: dual systems theory (patriarchy is related to capitalism); family wage, comparable worth
Key authors: Hartmann; Feldberg
Key criticism: reduces gender inequality to the economy. Also forgets that patriarchy preceded capitalism in time.
C) Development feminism: looks at the global economy-- shows that people
doing the low wage, dirty task work are women. Looks at the colonialization
process and its effects on women and the family. Want women to have control
over their own finances. Look at the mode of production and kinship rules.
Key concepts: none specific. The borrow colonialization, global economy
Key authors: Bose, Kandiyoti
Key criticism: uses western ideals to evaluate other cultures.
2) Gender resistance feminism: claim that the gender order cannot be made gender neutral because male dominance is too strong. Are concerned with patriarchal gender structure and gender ideology. Some are considered "cultural feminists" who are concerned with countering the negative images of women with valorizations for their nurturance, emotional supportiveness, and mothering. Rossi, for example.
Note: some criticism includes the idea that patriarchy is too broad of a concept to explain anything. If male dominance is universal, then it doesn't explain anything. Also, cultural feminists are criticized for reifying essentialism and difference.
A) Radical--looks mostly at rape and violence perpetrated by men against
women. Sees men as trained to be violent. Heterosexual relationships are
the loci of such violence.
Key concepts: sex object, sexual harassment ; date rape/ marital rape; eco-feminism
Key authors: MacKinnon, Bart; Ruddick;
Key critique: essentialist (reduces gender to biology by seeing men as inherently violent); leaves out diversity among women and men
B) Lesbian-- takes radical to its conclusion-- get away from men. Claim
that all women are inherently lesbian, but their female-centeredness is
distorted by their relationships to men.
Key concepts: separatism
Key authors: Faderman; Rust
Critique: essentialist (reduces sexuality and gender to biology); not all lesbians are alike
C) Psychoanalytic-- Borrows from Freud to argue that men and women learn
their sex roles by emulating their parents' gender roles. Because women
nurture and men are out of the home working, boys and girls both bond with
mommy. Eventually, the kids start to notice that they are different sexes
and they start to emulate the same-sexed parent. Boys reject all things
feminine (including nurturing) ir order to be like daddy; girls have more
lee way in terms of roles, but tend to follow mommy. Implication is that
men can't nurture because they are taught to suppress all things fem in
themselves-- thereby reproducing difference intergenerationally
Key terms: oedipus complex; electra complex
Key Authors: Cixious, Chodorow
Critique: class biased-- very bourgeois, ignores diversity among cultures-- Western bias (assumes misogyny).
D) Standpoint-- need to gather data from standpoint of women. Need to
incorporate feminist perspective into research process. Can't just treat
gender as a variable
Key concepts: ways of knowing; location of the knower, hegemony/power of researcher
Authors: Hartsock; Haraway; Smith
Criticism: should broaden their focus beyond women
3) Gender rebellion feminism: attack the gender order by undermining
the boundaries between men and women, male and female, heterosexual and
homosexual. Look at complex systems of inequality whereby women may oppress
women and men oppress men. Includes race and class analysis. Looks at identity
Note: criticism is that they are too deconstructionist. They create (and recreate) too many categories to be meaningful.
A) Multiracial feminism: looks at intersectionality of race, class and
gender to look at ways oppression varies.
Key concepts: matrix of domination; intersectionality
Key authors: Baca Zinn, Thonrton Dill, Hill Collins, Higgenbotham
Key critique: hard to separate the root of oppression: race, class or gender.
B) Men's feminism: recognizes diversity among men. Argues that to understand
oppression, one must understand the oppressor, and the complexities therein.
Not all men are equally powerful, and men oppress each other too. This
perspective shows that you can be feminist and focus on men-- because they're
still concerned about the effects of gender inequality. They're just looking
different places for answers.
Key concepts: hegemonic masculinity
Key authors: Connell, Kimmel, Messner, Messerschmidt, Schwalbe, Price, Brod
Critique-- nothing new. An amalgam of others. Receives praise only because men are being critical of themselves.
C) Social construction: looks at how gender as a structure is a process
too. Gender inequality must be constructed and maintained. Says men and
women are marked as different only so that we can rank them.
Key concepts: doing gender
key authors: West and Zimmerman, Laqueur
critique: following their advice causes practical problems for juggling work and home. Too much emphasis on structure and not enough on people
D) Postmodern and Queer: challenge the categories themselves-- most
radical. Says that power can be shown through discourses-- read texts to
find cultural representations that distort and create inequality. Queer
theory sees gender/sexuality as performances. Want us to get beyond the
Key concepts: deconstruct; discourses, texts,
Key authors: Sedgewick, Flax.
Key criticism: too much emphasis on individuals and not enough on structure.