Feminism and Society

Area of agreement: Society and societal attitudes have traditionally placed women in a subordinate role to men, resulting in injustices and institutionalized disadvantages. Areas of tension: - The primary tension arises between difference and equality feminists in the radical feminist movement. Equality feminists advocate for sexual equality by eliminating differences between genders, whereas difference feminists perceive men and women as biologically and psychologically distinct. - Some difference feminists promote a cultural feminism that centers around a woman-centric culture and lifestyle emphasizing female values. This may involve rediscovering their lost feminine nature or creating a new identity independent of men. - Others advocate for separatist feminism, believing that women must establish a society separate from men to fulfill their true nature, as men's inclination to dominate is inherent in their core nature.

Areas of Conflict - The primary conflict arises among radical feminists over the concepts of difference and equality. Equality feminists advocate for gender equality by eliminating differences between men and women, whereas difference feminists view men and women as distinct in terms of biology and psychology. - Some difference feminists support cultural feminism, which promotes a female-centric culture and lifestyle emphasizing female values. They seek to either rediscover lost feminine qualities or create a new female identity independent of male influence. - Others advocate for separatist feminism, arguing that women must establish a society separate from men to fulfill their true nature, as men's inherent desire to dominate necessitates this separation. 

Liberal Feminism - Wollstonecraft observed that women face discrimination because society fails to recognize their full humanity and rationality. - Friedan highlighted discrimination against women in education and the workforce, identifying the "problem that has no name" where women were expected to find fulfillment in traditional roles, leading to unhappiness and emptiness. - Addressing discrimination through legal reforms can bring about changes in societal attitudes and behaviors over time, enabling women to play a significant role in society and prompting shifts in public values and institutions to eradicate bias and discrimination. This process involves societal reform rather than revolution. - Liberal feminists focus on issues in the public sphere, while they believe the private sphere should offer personal choice and freedom without state interference, emphasizing that personal matters should remain distinct from political concerns.

The second and third waves of feminism focus on how women's subordinate position stems from discrimination and bias rooted in the patriarchal system. This oppression extends into both public and private spheres, illustrating the interconnectedness of personal and political realms. 

Radical feminists and postmodern feminists advocate for a revolution to dismantle patriarchy, while socialist feminists emphasize the need for an economic and social transformation to achieve political, legal, economic, sexual, and familial equality. According to Millett, patriarchy permeates various aspects of society, such as religion, culture, the arts, media, education, and family structures, with the patriarchal family playing a central role in perpetuating women's subjugation. De Beauvoir observed that women are socialized into gender roles to the extent that they perceive these roles as inherent, leading them to internalize their oppression by considering themselves as the "Other" in relation to the norm of man.

Socialist feminism In her analysis, Rowbotham viewed capitalism and patriarchy as interconnected systems of oppression that enforce traditional femininity onto women through male-created myths, leading to women's subordination both at home and in the workplace. Postmodern feminism bell hooks regarded patriarchy as the primary oppressive system, overshadowing others like class and race. She criticized earlier feminist movements for focusing mainly on white, middle-class women. Patriarchy conditions men to dominate and women to perceive themselves as inferior. Dismantling patriarchy will liberate women and eradicate a severe societal ailment affecting men.