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Feminist Theories Notes A2

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Feminist Theories
Liberal / Reformist Feminism * Concerned with civil rights and freedom of individuals * They believe that all human beings should have equal rights * Reformism is the progress towards equal rights and freedoms through gradual reforms * They feel that laws against sex discrimination will lead towards a rise in equal rights * Also they feel that changes in culture will help equality, e.g. stereotypes being abolished
Sex and Gender * Like Ann Oakley liberal feminists find a difference between sex and gender; * Sex refers to biological differences * Gender refers to culturally constructed differences between masculine and feminine roles * While sex differences are fixed, gender is different for different cultures, this is the part Liberal feminists want to change * Want to promote equality in education and the media * Take political action to introduce anti-discriminatory laws * Liberal feminist criticise the Funtionalist views of Parsons, regarding the Instrumental and Expressive roles * They feel that men and women are equally capable of performing either role, however society is constructed to tell us which role to adhere to * Liberal feminists do have a consensus view on society – they accept that there are conflicts between men and women but argue that it’s a product of outdated attitudes
Evaluation of liberal feminism * Experiments conducted by liberal feminists have produced evidence legitimising gender inequality in work (equal pay), the media etc. * They have also shown, through their work, that gender differences aren’t ingrained into young children, they’re as a result of socialisation patterns * Liberal feminists are criticised for over optimism – ‘March of Progress’ * Sylvia Walby argues that they offer no explanation for the overall structure of gender inequality...

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