Feminism

Feminism

Feminism

Feminism

Synopsis

• What is the relevance of feminist thought to today's society?
• What do feminists mean by equality and difference?
• Can we find unity in feminist thought, or only conflict? Feminism provides an introduction to some of the major debates within feminist theory and action. Focusing on the perennial question of equality and difference, the book examines the ways in which this has been played out in different areas of feminist social and political theory. Jane Freedman adopts a refreshing approach by focusing on issues rather than schools of thought. Among the subjects she examines are politics and women's citizenship, paid and unpaid employment and the global economy, sexuality and power, and race and ethnicity. Finally, the book analyses the problem of essentialism for feminism and the challenge of postmodern and poststructuralist theories. Written in a jargon-free style, this book presents a clear and concise introduction to a wide range of feminist thought.

Excerpt

The title of this book should, perhaps, more properly have been Feminisms, because, as soon as you attempt to analyse all that has been spoken and written in the name of feminism, it becomes clear that this is not one unitary concept, but instead a diverse and multifaceted grouping of ideas, and indeed actions. And although many attempts have been made to answer the question 'What is feminism?' with a set of core propositions and beliefs central to all feminist theories, the task is made extremely difficult because many of the different strands of feminism seem to be not only divergent but sometimes forcefully opposed. So, perhaps we should start from the assumption that we cannot define what 'feminism' is, but only try to pick out common characteristics of all the many different 'feminisms'. Any attempt to provide a baseline definition of a common basis of all feminisms may start with the assertion that feminisms concern themselves with women's inferior position in society and with discrimination encountered by women because of their sex. Furthermore, one could argue that all feminists call for changes in the social, economic, political or cultural order, to reduce and eventually overcome this discrimination against women. Beyond these general assertions, however, it is difficult to come up with any other 'common ground' between the different strands of feminism, and as Delmar (1986) argues, one cannot assume that agreement or feminist unity underlies the extreme fragmentation of contemporary feminism. Indeed, such an assumption of underlying unity or coherence of different feminisms may have the unlooked-for effect . . .

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