Feminism and Politics

Feminism and Politics

Feminism and Politics

Feminism and Politics

Synopsis

Series Blurb: Oxford Readings in Feminism provide accessible, one-volume guides to the very best in contemporary feminist thinking, assessing its impact and importance in key areas of study. Collected together by scholars of outstanding reputation in their field, the articles chosen represent the most important work on feminist issues, and concise, lively introductions to each volume crystallize the main line of debate in the field. Is there too much gender in politics, too much stereotyping of female and male? Or is there too little gender, too little attention to differences between women and men? Should feminists be challenging male dominance by opening up politics to women? Or is 'women' a fictitious entity that fails to address differences by class or race? Is equality best served by denying differences between the sexes? Or best promoted by stressing the special needs of women? The essays in Feminism and RPolitics answer these questions in a variety of ways, but all see feminism as transforming the way we think about and act in politics. Spanning issues of citizenship and political representation, the ambiguities of identity politics, and the problems in legislating for sexual equality, the readings provide an exciting overview of recent developments. This outstanding collection will be essential reading for any feminist who has doubted the importance of political studies, and any student of politics who has doubted the relevance of feminism.

Excerpt

Feminism is politics. Yet, judging from its impact on either theory or practice, feminism has been less successful in challenging 'malestream' politics than in the near-revolution it has achieved elsewhere. We are living through a time of major transformation in sexual relations: transformations that can be measured in the global feminization of the workforce, the rapid equalization between the sexes (at least in the richer countries) in educational participation and qualifications, and a marked increase in women's self- confidence and self-esteem that is probably the most lasting legacy of the contemporary women's movement. The changes cannot be attributed to feminism alone, and are often ambiguous in their effects; but even if the reshaping of gender relations is partial and deeply problematic, it would be hard not to notice this as a period of significant change. In politics, by contrast, it still seems like business as usual. Certainly, the politics portrayed to us via the daily newspapers and television accounts remains overwhelmingly masculine in personnel and style; while in some parts of the world, women face direct attacks on recently achieved civil rights by parties and governments resisting the implications of sexual equality.

Politics as pursued in academic departments is also surprisingly untouched, for while the literature on gender and politics or feminist political theory has grown from a few seminal articles into a rich diversity of work, 'feminism and politics' is still treated as a discrete object of study, of interest only to those inside it. Sociologists have always included the family among their objects of study. Literary critics have never been able to avoid women writers. Students of politics, by contrast, have taken this as referring to a domain of public power from which women are largely absent. In one of the early discussions of feminism and politics, Joni Lovenduski noted that 'there was never any way that the modern study of politics could fail to be sexist' for 'women usually do not dispose of public power . . .

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