Psychoanalytic and Gender Feminism
SO FAR EACH OF THE SCHOOLS OF FEMINIST THOUGHT I have described has provided explanations and solutions for women's oppression that are rooted either in society's political and economic structures or in human beings' sexual and reproductive relationships, roles, and practices. Liberal feminists claimed changes in society's political structures, particularly in its laws, could eliminate or at least reduce gender inequity by ensuring women are provided with the same educational and occupational opportunities men are provided. Radical feminists--be they radical-libertarian or radical-cultural in emphasis--instead insisted we need to examine men's and women's sexual and reproductive rights and responsibilities in order to understand fully the persistence of the systems that foster male domination and female subordination. Radical-libertarian feminists claimed that women need to be liberated not only from the burdens of natural reproduction and biological motherhood but also from the restrictions of the so-called sexual double standard that permits men but not women to experiment sexually. Radical-cultural feminists disagreed. They claimed that the source of women's power is rooted in women's unique reproductive role. All children are born of women; without women no children would be born. Radical-cultural feminists also stressed that male sexual behavior is not worthy of women's emulation, since men frequently use sex as an instrument of control and domination rather than of love and bonding. Finally, Marxist and socialist feminists hypothesized that unless capitalist economic structures are destroyed, people will continue to be divided into two oppositional classes--the haves and the have-nots--and because of the ways in which capitalism and patriarchy reinforce each other, more women than men will find themselves within the ranks of the have-nots.