Feminism is a very debatable topic in today’s society and has been growing greatly ever since the World War II. In general, feminism refers to a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, defending and protecting equal political, economic, social rights and equal opportunities for all women. Some of this rights include legal protection, inclusion in politics, business, scholarship, recognition and building of women’s cultures and power. According to Heywood (2012), feminism is argumentative because it faces traditions in many areas especially for supporting the political balance shift towards women. Feminism therefore, focuses on the distinctions society holds between genders and in particular on the discrimination of women in society. The feminist history is divided into three time periods or waves called the three waves of feminism. Each wave differs from the aims based on the progress. However, in this writing, the main focus will be on the types of feminism such as the radical feminism, liberal feminism, social feminism, eco-feminism and its criticisms.
According to Ritzer (2011), feminist argue that women are oppressed by patriarchy economically, politically, socially, and psychologically. They are marginalized, ridiculed, disempowered, abused, exploited, disrespected, and objectified by the patriarchal society. Moreover, in most societies their civilizations are deeply rooted in patriarchy. The gender issues play a vital part in every aspect of the human experiences. Hence, their goals are to demonstrate the importance of women, to reveal that historically women have been subordinate to men and to bring about gender equity.
Women for many years were considered to be the secondary figure. People had this traditional thought that women’s essence was determined through a series of negative characteristics. They were seen imperfect and dependent creature, limited and weak, with a lower status in the society and their only purpose was to serve and be useful to men. Their subordination was also fixed in religious thoughts that women was essentially a secondary creature which was man-made from Adam’s rib. In the sphere of ethics, feminist thought, was oriented on the statement that the main subject of such ethics was the man (Heywood and Drake, 1997).
However, feminist movement has led to various changes in the world especially in western society. They have motivated the civil rights movement, helped in abolishment of gender discrimination, brought women out of the household and gave them political powers and made the workplace for everyone equal. Although today’s feminist movements receive less critique by the female population due to different feminist outlooks, there are still some issues such as the disparities in male and female pay, violence against women and other reproductive rights that women face.
There are, however, four types of feminism that had evolved in history such as liberal, radical, social and eco-feminists as mentioned above. Liberal feminism is a form of feminism that argues that equality for women can be achieved through legal means and social reforms. The existence of separate public and private sphere for social activity such that men are located in public sphere and women in private sphere is creating the difference. The liberal feminist, they feel that private sphere is not important for women as it only permits emotional directness (Ritzer, 2011). Rather they should be given the opportunity to participate in the public sphere as the true values of social life, money power, status, freedom and opportunities for growth and self-work are all found in the public sphere.
Radical feminism is a movement that believes sexism is so deeply rooted in society that the only cure is to eliminate the concept of gender completely. Radical feminists suggest changes, such as finding technology that will allow babies to be grown outside of a woman’s body, to promote more equality between men and women. This will allow women to avoid missing work for maternity leave, which radical feminists argue is one reason women aren’t promoted as quickly as men. In fact, radical feminists would argue that the entire traditional family system is sexist.
Social feminism is it takes into account all aspects of inequalities that is based on age, gender, sex, ethnicity, class and race. They basically emphasize on two ideas that are, first on women operation and class operation which is based on the concept brought from class inequalities and gender inequalities. The second one is that all forms of social operation is based not only on class but also on gender, caste, race and so on which is based on hierarchy of structure. Eco-feminism is a social and political movement which unites environmentalism and feminism. Eco-feminists believe that these connections are illustrated through traditionally “female” values such as reciprocity, nurturing and cooperation, which are present both among women and in nature.
Some people think that the feminist movement was built on exaggerations of a patriarchal society, that if any gender inequality existed at all, it has since been rectified. In fact, some people even argue that the feminist movement has already achieved its goals. They say that men and women are now on almost equal footing. They can be lawyers, CEOs, police officers, or enter into any other male dominated profession. According to Brizee and Tompkins (2010), some anti-feminists feel that not only have women achieved equal footing with men, but that women are now attempting to seek a higher status over men, also known as misandry. They point out many aspects of daily life naturally favouring women in today’s world. For instance, women have the right to abortion. Stemming from this one right, the anti-feminist movement uses the following arguments. If a woman chooses to keep the baby, the male is then required to support the child until its eighteenth birthday.
There are also arguments against affirmative action, which was originally meant to protect against discrimination in the work place and in education. However, some argue that affirmative action has made it so that the job market favours women slightly as companies are afraid to hire a man over a woman for fear of being sued. There are also other gender biases they claim in favour of women in the workplace as well. They point out that women are more often hired as teachers, day-care operators, and nurses, yet there are no cries of gender discrimination in these fields. People who insist that feminism has achieved what it set out to do point to all of these arguments as proof that women are now on a level playing field with men (Brizee and Tompkins, 2010).
Although, there had been several movements by women who fought for the gender equality, still in this contemporary era, there are controversies in many places by women in terms of related women’s issues emerging every year. However, the outlook of people was really different before because there was massive domination by men over women and patriarchy was rampant in almost all the societies. Since the era of the origin of the feminism and gradual forces of modern times, there have been ultimate justifiable changes to both the genders. Almost every country now has been provided with the policies especially in terms of women and children welfare. In addition, there also have been many quotas and reservations kept for women who actually been deprived of many rights before. Moreover, there might be more changes in the future made when it comes to the protection and welfare of women.
Brizee, A. ; Tompkins, J. C. (2010). PursueOWL: Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism. Owl.english.purdue.edu.Retrieved https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resources/722/11/
Heywood, A. (2012). Political ideologies: An introduction. Palgrave Macmillan.
Heywood, L., ; Drake, J. (Eds.). (1997). Third wave agenda: Being feminist, doing feminism. U of Minnesota Press.
Ritzer, G. (2011). Sociological Theory. McGraw-Hills publications. 8th edi. New York: NY