Free Essay About Beliefs And Arguments On Gender Of Feminist Movements
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Feminism, Gender Equality, Women's Rights, Gender, Belief, Women, Sociology, Movement
Gender, power, sex, and privilege all suggest the convergence upon the body-politic of women. Yet, gender as a social construction renders various attributes of so-called feminine, and masculine traits of behaviors – and perceptions – in society. While it is true that gender ideology ranges from Radical Feminism to Liberal Feminism along the scale, the focus herein serves to illustrate the scope of beliefs held about gender by members of the movement. Particularly today, there is such a wide spectrum of feminism which even includes a sector focused upon “eco” feminism. The best place to start the conversation requires an overview, in light of an historical understanding of feminist movements.
According to one observer, the socio-cultural and political movements of feminist theory have their roots in three distinct wave patterns. However, the gender philosophy of feminist movement generally hold the beliefs and arguments that ascribe the establishment of “equal rights and legal protection for women” (“History and Theory of Feminism”). The feminist story seeks to accomplish these basically held principles of ‘equal rights’ in every sphere of human life and activity, from politics to economics. For example, the feminist movement would embrace the notion that women should receive equal pay for equal work, and not have their salaries lowered simply because they are females. Returning to the idea of the three distinct waves of patterns in the feminist movements over time, some of the elements in how the beliefs manifest over decades may be useful.
Obviously, the women’s suffragette movement focused upon equality in the voting arena for women. The idea and belief drove demands in pushing for the rights to vote, thereby influencing outcomes in the world of American politics. So the first wave of feminism extended between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, wherein the argument was in “opposition to chattel marriage and ownership of married women” because of its demeaning and belittling impact (“History and Theory of Feminism”). Finally, as a result of these ideas being forced into the public debate, in 1918 legislation passed to grant women access to the ability to vote. The law was called the ‘Representation of the People Act’ which came into being under the auspices, and able leadership of Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and others.
The second wave of feminism movement still hung on to the ideas and beliefs of equality for women. Its form emerged in the 1960s, when it seems everybody was demanding equal rights and freedom of expression. The basic idea during this time period, and second wave of feminist thought movements, held the beliefs and arguments that discrimination towards women was patently unethical. Burning of bras in public domains became a physical act of visible protest. According to Stanford University’s Encyclopedia, women’s movement members also understood the word ‘woman’ as a different connotation, separate from “a sex term,” but more geared towards a comprehension of how “gender” works in social and cultural settings (“Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender”). The distinction of the ‘gender’ terminology helped to drive along the beliefs and arguments of the feminist movements.
What did the term ‘gender’ do to evoke some of their arguments and beliefs? For one thing, it allowed the creation for a general rubric for discussion and helped to carve out the academic field and discipline so associated with Gender Studies today. During the second wave of the feminist movements, the term ‘gender’ began to flesh-out deeper significance and meanings that were not exclusively identified with sex. For example, the idea of gender came to serve as a channel for theory to posit feminist beliefs and ideas that social reform would save women from oppression. In other words, a clearer identification of how ‘gender’ functioned in society emerged. This helped feminist movements to express their beliefs that expectations in behaviors, and sexualized images of body-parts were unacceptable and artificially projected norms (“Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender”). Core arguments delineated by the beliefs held by feminist movements centered upon ‘gender’ as a socially constructed process of socialization.
This basic beliefs of members of the feminist movement opposed the implications of such falsified social constructions, and felt that they wrongfully (or wrongly) dictated all aspects of their lives. For example, according to one academic source, these social constructions of gender taught and reinforced “women’s subordination” in every area of life, so that they learned how to be mindlessly obedient in their social roles – thereby learning to be: “passive, ignorant, docile, emotional helpmeets for men” (“Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender”). The highly acclaimed filmmaker and globally-recognized speaker on the topic of women’s skewed images in advertising, Jean Kilbourne, is perhaps the best worthwhile mention to usher the discussion into how feminist beliefs roll forward into its third wave. Well-known for her stunningly important work in the video series Killing Us Softly, participates in the backlash that addresses the failures of the first and second waves of the feminist movements. The third wave tended to be viewed as more aggressive, perhaps by some, due to the how some of its leaders were perceived – such as radically outspoken Bell Hooks, or the writer Maxine Hong Kingston. This era blamed gender roles, once again and according to the basic belief-system of feminist movements, on social conditioning (“History and Theory of Feminism”). As the arguments on gender of feminist movement eased into other areas, like psychology, the same basic beliefs found different avenues of expression.
Just at the time when Black feminists were finding their voices, in leaders such as Audre Lorde, Kilbourne was exposing some of the most radically outrageous psychological implications that visually and dramatically portrayed feminist movement arguments. In “Killing Us Softly 4” Kilbourne’s film is described as “a fresh look at American advertising,” but “the more things have changed, the more they’ve stayed the same” (“Killing Us Softly4”). The idea fully embraces the inequalities belief system that has driven all feminist movements. While Kilbourne approaches her specified area in evaluating how media images of women are superficial, unequal, and problematic in encouraging eating disorder behaviors, and gender violence, others focus on other elements. For example, social feminist movements embrace a “structural analysis” that has its basis in economics (“Social Feminism”). They may focus upon individual rights or advance theoretical ideologies in their analysis.
Underlying the basic beliefs of assumed roles and demeanors all fits under the descriptive pattern of what ‘gender’ means, in the first place. All feminist movements embraced that idea that a subordinated inequality was at work on all levels and spheres: social, political, economic, psychological, and even racial. The reasoning and logic for framing gender in the way so described solidifies the beliefs in a way that can concretely be observed, studied, and measured. Social feminism, Economic feminism, Black feminism, all possess the same basic argument. In Jean Kilbourne’s expose, she uncovers “frighteningly thin women in positions of passivity,” while Diane Levin’s book discusses the early sexualizing of modern children (“Killing Us Softly 4”). The beliefs and arguments of radically imbalanced treatment, and expectations of women as presented by feminist movements, pointed out many areas of discrepancies showing inequalities.
“Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender.” Plato.stanford.edu. Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy, 2015. Web. 27 Feb. 2015.
“History and Theory of Feminism.” Gender.cawater-info.net. Gender Cawater, n.d. Web.
27 Feb. 2015.
“Killing Us Softly 4 – Advertising’s Image of Women.” Mediated.org. Media Education
Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2015.
Levin, Diane E. “So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do
“Socialist Feminism: A Strategy for the Women’s Movement.” Hisw.org. History Is a Weapon,