Feminism: Core Ideas

Feminism: Core Ideas

Core Ideas of Feminism

  • Feminism is a socio-political movement aiming for equal rights for women in all aspects of life.

  • It highlights the existence of patriarchy, a system in which males hold primary power, primarily in roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control over property.

  • Feminists advocate for the equal treatment of genders in both public and private life, challenging socio-cultural norms, and laws against women’s rights.

  • Feminism is about gender equality rather than singling out women’s rights, as it also addresses toxic masculinity and advocates for men’s rights to express emotion.

Key Concept: The Personal is Political

  • The phrase ‘the personal is political’ is a core feminist principle meaning that personal problems are political problems, as they are often a result of societal structures.

  • This idea is used to challenge the distinction between private (domestic) and public (political) spheres, stating that many so called ‘private’ issues have wide political implications.

Key Concept: Intersectionality

  • The term ‘intersectionality’ was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw. It describes how oppressive institutions are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.

  • Intersectional feminism emphasizes that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity, acknowledging that class, race, age, sexuality, etc., impact a woman’s experience of discrimination.

Key Concept: Sex versus Gender

  • According to feminism, ‘sex’ refers to the biological and physiological differences between males and females, such as reproductive system, and secondary sexual characteristics.

  • Gender’, on the other hand, refers to the roles, behaviours, activities, and expectations that a society considers suitable for men and women.

  • Feminists argue that gender is a social construct, meaning it is not inherently linked to one’s physical anatomy.

Key Concept: Patriarchy

  • Patriarchy’ is a term in feminism that refers to a social system that is male-centred, male-identified, and male-dominated.

  • Feminists argue that patriarchy is a socially constructed system that can, and should, be dismantled for achieving gender equality.

Liberal, Radical and Socialist Feminism

  • Liberal feminism seeks equality through political and legal reform. It views women’s exclusion from equal treatment as the main obstacle to gender equality.

  • Radical feminism focuses on the theory of patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into complex relationships based on the assertion that male supremacy oppresses women.

  • Socialist feminism focuses on sharing public resources equally, such as opportunities for jobs and wages, asserting that the personal is political.

Remember, within these classifications, there are many schools of thought and disagreement among feminists themselves about what equality would look like and how it should be achieved.