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Assess the view that feminism has succeeded in its aims - Essay Example

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Cultural Feminism: Has it Helped or Hurt? Definition of Feminism – Cultural Feminism In this essay, the focus will be on cultural feminism. According to Turnier et al. (1996), cultural feminism is based upon the work of Professor Carol Gilligan, who was an educational psychologist at Harvard…
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Download file to see previous pages Gilligan further stated that there were female and male moral hierarchies, and that the female moral hierarchy should be equal to the male moral hierarchy. Therefore, Gilligan proposed that females and males should be approached and studied differently, and that women might have different moral hierarchies, but that these hierarchies are not inferior to males, just different. Gilligan further found that men and women are different, in that women value care over rights, and men value rights over care. She further went on to note other cultural differences, such as that males define themselves by separation from others, and females define themselves by identifying with others. Further, cultural feminists understand that our rights and ethos are male centric, and believe that society should listen to the women's voice as much as the man's voice (Turnier et al., 1996). Ending Stereotypes of Women Since cultural feminism is concerned with the differences between men and women, and that, because we lived in a man's world, the man is the one who defines society, stereotyping of women based upon a male's perception of the female ideal is one problem that cultural feminists fight to overcome. One of the ways that women are stereotyped is through the use of ideal body images, which are the ideals that women feel that they have to achieve, in order to be seen as being acceptable to society. The ideal is represented by Playboy models and pageant winners, which are, by and large, difficult if not impossible to attain for the average woman (Calabrese et al., 2011). Our society is inundated by this beauty ideal both through the regular media and through advertising. Advertising, according to Dyer (1989), features the feminine beauty ideal because advertising essentially markets a fantasy, in this case, a male fantasy. The objects that are to be sold are made more valuable in the eyes of society by being associated with these ideal images. Therefore, the feminine ideal of the Barbie or Playboy figure – slim waisted and large breasted – becomes the standard by which women are judged in our advertisements, and is responsible for perpetuating the stereotype that women must uphold these ideals (Dyer, 1989).             The reason why the feminine ideal is that of the slim waisted and large breasted Barbie doll or Playboy centerfold is because this is the supposed ideal of the male, and, as de Beauvoir (1973) notes, femininity is defined by the patriarchy in society. That said, as Lorber (1993) notes, the standards of beauty, as defined by men, are ever-changing in society. While the ideal might be the Barbie figure today, and it was in the 1950s as well, as shown by the popularity of Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Jane Russell, the ideal in the 1990s was the emaciated look. This look, according to Lorber (1993) was small-breasted, slim hipped, and emaciated. This ideal was something that the women starved themselves for during this period of time (Lorber, 1993). What controls what is popular, as far as body types go, is patriarchy, society and culture (Lorber, 1993). The problem with these images, aside from how they make women feel, is that women become essentially the object of the male sexual gratification and desire, and makes women believe that their appearance is associated with their worth. This leads to a kind of destructive stereotype, that women are supposed to meet the stereotyped ideal, and, if they do not, they fall ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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