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Feminism - Essay Example

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Feminism has been a subject of great debate. The definition and focus of the feminist movement has changed and evolved over time. This essay will focus on the differences between the modernist and postmodernist perspectives of feminist thought.
Early feminists wanted to be treated equal to men…
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Download file to see previous pages... It deals with the acceptance that woman is the opposite of man and is treated unfairly in this binary relationship. The modernist sought to help women get fair treatment and stand up against their opposites - the men.
The third wave of feminism, which is also referred to as the post-modern perspective, according to Wikipedia, began in the 1990s. The third wave of feminism "unlike second-wave feminism, which largely focused on the inclusion of women in traditionally male-dominated areas," it says, "seeks to challenge and expand common definitions of gender and sexuality." Jane Flax in her book 'Post-modernism and Gender Relations in Feminist Theory' states that post-modern feminism seeks to "understand and (re) constitute the self, gender, knowledge, social relations, and culture without resorting to linear, teleological, hierarchical, holistic, or binary ways of thinking and being". (Flax, 2000, p.39).
This paper aims to understand the fundamental differences between the perceptions of modernist and post modernist feminism. With references from the works of theorists like Judith Butler and Jane Flax, this paper will argue whether the post modernist perspective, which raises fundamental questions over traditional classification of biological sex into 'men' and 'women', challenges the very nature of modernist feminism and its significance. The arguments presented here will be illustrated using articles like Lisa Soccio's essay titled, "From Girl to Woman to Grrrl:(Sub)Cultural Intervention and Political Activism in the Time of Post-Feminism", published in the Invisible Culture Electronic Journal for visual studies and Stephen Matchhett's, "Just Like Men, actually. The former deals with the culture of all-women rock-bands, and the latter about how films and television project women in politics.

This paper will comprise of four main parts, each presenting one fundamental difference between the modernist and post modernist feminist perspectives. The first section will deal with the question of "Who is a woman ". This will look at the differences between the modernists and postmodernists in their perception and definition of the term 'woman'. The focus will then shift to 'sexed bodies'. This section will examine if 'biological sex' is merely a physical fact or is it the basis for gender. The third part of this paper will focus on 'gender performativity'. Is gender merely a socio-cultural phenomenon that we imbibe and live with, as the modernists believe or is it a role that we play, which is the postmodernist perspective. Finally, the paper will raise the significant question of 'what is feminism'. With the aim of trying to understand both the modernist and postmodernist definition of feminism, this last section will highlight the positives and negatives of both these perspectives and also their relevance.

The definition of Woman

One of the most progressive nations in the world, the United States of America has never had a woman as its head of state. On the other hand conservative developing nations in Asia like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have had powerful women leading them. So does this imply that the feminist movement has succeeded in breaking gender-related barriers in these nations

The answer to this question is simple. These women leaders are the exception and not the rule. Most of these societies continue to be male ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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