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Running Head: Feminism in Society: What is the Reality - Essay Example

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Gender has been a divisive agent in society since the human race began, with the emerging view of women as the weaker sex, a debatable issue that has continued throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. Feminism as a term defining women's rights came into usage in the mid-1800s, and in the 1960s and 1970s became a major theory, usually considered more political than humanistic…
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Running Head: Feminism in Society: What is the Reality
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Download file to see previous pages Liberal feminism can be defined as equal rights feminism, and those who advocate this approach look to the law to change individual attitudes regarding women's rights, for instance, the Sex Discrimination and the Equal Pay Acts in the 1970s in Britain (Livesey: Liberal Feminism, 2005). According to the Sex Discrimination Act, put into force in 1975, it is unlawful to discriminate because of sex in "employment, education, advertising, or when providing housing, goods, services, or facilities" (Sexual Discrimination 2006, par. 3). The Equal Pay Act, also activated in 1975, says that "women must be paid the same as men when doing equal work and vise-versa" (SDA/EPA 2006, par. 3). As is the case with most legal documents, different situations call for different interpretations. For instance, if an employee is receiving higher pay than a member of the opposite sex for what seems to be the same work, it can be considered legal if there is a genuine reason for this that is not related to sex. Both of these Acts have been amended several times over the years in an effort to cover all bases. As society changes, meeting the challenges of equal opportunity and equal rights becomes more complicated. The liberal feminist must continue to look to areas of perceived discrimination and, through education and legislation, continue the effort to equalise the playing field for women.
Radical feminists do not accept that sexual equality is possible through legal means, and they do not think the effort to educate will change anyone's mind. It is their contention that sexual inequality is a patriarchal institution in society, and that men are the natural enemy of women. They claim that women can be considered "a sex class in that they share a common interest in freeing themselves from male oppression" (Livesey: Radical Feminism, 2005). One solution by radical feminists to this patriarchal exploitation is through lesbian relationships and female support groups, with the object of lessening dependence on males. With such pronounced differences between these two types of feminism, the concern becomes whether or not women ever can be seen as a single group.
The Hypothetical Unification of Women
The fact that feminism has split into several factions over the years indicates that it might be difficult if not impossible to look at society as simply men vs. women. Each faction has its followers and its advocates, and each is separate from the others. As noted previously, liberal feminists believe legislation is the answer. Radical feminists consider men the enemy. Marxist feminists are concerned about what they see as the economic exploitation of women. Back feminists blame racism for the inequality of both men and women. Socialist feminists attribute what they call women's lower status to male power consolidated by ideological myths about women, and eco-feminism connects men's oppression of women with overuse of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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