Assess the Contribution of Feminist Perspectives to Our Understanding of Society

1116 Words5 Pages
04. Feminism is a structuralist theory. There are several versions of feminism but common theme throughout them all is that they argue that society is patriarchal, i.e. society is male dominated and all institutions serve and maintain male dominance. Feminists do however disagree on the extent of patriarchy in society and what need to happen to create gender equality. Liberal feminism is a march of progress theory as it sees a trend towards improvement and believes all humans should be equal. Oakley, as a key sociologist, distinguishes between sex and gender; sex refers to biological differences whereas gender refers to the culturally constructed differences between the roles and identities assigned to men and women. Liberal feminists argue there has been a move towards greater gender equality and that a gradual reform is necessary through changing laws and cultural changes away from gender stereotypes. They also believe that the ideas about gender are culturally constructed and transmitted through socialisation. For example, the mother is supposed to look after the children rather than go to work. Oakley criticises Parson’s assumption of gender roles being based on biological differences by arguing that men and women are equally capable of performing both roles within society yet this is prevented by the traditional gender roles. Liberal feminists make a fair point by stating that gender roles are not ingrained as they show to an extent that roles are not determined. However Liberal feminists are criticised by Radical and Marxist feminists as they argue that Liberal feminists fail to recognise the underlying causes of women’s subordination and that is naïve to believe that changes in the law or attitudes will be enough to bring equality between men and women. The Liberal feminists have contributed to our understanding of society as they have put forward reasons
Open Document