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Modern Feminism Literature

15 Dec 2016Literature Essays

Feminism, motivated by the concern on the liberation of women, stands for the collection of political movements, social theories and philosophies. Feminists give high regards on the social, political and economic inequality between men and women (referred to as the disadvantage of women); some argued with regards to their gender and sex identities. Usually they differ over as to what extent does the gender and gender-based identities should be questioned and critiqued, the sources of inequality and how to attain equality. Therefore feminism gives emphasis on the belief that gender should not be the pre-determinant factor in shaping a person’s social identity or more ever a person’s socio-political and economic rights. (Get your custom essay for college)

Modern Feminism, considered as a philosophy and a movement, are highly regarded to such thinkers as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Marquis de Condorcet way back since the Eighteenth Century. In 1785 the first scientific society for women was founded in Middelburg and the journals for women then focused on issues like the sciences which was eventually popular during that period. The first work that can be called a feminist was that of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A vindication on the Life of Women” (1792).

The American political philosopher in the name of Christina Hoff Sommers described feminism into two classifications: the gender feminism and the equity feminism. Pre-modern feminism or Sommers' equity feminism was not an anti-male ideology and did not claim any special treatments for women. Classical or equity feminism asserted women's rights, based on the inpidual human being's equally moral weight to men. Naomi Wolf considered as a modern feminist and an author to the book Fire with Fire”, states that these women were daring inpidualists, and they showed their commitment to social justice by their own political actions”.

Lucretia Mott described the aim of the fighters for women’s right as a desire to be acknowledged as a moral and responsible being. Lucy Stone, another 19th century women's activist, stressed that women must be we regarded, respected and treated as human beings, together with their natural abilities, and not to be treated as infants, in such a way that  the laws of civil and social justice do apply.

Moreover the 'Angel in the House' strand gave emphasis on female maternal nature and passivity, and martyrdom and held that women were uniquely different and most probably superior to men and generally considered sexless. In terms of Wolf's view, this strain was considered to that of classical feminism in which the modern victim feminism concept emerged. Describing women’s humanity, the need for self-determination and inpiduality were the other strands. This was considered the foundation of a new and modern power-feminism and it celebrated the female sexuality and rejected the idea that men and women were the same.

Three books played a key factor to the positive and progressive emergence of modern victim feminism during the 1960s. They were The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan's which was first published in 1963, the” Sexual Politics” by Kate Millett's, and The Female Eunuch” by Germaine Greer's.  

These books had established the platform needed for the progressive replacement of the classical feminism wherein the general critique of men and masculinity not to mention incessant collective carping dominated the victim feminism of the 1980s, and the mainstream feminism of the 1990’s. Modern victim feminism formed a broader uprising against the various aspects of the social orders of the countries of the industrial West. Different social and sexual lifestyle emerges and the concept of using contraceptives specifically the use of pills influenced the young hippies to advocate the different lifestyle but also practiced them. Thus as a consequence, the sexual revolution weakened the moral and sexual standards and behavior.

Betty Friedan's brand of modern feminism attacks the 1950’s cult of feminism wherein there was an excessive idealization of family life and career opportunities of housewife. She argued that American Housewives were trapped by their femininity ("the feminine mystique") and mostly depressed because they were unable to pursue meaningful professional careers because of idealized family life.

The misandry of Millett relates to sexual politics. Millett saw female oppression and male dominance prevailed in almost all of organizations and institutions such as the military, universities, technology, and political office. Thus power within the society was entirely on male hands. Greer held radical views on nature such as the differences between the sexes, and science. Male dominated the development of math, philosophy and logic, and modern science. She stressed out that those dominated by male were oppressive and must be replaced by the so-called feminist forms of science.

Feminist activists pushed for the scrapping of porce law, and the recognition of rape, marital violence, and child abuse became major problems during the 1980’s. Pursuing a professional career for women and postponing of early marriages were encouraged. Prostitutes were considered cruel victim of an aggressive and insatiable male sexuality. Anti –abortion laws was considered the heart of the female sexuality regulation and denied women control of their own sexuality. New writings and views coming from Friedan, Greer, Brownmiller, Jong, Hewlett and other former feminists during the 1980s proved to be crucially vital in the creation of an even more sustained critique of modern feminism during the early 1990s.

The writings of Camille Paglia, Katie Roiphe and Christina Hoff Sommers contributed a genuine intellectual backlash against modern feminism. Radical feminist Gloria Allred and Mary Daly argued that human society would be better off with few men. Katha Pollitt with her book Reasonable Creatures and Nadine Strossen, author of Defending Pornography, consider feminism to be as simple as "women are people." Sexist are views that separate the sexes rather than to unite them.

Carol Tavris which authored the Anger: the Misunderstood Emotion and The Mismeasure of Woman: Why Women Are Not the Better Sex, the Inferior Sex, or the Opposite Sex”, stressed that women will always face discrimination because much emphasis were placed on the innate differences between men and woman causing the restrictions of women’s rights.

On an essay entitled The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State”, Friedrich Engels expressed that monogamy was originally conceived as a way for men to control women. However, monogamy evolved as a way just like that of the human infants who were born relatively vulnerable in comparison to other species would survive in their early development.

There are more to sight just to illustrate the effect and the influence of modern feminine literature to our society. It is everywhere- in schools, universities, in churches, in politics. It affects behavior towards a certain belief and it is focused between gender-gender equality- its definition, application, and evolution. Thus feminism serves as a gender ideology of our society.

References:

  • Friedan, B. The Feminine Mystique.W.W Norton: New York 1963.
  • Greer, G.The Female Eunuch. McGibbon & Kee: Flamingo: London. 1970.
  • Hoff Sommers, C.Who Stole Feminism?. How Women Have Betrayed Women. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994.
  • Mitchell, Julie and Ann Oakley (Eds.). "Who's Afraid of Feminism?: Seeing Through the Backlash”. New Press, 1997.
  • Millet, K.Sexual Politics. Ballantine Books, New York, 1978.
  • Offen, Karen. Defining Feminism: A Comparative Historical Approach. Signs 14, autumn 1988.
  • Paglia, C. Sex, Art and American Culture. Penguin Books, New York, 1992
  • Tavris, Carol. The Mismeasure of Woman: Why Women Are Not the Better Sex, the Opposite Sex, or the Inferior Sex". Simon and Schuster, 1991.
  • Wolf, N. Fire with Fire. Chatto & Windus. London, 1993.
  • Walters, Margaret. "Feminism: A very short introduction". Oxford 2005.

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