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Assess the Contribution of Feminist Perspectives to Our Understanding of Society

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Assess the contribution of feminist perspectives to our understanding of society. (33 marks)

Feminism is a set of ideologies used to advance the cause of women’s equality and to end the sexist theory and practice of social oppression. It is a structuralist theory which is made up of several versions, but they all argue that society is patriarchal. The types of feminism I will be reviewing are liberal feminism, radical feminism, marxist feminism, and difference feminism. Aside from all agreeing that society is patriarchal, these versions of feminism disagree on two levels; the extent of patriarchy in society and also what needs to be done to create gender equality.

Firstly, liberal feminism. Liberal feminists believe all humans should be treated equally; however they believe that women aren’t treated equally to men in society. Liberal feminists suggest that to create greater gender equality laws that are unfavourable to women need to be changed in order to present women with greater opportunities. Oakley distinguishes between sex and gender, referring to sex as the biological differences between males and females such as their reproductive role, whereas she refers to gender as culturally constructed differences between masculine and feminine roles and identities assigned to males and females. Liberal feminists therefore disagree with the functionalist Parsons who believed that males and females perform the roles they are biologically suited to do, contrarily believing that they only perform these roles due to their socialisation into a patriarchal society. Liberal feminists do however believe that there has been a move towards greater gender equality, also known as a march of progress view. They believe that the gradual change in equality can be attributed to changing laws such as the equal pay act of 1970 and cultural change away from gender stereotypes.…...

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