Gender journals

Philosophy 130 – Ethics (Spring 2003)

Gender journals

[ Students and professors, please read. ]

Ch 11 Journals:  Different Gender, Different Ethics?

Journal 1:  Discuss classical, difference, radical, and equity feminism.

Classical feminists believe that men and women are equal in their humanity, and that gender is socialized and culturally dependant.  They promote the idea that the best characteristics of both genders (that they are considered specific to gender is due to societal norms) should be encouraged in both men and women, as human virtues not unique to a particular gender (this is referred to as androgyny: characteristically feminine and masculine–classical feminists would just say “human”).

Difference feminists believe men and women should be viewed as equals, but that they are fundamentally different by nature (due to differing reproductive roles, and how those roles physiologically affect their brain, I guess) and each gender should respect and try to understand the other’s way of going about life, rather than finding fault in there being differences.  They feel men and women should be thought of as complimenting eachother (and so should celebrate their differences), rather than being thought of as “opposite sexes”.

Radical feminists believe that sexism, like covert racism, is a result of a long history of oppression, where men name and define what matters are considered important, and where male thought is internalized by women (and men), who don’t know any better way to think of life in a man’s world (like children who only know what they are taught, unless there is a trigger that makes them think through whether or not it is really true.)  Radical feminists believe that sexism can be done away with by raising the consciousnesses of both men and women, get people thinking about what is really true about gender and equality, and how sexism came about–not only nip it in the bud, but get to its root.

Equity feminists believe that gender discrimination is a thing of the past, that complete equality has been realized in the attitudes and overt behavior of society.  They, however, are absolutely blind or in denial.

Journal 2:  Discuss first-, second-, and third-wave feminism.

First-wave feminism refers to the first, earliest voices of feminist thought, which asserted that women and men are fundamentally similar because they have the same powers of reasoning, that they are raised (and molded by society) to act differently from eachother, that women are socialized to be uneducated and unthinking (not given a chance to be otherwise), should have equal opportunities, that double-standards in value systems mock the concept of virtue, and that even if they are good at different things, those things should be considered equally important.  The first wave ended with women winning the right to vote.

Second-wave feminism was born with the publication of Betty Freidan’s book “The Feminine Mystique” in 1963.  In 1964, the Civil Rights Act banned not only race discrimination, but sex discrimination, in employment.  In the 60’s and 70’s, women fought for gender equality in the job market, in politics, and at home, in the way they raised their children with gender-equal ideals.  Some women considered themselves Marxists because of the whole conflict over power, and felt that capitalism hindered women’s liberation.  Some women didn’t even want men opening the door for them, or other gestures of courtesy–they wanted to be seen as equals, not fragile, not on a pedestal.

There is a fuzzy line between second and third wave feminism, but third-wave applies more to current issues (dating back to the 80s), like sexual harrassment, reproductive rights, or, though not mentioned in the book, sexual independence, and breaking through the corporate “glass ceiling”.  Third-wave includes a group of women who are empowered by the accomplishments of the second-wave, and younger women who are raised by empowered women and feminist men.  They take over where second-wave left off, like a second-wind.

Journal 3:  Discuss which brand of feminism you think is the most relevant today, and why you are or are not a feminist.

I think the feminism relevant to today would be mostly an evolving classical feminism, a toned-down radical feminism, and a lingering (because it is supported by men and women who have internalized patriarchy) difference feminism.  I think I am a little bit of classical and radical (but not hard-core, feminazi) feminist, with some sympathy for the difference feminists, and no sympathy for the equity feminists.  I am a feminist as the text defines it, because I support the cause of women gaining equality (not dominance, just equality)–I am not against men, just in favor of male/female equality–as humans.  I am a feminist for the same reason I am disgusted by racial discrimination, or any other form of discrimination.

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