Marxist Feminism, Socialist Feminism, Gender and Women, Women's Movement, Women's
Liberation Theory, Books
on Gender and Women, Glass Ceiling Hypothesis
Feminism is a diverse political and intellectual movement chiefly developed by
women, but having increasing influence with both sexes, that seeks to criticize,
re-evaluate and transform the place of women in social
organization and in culture.
Common to feminists is the assumption that social organization and culture have
been dominated by men to the exclusion of women and that this exclusion has been
accompanied by a diverse pattern of devaluation and disadvantagement that have
marginalized women's status in most known societies.
Consequently, a major area of concern to feminism is the recovery and articulation
of women's' experience in history and in contemporary societies and a wholesale
reconstruction of the fundamental intellectual assumptions of social practices and of many
areas of study including especially sociology, psychology, history and other social and
Websters Dictionary defines feminism as The theory, cult or practice
of those who advocate such legal and social changes as will establish political, economic
and social equality of the sexes.
A social movement whose goal has been, and continues to be, the elimination
of the patriarchal nature of society. Two large waves of feminist organization can be
identified, the first following the French Revolution and extending the principles of
liberty and freedom to women. This period is associated with Mary Wollstonecraft
(1759-1797). The second can be identified with French writer Simone De Beauvoir's The
Second Sex in 1952 and, in North America, with the publication of Betty Friedan's book,
The Feminine Mystique, in 1963.
While there is not a single feminist theory, central to all such theories is an attempt to
understand the social, economic and political position of women in society, with a view to
liberation. Feminist theory has challenged the claims to objectivity of previous social
science and by examining society from women's position has called much social science into
question as being male-centred and a component of the hegemonic rule of patriarchy.
A form of feminism which rejects the belief that the differences between men and women are
socially constructed or are established through socialization. Rather, it believes men and
women are different in essence and that these differences arise from differing human
natures. Cooperation and competition, therefore are not just values which have been
socially assigned to women and men respectively, but are values that arise from the
fundamentally different character of the two sexes.
A perspective influenced by the sociology of knowledge that claims less powerful members
of society are able to achieve a more complete view of social reality than are others.
Less powerful groups, like women and minorities, may be less incorporated into the reward
system of society and more clear sighted and critical about its inequalities and
deficiencies. The sociology of knowledge assumption behind this is the idea that knowledge
is socially constructed and shaped by the social position occupied by the knower. It
follows then that the point of view of the researcher is also shaped by their position in
society and standpoint feminism acknowledges this and claims for it a positive role in
contributing to a rounded understanding of the character of the society. This
acknowledgment is a rejection of traditional notions of objectivity.
Towards a Female Liberation Movement put it this way: There is something
horribly repugnant in the picture of women performing the same menial chores all day,
having almost interchangeable conversations with their children, engaging in standard
television arguments with their husbands, and then in the late hours of the night, each
agonizing over what is considered to be her personal lot, her personal relationship, her
personal problem . . . And unmarried women cannot in all honesty say their lives are in
much greater measure distinct from each others. We are a class, we are oppressed as
a class, and we each respond within the limits allowed us as members of that oppressed
class. Purposely divided from each other, each of us is ruled by one or more men for the
benefit of all men. There is no personal escape, no personal salvation, no personal
solution. - Toward a Female Liberation Movement by Beverly Jones and Judith Brown,
June 1968. redstockings.org
Gainesville Women's Liberation co-founder Carol Giardina said in 1989, "If
you know that we are a sex that fights for our freedom, then you already understand the
Pro -Woman Line. Now do we fight for it just in a movement, or were you fighting for it
before you even heard of [a movement]? Do you fight for it on the street, in your bedroom,
in your classroom? When you take a deep breath and say the thing in class or to your
boyfriend that you just can't help yourself from saying. You try to shut it up but out it
comes. This isn't really just women, it's all oppressed people who can't stop themselves
from fighting back. We call it the Pro-Woman Line because we discovered it about women and
developed it in the Women's Liberation Movement." - Carol Giardina, "Women's
Studies or Women's Liberation Studies," 1989 Women's History Month speech at the
University of Florida. redstockings.org.
Redstockings" was a name taken in 1969 by one of the founding women's liberation
groups of the 1960's to represent the union of two traditions: the
"bluestocking" label disparagingly pinned on feminists of earlier centuries--and
"red" for revolution.
Redstockings women would go on to champion and spread knowledge of vital women's
liberation theory, slogans and actions that have become household words such as
consciousness-raising, the personal is political, the pro-woman line, sisterhood is
powerful, the politics of housework, the Miss America Protest, and "speakouts"
that would break the taboos of silence around subjects like abortion..
Redstockings today is a new kind of grassroots, activist "think tank",
established by movement veterans, for defending and advancing the women's liberation
agenda. The Archives for Action is a project Redstockings established in 1989 to make the
formative and radical 1960's experience of the movement more widely available for the
taking stock needed for new understandings and improved strategies.
The Redstockings Women's Liberation Archives Distribution Project is a mostly volunteer,
grassroots effort, which teaches history for activist use.