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How have feminists investigated areas of inequality not covered by the classical theorists?

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Introduction

How have feminists investigated areas of inequality not covered by the classical theorists? Feminists tend to see society as divided into different social groups. Feminism consists of diverse social movements and a range of theorists about inequality, and they are committed to "giving women their true value" (Wilson 1986). They see the major division as being between men and women, and that this division is due to the fact that women are oppressed and treated unequally. All feminists share the common view that that society is characterised by exploitation. They see that the most important source of this exploitation in contemporary society is the exploitation of women by men. Feminists see contemporary society as dominated by men, both in the home and the work place. However not all feminists believe there is one single source to this mistreatment. The feminist movement and feminist scholarship are frequently seen as divided between the advocates of equality on the one side and the advocates of sexual difference on the other. In her book, 'Gender and the Politics of history', 1988, p172, Joan Scott commented "When equality and difference are paired dichotomously, they structure an impossible choice. If one opts for equality, one is forced to accept the notion that difference is antithetical to it. If one opts for difference, one admits the equality is unattainable." Some feminists are presented as demanding equality in the sense of the identical treatment of women as to men; and others as demanding that the distinctive ...read more.

Middle

When 'Madonna' hit the air waves and the screen 1n 1984, she started to teach young women that it was ok to be fully female and sexual, while still being individuals and not under male oppression. Feminists have even investigated the inequality contained within sociology itself. They argue that prior to the 1970's the majority of theories and written research was by men, about men and for men. This was brought about by the enlightening studies of Dr R. Stoller (1968). Stoller brought forward the distinctions between gender and sex, and that both played equally big roles towards the treatment of men and women. Due to this factor a large number of female theorists started to explore the "malestream sociology" to show that these treatments were unfair and sexist. Until recently these inequalities have been concerned with the treatment of women and femininity; however over recent years studies have recognised that men and masculinity also need investigating. Another feminist view is that of sexual difference as the political difference between freedom (men) and subordination (women). In the book 'The sexual Contract', Stanford university press 1988, C. Pateman held that "men and women are free by nature". Women were held by nature to lack characteristics required for participation in political life. Women, our bodies and distinctive capacities, represented all that citizenship and equality are not. Women were incorporated as men's subordinates into their own private sphere, and so were excluded from civil society. ...read more.

Conclusion

These theorists have concentrated on the harmful effects of the family environment on women. In doing this they have brought about new perspectives; on areas such as house work and how it helps men to control women, and they have brought about new issues; such as domestic violence. In this essay I have tried to explore how feminists have investigated areas of inequality in society that classical theorists haven't. There is no easy answer to this question, as there never is in sociology, neither is there a right or a wrong answer. As I have hopefully shown you above; feminists have not necessarily investigated areas of inequality that other theorists simply did not, they have however taken a different approach to the same areas. Whereas Marxists have investigated the work place and the family to show how capitalists are the beneficiaries at the exploitation of their workers; feminists have investigated the work place and the family to show how men are the beneficiaries at the exploitation of women. It is the same with post-modernist or functionalist views, whatever they may be investigating. Feminists simply change the argument to show that women are being oppressed; they have also brought forward new issues. For example when feminists investigated family life they exposed domestic violence. Feminist theorists believe that out our society works to the advantage of men while working to the detriment of women. Feminists do not investigate different areas of inequality to that of the classical theorists; they simply show the world a different view of society, be it right or wrong. Power and Inequalities Charmiane Louise Heritage 1 ...read more.

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