To what extent have the goals of feminism been achieved?

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Democracy, the individual and society

To what extent have the goals of feminism been achieved?


Word count: 1938

In simple terms feminism can be defined as the belief in equality between the sexes, based on the idea that gender should not affect a persons social identity, or socio-political or economic rights, and complete equality regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation or identity. (Wikipedia, 2006) Complete equality between the men and women can be further broken down into three main categories; social, economic and political equality. In my essay I will assess the extent that the goals of each individual category have been accomplished. However as feminism is a very broad doctrine, and some feminists are much more hard line than others, deciding to what extent goals have been achieved is dependent on whose definition of the goals you use.

        The first area I would like to discuss is that of social equality between men and women. One of feminists’ main social aims is to eliminate the double standards that occur between men and women in all aspects of life, varying from women being expected to take maternity leave instead of men, to sexual equality between intimate partners. (Ward Crowe 1981) This idea is at the heart of the whole feminist ideology and so is very important, however like almost all-feminist goals, the extent to which it is complete depends on which feminist you speak to. Although this is the case there is little argument between feminists that double standards between the sexes have been reduced dramatically in the last one hundred years, and most would say that this goal has almost been achieved.

        Another major social goal for the feminist movement is the equal treatment of women in the media, including an end to media and advertising exploitation of women’s bodies. This has always been seen as a crucial area by feminists, as sex-role theory states that men and women will mirror the characters they see in the media, meaning that they will continue with sexist stereotypes that are being shown to them. (Craig 1994) As the media is an area that has traditionally been totally dominated by males, they stereotypes used often to be prejudice against women, and even when they weren’t, the mere fact that no women read news or did any other presenting jobs left its own sub-conscious message in the populous. Although the feminist movement has been successful in wrestling some of the power away from the predominantly male industry, the media is an area where there is still plenty of work to be done before there goals are complete. Although in the modern world female presenters are considered the norm, and women are not just portrayed as doting mothers, the issue of the media, especially advertising exploiting women’s bodies is still huge. In my opinion feminists will find it very hard to change this fact simply because there will always be women willing to do it and it will always increase sales. As I said, I think the feminist movement has managed to improve the treatment of women in the media, but will never be able to find complete equality with men in this arena.

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        Getting rid of the acceptance of misogynist language and derogatory terms for women is another of the feminists’ main social goals. This is a difficult area for the feminist movement to make progress because terms that are considered derogatory for women such as, ‘the missus’ to refer to ones wife are massively widespread and not considered to be sexist by most of those who use them. Therefore the only way that feminists can try and prevent these terms remaining in everyday language forever is through educational policies. As many of the people who accept this misogynistic language are not interested ...

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Spelling is good, and the use of quotation marks is effective in indicating key terms, “glass ceiling” coined by other sociologists. References to sources have been made, throughout, to original authors in parentheses, “(Wikipedia 2006)” which allows the examiner to see that the writer has recognised, and is aware of, other people’s work. At the end the writer has also provided a more detailed bibliography/webliography - they should be given credit for not trying to pass others’ work off as their own. In addition this shows that they have taken sensitive care and consideration over the craft of their essay.

Key feminist sociological terms, “misogynist” and “exploitation” are used in context as well as more generic sociological terms, “ideology” which is useful. There are good uses of contemporary examples, “In Kuwait for example, the parliament just rejected a bill” as well as historical examples, “Although it seems amazing now up until 1918 women were not allowed to vote in Britain, and not until 1928 was the voting age lowered” which shows that the candidate has a range of sociological knowledge. Statistics are used, “Although the wage gap still occurs today it has been reduced by up to 15% since 1970 according to some estimates” which provides empirical evidence. This addition to their argument is worthwhile because it is therefore made less disputable. I feel that this essay would benefit significantly from differentiating between the different strands of feminism. For example they could mention that liberal feminists feel that their goals have largely been achieved, from the introduction of anti-discriminatory laws in the workplace, whereas radical feminists, on the other hand, believe society needs to be radically altered if we are still to achieve true egalitarianism. So they would criticise liberal feminists for arguing “goals of feminism” have been achieved.

This essay begins with a Wikipedia definition of feminism; an ideal start to any essay on feminism. The structure continues to be extremely clear within reading the opening line of each paragraph, “Another major political goal…” which makes the essay an easy read. The conclusion is confident and perceptive, which is most likely due to the fact that it is more than just a sentence long (like most candidates write). This puts the writer in an above average marking band.