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Feminist sociology is a conflict theory and theoretical perspective which observes gender in its relation to power, both at the level of face-to-face interaction and reflexivity within a social structure at large. Focuses include sexual orientation, race, economic status, and nationality.
At the core of feminist sociology is the idea of the systematic oppression[note 1] of women and the historical dominance of men within most societies: 'patriarchy'. Feminist thought has a rich history, however, which may be categorized into three 'waves'. The current, 'third wave', emphasizes the concepts of globalization, postcolonialism, post-structuralism and postmodernism. Contemporary feminist thought has frequently tended to do-away with all generalizations regarding sex and gender, closely linked with antihumanism, posthumanism, queer theory and the work of Michel Foucault.
Heterosexism is a system of attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of male-female sexuality and relationships. At one point, heterosexual marriage was the only lawful union between two people that was recognized and given full benefits in the United States. This clearly put homosexual couples of both sexes at a disadvantage, making their relationships less valid in the eyes of the government than that of a relationship between a man and a woman. However, heterosexism can extend far beyond government validation, as it describes a set of paradigms and institutionalized beliefs that systematically disadvantage anyone other than heterosexual, whether the source of oppression is coming directly from the government or not.
Feminism and race
Women who suffer from oppression due to race may find themselves in a double bind. The relationship between feminism and race was largely overlooked until the second wave of feminists produced greater literature on the topic of 'black feminism'.
Anna Julia Cooper and Ida Bell Wells-Barnett are African American women who were instrumental in conducting much research and making valuable contributions in the field of black feminism. "Cooper and Wells-Barnett both consciously drew on their lived experiences as African American women to develop a "systematic consciousness of society and social relations." As such, these women foreshadow the development of a feminist sociological theory based in the interests of women of colour."
Feminist critiques of multiculturalism
Debates within ethnic relations, particularly regarding the opposing perspectives of assimilationism and multiculturalism, have led to the accusation that feminism is incompatible with multiculturalist policy. The remit of multiculturalism is to allow distinct cultures to reside in Western societies, or separate societies in general, and one possible consequence is that certain religious or traditional practices may negate Western feminist ideals. Central debates include the topics of arranged marriage and female genital mutilation. Others have argued that these debates stem from Western orientalism and general political reluctance to accept foreign migrants.
Types of Feminism
- Liberal feminism
- Cultural feminism
- Feminist existentialism
- Radical feminism
- Marxist feminism
- Sex-positive feminism
- Psychoanalytic feminism
- Postmodern feminism
- Mahony, Pat, and Christine Zmroczek. Class matters: 'working-class' women's perspectives on social class. London: Taylor & Francis, 1997. Print.
- Ritzer George and Goodman Douglas (2004) Classical Sociological Theory, Fourth Ed. p.294
- A phenomenon derived from prehistoric-human social- behavioral patterns, specifically regarding the (Fe)Male relationship; as well as significant gender differentiation in terms of physical and mental attributes. This Idea of origin is Key to the progression of 'equalist' ideals, which have grown to engulf a number of socially important injustices, yet is often not realized in the Psyche of the individual and thus not beheld, conceptually by public; possibly due to the absence of a cross-conceptual, analytical thinking pattern.
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