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Feminist geography is an approach in human geography which applies the theories, methods and critiques of feminism to the study of the human environment, society and geographical space. The field of feminist geography, which uses a multidisciplinary approach, emerged in the 1970s out of the women’s movement's call on the academy to better incorporate women into academia both as producers and subjects. Feminist geography is a process of situating geographical research on an intersectional foundation thereby examining axes beyond gender to incorporate positions of race, class, ability, sexuality, etc. Through this practice, feminist geography prioritizes praxis within the field as established in feminist epistemology. The discipline has been subject to several controversies .
The geography of women
The geography of women focuses upon description of the effects on gender inequality. Its theoretical influences focus on welfare geography and liberal feminism. Geographically, feminist geographers emphasize on constraints of distance and spatial separation. As Seager et al. argues, gender is only the narrow-minded approach when understanding the oppression of women throughout the decades of colonial history. In such, understanding the geography of women would mean taking a critical approach in questioning the dimensions of age, class, ethnicity, orientation and other socio-economic factors (2004). An early reproach of geography of women approach was that gender roles were mainly explained as gender inequality, such as housewives and mothers, in combination with the some concept of spatial constraint. However, Foord and Gregson (1986) argued that the concept of gender roles narrows the focus to women, emerges from a static social theory, and presents women as victims. Furthermore, it gives a narrow reading of distance even though the geography of women displays how spatial constraint and separation enter into the construction of women’s position. Theorist Edward Said critiques the idea of geographical spaces in such a context where our actions on gendered practices of representation are fabricated through dominant ideological beliefs (2004). In relation to the misrepresentation of gender roles and taken-for-granted movements on feminine rights, we see that the challenges of the colonial present lies within the confinement of women in limited spatial opportunities. Hence, feminist geographies should consider and trace the inter-connections in all aspects of daily life; in other words, gender should be applied and developed in terms of space.
Socialist feminist geography
Socialist feminist geography seeks to explain inequality and the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy. It uses Marxism and Socialist feminism to explain the interdependence of geography, gender relations and economic development under capitalism. Socialist feminist geography revolved around the questions of how to reduce gender inequality based on patriarchy and capitalism. It has theoretical influences on Marxism, socialist feminism. The geographical focus is on spatial separation, gender place, and localities. One of the key theoretical debates within socialist feminist geography revolved around the question of how best to articulate gender and class analysis. For instance, drawing on of married mainland Chinese immigrant women living in New York City. While women remain the primary object of analysis, and gender remains the primary social relation, Zhou is intensely aware that many other factors, such as class, also affect women’s post-migration experiences and circumstances.
There are two scales that socialist feminist geographers first worked primarily. First, at the urban scale, Anglo-American feminist geographers focused on the social and spatial separation of suburban homes from paid employment; this was seen as vital to the day-to-day and generational reproduction of workers and the development and maintenance of traditional gender relations in capitalist societies.
Socialist feminist geographers widely attending to the ways that gender relations differ from place to place not only reflect, but also partly determine local economic changes. Judith Butler’s idea of citationality expands on the concept of the lack of agency to facilitate the presence of women within the discipline of geography. In such, we come to the awareness that whenever performative measures are taken to diminish women’s rights in geographical space, the conventions around it adapt around this context to make it seem as the norm. Likewise, feminist geographers are also drawing on a broader range of social, and particularly cultural theory, including psychoanalysis and post-structuralism, in order to develop a fuller understanding of how gender relations and identities are shaped and assumed. This has led to fundamental rethinking of the category gender, and the contradictions and possibilities presented by the seeming instability and insistent repetitions of gender norms in practice. The focus on multiple identifications and the influence of post-structuralist and psychoanalytic theories has brought feminist geographers into dialogue with other strands of critical geography. But another consequence is that theoretical differences among feminist geographers are more obvious than in the past, but according to Monk 1994 the national differences between America and British geographers may be diminishing as both parties pursue new directions.
Feminist geographies of difference
Feminist geographies of difference concentrate upon the construction of gendered identities, differences among women, gender and constructions of nature by using cultural, post-structural, postcolonial and psychoanalytic theories, which writings of women of color, lesbian women, gay men and women from third world countries. In terms of geography, feminist geographers emphasize on micro-geographies of body, mobile identities, distance, separation and place, imagined geographies, colonialism and post-colonialism, and environment or nature.
Since the late 1980s, many feminist geographers have moved on to three new research areas:
First, feminist geographers contest and expand the category of genders between men and women. The difference in the construction of gender relations across race, ethnicity, age, religion, sexuality and nationality, becomes interesting for feminist geographers. Additionally, feminist geographers are also increasingly attentive to women who are positioned in various ways along the multiple axis of difference.
Second, in order to get better understanding of how gender relations and identities are formed and assumed, a broader extent of social theory, particular culture, are drawn by feminist geographers. Feminist geographers are more able to discuss and debate after the focus on multiple identifications and the influence of post-structuralist and psychoanalytic theories.
Critical human geography
Critical human geography is defined as “a diverse and rapidly changing set of ideas and practices within human geography linked by a share commitment to emancipatory politics within and beyond the discipline, to the promotion of progressive social change and to the development of a broad range of critical theories and their application in geographical research and political practice.” (Johnston 2000).
Critical human geography comes from Anglophonic geography in the mid-1990s. It presents a broad alliance of progressive approaches to the discipline. Critical human geographers draw on theoretical approaches such as anarchism, anti-colonialism, critical race theory, environmentalism, feminism, Marxism, nonrepresentational theory, post-Marxism, post-colonialism, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, queer theory, situationism, and socialism. Much of the focus is on some of the key publications marking different eras in critical geography.
Critical human geography must be understood as multiple, dynamic, and contested.
Rather than a specific sub-discipline of geography, feminist geography is often considered part of a broader postmodern, critical theory approach, often drawing from the theories of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Judith Butler among others. More recent influences include critiques of feminism from post-colonial theorists. Feminist geographers often focus on the lived experiences of individuals and groups in their own localities, upon the geographies that they live in within their own communities, rather than theoretical development without empirical work.
Many feminist geographers study the same subjects as other geographers, but often with a focus on gender divisions. This concern has developed into a concern with wider issues of gender, family, sexuality, race, and class. Examples of areas of focus include:
- Geographic differences in gender relations and gender equality
- The geography of women: spatial constraints, welfare geography
- The construction of gender identity through the use and nature of spaces and places
- Geographies of sexuality (queer theory)
- Children's geographies
Feminist geographers are also deeply impacted and responding to contemporary globalization and neoliberal discourses that are manifested as being both transnational and translocal. 
In addition to societal studies, Feminist Geography also critiques Human Geography and other academic disciplines, arguing that academic structures have been traditionally characterized by a patriarchal perspective, and that contemporary studies which do not confront the nature of previous work reinforce the masculine bias of academic study. The British Geographer Gillian Rose's Feminism and Geography is one such sustained criticism, focused on Human Geography in Britain as being historically masculinist in its approach. This includes the writing of landscape as feminine (and thus as subordinate to male geographers), assuming a separation between mind and body. The following is referenced from Johnston & Sidaway (2004), and further describes such a separation and its influence on geography:
"'Cartesian dualism underlines our thinking in a myriad of ways, not least in the divergence of the social sciences from the natural sciences, and in a geography which is based on the separation of people from their environments. Thus while geography is unusual in its spanning of the natural and social sciences and in focusing on the interrelations between people and their environments, it is still assumed that the two are distinct and one acts on the other. Geography, like all of the social sciences, has been built upon a particular conception of mind and body which sees them as separate, apart and acting on each other (Johnston, 1989, cited in Longhurst, 1997, p. 492)'
Thus, too, feminist work has sought to transform approaches to the study of landscape by relating it to the way that it is represented ('appreciated' so to speak), in ways that are analogous to the heterosexual male gaze directed towards the female body (Nash 1996). Both of these concerns (and others)- about the body as a contested site and for the Cartesian distinction between mind and body - have been challenged in postmodern and poststructuralist feminist geographies."
Other feminist geographers have interrogated the ways in which the discipline of geography itself represents and reproduces the heterosexual male gaze. Feminist geographers such as Katherine McKittrick have asserted pointed critiques of the ways in which we see and understand space are fundamentally bound up in how we understand the hegemonic presence of the white male subject in history, geography and in the materiality of everyday space. Building off of Sylvia Wynter's theories of the racialized production of public and private space, McKittrick challenges “social landscapes that presume subaltern populations have no relationship to the production of space”  and writes to document black female geographies in order to "allow us to engage with a narrative that locates and draws on black histories and black subjects in order to make visible social lives which are often displaced, rendered ungeographic.” McKittrick stakes claim in the co-articulation of race and gender as they articulate space and she writes, “I am emphasizing here that racism and sexism are not simply bodily or identity based; racism and sexism are also spatial acts and illustrate black women’s geographic experiences and knowledges as they are made possible through domination.” Moreover, many feminist geographers have critiqued human geography for its centering of masculine knowledge and its emphasis on “objective” knowledge arguing instead for a use of situated knowledge which understands both observation and analysis as being rooted in partial objectivity.
Challenges of feminist geography
Linda McDowell and Joanne P. Sharp, both foundational feminist geographers and scholars, describe the struggle of gaining recognition in academia, “[It has been] ‘a long struggle to gain recognition within geography as a discipline that gender relations are a central organizing feature both of the material and symbolic worlds and of the theoretical basis of the discipline.’’ Feminist geographers struggle in academia in a variety of ways. Firstly, ideas that originate from feminist discourse are often seen as common sense once the wider field accepts them thereby invisibilizing geography that is explicitly feminist. Furthermore, feminist geography is understood to be the only subfield of geography where gender is explicitly addressed permitting the wider disciple to disengage from feminist challenges. Finally, within the field, some geographers believe that feminist practice has been fully integrated into the academy making feminist geography obsolete.
Challenges of feminist geography are also embedded in the subfield itself. The epistemology of feminist geography argues that the positionality and lived experience of the geographers are as central to scholarship as what is being researched. In this way, feminist geographers must maintain diverse identities to fully engage with the disciple. Linda Peake and Gill Valentine point out that while feminist geography has addressed gender issues in more than twenty-five countries across the world, this scholarship is conducted by white female scholars from institutions in the Global North. In this way, feminist geography faces not only barriers rooted in the academy but a lack of diversity in its own field. 
Controversies surrounding feminist geography
In 2018, a leading journal in feminist geography, Gender, Place and Culture, was subject to a scholarly publishing hoax. Helen Pluckrose, James A. Lindsay and Peter Boghossian submitted a paper titled "Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity in Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon". The paper proposed that dog parks are “rape-condoning spaces”, and a place of rampant canine rape culture and systemic oppression against “the oppressed dog” through which human attitudes to both problems can be measured and analyzed by applying black feminist criminology. The paper suggested that this could provide insight into training men out of the sexual violence and bigotry. The paper has since been retracted. The hoax has been criticized as unethical and mean-spirited, and critics of the hoax have suggested that the hoaxers do not understand the process of peer review.
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