feminism

The approach to social life, philosophy, and ethics that commits itself to correcting biases leading to the subordination of women or the disparagement of women's particular experience. Contemporary feminist ethics is sensitive to the gender bias that may be implicit in philosophical theories (for instance, philosophers' lists of virtues may be typically ‘manly’ or culturally masculine), and in social structures, legal and political procedures, and the general culture. One controversial claim (influentially made in Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, 1982) is that women approach practical reasoning from a different perspective from that of men. The difference includes emphasis on community, caring, and bonding with particular individuals, in place of abstract impartiality. It is controversial whether or not this is a real difference, and if so whether it arises from innate differences in male and female psychology, or whether the different values reflect the way men and women have been taught to form different aspirations and ideals. While feminist ethics is often addressed to particular problems faced by women, the underlying ideas may or may not be tied to specific practical problems, or to the adversarial relationships with men and pessimistic views about sex that popularly characterize the movement.
Feminist epistemology has asked whether different ways of knowing, for instance with different criteria of justification, and different emphases on logic and imagination, characterize male and female attempts to understand the world. Such concerns include awareness of the ‘masculine’ self-image, itself a socially variable and potentially distorting picture of what thought and action should be. A particular target of much feminist epistemology is a Kantian or Enlightenment conception of rationality, which is seen as a device for claiming mastery and control, and for refusing to acknowledge differing perspectives and different relations to life and nature. Although extreme claims have been made, such as that logic is a phallic and patriarchal device for coercing other people, it is still unclear whether differences between individual capacities and training count as much as gender in explaining how people acquire knowledge. Again there is a spectrum of concern, from the highly theoretical to the relatively practical. In this latter area particular attention is given to the institutional biases that stand in the way of equal opportunities in science and other academic pursuits, or the ideologies that stand in the way of women seeing themselves as leading contributors to various disciplines. However, to more radical feminists such concerns merely exhibit women wanting for themselves the same power and rights over others that men have claimed, and failing to confront the real problem, which is how to live without such asymmetrical powers and rights. See also essentialism.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Feminism — feminism …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Feminism — feminism …   Dictionary of sociology

  • FEMINISM — FEMINISM, both a political movement seeking social equities for women and an ideological movement analyzing a wide range of phenomena in terms of gender politics. Jewish feminism in the modern era has played a significant and transformative role… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • feminism — in China has been intricately intertwined with both philosophy and political ideology. As early as the Zhou dynasty, men and women were associated respectively with notions of yang and yin in a philosophy that organized the world into polarized… …   Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture

  • feminism — feminism, feminist A social movement , having its origins in eighteenth century England, which seeks to achieve equality between the sexes by extension of rights for women. In the 1890s the term referred specifically to the women and men who… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • feminism — FEMINÍSM s.n. Mişcare socială care susţine egalitatea în drepturi a femeii cu bărbatul în toate sferele de activitate. – Din fr. féminisme, rus. feminizm. Trimis de ana zecheru, 24.06.2002. Sursa: DEX 98  feminísm s. n. Trimis de siveco,… …   Dicționar Român

  • FEMINISM —    Feminism (josei kaihoron) as a movement began in Japan in the early 20th century. During the Meiji period, women authors, such as the writer Higuchi Ichiyo and the poet Yosano Akiko, met with great critical acclaim. In the 1920s, an indigenous …   Japanese literature and theater

  • feminism — 1851, state of being feminine; sense of advocacy of women s rights is 1895, from Fr. féminisme (1837); see FEMININE (Cf. feminine) + ISM (Cf. ism) …   Etymology dictionary

  • feminism — ► NOUN ▪ the advocacy of women s rights on the grounds of sexual equality. DERIVATIVES feminist noun & adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • feminism — [fem′ə niz΄əm] n. [< L femina, woman + ISM] 1. Rare feminine qualities 2. a) the principle that women should have political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men b) the movement to win such rights for women feminist n., adj …   English World dictionary

  • Feminism — Feminists redirects here. For other uses, see Feminists (disambiguation). See also: feminist movement and feminism in the United States …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.