The gender theory can help explain how stereotypes of gender are formed within our society. According to Bern, children are conformed to certain characteristics and personalities of what it means to be a boy or girl through the environment or those they are surrounded by. This can also occur due to the pressure of social media, school, and from their family’s’ cultural values. Throughout history society has constructed their own beliefs and stereotypes of what feminine and masculine traits are. Due to the gender system and these stereotypes held, opportunities have been taken away from women around the world when it comes to the workplace, pay, and education.
Liberal feminism is one form of the feminist/gender theory that may be applied to issues of gender. There are various gender issues; such as the way individuals identify themselves (female, male, transgender), gender hierarchy, and the role they hold in their life. Feminist psychology argues that historical research of psychology has dominantly been done from a male perspective, with their view that males are the norm (Crawford & Unger, 2000). Liberal feminists argue that society holds false values and beliefs of women, such as they are less capable than man physically and intellectually, making it difficult for them in the workplace and other aspects of life. These types of feminists fight for sexual equality through all platforms and want society to understand how gender oppression is wrong. No special privileges are sought; the same opportunities men are capable of having, they believe women should also be capable of, which is why the movement of liberal feminism is so important to many. Essentially, liberalism this aspect of feminism is applied to the area of gender based on liberty and equality; opportunities and society are gender-neutral. Further, the individual is not valued, in liberal thought, because of a specific role that she or he is required to play in society, but instead is valued as an autonomous, that is, self-determining being (Groenhout, 2002). Liberal feminists believe that personal autonomy should be given to women, and should be able to live the lives that they choose under the same conditions as men.
There are many challenges to liberal feminism. There are those who reject the though of liberalism because they believe men and woman’s natures differentiate completely. According to radical feminist legal scholar, Catharine MacKinnon (as cited in Groenhout, 2002), Men and women are radically different in nature, they are shaped that way by their culture and cannot simply choose to be otherwise, and the very nature of our perceived reality is determined by these differences. There are hierarchical views of nature when it comes to men and women, such as women are essentially aligned to being nurturing, cooperative, and giving, while men are more aggressive and controlling. This leads to an assumption that aggression and controlling traits are a masculine trait that men hold. However, that is flawed, it is possible that both men and women share the same human qualities, meaning both can have aggressive and passive tendencies and share other characteristics. Therefore if we can all understand that both men and women share the same tendencies, qualities, and characteristics, they can also share the same physical strength as well as intellectual ability to do the same jobs.
In conclusion, Liberal feminism’s primary goal regarding gender issues is the call for gender equality in all of society. They want to have the opportunity to compete against men in the work force. Throughout history women have fought for equal rights and have made progress, however a lot more needs to be done.
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