Radical Feminist Movements of the 1960s

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Zitsow, Chloe Ms. Fernandez English 9H 4 February 2019 The early 1900s suffragette movement was the first social group to actively work towards the empowerment of women, protesting both for their vote and equal rights under the law. When this was achieved in the US in 1920 and most western countries by 1930 many nations decided to just move on with no further developments in gender equality. This is considered the first wave of feminism. The second wave occurred in the 1960s with the onset of radical feminism. 1960’s radical feminist movements like New York Radical Women served to politically protest the male-driven system that existed at the time and promote gender equality. The essence of the movement was to radically change what existed. Modern day feminism or cultural feminism serves only to promote individual self-empowerment of women to higher positions in our male-driven country. One of cultural feminism’s main principles is the idea that men and women have inherent differences, maintaining undesirable social boundaries for both genders. Though many would argue that higher positions of power put women on equal footing with men, if those women act the same way men do they are no better.

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This statement is proven true by modern examples, a perfect one being the 2016 United States Presidential Election. The candidate Hillary Clinton ran and lost even though she is a woman because she acted like any other male politician and got into trouble because of an email scandal. This led to the election of Donald Trump who is infamously misogynistic and perpetuates sexist attitudes. In my research, I look to prove how cultural feminist ideals fail to promote social change but perpetuate a patriarchy with women in it. Though the feminist movement has been successful in helping women become more equal in society, cultural feminist ideals in relations to individualism hurt gender equality and fail to make social change. I will explore how cultural feminism is ineffective in instilling cultural change for gender equality. I will be using the articles in my annotated bibliography to support my thesis and prove how ineffective cultural feminism is in promoting gender equality. Asencio, Marysol, W. “Machos and Sluts: Gender, Sexuality, and Violence among a Cohort of Puerto Rican Adolescents.” Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association, vol. 13, no.1, 1999, pp. 107-110. Print. Professor Marysol W. Asencio of the University of Connecticut is a full-time professor of sociology who specializes in studying Latin American and Caribbean cultures. In this article, she seeks to prove how Puerto Rican youths legitimize gender-based violence through the social construct machos and sluts. Using research from Heise et al.

Asencio points out that “Research suggests that violence against women is related to unequal gender relations maintained by social and socioeconomic inequities” (108). She further elaborates that the definition of masculinity incorporates ideas of dominance and toughness that often include possessing and protecting women (108-109). She argues that social constructs of gender roles manifest in words like macho and slut, categorizing ideal male attributes and condemning certain female actions. By using these words society perpetuates a mindset of what is masculine. She notes that the masochism is a term used to describe male gender roles in many non-latino cultures (109). Men brought up with male gender roles are more prone to gender-based violence due to them feeling more threatened by more powerful women or weaker men.

This article successfully argues the correlation between gender roles and gender-based violence. By proving the negativity of gender roles this article shows why cultural feminism should focus more upon the abolishment of them for both men and women. Hence by not recognizing the problems with male gender roles this feminism hurts gender equality as a whole. This paper by Tsjeard Bouta, Georg Frerks and Ian Bannon is a summary of a report by the World Bank on how gender equality is factored into UN decisions during conflict. The authors identify a very important argument for gender equality in the beginning of the article by pointing out how gender relations change as a result of conflict and circumstances (2). They then state how the World Bank and as an extension the UN makes sure their policies are gender as well as conflict-sensitive (2). This is one ofThis is something that cultural feminism fails to take into account in its campaign worldwide.

Gender inequality stretches beyond just positions of high power. Equality for both genders should be achieved everywhere as according to the authors gender roles are socially constructed roles ascribed to both genders and physical characteristics. They explain that since gender roles can be learned that means they can be changed and unlearned (3). The article goes on to assert that many reasons and ways gender roles should be abolished by giving evidence of the obvious equality between the genders. Graham, Gordon. “Liberal vs Radical Feminism Revisited.” Wiley, vol. 11, no. 2, 1994, pp. 155-159. Print. In this article, Mr. Graham compares the mindsets of radical and liberal feminism and studies radical feminism’s argument against liberal feminism. However, in arguing against radical feminism’s arguments Graham highlights the many faults of cultural feminism. Quoting Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women Graham argues that the radical feminist’s motivation is to secure a world where individuals are treated as persons regardless of their gender (156).

Graham remarks this as an important radical feminist argument as this cultural feminist mindset, unlike radical feminism appeals to the idea that there is a natural difference between men and women but that it should be disregarded under the law. While both movements have fought for and continue to support equality under the law, as Graham points out there must be more than just equal opportunity to accomplish gender equality if both genders live in the same society. However modern feminism, unlike the other gender equality movements, does not fight for a larger societal change. In failing to protest for some greater societal change opportunities for women open up but only for those women with a man like mentality. Seeing as they are a minority the world would then continue with a masculine majority in power (160).

Although the article succeeds in providing some positives of modern feminism ultimately it’s glaring negatives support my position. . Dr. Orock, a researcher at the University of Antwerp, Belgium argues in this paper the politicization of gender equality in Cameroon and who it really benefits. He asserts that gender equality is increasingly politicized to benefit a few elite women to enhance their own careers by taking advantage of the country’s commitment to gender equality (93). While Orock argues that jobs are increasingly distributed on the basis of actual achievement and performance (as opposed to gender) he explains that gender equality is experienced differently depending on social class and so gender equality has been institutionalised mainly with those in higher social classes (94)

. This means that the upper-class women who “fight” for gender equality have no knowledge of the inequality faced by the lower class and so only truly fight for the equality of women of their class. Orock furthers this argument by pointing out that a large event in Cameroon (Women’s Day) is referred to by many grassroots or lower class women as Big Women’s Day, referencing the fact that only upper-class women are focused on both in TV as well as being placed in the front of the parade (95). Orock ends his article requesting that the upper-class women, those involved in politics be more committed to spreading gender equality to all social classes to promote real social change. Orock’s message transcends Cameroon’s struggle to also encompass one of the main faults of cultural feminism. It is not a social movement and focuses on empowering the individual women. This means that it, like Cameroon’s feminism really only focuses on those already in a high social class and leaves women content with their positions at the top with no reason to stop acting like men or focus on the lower class. Ergo it harms gender equality as a whole.

B.K Punia is a professor of Maharshi Dayanand University who has an extensive career in the studying of Business Administration as well as Organizational Studies and Human Psychology. Using his knowledge in this article he argues against the validity of gender stereotypes in Indian Businesses. Echoing sentiments from Loring and Wells Punia states that there are at least three major role patterns which create difficulties for women in upper management positions. These are sex roles, marital roles, and work roles, all of which traditionally place men with power and women with domestic duties (191). Further quoting Loring and Wells Punia maintains that when strong women obtain power in the workplace male subordinates may not respect her due to them feeling emasculated per cultural standards. For in many cultures a man who cannot support or protect a woman is not much of a man at all (193). Using these arguments Punia argues that though women’s roles are changing worldwide and they have been proven to be excellent managers they are often underutilized and their job opportunities are restricted because of the existence and maintenance of women’s roles (189). He sums up his article by arguing that the maintenance of female and to a lesser extent male gender roles should be disregarded when it comes to job.

But in a way, he is arguing for the abolishment of those “restrictive” gender roles. Yet Punia’s argument goes directly against what many modern feminists fight for, the choice to be feminine as well as fight for women’s rights. His article supports a very important argument, that without that large controversial movement fighting for the different aspects of gender equality the opportunities of all women worldwide will be sparse. R. Claire Snyder-Hall is Associate Professor in the Department of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University. Her report seeks to prove that the quest for gender equality and the desire for femininity has long been a challenge for feminists. She argues in support of third-wave feminism and insists that the right to a choice between femininity and equality is not a struggle that should be disregarded (255).

She states, that the reason this choice is so difficult for women who consider themselves feminists is, because the very substance of what designates femininity often endorses the patriarchal system. She then advances her support of choice in third-wave feminism by noting that, “feminism requires expanding the options available to women so they can truly be self-determining…” (256). This argument indirectly sheds light on two of the main faults of third-wave feminism. At the very end of her paper regardless of all the good Professor Snyder-Hall sees in cultural feminism, she sums up her arguments by saying, “Given its basic assumptions, third-wave feminism will probably never produce the kind of collective social movement that existed in the second wave Because it strives to be inclusive of all, collective action constitutes one of its biggest challenges” (260). This piece of evidence explicitly supports my position on the ineffectiveness of cultural feminism as a movement.

Hall also succeeds in pointing out the ways male gender roles are disregarded by modern feminism. She points that this feminism expands the choices of women yet never mentions how it addresses male gender roles, an important blockade when dealing with gender discrimination. Thus she shows that true gender equality is not really the goal of cultural feminism. Professor and author James P. Sterba argues against David Benatar in this article on sexism. Mr. Benatar believes in second sexism, or that men can be discriminated against in the same way women are in society. His prime example and the one that Sterba argues against is the discrimination and widespread restriction of combat to men in the army, both in the past and the present time (219). Bentar asserts that the reasons behind the primary use of men in combat is the assumption that men are more aggressive than women. Benatar counters this stereotype on page 220 by citing that within families women can be just as violent verbally as men. He further argues and Sterba agrees that the exclusion of women from the army on the basis of strength can also be proven wrong, as can be seen in the endurance of pilots Jerrie Cobb and Mary Wallace who were both rejected from the John Glenn’s mission because of their gender (121). Benatar drives home his argument on second sexism with statistics.

Even though 78% of women in an Army Study qualified for heavy military jobs with training and yet most of those heavy military jobs still belong to men (222). Because cultural feminism does nothing to dispel male gender roles that claim men are more violent or expendable the roles are allowed to continue. This in the long run can cause discrimination against women. Using knowledge from her own experiences Ellen Willis, a former radical feminist and professor of journalism at NYU explains the inner workings of radical feminism and how it differs from modern movements. At the beginning of her essay she explains that, “Cultural feminism is essentially a moral, countercultural movement aimed at redeeming its participants, while radical feminism began as a political movement to end male supremacy in all areas of social and economic life…” (91). Essentially she believes that cultural feminism is a feel-good movement that does not really accomplish a political agenda.

She compounds this idea by stating further on that same page that radical feminism rejected the whole idea of opposing male and female natures and values as a sexist idea, a basic part of what radical feminists were fighting against. She then goes on to say that the reason cultural feminism has persisted and radical feminism has not, is that radical feminism was marginalized by American culture. Because cultural feminism is so broad in talking about the liberated woman and including most everyone that no one fights against it (92). However this just goes on to prove once more how inadequate cultural feminism. While radical feminism only lasted a short while it succeeded in sparking a national debate about legalizing abortion as well as passing the Equal Rights Amendment in Congress among many other things. To date, cultural feminism has done very little to spur on the development of true gender equality.

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