Describe each of the following theoretical perspectives of women's subordination in society. Discuss which aspect of woman's subordination each focuses on.
Biological determinism or essentialism holds that there is a natural and genetic difference between men and women and from a patriarchal viewpoint finds that women are intellectually and physically inferior and should be relegated to child rearing and domestic duties. Liberal feminism, often called middle class feminism calls for equal economic, voting and citizenship rights within the present system, unlike radical or socialist feminism that demand the overthrow of capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy, perhaps even in a revolution. Multiracial feminists also wish to build a global feminist movement that crosses the lines of color, language, religion and nationality, instead of simply being known as a white, middle class Western movement that benefits only privileged or upwardly mobile women.
Using Feminism is for Everybody, describe how Bell Hooks defines each of the following. Also, discuss why Hooks critiques liberal feminism and advocates radical feminism.
In general, the purpose of the feminist movement is to challenge patriarchy and the ideology that regards women as naturally inferior to men and maintains that men should rule over them. All feminists oppose this system, which has of course been the norm throughput human history, and only in the era of industrialization and urbanization was it really possible to imagine it might be changed. Men benefit from patriarchy politically, economically, culturally and sexually, even though they may dislike certain aspects of it (Hooks ix). Minority women and lesbians were always more radical and revolutionary than white, middle class women, who were more interested in "gaining equality with men in the existing system" (Hooks 4). Black, working class and lesbian women could never hope for real equality under the present system, and were more interested in ending capitalism, imperialism and patriarchy than assimilating into it. For white women liberal-reformist feminism "became their route to class mobility," while lower class men and women would always be below them on the social and economic ladder (Hooks 5).
3. Using Feminism is for Everybody, describe the role of consciousness-raising in understanding woman's oppression and becoming a feminist. Discuss the first step in changing sexist and racist oppression.
One of the main insights of the revived feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s was that women could be as sexist as men, and in fact had been conditioned to be so all their lives. No real feminist movement was therefore possible without these small, informal consciousness-raising groups. As Hooks states, "feminists are made, not born" and women had to change their ideas and attitudes about other women before they could become feminists (Hooks 7). In the early days, these consciousness-raising sessions were often noteworthy for rage and hostility about their victimhood at the hands of men, which had been pent up for many years. Only later did they begin to formulate theories and practices to assist women in overcoming this oppression, but unlike today, the early feminist movement was built at the grassroots in this way.
4. Using Feminism is for Everybody, describe the critique of woman's studies and feminist theory from each of the following perspectives: working class white woman, feminists of color, lesbian feminists
Radical, revolutionary and lesbian feminists were often ignored by the mainstream media, as were working class women. On the other hand, white women in the middle and professional classes, or those who aspired to move upward, used feminism for their own ends and quickly abandoned any radical or revolutionary pretenses once they realized they could advance their own goals within the system. In universities, which are mostly "conservative, corporate structures," women's studies programs replaced the earlier, informal consciousness-raising groups, and also offered some women higher incomes, status and publicity (Hooks 10). Hooks argued that radical women in the U.S. should challenge "those groups of women posing as feminists in the interest of class opportunism" (Hooks 47).
5. Using "White Privilege and Male Privilege" (2), describe how Peggy McIntosh define white privilege. From the list, describe two examples of how whites are privilege and people of color are subordinate.
McIntosh described a number of white privileges in America, such as freedom from racial profiling and police stops for "crimes" like Driving While Black, or to apply for a job, open a bank account or buy a house without being a possible victim of discrimination or coming under suspicion because of one's color.
6. Using the handout, "The Male Privilege Checklist," describe how B. Deutch defines male privilege. From his list, describe two examples of how men are privilege and woman are subordinated.
7. Discuss of gender is constructed in U.S. society. Describe how femininity if defined and how is masculinity defined. Describe how the social construction of gender maintains inequality.
For most of U.S. history, at least until fairly recent times, the social construction of gender in the U.S. required women to be married, have children and tend to their domestic chores, while men worked outside the home and participated in the public sphere, including politics and government. At least, this was how the system was supposed to be organized when the country ceased to be agrarian and males began to work outside the home. Of course, this standard did not apply to all women equally since slave women, immigrants and working class women often had to work outside the home, and at unpaid or very low-paying work.
8. Using the film, Killing Us Softly4: Advertising's Images to Women, describe how femininity is socially constructed, including women's value is society. Discuss how the objectification of woman maintains women's subordination in society.
Advertising tells women how they should look, and to feel ashamed and guilty if they do not look flawless, like a supermodel, with no pores, lines or wrinkles. Today, through computer-generated images, almost all women's images in advertising are photo-shopped. This type of imagery turns women's bodies into things, objects and body parts, which makes them into commodities and objects of violence. Young adolescent girls who cannot measure up to these pictures of models suffer from low self-esteem and eating disorders. This is actually a major public health program for women, and if it does not change they will continue to be dehumanized.
9. Describe the beauty ideal for men and women in U.S. culture. Describe two ways beauty ideal maintains male dominance in society.
The Beauty Ideal turns women's bodies into objects and commodities to sell products of all kinds, and also sends the message that their main purpose in life is to look appealing and attractive to men. Women would therefore never be known for their intellectual or professional abilities or competence in any other field, bit only as things and body parts.
10. Using Hooks' chapter, "Beauty and the Body (Ch.6)," in Feminism is for Everybody, describe how the beauty ideal maintains control over woman's bodies.
Describe what the scene form the film, Real Woman Have Curves, of Mexican-American woman accepting their bodies suggests about challenging the beauty myth.
This video depicts a group women working on clothing in what appears to be a sweatshop. Ana is the youngest and she takes off her dress because she is very hot and sticky, but her mother does not approve of this. In fact, she thinks both Ana and her sister are too fat and ugly, and should lose some weight because they look like "cows." Mama is also fat, though, but she says it does not matter since she is married and no longer needs to worry about looking thin or 'sexy'. She keeps telling Ana that she looks "awful" and should be embarrassed at looking so ugly that she will never be able to attract a man. Ana is happy with the way she is, while Rosalie wants to be respected for what she is and what she thinks, not how she looks. In fact, both Ana and Rosalie seem a lot more assimilated than Mama, who still speaks English with an accent and has attitudes that seem more typical of Mexico. When all the other women get undressed and show each other their cellulite and stretch marks, Mama thinks they are crazy. In the end, it turns out that she also has a big scar from a Caesarian section. Mama leaves and the ends, and Ana says "goodbye" to her. Their work does seem like wage-slavery -- literally sweatshop labor -- and Ana thinks it is like "hell." Obviously she is hoping for something better in life, perhaps moving into the middle class, but does not accept that beauty myth that requires her to be 'sexy' and always appealing to males.
11. Describe two examples of how language reinforces women's subordination.
12. Describe how woman how women's dress is socially defined. Discuss what it means to dress "sexy." Discuss how woman are supposed to dress at work. Discuss how the standards for women's dress subordinate women.
Before the modern feminist movement women were conditioned to…