Feminist Theory

Dorothy Smith is well known for her standpoint theory in her account of feminine sociology. This theory explains that what one knows is affected by where they stand in society. For instance an adult in the upper class may have a harder time coping in an economic recession in comparison to a working or lower class adult. The reason for that could be there difference in knowledge of survival skills. Their different standpoints in society and life endows them with knowledge on a certain lifestyle.
The goal of Smith’s feminist sociology was to reformulate theory by accounting for the standpoint of gender and its effects on our experience of reality. She states that sociology was primarily set out to be the scientific and objective study of society, but only assumed and reflected the ideologies, perspectives, and interests of European males. Smith linked feminism to Marxism in that objective social, economic, and political relations shape and determine women’s oppression. She goes on to argue that it is through bifurcation consciousness that subordinate groups are conditioned to view the world from the perspective of the dominant group and introduces institutional ethnography. Institutional ethnography argues that through micro level, everyday practices, the hierarchical patterns of social structures are practiced and reaffirmed. Smith’s account for feminism in regards to sociology allows us to take into account how much perspectives come into play so much in society. She goes on to add that the most oppressed and marginalized group has the most accurate perspective of society and its structures.
Patricia Hill Collins is well renowned for her book, “Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment”, which incorporates Dorothy Smith’s standpoint theory but looked at it more through an epistemological lens and scope. Her work included three central claims that (1) oppressions of race, class, gender, sexuality and nation are intersecting, mutually constructing systems of power. Collins utilizes the term “Intersectionality” to refer to this simultaneous overlapping of multiple forms of oppression. (2) Because Black women have unique histories at the intersections of systems of power, they have created world views out of a need for self-definition and to work on behalf of social justice, and (3) Black women’s specific experiences with intersecting systems of oppression provide a window into these same processes for other individuals and social groups. What Collins brought into the feminist argument is the reality that women of color not only suffer with gender but with race as well, all which needs to be added into the equation.
According to Chaftez, gender-inequality theories recognize that women’s location in, and experience of, social situations are not only different but also unequal to men’s. She argued that women have the same capacity as men for moral reasoning and agency, but that patriarchy, particularly the sexist patterning of the division of labor, has historically denied women the opportunity to express and practice this reasoning. Women have been isolated to the private sphere of the household and, thus, left without a voice in the public sphere. Even after women enter the public sphere, they are still expected to manage the private sphere and take care of household duties and child rearing. Most feminists point out that marriage is a site of gender inequality and that women do not benefit from being married as men do. Indeed, married women have higher levels of stress than unmarried women and married men. According to liberal feminists, the sexual division of labor in both the public and private spheres needs to be altered in order for women to achieve equality.
Application
Throughout these readings I couldn’t help but think about the different types of stigma and stereotypes women especially black women go through based off of something so natural as just being a woman. For that I wanted to share an excerpt from a poem I adore.
“Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”
Research Questions
1. How can more feminist movements and applications be applied to the Middle Eastern culture?
2. In what ways does women perpetuate the exact stereotypes of gender that femist fought so hard to render?

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