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12.3D: The Feminist Perspective

  • Page ID
    8307
  • Feminists view the family as a historical institution that has maintained and perpetuated sexual inequalities.

    Learning Objectives

    • Describe the goals of first and second-wave feminism

    Key Points

    • Feminism is a broad term that is the result of several historical social movements attempting to gain equal economic, political, and social rights for women.
    • First-wave feminism focused mainly on legal equality, such as voting, education, employment, the marriage laws, and the plight of intelligent, white, middle-class women.
    • Second-wave feminism went a step further is seeking equality in family, employment, reproductive rights, and sexuality.
    • Both feminist and masculinist authors have decried predetermined gender roles as unjust.

    Key Terms

    • gender: The socio-cultural phenomenon of the division of people into various categories such as male and female, with each having associated roles, expectations, stereotypes, etc.

    Feminism is a broad term that is the result of several historical social movements attempting to gain equal economic, political, and social rights for women. First-wave feminism focused mainly on legal equality, such as voting, education, employment, marriage laws, and the plight of intelligent, white, middle-class women. Second-wave feminism went a step further by seeking equality in family, employment, reproductive rights, and sexuality. Although there was great improvements with perceptions and representations of women that extended globally, the movement was not unified and several different forms of feminism began to emerge: black feminism, lesbian feminism, liberal feminism, and social feminism.

    Sociology of Motherhood

    In many cultures, especially in a traditional western one, a mother is usually the wife in a married couple. Her role in the family is celebrated on Mother’s Day. Some often view mothers’ duties as raising and looking after their children every minute of every day. Mothers frequently have a very important role in raising offspring, and the title can be given to a non-biological mother that fills this role. This is common in stepmothers (female married to biological father). In most family structures, the mother is both a biological parent and a primary caregiver.

    However, this limited role has increasingly been called into question. Both feminist and masculist authors have decried such predetermined roles as unjust. In the United States, 82.5 million women are mothers of all ages, while the national average age of first child births is 25.1 years. In 2008, 10% of births were to teenage girls, and 14% were to women ages 35 and older.

    image

    Women’s Rights: International Women’s Day rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh, organized by the National Women Workers Trade Union Centre on March 8, 2005.

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