Feminist Family Theory Summary

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Feminist Family Theory Summary

The paper discusses the general principles and elements that combine to make what is popularly known as the feminist family theory. The initial sections of the paper concentrated on the basic assumptions made by feminist family theorists. One of these assumptions is that women play a central role in the understanding of families. This statement purports that the experiences, feelings and other aspects of women have been largely left out of the study of the analysis of family and the society in general. Another assumption in the paper was that gender was a socially constructed concept. This assumption also stated that sex was a biological construction while it concluded that gender was responsible for giving meaning to the terms “masculinity” and “femininity”. The next assumption was that the family comprised of many different forms apart from the conventional ones of man-husband, woman-wife, and children. A historical assumption captured by the feminist family scholars was that women were considered property that could be exchanged while men were considered ordinary human beings.

The next section of the paper concentrated on the brief history of the feminist movement. It commenced with events and individuals that influenced the revolution in 1848. Women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony organized for petitions and rallies to ensure women had the right to vote. These efforts were not realized until 1920 when it was officially ratified in the U.S. Constitution. Simultaneously, the women rallied together and fought for the realization of other things such as right to education, participation in politics, and employment. The paper then discussed the contributions of Margaret Mead, one of the popular anthropologists who proposed that gender was socially constructed. Using her research from Samoa and New Guinea, the paper argued that behavior sets that were typically branded as either masculine or feminine were determined by the cultural setting of the individual.

The discussion then reverted to the chronology of the feminist movement by outlining the First Wave of Feminist Movement that covered the greater part of the post World War II period. The paper then moved to analyze the Second Wave of Feminist Movement that was led by women such as Betty Freidan and Carol Gilligan who opposed the subjugation of women in their careers and businesses. The second wave was concerned with reducing the level of oppression experienced by women in their hard-won areas of success. Between the first and second waves of movement, there was little activity or progress among feminists.

The paper then progressed to analyze the Third Wave of Feminist Movement. During this period, feminists had concentrated on reducing and eliminating the various forms of oppressions. These efforts resulted in the creation of the feminist family theory, a school of thought that focused on the detailed definition of the family as well as its different forms such as multiethnic, cohabitating, remarried and same sex families. This emerging approach concentrated on categorization, stratification, and its effects on boys and girls. The paper also discussed the social privileges awarded to the gender perceived to have more power and value. The feminist family theory sought to analyze how people’s understanding of reality was developed through social interaction. The conclusive sections of the paper concentrated on the findings of the feminist family scholar approach. The theory revealed that women suffered unequal division of labor in the home and at work. This aspect was not affected by the economic status of the woman. The paper proposed that the efforts to increase women’s empowerment should be accompanied by improving their economic opportunities that could improve their chances at independence. The last paragraphs of the paper also included a relatively new aspect. It mentioned the way in which teenage girls sought to stay in abusive relationships with their boyfriend to fulfill the social constructs that portrayed such relationships as being positive.

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