Brittany Speight Senior Seminar Feminism Feminism is the theory that men and women should be equal, politically, economically, and socially. There are many different types of feminism and each have a profound impact on someone’s view of society. The first is cultural feminism, which is the theory that there are fundamental personality differences between men and women, and that women’s differences are special. This theory supports the idea that there are biological differences between men and women and sexism can be overcome by embracing the “women’s way.” The second type is individualist or libertarian feminist.
This feminism is based upon libertarian philosophies, with the focus on autonomy, rights, liberty, independence, and diversity. Next, there is the radical feminism; this theory began approximately during the 1967 – 1975. This ideology focuses on social change, and “attempts to draw lines between biologically – determined behavior and culturally- determined behavior” in order to free both men and women as much as possible from their previous narrow gender roles. Finally, there is the Liberal Feminism, this theory focuses on the idea that all people are created equal and that education is the primary means to change discrimination. Groups in favor of this theory are the N. A.
C. – the National Action Committee on the Status of Woman, an organization representing 500 feminist oriented women’s groups, and the N. O. W. – the National Organization of Women. Both of these organizations and Feminism as a whole are and have been influential on the national government.
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Many political groups or ideologies attack feminist ideas. Zilla h R. Einstein’s book, Feminism and Sexual Equality focuses on the importance of feminist theories and its attackers. The primary two political groups that have taken a stand against Feminism are “The New Right” and “Neoconservatives.” The New Right feels that the welfare state is undermining the “traditional patriarchal family.” The state has taken over certain family functions such as the health, welfare and education of its citizens.
Jerry Falwell, supporter of the New Right and head of the Moral Majority, argues that “in order to revitalize the capitalist economy, and create a moral order, and strengthen America at home and abroad, policy makers must aim to reestablish the dominance of the traditional white patriarchal family.” (Einstein, 1984) The cause for the New Right’s attack is that these married wage earning women have the potential to transform society. These women are having an influence on today’s government. Because women are working and continuing the responsibilities of the household and child care, they are now beginning to voice demands for programs such as affirmative action, equal pay, pregnancy disability payments, and abortion rights. According to Einstein, the New Right is composed of a “conservative middle class majority, citizens concerned about high taxes and inflation, small business people angry at governmental control, born- again Christians concerned about sex in television and movies, supporters of the right to life, who are against federal funding of abortion, and middle class Americans tired of Big Government.” The New Right feels that women are being forced to enter the work force because of the high taxes and inflation caused by the continuous growth of the welfare state.
Women leaving the home are destructive to the family unit. The family structure is believed to be necessary to the “moral fabric of society and economic vitality. (Einstein, 1984) There has been a transfer of family functions from the family to “doctors, psychiatrists, child development experts, spokesmen for the juvenile courts and marriage counselors (Einstein, 1984).
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Since the mother has become more “absent” from the household, authority and responsibilities have been shifted to the state figures previously listed. Juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy and teenage drug abuse have all been on a rapid incline over the years. One can only wonder if this can be attributed to the lack of supervision or parental influence in these teenagers’ lives.
The family life is the primary concern of the New Right group. In addition, opposing the ideas of feminism, but for different reasons is the Neoconservatives. This ideology is defined by the criticism of liberalism for overextending itself. Neoconservatives seek to save liberalism from itself. This is distinguished from the New Right’s rejection of liberalism; neoconservatives reject the idea of the welfare state because they think it has created “excesses of democracy” (Einstein, 1984).
Neoconservatives believe that liberalism has caused people to expect that they are owed equality of opportunities and equality of outcomes.
“Programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and affirmative action have unleashed a set of expectations that are endless” (Einstein, 1984).
Americans have come to expect too much from the government. The government is not only expected to provide equal opportunities but also equality in results. Competition results are now expected to be predetermined, by programs like affirmative action.
According to the Neoconservatives analysis, the welfare state is in crisis, because “it cannot and will never be able to satisfy the demand for equality. Only when expectations are lowered will government be able to satisfy the people” (Einstein, 1984).
However, Einstein argues that the welfare state has never attempted to create equality of conditions, rather than equality of opportunity. Moreover, he argues that the true problem with liberalism is reflected in its incapability to embrace the idea of equality of opportunity when it comes to the realms of race and sexual classes. One proposed idea by the Neoconservatives is to create a conservative welfare state based on the American values of self reliance and individual liberty. This means attacking the idea of bureaucratic coercion and promoting the maximum amount of individual independence.
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The Neoconservatives are concerned with programs that directly affect the market and indirectly impact the family life. Liberalism is a theory about economic and political freedom. Conservatism is a theory about political hierarchy, authority, and inequality. Neo conservatism tries to blend the two.
“This ideology promotes equality of opportunity with a defense of the inequalities necessary to competition. They retain the liberal commitment to individualism and individual freedom of choice, but do so with the added commitment to inequality and authority implicit in liberalism and explicit in conservatism” (Einstein, 1984).
Women’s potential power to transform this society is what the New Right and Neoconservatives fear. Proof of this potential is the fact that the state thinks it needs to mobilize against the feminist movement and the gains made by women. The women’s movement has been an important means to of empowerment to women. It is through organizing and joining women’s groups that many women have become aware of their oppression and have sought ways to gain control of their lives.
Not only are women shunned from the workplace, but also many believe that they have no business in politics either. In the book, The Women’s Movement, issues like women’s political participation and their membership to the workforce are discussed. Women have made critical improvements to their circumstances in life, be it there careers, political position, or even military involvement. Men primarily run the government that has authority over both males and females. Therefore it is necessary for the election of women into office to be the means of achieving the public policies that are consistent with the preferences of women (Gimli n, 1981).
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It is assumed that women office holders are better at representing women’s interests on a variety of issues, especially ones that directly affect women.
Women are concerned with issues such as childcare, welfare, healthcare, and the care for the elderly. This is largely because women bear more of the.