Feminism is the movement of people with the common ideologies that aim at defending equal rights for women. As a movement, it tries to create equal education and employment opportunities for women. Thus, feminism is intended to support and assist women in getting equal opportunities and representation in the society. Additionally, feminism is intended to ensure that women enjoy equal rights like men. Feminist theory is an extension of the feminist movements, and it tries to explain and enhance understanding of the different inequalities that arise due to gender difference. This implies that feminist theories try to determine the different roles of women in the society and their experiences which are important in understanding the nature of inequalities that have arisen due to gender difference. Additionally, it creates a culture where women can be appreciated based on their capabilities. Feminist theory has a range of disciplines which have theorized and responded to issues like the social construction of gender. Therefore, as an extension of feminist movements it has established and increased societal understanding of gender inequality. This theory has succeeded in improving culture change by addressing three issues, gender power and relations, gender politics and sexuality. By doing this, it has criticized the political and social relations which lead to gender bias. It has also supported promotion of women equality and equity by promoting women interests and rights in different capacities. Thus to successfully enhance understanding of the gender inequalities, feminist theory has improved social and political relations. With improved power relations, women rights and interest have been promoted and the societal understanding of the need for equality has improved. To sustain success in the latter behavior change, feminist theory addresses a number of themes which include oppression, sexual objectification, patriarchy and stereotyping. It is developed in three phases with the first phase being feminist critique, followed by the gynocritcs where women are motivated to create their textural meaning. The last phase is gender theory, a gender system (Laslit et al., 2010).
Feminist theory is faced with the big challenge of addressing gender difference. This is because; the gender inequalities often supersede the difference. To avoid this, most theorists have adopted feminist theory which is empirical based. This theory is structured such that it provides explanations to particular observations in life making it easy to address the gender issues. Also, feminist theory has been important in explaining some aspects of life like domestic violence, gender biasness, gender division of labor, rape as well as sexual assault. Additionally, the theory has assisted researchers in developing their research outline, and the research findings have been essential in the fight towards equality. These researches have also acknowledged the impacts of feminist theory by noting its relevance in the feminist movements. Researchers have also noted the importance of feminist theory in filling in the gaps that couldn’t be addressed by the social science researches. The feminist theorists have also undertaken the psychologists and the sociologists’ researches to prove the applicability of the feminist theory. Many theorists have therefore engaged in quantitative and qualitative research. These theorists have undertaken qualitative researches through ethnography, and quantitative researches through content analysis and filling in questionnaires. These researches have been undertaken through referring to feminist theory to inform the basis of the research. In some occasions, the researches have been performed and the findings used to inform feminist theory. In addition, feminist theory has been used to provide information for many researches including those which have not been undertaken by feminists themselves (Lerna, 2010).
In addition to informing the research, feminist theory comes in hand in understanding psychological and social phenomena’s. This is why many theorists have identified this model as the most successful in the history of feminism. Feminists and women activists have emerged used this theory to successfully change the shape of the world and the way of doing business. The theory has brought with it societal change by establishing equal opportunities and oneness in work, power relations and all activities where inequality existed before.
As much as there is applicability of the feminist theory its impacts and changes are yet to be experienced in some parts of the world. However, its applicability has not stopped because every day in almost all parts of the nation and across the globe, people apply feminist theory in varied areas. Most importantly is the application of the feminist theory by the feminists and the feminism movements’ activists who advocates for women rights and women interests. Thus as much as peoples culture and ideologies are yet to be changed to meet feminist theory ideologies, the theory is already in action and it is a daily experience. This can be seen through the women rights lobbying group that are daily in action in every corner of the world. In addition, in every town within the United States it is not rare to find organizations that are focused at ensuring that immigrants’ women rights are maintained. Also, the feminist theorist in action has been important in ensuring that the domestic violence issues are uncovered and perpetrators punished accordingly.
Therefore the applicability of feminist theory is very wide with the main focus of ensuring that women rights are appreciated. It also helps in establishing safe environments for women. However, the theory has faced some challenges like difficulty in implementing some concepts. As much as some ideas presented by the feminist theory are not easy to implement, there are others which have been implemented and have shaped and changed the way of doing things. In addition feminist theory has been used to change the structures that resulted to oppressions in the society. It is also due to feminist theory that the hierarchy bias structures have been changed. Additionally, the women movement groups and the gender equality groups that we see today are as a result of feminism theory (Laslit et al., 2010).
Another area that people have applied feminist theory is on increasing the insight and understanding how people think. This theory enables an individual to look at his/her self and take a position that enable one to understand and appreciate other people position and behaviors. Thus through this theory counselors have established causes of domestic violence, situations that might increase risks of rape and circumstances that can lead to gender inequalities. These counselors have used these understandings and perceptions derived from their insights to help people maintain their families. Thus this theory is applicable in everyday’s living. Thus through this theory a number of families have been united. It is through the application of this theory that many marriage counselors have convinced partners to stay together with respect and understanding. Through the applicability of gender equity and avoiding male dominance, feminist theory has managed to create a society with reduced levels of oppression. In addition, the application of feminist theory comes in hand in avoiding gender based violence as well as home based violence. Thus this theory is applicable in many ways in the modern world. However, much still need to be done to ensure that this theory helps in the change of the culture.
According to Delay (2007), feminist theory as an extension of feminism movement is vibrant and diverse. It focus on social work practice and it often try to establish ways of making the environment friendly to women. This theory is the best way to address the issues of oppressions, lack of control and lack of power in a society that is still dominate by males. In deed many methods of removing male dominion only a change in culture can address the inequality and the male dominance. Thus feminist theory, though a small portion of feminism movement, is very critical in changing methodologies, traditions and priorities in all aspects of life. These changes are targeted to enhance culture change which will go a long way in ensuring that gender equality and equity is established. To effectively deliver these changes, feminist theory concentrates on women and tries to understand issues that affect these women in the today’s contemporary society. Thus a feminist theory perspective sees an individual beyond her society. Instead the theory seeks to see an individual through the lens of cultural contexts, political, ethnic, economic and social contexts. The feminist theory also tries to add insight and understanding in the way these contexts interacts to bring in the oppression that is rampant in mal e dominate society. Usually, a feminist theory is centered towards women rights and interest. However, a deeper understanding is needed to bring in more theoretical understanding that can go a long way in bringing the cultural changes desired in a gender biased society.
Lerna (2010) established that theory is created to help people understand themselves and the world around them, and so is the feminist theory. This theory has postulated that men and women have got different experiences due to their difference in gender. In this way the feminist theory states that the men and women world s are not the same and it tries to bring the understanding of this differences. Thus feminist theory’s goal is to make these two worlds the same by enhancing understanding of these differences. By ensuring that these two worlds are the same, the feminist theory seeks to make women and men to have the same opportunities and be able to make equal choices. Thus it increases the understanding of the way human gender brings in the differences in the roles and behavior exhibited by male and females. Feminist theory looks at oppression as a vice which is structured within the political and socio-economic structure of the society. Thus, according to feminist theory oppression is not a backward tradition or bad attitude but it’s the way the world is structured. Thus feminist theory tries to explain and bring in understanding in the difference in power between males and females. It also seeks to bring in relationship between the social development and the structures through which oppression is rooted. By doing this, feminist theory tries to bring an end to oppression by changing the oppressive structures and bringing in understanding and environment which enables both genders to have equal choices. In some western cultures women oppression is not extreme. Women in these cultures and settings do not view oppression as a concern since they have overlooked areas which they are being discriminated against. Therefore, these women do not see feminist theory as having ideologies of addressing the oppression women face in the society. The theory has tried to establish factors that contribute to oppression, and key in the list are unequal political rights, lack of equal education opportunities as well as lack of economic dependence. Thus feminist theory addresses oppression based on the biological differences, women’s self understanding, political structures, labor and cultural orders. Thus feminist theory tries to increase understanding on the factors that lead to oppression and emphasizes that more than one factor, gender contributes to oppression. It changes the concepts that people have held over time viewing gender differences as the sole cause of oppression. Feminist theory also fosters to change society by promoting advocacy once the conditions that lead to oppressions are identified. In fact, many theories have been established to exist to explain the concept of feminism and they include, black feminism, Marxist, cultural, radical, socialist and materialistic feminism. Liberal feminism is centered on women’s right, like right to vote. Black feminism is centered on the balk women and the struggles they face within their historical context; on the other hand, Marxist feminism is focused on the capitalism and the concept of viewing women as the concern of production of labor in the family. Material feminism on the other is centered on the access of materials by men and women in the society where they live. Radical feminism attributes the stereotyping to male dominance, whereas lesbian feminism is centered towards having lesbian as a distinct group. Also postmodern feminism exists and it entails all the problems experienced in different fields of feminism (Delay, 2007).
Synthesis and Evaluation
Felski (2000) noted that feminist theory was developed in 1960s due to culture changes as time progressed. The theorists based their views on the historical concepts and class differences. These basis reveals man as dominance force in the society and as perceived by culture. This has led some theorists to pre maturely conceptualize their concepts that societal oppression is done by man due to his own knowing. Others have also conceptualized and wrongly judged the contribution of male dominance as the force of oppression on the basis of the roles constructed by the society. Effect the opponents of feminist theory have considered feminists as people who are slavishly driven by the desire in women’s advancement and nothing more than that. Therefore, according to the opponents it is not worth giving this group any attention because they have no basis of arguments or basis for seeking attention. In addition, other theorists have identified class difference as the contribution to oppression; however this is not right either. The theorists and scholars who have rightly judged the origin of feminist theories and acknowledged by many readers have based their concepts on the favor of historical time and acknowledges the societal forming of the oppression. Due to the creation of the oppressions over time it is necessary to address these challenges and live in a society free of discrimination and oppression. Thus, this can only happen when the feminist theory is applied and people get willing to change their culture which is rooted in the historical pasts and the historical favors and societal forming of the oppression.
Feminist evaluation approaches are aimed at measuring the effectiveness of the feminist theory programs as well as successes. It works like any other evaluation approaches though there is difference in the focus of feminist evaluation. In other words, the feminist’s theory evaluations are focused on the success of the gender based issues and it also looks at the ways of improving and making the gender based programs successful. The feminist evaluation approaches are therefore targeted towards ensuring social justice and promoting women rights and interests. However, the feminist theory evaluation approaches also gives attention to men, sexual orientation, race and class. These feminist evaluation approaches are also focused on ensuring change and promotion of women issues (Baker and Edith, 2009).
Barker, D. K., and Edith. K. eds. (2009). Toward a Feminist Philosophy of Economics. London and New York: Routledge.
Daley, G. J. (2007). A Critique of Feminist Theory. Indianapolis, Indiana University School of Social Work. Advannces in Social Work Vol. 8 (1). Retrieved on 17th/11/2012 from
Felski, R. (2000). Doing Time: Feminist Theory and Postmodern Culture. New York. New York University Press, pp. 214.
Laslitt, B., Ruth, E. B., Joeres, M., and Maynes, E., et al. ed. (2010). History and Theory: Feminist Research, Debates, Contestations. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Lerner, G. (2011). The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History. London, Oxford University Press.