103 terms

Feminist Political Theory


Terms in this set (...)

"How Do Women Say 'We'"
Foundation of Standpoint Theory
Simone De Beauvoir
Theories of knowledge: How do we make claims (of what we know)?
An epistemology: Something about which claims can be made.
Situated Knowledge
What one knows is affected by where one stands (one's subject position in society)
Produces and reflects power: history is written by the victors
Standpoint Feminism
epistemic opposition between perspective of privileged group and that of the oppressed group (oppose privilege claim w/counter argument).

Privileged group has the authority to make a "truth claim"

oppressed is in the position to view such claim as contingent- rooted in relationship of power
Purpose of Standpoint
basic premise of standpoint by involving disadvantaged groups, we can better identify the roots of our idea of knowledge and how it relates to power. oppressed have better perspective, can produce better and more equitable alternative to status quo
Tenants of Standpoint (5)
1- material life conditions how we think about social relations
2- perspective of social relations will differ between groups, who occupy different material positions
3- the vision of the ruling group dictates what the material relationships are for all groups
4- the oppressed group must struggle to see themselves not only as a particular group, but as one conditioned by existing material relations
5- if that vision can be realized material and political change might be possible
Hartstock bases her 'Feminist Standpoint' on
Mainly the sexual division of labor. Also, controlled reproduction, gendered violence, being on the margins
Sexual division of labor
biology: men/ women labor cannot to limited to gender, which is a social construct; women bearing children is not a choice

politically relevant for mobilization
(ignores trans women)
Hartstock's Masculinity
abstract, idealized. absent father while being while being told to reject the concrete reality of femininity
Hartstock's Femininity
concrete, present mother. .
No dichotomy (no dualisms)
grounded in reality .
part of production process.
Critiques of Hartstock
exchanging one epistemic priviledge for another: women > men (proletariat not supposed to be put in a superior position )

is she overturning dualities or maintaining them?

Abandon's marxist parallel? - where's the revolutionary transcendence?

is the utility of women's perspectives for hartsock derived from the very position that she also wants to identify as oppressed? - ie: can women only have this valuable perspective within a system of oppression: is she trapped by the system she wants to reject

biology is a slippery slope: trans women??

extracts a lot of meaning from reproduction: psychology of motherhood, unity of nature. becomes exclusive. where are the politics going?
Difference Feminism
Positively revaluing women
There are differences, but we need the feminine
-Anglo-Am- Focus on lived experiences
-French- Symbolic Fem/Masc
Diversity Feminism
Critiques essentialism
Black feminist thought/intersectionality
Addressing intersecting, conflicting and overriding identities
Deconstruction Feminism
Dismantling binaties: M/F; Sex/Gender
Loss of epistemological certainty
Multiply identitt of woman and all such idenentities are unstable/felcible
Identities come into being because we perform them
Standpoint Feminists
Hartstock- White Universal
Patricia Hill Collins- Black Women's Standpoint
1989 coined by Crenshaw
NOT an identity politic, but a theory of power-- how individuals are regulated by intersecting forms of oppression [NOT defining an identity]
Hill Collins' Approach to Standpoint
Positively reevaluating women/feminism and Hartsock's standpoint
attacks universality
addresses race, class, and sexuality on experiences of particular women
intersecting forms of oppression
Black women are the most oppressed

Combahee River Collective Origins
Collective sprang out of fractures in black feminism (black lesbianism)

wanted to think about black women as both marginalized by white society and within the civil rights movement (early stages of intersectionality)
Combahee River Collective Goals
Consciousness raising, refuges for black women, trial work
NOT a separatist politic, struggled alongside movements that they were trying to change from within (feminist, black liberation). Separatists can't understand interlocking forms of oppression.
"A Black Feminist Statement"
Combahee River Collective
Highlights the necessity of a distinctly black feminist standpoint

Early description of the concept of intersectionality

Outlining the nature of a politics of identity
Hill Collins' Critique of The Statement
Combahee collective too determinist (ignores agency and actors)
ties manifesto into standpoint theory explicityly
emphasizes utility of black women's oppression- intersecting experiences of oppression
[Is this correct?]
Collins' Black Feminist Framework
Themes- what is the core to black women's standpoint
Interpretive framework- lens of diversity and intersectionality
Epistemology- what grounds black feminist claims/ knowledge
Empowerment- what are the objects of resistance / empowerment
Collins' Black Women's Standpoint
biological classifications- race/gender constructed, clear biological criteria for gender, no clear/ easy biological criteria for race.
material conditions of black women
black women's consciousness uniquely shaped by experiences
racial segregation ghettoized black community, created black community/black civil society

work- what one does shapes how one thinks
outsiders at work: domestic labor caring for children of white employers

black mothers- devalued
domestic laborers caring for white women's children while they have their own children
Collins' 5 Themes in Black Feminist Standpoint
Legacy of struggle
Sexual violence- vulnerability because of race
race, class and gender (intersectionality)
Struggle for self definition- w/out self definition, others define you
Experience w/ movements/activisms against oppression while being marginalize within those groups
Degraffenreid v. GM
Black women laid off, racist and sexist. court rejected that black women were disadvantaged by both (had to choose one to continue their claim.)
Said black women shouldn't be allowed to be a special class
Moore v. Hughes Helicopter
Plaintiff files class action lawsuit as a black woman, not allowed to because must choose black or woman
Payne v Travenol
black men could not file as a class themselves, just black women
Crenshaw's Intersectionality in Law
Law confounded by struggle to deal w/ both race and gender

Crenshaw says that black women are caught in the inability of the court to deal with intersecting oppression. Sex discrimination tends to be normalized by white women's experiences. Race discrimination is normalized to include black men or class privileged women.
Elsa Brown [SWR 272-287]
Anita Hill Case
Elsa Brown Describes the issue:
Supporters ignored her identity as a black woman-- perpetuated the notion of a deracialized women's experience.
Clarence Thomas calls the case a high-tech lynching; Anita Hill's experience as a black woman erased
"Veil of Ignorance"
John Rawls' theory that "Ignorant of their specific interests, people will vote for common good."

Okin criticizes this theory for not taking family into account.
Feminism and Multiculturalism: Some Tensions (To use Okin's Language)
What happens when the cultures are internally discriminatory?

Group recognition v. Individual equality
Internal v. External Rights

There's a challenge on the left to take culture seriously without rendering internal minorities invisible

Strange bedfellows
Okin's Definition of Feminism
Political argument against sex discrimination:
Women should be recognized as having human dignity equal to that of men, and opportunities to live as fulfilling and as freely chosen lives as men can (from we to individual)
Feminism and Bey's Lemonade: Some Tensions
Feminism/Multiculturalism's "Strange Bedfellows"
liberals align with patriarchal groups, feminists align with anti-immigrant, xenophobic interests (issues like women should go to school)
Okin Defines Culture
Most cultures are suffused with practices and ideologies concerning gender:
-household roles
- gendered rituals/practices (child marriages, polygamy, genital mutilation, honor killings, etc.)

Women Maintain Culture:
-Culture works through the bodies of women
-Primary care givers, women preserve the space where "culture" is reproduced"
Proponents of Okin's Stance
Pollitt- Who determines what counts as culture (internally)? Does the dominant group within a culture make its claims?
Raz- We can challenge cultural practices, not culture as a whole. Interact and adapt cultures [NOT preservation].
Sunstein- Applies legal perspective to Okin's argument; "The Asymmetry Thesis"; state does not include gender inequality as "compelling interest," so does not take action.
Opponents of Okin's Stance
Honig- What counts as culture? As inequality? Do we blame culture or brutality? Okin ignores Western sexual violence in her critique of culture, and always assumes negative.
al-Hibri- who speaks for "the other," also you're conflating culture and religion
Gilman- Who decides what's barbaric?
Parekh- "liberalism's" cultural pretensions
Bhabha- A monolithic presentation of cultural others; ignores resistance within.
Bridging gap between feminism and multiculturalism
-External v. Internal Group Rights
-External: prevent discrimination against whole group.
-Internal: prevent leaders from oppressing individuals within groups.
Okin's Reply to Criticism
who's silencing whom?!?

No credible parallel eamples of men being oppressed by "culture" as women are- (add quote here)

Moral equality (add quote here)

choice vs. socialization (add quote here)

education and citizenship (add quote here)

why should liberal democratic states allow for cultural protections that undermine the rights of individuals within minority groups
Postcolonial Feminism
Takes issue with:
Colonization of "3rd world" women
Imposition of "western" women
Interconnecting experience in global economy
Construction of a monolithic "3rd world" subject- as victims
Western feminists ignore the priority of women in the developing world in theories to liberate (harassment v. violence, contraceptives v. reproductive safety (death during child birth), what does freedom / liberation look like in a nonWestern context?)
Western/Imperialist Feminism
Western women bought entry to labor markets at the expense of women in the developing world
Western feminism produced "3rd world" women as other
Western feminism performing its own type of imperialism- one size fits all, justifies intervention, policy impositions, western supremacy
Western Feminist Generalizations of "Third World" Women
Methodological Universalism
(Mohanty )
1. victims of male violence
2. universal dependents
3. victims of Arab familial systems
4. victims of isalamic code (shariah), associated/pegged to jihab
5. married women are victims of colonial process
6. victims of economic development- imposed policies
Methodological Universalism
(Mohanty) Taking a particular perspective/ practice, relationship and assuming its generalizable (all victims)

we should think about intersectionality on a global level
Muslim women as victims becomes part of the justification of imperialism

violence- individual's problem if by western men, group characteric if by muslim men

western feminists think you can't be muslim and free- hijab

because we only scrutinize restrictions, we can't understand choice outside of that
Violence of saving- feminism as a US military ally

Us vs. them- cultural opposition and forced "choice"

the paradox of freedom- free to be like the US
4 Parts of The Relationship Between The West and Developing Nations
1. resource mining- exclude women from tradition roles of labor
2. borders- how they're drawn, outsourced labor
3. militarism- bases, femininity and cultural context which justifies military agenda
4. there is a claim for reparations
Narayar (7) I'm a native, but I shouldn't have to be to be taken seriously

my culture isn't necessarily mine

generational shifts effect progress, not just culture

historical specificity is important

select labeling is important (genital cutting, islam problem or african problem)

Mohanti's analysis of western gaze used to silence change within groups (elders blame west when youth want reform)

not helpful to dismiss a point because of who says it- should promote conversation regardless
We have the a firm moral standing/ authority to make claims to critique these practices if they are approached from the stance of an intersecting global network because of interconnectedness of west and developing world historically, economically- we have a mutual relationship and a mandate for addressing these issues globally
we can't accept challenges based on relativism (us vs. them)

we can't wait for epistemic privilege- fight over who gets a legitimate claim distracts from issues at hand - judgement is a practical problem of politics

ethnocentrism, universalism, culutral relativism= all bad
domination/inequality stance on sex
anti-porn movement of 70's, semi conservative, policing sexuality and bodies
sex positive/ liberation stance on sex
saw domination proponents conflate sex and violence
Mackinnon's Sexuality
as constructed, is masculine domination- masculine=objectifier, eroticized dominance
femininity= object, eroticized submission
domination and subordination
married women wouldn't want sex from men in equitable relationships because caregiving isn't masculine, so it's not sexy. We understand desire in terms of power.
Equality Approach to Law
Difference-blind law
Difference Approach to Law
The reality of sex difference suggests that we need laws that take those differences into account.
Inequality Approach to Law
The only issue in law is to determine whether a practive maintains inequality.
MacKinnon's Anti-Porn laws
Does sexuality's domination contribute to the legal maintenance of an underclass or deprived position because of ender? Yes.
Outlaw certain types of porn as:
promoting injury
undermining women's rights
Wendy brown's take on mckennon (5)
1. relentless dualism and absolutism of subject positions
2. sexuality dominates construction of subject positions
3. sexual subject positions of male/female= subjectivity of male + female
4. gender=heterosexuality
5. McKennon writes and talks like porn

limits transcendence- we're trapped here, let's treat symptoms of system. Brown wants to change sysyem

Too totalizing to say that sexuality as domination defines gender, and that porn is significantly to blame
Origins of the Family:
-Originally Matrilineal Kinship--> Then, wealth increases, and main gain power--> patrilineal overthrow of the mother right--> Gendering of labor
-Man and Woman is the first class antagonism
-Bourgeoise marriage is unlike proletariat marriage, because proles have no property to inherit.
-State maintains hierarchies by protecting the dominant
-Solution: Socialized care/Housework and equality before the law.
Androcentric Psychology
Questions male-centered bias in psychological studies of development and moral psychology.
"Feminist Ethics of Care"
Masculine Norms hidden behind assumptions about moral ideas
Need multiple dimensions of moral understanding.
Reproduction of mothering
How the reproduction of mothering maintains social structures.
Aim: Men need to be caretakers
Triangle Relations of Gender
1. Male separates from primary object relation (mother); females develop tirangular relation (mom and dad)
2. Men Individuated; women become relational
3. The reproduction of mothering reglects and maintains social structures
-Nuclear family
-Capitalism: creates unemotional, competitive men and women who raise them.
Object-Relations Theory
Bodily drives shape what we want.
How do drives influence relationships?
1. Close relation to primary caretaker in 1-3 years
2. Dissolution of relationship
3. Different for women and men
Historical Materialism
Oedipal Complex
Gender Identity forms in phallic stage
Females can't identify witht he authority of the father (the phallus) and can't get out of this phase--> passivity/neuroses, want male son, weak ego and superego, can't repress instincts.
Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development
1. Punishment/Fear
2. Personal Gain (bargaining)
3. Social Approval
4.Authority and Social Order
5. Individual rights
6. Morality of Conscience
Explaining gender development in children
Children Born bisexual and develop identitiy
Not innate gender

He had one foot in the radical, and one foor in the norms of society (took heterosexuality for granted)
Feminist Theory/Politics are multifacted
3 divergent Perspectives: 1. Difference 2. Diversity
3. Deconstruction
What is necessary for movement?
1. To posit a subject
2. To address a problem
3. Define goals
4. Explain why
How do we use gender?
1. Descriptive
-Professional- binary inequalities
-Relationally- sexed bodies given meaning
2. Causal
-Patriarchy- look at hierarchy; rely on body; not diverse
-Marxism-gender becomes subcategory, but precapitalism
-Anglo-Am- Object relations; nuclear family; western
- French- Language
Point: Gender signifies relations of power
De Beauvoir
One is not born a woman, but one becomes one.
Woman as relational- definied in relation to man but not reciprocal; an other, a lack, a negative, a limit.
No unifying history = naturalizing
Need "we"- subjective identity
There are "advantages" to being othered e.g. less existential burden (but in reality women have agency because even no choice is a choice.
The drama of woman: To remain subjugated or to not.
Existence precedes essence- no meaning in world that we didn't make; we are responsible for shaping ourselves.
First Wave
Suffrage movement late 19th century
1920- 19th amendment
-"Getting in the room"; owning property, voting, marriage contract changes.
Second Wave
-Breaking "glass ceiling"; reproductive rights; gender roles; domestic violence
-Systematic thinking about gender (theory)
-Fissures in identities- splits within "feminism"
Third Wave
Late 1980s/90s
-Destabilizing 'the agenda'
-Challenge homogenaeity/binary
bell hooks on theory
Engaging in theory as a tool-- questioning
Creates a synthesis of many approaches that explain the sex/gender system. [Freud , Levi Strauss, Marx...)
Theory on kinship systems
Women are gifts/the exchange that ties groups together (incest taboo)
Women don't benefit- "men exchange women"
Rubin uses his ideas to explain compulsory heterosexuality.
Psychologies of Gender: Origins of Difference (theorists)
"Psychodynamics of the Family" author
Nancy Chodorow
"Women's Place in Man's Life Cycle" author
Carol Gilligan
Capitalism and Feminism (Theorists)
Labor, Kinship, Psyches: Orignins of Inequality
"The Origins of the Family" (author)
"Feminism, Marxism, Theory and the State: An Agenda for Theory" (author)
"The Traffic in Women: Notes on the 'Political Economy' of Sex" (author)
"The Feminist Standpoint: Developing the Ground for a Specifically Feminist Historical Materialism" (author)
Diversity/Intersectionality and Black Feminist Thought (theorists)
Combahee River Collective
Patricia Hill Collins
Elsa Brown
Kimberle Crenshaw
Feminism/Multiculturalism Debate (theorists)
Challenging First World Feminisms/Rethinking Westernization (theorists)
Abu Lughod
"Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity" (author)
"Feminism, Democracy, and Empire: Islam and the War on Terror," in Women's Studies on the Edge" (author)
"Do Muslim Women Need Saving?"(author)
Abu Lughod
"Saving Amina: Global Justice for Women and Multicultural Dialogue" (author)
"Contesting Cultures: 'Westernization,' Respect for Cultures, and Third-World Feminists," (author)
"Toward a Feminist Theory of Judgment,"
Feminist Sex Work Debate (theorists)
Wendy Brown
"Sexuality" (author)
"The Mirror of Pornography" (author)
Wendy Brown
"The Sexual Contract: What's Wrong With Prostitution?"(author)
"Whether from Reason or Prejudice: Taking Money for Bodily Services" (author)
Basement Analogy
Crenshaw's analogy to describe oppression?