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Our language and other social forms are mostly gender-driven. For many years it has been hard for us to move away from this reality and its effects on the society. Some of the gender-biased practices have been vehemently criticized with everybody trying to do all it takes to ensure that they have completely been eliminated from our society. Our main aim is to ensure that we have established a society that has all its behaviors not classified as either male or female. However, the problem seems to be even worse despite the effort to mitigate it. Over the time, effort has been made to see that the mode of feminist theorizing among the society has changed. For many years feminist theorists have tried to look into issues that are common to all women as well as those that differ in different categories of women (Assiter p. 123). They have also focused on factors that hinder women’s development. This has resulted in theorists coming up with different analytic methods, methodologies as well as theories. Based on the diversity of their findings, it has been very hard for people to comprehend most of the feminist theories that have been established. Feminist theorists have come up with two modes of feminist theorizing: modern and postmodern/ poststructural modes of feminist theorizing. These two modes are completely opposed to each other (Assiter p. 142).
Modernist mode of feminist theorizing
Modernist feminist theorizing was characterized by females making effort to ensure that they are not discriminated against in the society as it was before. In this era men were not seen to be actively involved in formulating and solving issues that affected women. Socialist feminists were actively participating in changing and aligning their own political position with respect to departure from Marxist believe. In modernist feminist theorizing blacks and lesbian women were seen to organize themselves based on race and sexual orientation. These groups were completely opposed to sins committed by their heterosexual counterparts. They uncovered the biased and exclusionary environment of the class of gender as it had been used in other elements of feminist deliberation (Diamond & Lee pp. 45-56). Each group, given an opportunity to highlight its position concerning feminism as a whole appeared to converge into degrees of hypothetical independence that shunned any full attachment to male-oriented thought. Modernist female theorizing has been associated with social differentiation as well as giving attention to diversity and individuality. It dealt with women’s issues as social construct, relationship between gender and gender identity. Concerning politics, modernist feminist theorizing was associated with transition from ideological configuration that was contented with the right to ones that were radically inclined to the left. Modernism is a moment of high selectiveness and male-dominated practices. The historical approach of the process and impartiality showed little brainwaves from feminist perspective. All modern feminist theories are developed based on the assumption that women suffer from social discrimination and injustices due to their sex and thus every woman is not willing to commit herself to claim her position in the society (Diamond & Lee p. 64).
Postmodern/ poststructural mode of feminist theorizing
On the other hand, post-modern feminist theorizing differs from modernist feminist theorizing in that it argues that sex is generally developed through language. Frug asserts that sex is not something natural neither is it something absolutely definitive. Instead, sex is one of the components of a structure of meaning, which is developed by language (Fraser & Linda p. 86). Despite feminists acknowledging that gender is not obviously given but developed socially, they have been found to assume that gender is also developed in the same way. Unlike modernist feminist theorizing where women were found to be actively found to participate in ensuring that women are empowered socially and politically, post-modern feminist theorizing has seen men also actively advocating for gender equality. In post-modern feminist theorizing, two points of conflict are addressed which are the increase in identity politics that seem to changed feminist theory to one that is greatly personalized, reserved and significantly disjointed political position (Fraser & Linda p. 90). The second point of conflict is the acknowledgment that most of the feminist ideas are part and parcel of our culture yet these ideas might be presented in a way that is hard for us to comprehend as feminists.
It is not only the presence of male feminists that has made feminists change the approach of their theories. For many years, feminist theorists have identified presence of generalizing tendency among those who advocate for modern feminist theorizing (Pinkus para. 2). It had been a common failure by most feminist theorists to recognize the attachment of their suppositions to specific historical context. The idea of patriarchy has been attributed to the tendency of feminists to be inclined to universalism especially when it comes to addressing issues to do with women’s oppression. Postmodern theorists identify this mode of objectivity as an attribute of modernity; a range of beliefs that they claim to be diminishing (Mandell p. 134). Postmodern feminist theorizing thus leaves claims of fact and mendacity illegitimate, and denounces the general classification of woman as subject and idea that modern feminist fails to freely part with when it comes to political approach. Additionally, postmodern approach does not assists feminist theorists make their way through today’s reasonably influential political truth claims.
As a result of influence of postmodernism, most feminist theorists have now concentrated on performative aspects of gender rather than taking masculinity and femininity as static characteristics as they had been in modern modes of feminist theorizing (Roseneil pp. 32-43). The theorists can now represent both man and woman as beings that are capable of exhibiting both male and female behaviors in different environments. For men who refuse to coax a child due to presence of a woman can do so in case there is no woman for that. Instead of showing masculinity and femininity behaviors as being only reflected in gender-based roles, the postmodern mode shows them as complementary ways of performance in roughly every role. There are instances where females are also to show body-building abilities just like men.
With all the sophistication of the postmodern mode of feminist theorizing, feminists must work on improving the model. The feminist and advancement in feminist discourse have significantly contributed to postmodernist development. However, it is important to remember that major changes in postmodern thoughts are attributed to male participation with men being the majority owners of postmodern theories.
Assiter, Alison. Enlightened Women: Modernist Feminism in a Postmodern Age. New York: Routledge, 1996
Diamond, Irene & Lee Quinby. Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance. New Hampshire: Northeastern Univ. Press, 1988.
Fraser, Nancy & Linda, Nicholson. Social criticism without philosophy: An Encounter between Feminism and Postmodernism. London: Duke University Press, 1989.
Mandell, Nancy. Feminist Issues: Race, Class and Sexuality (5th edition is required). Toronto: Pearson, 2010.
Pinkus, Jenny. Feminist Poststructuralism. 1996. Web.
Roseneil, Sasha. Postmodern feminist politics. Journal of Women’s studies, (1999).