Feminism refers to advocacy or struggle for women’s right on the background of political, economic and social equality to the rights and privileges enjoyed by men. Feminists argue that gender can not be used to discriminate against persons and aggressively push for equal rights for men and women. Traditionally women have been placed as second or substitute to men. The feminist movement is born out of the global awareness that a woman is equally powerful and capable as a man. Second, feminist movements identify that the social structures are widely biased against women and subjects them to differential treatment or discrimination. The discrimination is visible in economic empowerment, access to education, political and leadership opportunities and health. The discrimination against women also includes violence where the society is less keen on the human rights of women and young girls. Feminist movements advocate for equal rights and privileges for women in social, economic and political backgrounds.
The Feminists Framework
The feminist framework or the construction of the feminist movement and ideology is as a result of gender bias and discrimination. Social structures have always regarded women as second and subject to men. The outcome is political, social and economic inequalities between men and women. Men are masculine and have managed to dominate and control their environments including subjecting women. Scholz notes that feminism is all about equal rights for women. Feminism is not all about rights it is also all elements that are oppressive against the female gender. Feminism seeks to bring about social change focusing but not limited to economic empowerment, political rights, education, social equality and also health. The feminist revolution can be traced back to the French and American revolutions. Although the struggle for women’s rights predates the American and French revolutions, it acted as a catalyst for women to advocate for their rights. The first wave Feminist momentum picked up in the late 1700s and was further supported by the abolitionist’s movements of 1800. The wave stressed political, social and economic equality. The first wave achieved voting rights for women in the United States, Britain, France and Switzerland in 1920, 1928, 1944 and 1971. The second wave started between 1948 to 1960 and ended around 1990. The wave is focused on sources of oppression for women. Example, Women’s bodies are sites of stereotyping, violence, oppression and domination.
The third wave was an outcome of the realization that women do not share similar challenges dues to the difference in social classes and cultures. The third wave begins in mid-1990, though it promotes sisterhood the third way seeks to change cultures and colonized consciousness to introduce new thinking techniques. Finally, the fourth wave focusses on a particular view of feminism or a singular history where there is a single long-term struggle. Example, in most Arab countries women, do not vote. Feminism movement has achieved great strides as women rights globally are improving.
Western Feminism and Global/Transnational Feminism
The western narrative of civilization tells its story of feminism development and struggle which is different from the global narrative of feminism. The Western Feminism theory associates itself with the development of feminism theory. The Western feminism theory boasts of the milestones achieved by feminist groups globally. The earliest Feminists movements were born in the United States and Britain where women struggled for political rights (voting), social rights and economic rights such as property ownership. The theory highlights that the radical feminists of the time build were the foundation of the modern feminism. Global feminism refers to the development of feminist movements at a global scale across borders and into liberal and conserveative societies alike. However, the difference between global and western feminism do not entirely focus on history. Rather, the difference in achievements and conditions between feminist struggles and experiences in the West and globally.
International feminism is made of two broad phases. The first phase took place between 1975 and 1985 and questioned the meaning of feminism and relationship between local and global feminism groups. The second took place in Nairobi Kenya in 1985 and was culminated by the Beijing conference in 1995. The 1995 meeting led to the development of international networks connecting feminists from the Western side and their global counterparts in Asia, Africa, and South America. The biggest difference between Feminists from the West and global counterparts is the experiences, level of discrimination and also resources. Example, feminist movements, and studies in Africa and Asia rely on donor funds from their western allies. Second, Women and Feminist groups at the global scale excluding Western nations are also more prone to violence and discrimination. Basu notes that in India marital abuse is widely prevalent.
The text identifies key difference between global and Western feminism. First, women still face similar challenges such as gender discrimination in pay, political and social rights. However, at the global scale, there are major differences. Example, Women in India face several issues such as lack of political rights, economic power, health, education and domestic violence. Women in the Middle East mainly Arab countries lack political, economic and social power such as voting. Second, global feminism includes networks to aid less privileged feminist groups. Therefore, Western feminist experiences and definition of feminist philosophy are in some way different from the global feminist perspective.
Intersectionality in Feminism
Intersectionality is used in feminist theories to explain systematic oppression of women. The term was coined by American professor Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989 who described it as the varying degree of intensity at which women face oppression. Patterns of oppression are not interrelated, but they are influenced by the intersectional systems of the society. Examples of this include gender, class, ethnicity and race. All these factors subject women to different levels of oppression and are all due to biased social systems. Example, a black woman is subject to racial, color and sexual prejudice at the same time. Asian American women are not subject to color discrimination, but gender or sexual discrimination, and racism oppress the women. Yamanda notes that Asian Americans suffer from stereotypes, social and political ‘invisibility.’ Asian American Women remain the in the background are not heard. Yamanda notes that one way of keeping women oppressed and powerless is by muting their voices so that they cannot agitate. As noted by Professor Kimberle in intersectionality theory the oppression is systematic, and all relates to biased social structures.
Female Ethic and Feminism
Female ethic refers to the evaluation of moral theory development from feminism. Feminist Rousseau argued that virtue should be the same for men and women. The idea developed in the late eighteenth century associated virtue in women as the ability to maintain a family and men to provide. Contemporary feminism does not subscribe to the same thinking that a woman’s virtue is based on her ability to maintain a home. The contemporary feminist argues that such thinking was developed to oppress and limit the achievements of women. Further, authors argue that the female moral view is different from the male moral view. Grimshaw concludes that there is no evidence to prove that feminism has led to the development of moral virtues. However, the lives and experiences of women and the feminist struggle for equality will provide a source of critique and standardization of cultural and social practices.
Female ethic and the ability for feminists to shape ethical and moral systems can be seen in the film ‘where do we go now.’ In the film, a small fight breaks out between Christians and Muslims in a small village in Lebanon. As the men crash as a result of religious differences women, struggle to end the violence. The women go to the extreme of drugging all men and taking away their weapons. When the men wake up, they find the Muslim women dressed as Christians and Christians in Muslim veils. The film is a case of feminism in a deeply religious society with social tensions between women and men. Female ethic here applies to the ability of women to create peace and get the fighting men to reason that violence will result in losses on both sides. Such courage in an example of Feminism. The film ends with the men looking up to the women to end tensions and violence that is part of the community. As noted by Grimshaw experiences of women and feminist modes of struggle have an impact on shaping the moral values of the society.
Feminism in the Middle East
Bunting P notes in her article ‘can Islam liberate women’ that the Islam religion social structures are discriminative against women. Second, Bunting notes that the Muslim and Western view of feminism differ. Example, Muslim women do not feel that wearing of the veil is not a sign of oppression against women. The Muslim women agree that the beauty of their body should be reserved for their husbands in private. Western feminist upholds the image of a woman who has the right and social freedom to wear anything. Second, Bunting notes that certain aspects of Muslim culture are oppressive. Example, Taliban group imposed strict law on women preventing them from social spheres. The Taliban version of teachings is strict, unfair and used to justify discrimination and violence against women. Further, Bunting notes that the role of a woman and rights including political, social and economic are widely restricted using religious teachings. Example, aspects of the Sharia law are there to institutionalize inequality by subjecting a woman to a second role. Therefore, Bunting here holds a view that religious teachings in the Islam are a source of inequality and discrimination against women. Women are expected to stand down in political and social issues, and their voices are muted.
The external view of feminist in the Middle East can also be seen in the film ‘where do we go now.’ Women in the Lebanese village have no political or social rights. Women in the village were expected to respect their husband's instructions including violence against Christians. Feminism bonds between the women help stop the violence between male Muslims and their Christian counterparts. The Women unite and drug their husbands to end violence. The women realize that they will end up being the victims if the religious tensions lead to increased violence. Women take drastic and potentially dangerous measures to end violence in the community where women have no political or social rights. The film presents a view of feminist power and the ability of feminists to overcome religious and social tensions. The film concludes that the world would be a peaceful place if women had equal power to men.
In conclusion, feminism refers to advocacy or struggle for women’s right on the background of political, economic and social equality to the rights and privileges enjoyed by men. Feminists seek to end the oppression of women based on their sexuality that is used to deny them political, economic and social rights. Feminism has existed since early 1700 and gained numerous results in the 1900s when women in the United States and Britain gained the power to vote. Western feminist view and experiences differ from global feminism. Western feminism continues to shape global feminism ideologies with women in Western civilizations enjoying more rights. Global feminism is born out of the knowledge that women globally have similar though not equal challenges. Example, Women in America face sexual and racial discrimination but enjoy political rights. Women in the Middle East face sexual, political and social discrimination. Despite differences in feminist experiences, the primary goal of feminists remains the same. Feminists aim for equal rights parallel to those enjoyed by men.