Please note: This is NOT a Feminism 101 blog. This is a Feminism Intermediate-Advanced blog. That means this is a space of solidarity for women, feminists, and feminist allies to discuss important issues relating to the power structures that inform gender politics and gender oppression, as well as a place of solidarity for those subjected to power structures that inform race, sexuality, (dis)ability, class, and queer politics and oppressions, because I am deeply concerned with intersectionality. I encourage you, in fact, I pretty much demand of you, to read the Discussion section of this blog. Here you’ll find info about how to engage with me and others in this space.
This section is a basic Feminist Primer, and it’s just about the only one I’m going to offer on this blog. I have written several posts about some basic concepts in feminist theory, including those listed under the tags Feminism, Feminism Friday, Rape, and Violence Against Women. These should be the first posts you check out. Then, check out some of the links in the sidebar under In Solidarity. But right now, read on.
What is Feminism?
Feminism is a way of looking at the world, a framework or lens through which other issues can be examined. The basic premise of feminism is that societal structures are based on a false assumption that men are superior to women, and that this state of society is unfair and unfounded and causes gender oppression.
Feminism, like women, is not homogenous. There are many, many offshoots of feminism which hold different theories about the nature of gender inequality, how to achieve gender equality, theories about the relationship between gender inequality and other forms of inequality such as racism, homophobia/heterosexism, classism, theories about the relationships between gender inequality and the environment, etc. Some of these include:
- Radical feminism
- Marxist feminism
- Lesbian feminism
- Black feminism
- Postmodern feminism (including queer theory)
- Post-colonial feminism
- Third World feminism
- Socialist feminism
- Liberal feminism
- Equity feminism
- Gender feminism
- Sex-positive feminism (including anti-pornography theory)
What is Patriarchy?
A mainstay in feminist theory is patriarchy, a relationship of power existing between men and women in which men are in control of socio-economic political power and women are subordinate. Patriarchy informs all other social systems and relationships between men and women, men and other men, and women and other women. Patriarchy is the root of gender oppression. Patriarchy is insidious and runs very deep. It is The MATRIX. It is not always immediately visible to the naked eye. Feminist analysis exposes the ugliness, existence, and persistence of patriarchy, even in seemingly innocuous situations.
What is Oppression?
Oppression is the wide-spread social privileging of some groups over other groups through social structures and institutions. An important thing to understand is that oppression consists of two inter-related phenomena: subjugation and privilege. They live side-by-side. Dismantling oppression means dismantling BOTH of these phenomena.
Something else that is important to understand is that oppression is not discrimination. Oppression is about systems and relations of power, and exists in social structures and institutions. Oppression is wide-spread subjugation of one group while simultaneously privileging another group. This means that those groups who are subjected to oppression are not in a social position to oppress people belonging to the dominant group. There is no such thing as “reverse” sexism, racism, homophobia, (dis)ableism, classism, etc.
Quite simply, women have not achieved total and complete freedom and equality, despite many gains over the past hundred years or so. I write from a feminist perspective because I believe that the rights of women deserve special attention, particularly because so many people mistakenly believe that women have achieved equality. This simply is not so. The evidence is all around us, yet so many men and women are blind to it because patriarchy and sexism are so deeply ingrained in societal structures that gender-based oppression seems to be a thing of the past. Feminism is not in the least irrelevant, it has not died, and there is still a lot of work to do.
Thinking Girl’s Take on Feminism
The brand of feminism espoused at this blog sees gender oppression as part of a more general system of oppression often referred to as White Male Supremacy. There are significant ties between gender oppression and racism, heterosexism/homophobia, capitalism and globalization, ableism, and christian religious domination. White Male Supremacy is the general umbrella under which these ties knot together. My feminist consciousness is heavily informed by radical feminism, socialist and Marxist feminism, post-colonial theory, anti-oppression theory, social construction theory, intersectionality, standpoint theory, and sex-positive feminism. While I do draw my feminist consciousness from many other varieties of feminism, I do not claim to represent all women or all feminists.
For further information, please see Feminism at Wikipedia – this is an excellent article and provides links to most subcategories of feminism.