Choose one group to compare and contrast: liberal feminism and socialist feminism, liberal feminism and radical feminism, or socialist feminism and radical feminism. What are the main goals of...
Choose one group to compare and contrast: liberal feminism and socialist feminism, liberal feminism and radical feminism, or socialist feminism and radical feminism. What are the main goals of the groups in contemporary society?
In this response, I will compare and contrast liberal and socialist feminism. Liberal feminism acknowledges that women are not treated equally to men in our society. Liberal feminism works to gain more rights for women and believes this can be done within the context of the current economic and political system, without a revolution. Liberal feminists work to change laws that make it difficult for women to achieve equality and advocate for laws that protect and expand women's freedoms. Women such as Hillary Clinton are often held up as examples of liberal feminism: women working for change within the system. Liberal feminism emphasizes individual freedom and choice: if an individual woman wants, for example, to conform to the dictates of the beauty industry and get plastic surgery or breast implants to "improve" her looks, that kind of individual empowerment can be celebrated. At the same time, a woman who decides to reject all make-up or feminine clothing is also encouraged to do her own thing. The liberal feminist movement has been criticized by some for empowering a few women, who then may or may not help poorer women. Is liberal feminism only an elite, upper-middle-class movement or does it help all women?
Socialist feminists don't separate women's equality from the larger issues of radical social and economic change. Women's equality can only come, they maintain, after a revolution replaces the current capitalist economic system with one that abolishes private property and redistributes wealth. The current system, socialists say, will only ever tinker with the condition of women around the edges because capitalism profits too much from women's oppression in everything from the porn industry to paying women less than men on average for the same jobs. Capitalism, the socialist feminists argue, supports a "rape culture" that keeps women in their place through fear and intimidation. Only a total economic transformation, they contend, will change this. Many people object, however, to the idea that only socialism can bring about women's equality.