What is liberal feminism and how does it differ from other feminist theoretical perspectives?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Liberal feminism is a brand of feminism that pulls from Classical Liberalism.  In liberal feminism, there is a complete demand for equality.  External forces such as government should not create barriers that deny women the ability to pursue whatever path they choose.  Like Classical liberalism, the absence of coercive external forces is the most important element in liberal feminism.  Men and women have the right to be free from "coercive interference."  In this, a call for equality is understood as the absence of barriers and external control.

Where liberal feminism is different from other forms of feminism is that it does not seek to have external forces such as the state rectify wrongs that are present.  For example, government laws that would demand equal pay for equal work would be rejected by the liberal feminist thinker because this represents government exerting coercive control over businesses.  Another example of this would be affirmative action plans that seek to increase diversification with gender representation.  Liberal feminism adheres to Classically liberal principles that argue that men and women are equally free and should be free of external coercion.  The law "should not treat men and women differently."  Whereas other forms of feminism would see government as a source of action that redress gender wrongs, liberal feminism does not share this belief.  The demand of complete equality and absence of anything external that does not emphasize it are element that make liberal feminism different than other forms of feminist theory.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial