to what extent is feminism a single doctrine? Essay

1895 Words May 8th, 2014 8 Pages
To what extent is feminism a single doctrine? Until the 1960s, feminism was widely regarded as a sub-set of liberalism and socialism, rather than as an ideology in its own right. Today, however, feminism can be considered a single doctrine in that all feminists subscribe to a range of ‘common ground’ beliefs, such as the existence of a patriarchal society, and the desire to change gender inequalities. Then again, it can be argued that feminism is characterised more by disagreement than consensus, as three broad traditions: liberal feminism, Marxist or socialist feminism, and radical feminism, which often contain rival tendencies, are encompassed within each core feminist theme. This essay will argue that, despite tensions between its …show more content…
However, whilst each ‘strand’ of feminism views patriarchy differently, it could be argued that rather than considering patriarchy as three different entities, they are in fact each observing a different angle of the problem. They are all in agreement, nevertheless, that women are indeed subordinate to men within society, and that this needs to be changed. Therefore, in terms of the core theme of patriarchy, feminism can be considered a single doctrine.

Secondly, feminism can be considered a single doctrine with regard to the core goal of redefining ‘the political’. Feminists argue that sexual inequality has been preserved because the sexual division of labour within society is thought of as ‘natural’ rather than ‘political’. The ‘public sphere’ of life, comprising for example politics, careers, art and literature, has traditionally been the preserve of men, whilst women have been confined to the ‘private sphere’, centred on the family and domestic responsibilities. Women are, in this effect, excluded from politics, and therefore the question of sexual equality is an issue of little, or no, political importance. Feminists are thus united in their desire to challenge the divide between what Elshtain described as the ‘public man’ and ‘private woman’.

Then again, feminists have differed in their