Feminism: Belief, Movements, Normative, Descriptive Components Political Science YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Feminism: Belief, Movements, Normative, Descriptive Components | Political Science

Title: Feminism


  • Feminism is both an intellectual commitment and a political movement that seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all forms. Motivated by the quest for social justice, feminist inquiry provides a wide range of perspectives on social, cultural, economic, and political phenomena.
  • Yet despite many overall shared commitments, there are numerous differences among feminist philosophers regarding philosophical orientation (whether, for example, Continental or analytic) , ontological commitments (such as the category of woman) , and what kind of political and moral remedies should be sought.

Difference between Gender and Sex

  • Sex refers to a set of biological attributes in humans and animals.
  • Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, expressions and identities of girls, women, boys, men, and gender diverse people.
  • There is considerable diversity in how individuals and groups understand, experience and express gender through the roles they take on, the expectations placed on them, relations with others and the complex ways that gender is institutionalized in society.

Beliefs and Movements

  • The term “feminism” has many different uses and its meanings are often contested. For example, some writers use the term “feminism” to refer to a historically specific political movement in the United States and Europe; other writers use it to refer to the belief that there are injustices against women, though there is no consensus on the exact list of these injustices.
  • Although the term “feminism” has a history in English linked with women՚s activism from the late nineteenth century to the present, it is useful to distinguish feminist ideas or beliefs from feminist political movements, for even in periods where there has been no significant political activism around women՚s subordination, individuals have been concerned with and theorized about justice for women.
  • In the mid-1800s the term “feminism” was used to refer to “the qualities of females” , and it was not until after the First International Women՚s Conference in Paris in 1892 that the term, following the French term feminists, was used regularly in English for a belief in and advocacy of equal rights for women based on the idea of the equality of the sexes.
  • Although the term “feminism” in English is rooted in the mobilization for woman suffrage in Europe and the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, of course efforts to obtain justice for women did not begin or end with this period of activism.

Normative and Descriptive Components

In many of its forms, feminism seems to involve at least two groups of claims, one normative and the other descriptive. The normative claims concern how women ought (or ought not) to be viewed and treated and draw on a background conception of justice or broad moral position; the descriptive claims concern how women are, as a matter of fact, viewed and treated, alleging that they are not being treated in accordance with the standards of justice or morality invoked in the normative claims.


1. Representation of women issues through a male perspective has been a challenge to the movement of feminism?

2. Feminism sometimes in order to advocate for the equal rights and opportunities for women undermine the naturally given specialities of women?

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