Theories of Gender Relations: Liberal Theory: Introduction and Solutions Offered

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  • Liberal Feminists claim equality with men
  • Gender inequality is the result of patriarchal and sexist patterning of the division of labour
  • Gender equality can be produced by transforming the division of labour through the re-patterning of the institutions like law, work, family , education and media
  • They claimed for the rights of women and called for change in law and custom to allow women to assume there is equal place in society
  • Denial of those rights by government instituted by men violates the natural law
  • They stressed women having an autonomous institution with rights in her own person.
  • Seneca falls in 1848 is an important document or foundational document that said that all men and women are created equal.

Liberal feminism rests on the belief that:

  • All humans have certain essential features and capacity is for a reason and self-actualization
  • Legal in recognition of universal rights
  • Inequalities between men and women assigned by sex are only social constructions and have no basis in nature
  • They say that inequality is socially constructed to differentiate between male and female and to produce inequality

Contemporary liberal feminism say that four factors play in inequality

  • Social construction of gender division of labour doctrine and
  • Practice of public and private spheres and
  • The patriarchal ideology there are
  • Practices of discrimination and marginalization and harassment of women
  • Society has created an ideology of intensive mothering as a second shift from paid employment to childcare
  • The ideological link of women to the private sphere activities of caregiving and maintenance of routine and Given the womanly skills that are marketed in the society this is known as feminization of poverty which says that the women typically earns less than a man.
  • They also argue about gaining equality in marriage
  • A marriage empowers the husband and it mandates the wife՚s to be compliant, dependent and center towards the domestic household
  • So, there are two types of marriages: one from the man՚s point of view where he is given authority and independence and sexual service by the wife
  • And the second is wife՚s point of view where she is powerless dependent and is obligated to provide domestic emotional and sexual services and forgetting about the young independent person that she was before marriage
  • Therefore, they believe in the ideal of egalitarian marriage.

Solutions Offered

  • They provide solutions by claiming equality and analyzing causes of inequality
  • They wish to eliminate gender as a principle of distribution of social goods
  • To change through the law
  • Equal education and ensure quality in education
  • Economic opportunities
  • Equal responsibility for the activities of family life
  • No bar in job discrimination
  • Demand per equity that is equal pay for equal work
  • Ideal gender arrangement where women are equally accepted and respected
  • Equality of opportunity


1. Which feminist theory is characterized by the belief that patriarchy is the major and universal cause of women՚s oppression?

  1. Socialist Feminism
  2. Liberal Feminism
  3. Cultural Feminism
  4. Radical Feminism

Ans. B. Liberal Feminism

2. The idea that feminist goals cannot be realized without the destruction of economic inequalities is associated with …

  1. Liberal feminism
  2. Socialist feminism
  3. Radical feminism
  4. Postmodernism

Ans: B. Socialist feminism

3. All liberal feminists advocate …

  1. the banning of sexually explicit imagery
  2. abortion on demand
  3. equal treatment in the public sphere
  4. the strict segregation of the sexes

Ans. C. equal treatment in the public sphere


#Gender and Society



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