Feminist Standpoint Theory
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According to Marxist theory, a standpoint cannot be achieved by mere ascribing to a fact like a perspective is, it is an achieved common identity, and it is “arrived at through the experience of shared political fight”. Feminist standpoint theory began with Hegel’s account of dialectic relationship between a slave and a master, and then it was strengthened by Marx and more specifically Lukacs’ formulation of the concept of the standpoint. They argue that a suppressed slave will eventually arise and reach consciousness freedom as an end product of their struggles against the master. Hegel’s theory gave insight to the fact that oppression and injustices can be best analyzed, and a clear understanding made if it is viewed from the oppressed view point.
In a similar view as that of Hegel’s one of the relationship between a master and his slave, it can be deduced, the themes of the feminist standpoint theory. By the theorists of this philosophy doctrine Dorothy Smith and Patricia Hill Collins, the sociopolitical positions that women have been socialized to occupy can become important areas for information about those, who are in many aspects of their social lives disadvantaged, as well as those, who are privileged to occupy the positions of oppressors. Thus, Hardings (1991) concludes that, starting a research on women’s life will result in less biased and indistinct accounts for both the men and women of the whole social order.
For this reason, the supporter of this theory Dorothy Smith tries to account for the fault line of gender in that the male counterparts are privileged socially and politically unlike their female counterparts. She further goes on to attribute the failure of men to sense the disjuncture between daily life and their knowledge of the world to this social location of two genders. She defends that women by the idea of being disadvantaged in the gender power relation can relate their daily life to what they know of the world.
The rational, by Dorothy Smith and the other feminist standpoint theorists, to their assertion of this standpoint include three main principles. First, is the claim the knowledge is socially situated, secondly, is the assumption that less privileged groups, both socially and politically, are socially predisposed in a manner which makes it possible for them to ask questions and be aware of things that socially and politically privileged cannot. Finally, for an informative research, especially which focuses on the power relation, it should be carried out beginning with the lives of those marginalized.
To analyze the reason behind the different viewpoints that men and women have on social and political issues, Smith employs the above pointed three principle assumptions about feminist theories. She puts it that collecting women’s experiences, which in most scenarios is cleaning up after men’s mess, forms rich site for research, for policy reform and most importantly for social change. An example is the household chores that women do that no one pays for or offers lifelong pension scheme. The society views such tendencies as normal while most women remain oppressed as housewives.
While feminist standpoint theories claim that this status cannot be acquired by mere point of fact, or believing in the struggle, but through being part of the experiences and sharing in the struggle. Additionally, masculinity is a performed gender identity not a sexual orientation. This implies that it can be performed by either a male or a female. Hegemonic masculinity could be analogously referred to as an absolute form of masculinity which is virtually unattainable. It is actually the opposite of femininity. Whereas women find themselves locked in the corners of feminist standpoints and are relived from this social orders only by first attaining a mentally free conscience, masculinity, on the other hand, men are socialized to perform it right away from birth.
Accordingly to a masculinity sociologist Michael Kimmel, masculinity in men is because of certain cultures. The first one is the men grow with a mentality that they deserve something, and this culture is normally referred to as the culture of entitlement, where they look forward to having children, a generation, power, and/or women. Secondly, is the culture of silence among men: this comes out in cultures where men are not allowed to do certain things such as cry or admit emotional pain, especially to people considered outsiders to the culture of masculinity. Last is the one of men protection, which can either be portrayed by assuming that men would not do such an action, particularly that is considered illegal, or they brush it aside as being in men’s nature to do that, for instance, in some cultures especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In their culture, men cheating on their wives may as well be given a blind eye as it is in the men’s nature or it is the women’s fault that such happened.
Now from these two perspectives – feminist standpoint and masculine sociology – Dorothy Smith’s view on textually mediated ruling relations brings out the difference clearly. While from a masculine position, there is a fixed set of expectations that any of two genders trying to demonstrate it are expected to fit into. This includes how the society perceives them or is expected to perceive them even before their arrival. For instance, men are expected to dominate over women in some cultures and to protect their wives plus to provide for them. Thus when a boy is born he lives trying to reach this set out for him expectations. This is contradictory to the feminist standpoint that works to shake off the pre-existing social order. The analyzed theory, which borrows a lot from Hegel’s theories, postulates that those in marginalized in the social or political power relations will rise to challenge the social order within which they find themselves.
The theory bases itself on the idea that women are oppressed utterly. When the situation may be real, in some societies, particular women also have their privileges. In the theory, is still not clear why men have to work all day to feed women, who believe it should be so while they still fight for equality. For this privilege the most women are never willing to confront the oppression. The ones that do are joined by the oppressed when the rest sit and watch.
Conclusively, it suffices to conclude the concept of masculinity sociology conflicts with the feminist standpoint theory ideologically. Smith attempts to explore the disjuncture between men and women in society by using the indicated theory. Her account further attempts to explain the inevitable fault line between the two genders, which she does perfectly. However, she fails to capture clearly why exactly women have to struggle to be at par with their male counterparts.
She fails to answer the oppressed male societies, which go through struggle to be named by women equal with their other male strong characters. While men are frowned upon when they portray female characteristics having a list of endless abuses, women who behave like men are adored. Pointing to the problem is not enough, the gap between male and female gender is much perpetuated by perceptions, which each of us have to come against.
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