History of the Philosophy of Feminism
The chronological narratives of the ideologies and movements that led to the equal rights for women are what basis of the history of the Philosophy of Feminism. On the philosophical canon, the last twenty-five years is a witness to an explosion in the writing style of feminist writing, which is a clear and distinctive development in parallel disciplines like art history and literature. The question, about why there is a growing importance of feminist philosophers in the history of philosophy since, in one way or another, the writing is critical of the tradition. Around the 1960s and 1970s, during the beginning of the women’s movements, rose the topic of Philosophical Feminism. It was during this period only, women of several academic disciplines, including philosophy, began questioning themselves regarding why there was nearly no work by any women in their cannons and why women were scarce in their profession.
Soon the feminist philosophers realised that the answer to their question lies in general trivialised view of women which run through the Western Culture. The reflection of the downward views towards the women of the society was in the thinking and mindset of most of the male philosophers when in comparison to men, women were always morally immature, irrational, unintelligent, and emotional. Ultimately, the feminist philosophers led to ask themselves more pointed questions like what is philosophy leaving behind or missed out on, because of such frivolous attitudes of the society, and how broader culture’s attitude towards the women of the society affected philosophy. Ommissions, was the most apparent answer, as noted by most of the women philosophers.
The issues that concerned the women were never a matter of concern and did not gain any recognition until the late 20th century, including dismissal of women’s philosophical contributions, if at all there came into attention. The subject matter of gender hardly ever rose, and if at all it did rise it was typically in the topic of a rationalisation of the women's lower status in the society and their barring from the general public life, till the 1970s, in the history of Western Philosophy.
Moreover, sooner the Feminist philosophers realised even though they had the problem recognised, it was not possible to resolve the issue by merely filling in the gaps which were to hire more women philosophers or to identify more philosophical work by women. A female philosopher was practically a contradiction due the to sexism in the history of Western Culture and because of the notion that an ideal philosopher is independent, dispassionate and extremely rational, in terms. Only when women could think like a man, then only could she become a philosopher. The gender bias thus fabricated as the qualification for membership into the profession.
Being bias towards women was not peripheral to philosophy but as a matter of fact, it is one of the most clarifying features, the potential aftermath from a feminist account were limitless. Even though a few of the feminist philosophers stuck to the mainstream philosophical traditions, followed the women’s issues in the set framework, others were sure that by treating gender as a separate category for rational analysis will only lead to the significant modifications required in the practice of Philosophy and no other way. Different approaches would be appropriate; various topics would be notable, and a different set of assumptions would make sense. The gender-based criticisms of philosophy would eventually lead to a logical conclusion and transform the discipline, giving rise to a particular feministic method to the philosophical concerns. Pursing this specific path was an opportunity to rise above the male oppressions for the other philosophers.
Feminism in Social and political philosophy
The earliest of the feminist philosophers led their examinations into the traditional social and political institutions. They asked the question as to who benefits, and answer carved the path to many unspoken practices which included gender-based elimination and discriminations were always in favour of the men. Most of the analysis comprised of sexual and family relations, that were in consideration under personal private matters which one could not or should not address by political means, during that time.
In the traditional political philosophies of Liberalism and Marxism, the sexual and the family relationship was very casually ignorable. On the contrary, feminist philosophers concentrated more on political theory. Ultimately, three significant aspects of feminist political theories rose, each highlighting a specific sunset of problems: Radical Feminism, Socialist Feminism and Liberal Feminism.
The school of radical feminism revolved the focus of the women to sexuality and the discrepancies of power which spread through the heterosexual relationships of the patriarchal cultures. Radical feminists believe that there is an involvement of objectifying of the female body by male heterosexuality which is a degradation of the women as a source of erotic stimulation.
Susan Moller Okin, one of the liberal feminists, pointed out several ways where gender discrimination conquers the aspirations of women. Their goal was to turn women’s equality a social and political reality by defending the designs of the social reforms. By stating the differences in the ways which girls and boys are being raised serve to channelise men and women into separate and differing social roles. They commended gender-neutral forms of education and upbringing of the children. Their particular focus was on protecting and extending the rights of the women so that they could enable themselves to pursue their own goals, like rights to full economic and educational oppurtunities and reproductive rights including the right to legally obtain an abortion.
Socialist feminists as Iris Marion Young and Alison Jaggar allocated Marxist categories that were only based on economic and labour structures. They criticized the theories by Marx of exaggerating the significance of wages outside the home. They also insisted upon the fact that women are repeatedly exploited due to the burdening of domestic household work and working outside as well. And that how unpaid women are expected to perform crucial forms of labour in or outside their houses.