Feminism is the belief in gender equality in social, economic, and political matters. Despite having its roots in the West, feminism is a global movement that has many organizations working to advance women’s rights and interests. Feminist Theory Feminism is an interdisciplinary approach to issues of equality and equity based on gender, gender expression, gender identity, sex, and sexuality as understood through social theories and political activism. Feminism has progressed over time from a critical study of gender inequalities to a more nuanced focus on the social and performative constructions of gender and sexuality.
The feminist theory currently seeks to examine inequalities and inequities along the intersectional lines of ability, class, gender, racism, sex, and sexuality, and feminists want to influence change in areas where these intersectional ties generate power inequality.
Gaps in Feminist Theory:
Feminist theory is often criticized for its “women-centric” approach (myopia). Current Gaps The development of feminism has led to attention being focused on the subordinate position of women in societies. They have placed a greater emphasis on women’s difficulties and marginalization while ignoring other marginalized groups such as males from the lower middle class, transgender and transsexual people, and bisexual people. These underprivileged groups’ voices go unheard and are rarely acknowledged.
Feminism is also considered pro-western and favors a particular class of individuals (most prominently the elite or urban). It is seen as an “elite ideology” since it supports a specific social class and its members while ignoring the oppression and subjection of women from lower social classes, ethnic groups, and castes. This ideology favors the interests of elite women, who confront distinct concerns and problems compared to ordinary women in society, who are subjected to double exploitation by both women and men.
The oppression of marginalized races and classes occurs as a result of social stratification based on class and race, which favors women of the elite class and superior race.
Feminist theory is rejected or criticized, especially in the global south, as anti-culture or religion and promoting Western values and systems. Feminist ideology is referred to as “white Western ideology” because it promotes Western ideas, ideologies, and belief systems to remove women from their cultural and religious values and beliefs. They arose as a reaction to feminism’s exclusive focus on women’s experiences in Western nations and former colonies. They aim to explain how racism and colonialism’s long-term political, economic, and cultural impacts affect non-white, non-Western women in the postcolonial world. Women living in non-Western nations are misrepresented, according to feminist theorists in developed countries, who point out the universalizing tendencies of mainstream feminist concepts. They contend that by treating “woman” as a generic term, women are only defined by their gender, not by their social status, race, ethnicity, or sexual preference. They also strive to mainstream Western feminism through the concepts of indigenous and other Third World feminist groups. Third World feminism is based on the premise that feminism in Third World countries is born of local ideology and socio-cultural conditions rather than being imported from the First World.
Though there is diversity in feminist theory, it is also considered narrow-focused, as in the issue of black feminism. According to black feminist theory, black women are acutely aware of the harmful effects of sexism, racism, and class inequality. Furthermore, discrimination based on race, gender, or social class is all part of the same hierarchical system, which Bell Hooks refers to as the “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” They unite to generate something greater than experiencing racism and sexism separately because of their interdependence. As a result, Kimberlé Crenshaw, a legal scholar, coined the term “intersectionality” in 1989 to describe how the experience of being a black woman is not solely based on being black or female. Intersectionality means that each identity—being black and female, for example—should be studied separately, as should its interaction impact, in which intersecting identities deepen, reinforce, and potentially lead to exacerbated forms of inequality. Identifying Gaps
Feminist theory is also considered to have fewer issue bases and be more activism-based. It promotes activism for the cause of women’s rights.
Feminist theory focuses on gender politics, power relations, and sexuality to understand the nature of inequality. While feminist theory primarily critiques social interactions, it also focuses on gender inequality and the advancement of women’s rights, interests, and issues. Feminist research has traditionally been activist-driven; failing to address women’s essential challenges, such as those faced by black, lower-class, and marginalized women in society.
While feminist theory is internally diverse and dynamic, it is still less empathetic to the problems faced by men in society. Men have been involved in significant cultural and political responses to feminism since the 19th century, in each “wave” of the movement. This includes attempting to achieve gender equality in a variety of social relationships, usually through the “strategic leveraging” of male privilege. However, feminist men and authors like Bell Hooks have argued that a key component of feminist action and scholarship is men’s liberation from the sociocultural restrictions of sexism and gender norms. Feminist theory
Feminist theory has evolved and now incorporates diverse perspectives and opinions; it is more inclusive; however, it still needs to consider the voices of marginalized individuals.
How to Overcome Gaps?
It’s easy to think of feminism as a movement focused primarily on women, but debating men’s rights could help advance the feminist goal by uniting both genders. Focusing more on men’s rights could be a critical first step toward bridging the gap between the men’s rights movement and feminism, which are frequently viewed as adversarial. It may appear counterintuitive for feminism to prioritize men’s rights, especially if we consider men’s rights protection to be a completely misogynistic, tribal movement. Learning to embrace gender unity on certain topics, on the other hand, can help the feminist cause not only strengthen but also become more palatable to its frequently aggressive critics.
In the theory of feminism, non-western women’s ideas and voices should be included. Feminist theories should integrate the perspectives of the global south because they have been subjected to double colonization: patriarchy and colonial power oppression, resulting in distinct perceptions and experiences. Because black women have been subjected to double exploitation by both their men and white men, they have unique viewpoints and voices. As a result, feminism requires a more inclusive strategy.
Rather than focusing on advocacy, it is necessary to address women’s core challenges. To begin, women must recognize their oppression and subordination in society. Men’s experiences and voices must be taken into account; this will make the feminist theory completer and more inclusive.
Feminism is a grassroots movement that attempts to bring people together across socioeconomic, ethnic, cultural, and religious lines. Feminism is culturally specific and addresses concerns that women in various societies care about.
Although feminism is a movement dedicated to the advancement of women’s rights, feminist theory has many limitations, including issues affecting black women, a lack of contributions from men’s perspectives, and a division between Western and global South feminism.
These limitations must be overcome for feminist theory to become more broad-based and inclusive.
The author is an MPhil Scholar at the School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid I Azam University Islamabad. Her areas of interest are Middle East and South Asia, International Law, and Gender Issues. The author can be contacted at email@example.com. She Tweets: @maria_mansab