The feminist movement, which clamored for the emancipation of women, started when slavery was abolished in the 19th century. Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Anthony are outstanding early figures. The incidents were sparked by the London Anti-Slavery Conference, which refused to include women. In 1863 the movement played an important part, in order to eradicate slavery in the quest for women’s emancipation, when the two main revolutionaries, Anthony and Stanton organized a petition for the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery by 300,000 signatures by females of the Women’s Loyal National League (1.24). This was the first step in presentation of their egalitarian case that all people are equal, and thus, deserve equitable treatment and rights. This drive continued through to the late 19th century when a new woman begins to emerge; one whose quest for education and societal equality was a priority over submission to the patriarchal American society at the time.
I agree with the author on the point that women, in claiming their rights, pose no threats against men, as wrongfully accused by chauvinists who say that feminists hate men (1.22). The author states that it is only in patriarchal societies where such hypersensitive remarks and notions are allowed that empowering women threatens male domination. It is true that feminists seek to eliminate male domination in society. However, it does not translate to a loss of power on their side. In fact, it is simply a clamor for equality.
A feminist could be either a male or female individual who supports the quest for an equitable society. Female feminists are, sometimes labelled as being lesbians, who fight male domination because they may feel that they do not need them. However, the author dismisses such allegations, stating that not all feminists are lesbians. It is true that sexual orientation may not influence one’s view of the society in terms of patriarchy or matriarchy.
Chapter 3: Through the Lens of Race
Women suffer in patriarchal societies because they hardly have any defense or rights to claim. Gender and race are regarded as the master statuses as they have the ability to influence all other associations and groupings formed among individuals. The author looks at feminism as a way of empowering women and making a society holistic; one in which men and women mutually care for each other (3.169) rather than one in which the male dominates. Any misbalance in power between either of the genders will be wrong.
The perception of family caring responsibilities varies widely between the black and the white women. Whereas the whites see it as a privilege, most of the blacks see it as a burden that ought to be shared equally between the wife and the husband. This then may make the black women to perform other side tasks that seem equally important. On the other hand, the whites are likely to dedicate most of their time taking care of the family issues (3.168). This makes them shun away from participating in tasks that have economic gains. I support the white women who have taken it as part of their role to undertake activities that earn them income. This is informed by the current economic conditions which call for concerted efforts of both men and women. It is worth noting that relying on men as the sole breadwinners may breed undesirable consequences in case these people pass away or divorce their wives. Women who have learned to be independent are in a better position to cope with such situations as opposed to those who are used to being provided for.
I concur with the findings of a study compiled by the author. The results indicate that a good number of white and black women attach greater value and maintain same sex friendships than the males (3.167). Women find it easier to open up to fellow women about their emotional, relationship, and romantic aspects. This is unlike men who rarely discuss such issues with fellow men.
Chapter 13: White Privilege & Male Privilege
The men have always been reluctant to accept the reality that they have better access to education and other resources in the society. For a long time, their advantages have been fueled by the disadvantages that women have to deal with from time to time, whether in education or domestically. The author likens male domination to that of the Whites, saying that both have been taught about the disadvantages that others have while overlooking the advantages that they get by those disadvantages (McIntosh 13.86). For the White person, achievement is something they wait for without struggling as much as the rest of the races have to, which is the same case for men versus women. She likens privilege to an invisible knapsack of opportunities (McIntosh 13.87). Most of these provisions are unearned; they are obtained by simple birth right- being born of a particular race. In the same way, the advantages that the male gender enjoys is pegged to their physical stature as men.
The problem expressed by the author is that the male domination has extended into academia at a rate that centralizes the boy-child. In the same way, this centralization directly means decentralization of the girl-child, who will struggle to understand various concepts taught in styles that are easily perceivable and understandable by boys (McIntosh 13.88). Supposedly, the reason for this inequality hails from the level of contribution of men to the field of technology and academia. The society teaches people how to live as individuals with normal lives, ignoring their advantages over others, thus rejecting their advantages. This makes them feel indebted to help those that they feel disadvantaged to become more like them, which only makes things worse. Re-shaping the curriculum to reflect gender neutrality may be the only way to treat the society from the disease of gender-based prejudice.
The Story of X
This story is written from a feminist perspective by Lois Gould. Through baby X, she conceptualizes a situation in which children would be allowed to be who they choose to be instead of being forced to conform to the conventional norms. Baby X is neither a boy nor a girl. It causes conflicts in the society as people quickly try to categorize her so that she can behave like those similar to it. However, the author of the story reverses the roles of characters in most of the childhood fairy stories meant for a particular gender. For instance, the handsome prince who is woken up by a beautiful princess is a role reversal (Gould 2). Also, clothes and games are pre-marked for one gender but not either. When a baby is raised, if a girl, she is expected to be beautiful, neat, and playful while a boy is expected to be rugged and dirty for most of the time. These roles define who they become eventually.
The author is against the norms of a patriarchal society that brands genders and sets limits for some people. Through the sexless image of the baby, she distances herself from a female-dominated world. She would like to see a balanced world in which gender matters less than one’s true personal desires and wishes. This story is written in an anti-patriarchal standpoint.
I support the main point expressed in the story that children should be raised to be whoever they want to be. People ought to stop classifying things and people based simply on physical traits that can hardly be changed. Instead, the valuation of a human being should be non-prejudiced. All people are equal.
Chapter 13: Activism, Change, and Feminist Futures
Gender is a social construction that is based on the physical bodies rather than mental capacities. For a long time, this faction has caused the suffering of women, who are thought of being weak and unable to handle difficult tasks perceived as being better suited for men. Feminist educators try to extract the thinking of their students from the rot of patriarchal system, through encouragement of egalitarianism (13.692). In doing so, they prove that the empowerment of women does not threaten the prosperity of men. Instead, it makes the society stronger and better because of the inexistence of competition.
The concept is also cognizant of the disparities that exist between the women who live in the developing and those in the advanced nations. It does not advocate for equal treatment of these people without due consideration of the cultural as well as geographical differences. I am an ardent supporter of the liberal feminism, one that aims at ensuring equal opportunities for all regardless of gender. Most women in the US are also advocating for this kind of feminism (13.712). Once achieved, it will remove the barricades in the public institutions and ensure equal chances in access to education and employment by both men and women. The reason I do not advocate for radical feminism is because it brings a lot of divisions and breeds political agitations that mostly achieve very little at the end of the day.
The role of Women International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has also been brought to scrutiny. There is a general consensus that the studies aim at helping the women to have a better understanding of themselves as well as the societies that they live in (13.713). Equality and justice are at the heart of the feminist movement. Also, the studies are meant to help the women learn to appreciate their struggles and achievements.
Chapter 1: Women and Gender. 1-27.
Chapter 3: Through the Lens of Race. 160-169.
Chapter 13: White Privilege & Male. Privilege 86-93.
Chapter 13: Activism, Change, and Feminist Futures. 692-714.
Gould, Lois. The Story of X. 2-4.