Feminist Foundations Essay

2802 words - 11 pages

Feminist Foundations

As the feminist movement has progressed through several generations it has shifted quite a bit in its general approach and theory. Contemporary writers such as Baumgardner and Richards, and Henry have illustrated a generational shift away from structurally aimed actions, and towards individual acts of subversion and small political actions (Baumgardner and Richards 126-202). This current course is very similar to the direction of other highly organic movements such as sustained dialogue. Feminism though, is particularly well documented, justified, and understood. Thus by comparing the feminist movement’s present tack to that of sustained dialogue, it will be possible to gain insight into the direction these movements should take, and this comparison will highlight the essential and effective foundations as well as the crucial divergences of these movements. Finally I will use the idea of objectivity as a justification for social action to create a new model of social action and conflict resolution.

Within third wave feminism there is a controversy over the significance of subversive actions that are framed by a very specific context. These actions are exemplified by the Girlie movement (Baumgardner and Richards 126-202), where feminists dress in cloths and accessories typically associated with “girlhood”. While wearing such cloths they execute typical feminist actions or more subtle acts of subversion, the key component is that they rely heavily on the mocking of the dominant society, or on satire. The Girlie movement also expands to women who dress according to the dominant ideas of being “feminine” as a statement of the absurdity of the stereotype. This type of action is what I would like to group into what I will define as contextual action. Contextual actions are acts which are done in ways that undermine the dominant social structures by emphasizing their absurdity through characterizations. Thus these contextual actions include things such as the Girlie movement, stealth feminism, and other such movements which gain validity within a specific, sometimes very narrow, context.

Contextual actions are also heavily based on and validated by individual experiences which largely compose a person’s relationship to the world. Third wave feminism points out that earlier feminist movements were hypocritical in that they tried to reform or dissolve a social structure which dictated women’s position by dictating what it meant to be a feminist (Baumgardner and Richards, Henry 8). Earlier movements constructed new realms of oppression in an attempt to eliminate current systems doing the same thing. It is out of this that comes the third wave’s emphasis of individual experience and individual action as being absolutely valid and indeed the only place truly free from producing systemic dominance in one form or another. The third wave asserts the right to take contextual action as an...

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