How Has Our Postmodern Situation Changed Our Understanding Or Approach To Ethics? Discuss In Relation To Feminism

2038 words - 9 pages

How has our postmodern situation changed our understanding or approach to ethics?Discuss in relation to feminism.Feminists have over time developed a wide variety of approaches to ethics, including those labelled "feminine," "maternal," and "lesbian." Each of these approaches highlights the differences between men and women's situations. Together the overall aim of all feminist approaches to ethics, irrespective of their specific labels, is to create gender-equal ethics, a moral theory that generates non-sexist moral principles, policies, and practices. This essay will attempt to discuss aspects of our present postmodern situation and the significant part they have played in changing both ...view middle of the document...

More specifically, society encouraged women to harbour traits like "cunning," "vanity," and "immaturity". Even worse, society twisted what could be woman's genuine virtues into vices. Wollstonecraft claimed that when strong women practice gentleness, it is a grand, even godly, virtue; but when weak women practice it, it is a demeaning, even subhuman, vice. The positive trait of gentleness is transformed into the negative trait of obsequiousness "when it is the submissive demeanour of dependence, the support of weakness that loves, because it wants protection; and is forbearing because it must silently endure injuries; smiling under the lash at which it dare not snarl" (Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, p. 117).Debates about what makes a character good and a personality socially acceptable did not of course end with Mary Wollstonecraft. By the time the nineteenth century arrived, things had most definitely changed, and women were regarded as morally superior to men. The idea of the virtuous Victorian women was widespread. She was seen as inferior, yet morally superior to men. The notion of "Victorian values" was a common bourgeois idea.Most of the thinkers who are developing feminine approaches to ethics regard themselves as feminists. It is a challenge to specify what makes an approach to ethics "feminist" as opposed to simply "feminine" or "maternal." Feminine, maternal, and feminist approaches to ethics are all women-centred; they all speak primarily to women about women's moral experiences. Feminist approaches to ethics are distinctive because they are committed, first and foremost, to the elimination of women's subordination and that of other oppressed persons in all of its manifestations. A feminist approach to ethics asks questions about power, even before it asks questions about good and evil, care and justice, or maternal and paternal thinking.The feminist movement was truly born in 1848 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Coffin Mott held a women's convention at Seneca Falls in New York. They issued a declaration of independence for women, demanding full legal equality, full educational and commercial opportunity, equal compensation, the right to collect wages, and the right to vote. Led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Brownell Anthony, the movement spread rapidly and soon extended to Europe.Traditionally women had been regarded as inferior to men both physically and intellectually. Both law and theology had ordered their subjection. Women could not own property, engage in business or get divorced without losing their children. Little by little, women's demands for higher education, entrance into trades and professions, married women's rights to property, and the right to vote were conceded. In the United States after woman suffrage was won in 1920, women were divided on the question of equal standing with men (advocated by the National Woman's party) versus some protective legislation; various forms of...

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