Since the beginning of the 20th century, some feminists have allied themselves with socialism. In 1907 there was an International Conference of Socialist Women in Stuttgart where suffrage was described as a tool of class struggle. Clara Zetkin of the Social Democratic Party of Germany called for women’s suffrage to build a “socialist order, the only one that allows a radical solution to the women’s question”.
In Britain, the women’s movement was allied with the Labor Party. In America, Betty Friedan emerged from a radical background to take command of the organized movement. Radical Women, founded in 1967 in Seattle, is the oldest (and still active) socialist feminist organization in the United States. During the Spanish Civil War, Dolores Ibarruri (La Pasionaria) led the Spanish Communist Party. Although she supported equal rights for women, she opposed women fighting on the front lines and clashed with the anarcho-feminist Mujeres Libres.
The revolutions in Latin America brought changes in the status of women in countries like Nicaragua where feminist ideology during the Sandinista revolution was largely responsible for improving the quality of life for women, but did not failed to achieve social and ideological change.
Scholars have argued that Nazi Germany and other fascist states of the 1930s and 1940s illustrate the disastrous consequences for society of a state ideology that, by glorifying traditional images of women, becomes anti-feminist. In Germany, after the rise of Nazism in 1933, there was a rapid dissolution of political rights and economic opportunities that feminists had fought for during the pre-war period and to some extent during the 1920s. In Franco’s Spain, right-wing Catholic conservatives defeated the work of feminists during the Republic. Fascist society was hierarchical with an emphasis and idealization of manhood, with women maintaining a largely subordinate position to men.
Some feminists criticize mainstream scientific discourse, claiming that the field has historically been skewed towards a male perspective. Evelyn Fox Keller argues that the rhetoric of science reflects a male perspective and she challenges the idea of scientific objectivity.
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Many feminist scholars rely on qualitative research methods that focus on women’s subjective and individual experiences. According to communication researchers Thomas R. Lindlof and Bryan C. Taylor, incorporating a feminist approach to qualitative research involves treating research participants as equals who are as much of an authority as the researcher. Objectivity is shunned in favor of open self-reflexivity and a women’s agenda. Another part of the feminist research agenda is to uncover the ways in which power inequalities are created and/or reinforced in society and/or in scientific and academic institutions. Lindlof and Taylor also explain that a feminist approach to research often involves non-traditional forms of presentation.
Primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy notes the prevalence of male-invented stereotypes and theories, such as the non-sexual female, despite “the accumulation of abundant freely available evidence that contradicts it”. Some natural and social scientists have examined feminist ideas using scientific methods.
Modern feminist science challenges the biological essentialist view of gender, however, it is increasingly interested in the study of biological sex differences and their effects on human behavior. For example, Anne Fausto-Sterling’s book, Myths of Gender, explores the assumptions contained in scientific research that purports to support a biologically essentialist view of gender. Her second book, Sexing the Body, discussed the alleged possibility of more than two true biological sexes. This possibility only exists in as yet unknown extraterrestrial biospheres, since no ratio between true gametes and polar cells other than 4:0 and 1:3 (male and female, respectively) is produced on Earth. However, in The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine argues that brain sex differences are a biological reality with important implications for sex-specific functional differences. Steven Rhoads’ book, Taking Sex Differences Seriously, illustrates sex differences across a wide spectrum.
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Carol Tavris, in The Mismeasure of Woman, uses psychology and sociology to critique theories that use biological reductionism to explain the differences between men and women. She argues that rather than using evidence of innate gender difference, there is an ever-evolving assumption to justify inequality and perpetuate stereotypes.
Sarah Kember – drawing from many fields such as evolutionary biology, sociobiology, artificial intelligence and developing cybernetics with new evolutionism – discusses the neologization of technology. She notes how feminists and sociologists have become suspects of evolutionary psychology, particularly insofar as sociobiology is subjected to complexity in order to reinforce sexual difference as immutable through pre-existing cultural value judgments about human nature. and natural selection. Where feminist theory is criticized for its “false beliefs about human nature”, Kember then argues in conclusion that “feminism is in the interesting position of having to do more biology and evolutionary theory so as not to simply to oppose their renewed hegemony, but in order to understand the conditions that make this possible and to have a say in the construction of new ideas and artefacts.
The relationship between men and feminism has been complex. Men have taken part in significant responses to feminism in every “wave” of the movement. There were both positive and negative reactions and responses, depending on the individual and the social context at the time. These responses varied from pro-feminism to masculinism to anti-feminism. In the 21st century, new reactions to feminist ideologies have emerged, including a generation of male scholars involved in gender studies, as well as men’s rights activists who promote men’s equality (including equal treatment in the family, divorce and anti-discrimination law). Historically, a number of men have engaged in feminism. The philosopher Jeremy Bentham claimed equal rights for women in the 18th century. In 1866, philosopher John Stuart Mill (author of “The Subjection of Women”) presented a women’s petition to the British parliament; and supported an amendment to the Reform Bill of 1867. Others lobbied and campaigned against feminism. Today, scholars like Michael Flood, Michael Messner, and Michael Kimmel are involved in men’s studies and pro-feminism.
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A number of feminist writers argue that identifying as a feminist is the strongest position men can take in the fight against sexism. They argued that men should be allowed, even encouraged, to participate in the feminist movement. Other feminist women argue that men cannot be feminists simply because they are not women. They argue that men are granted inherent privileges that prevent them from identifying with feminist struggles, thus preventing them from identifying with feminists. Fidelma Ashe addressed the issue of male feminism by arguing that traditional feminist views of the male experience and ‘men doing feminism’ have been monolithic. She explores the multiple discourses and political practices of pro-feminist politics and assesses each strand through an interrogation based on its effect on feminist politics.
A more recent review of the topic is presented by author and scholar Shira Tarrant. In Men and Feminism (Seal Press, May 2009), the California State University, Long Beach professor highlights critical debates about masculinity and gender, the history of men in feminism, and the role men in the prevention of violence and sexual assault. Through critical analysis and first-person stories of feminist men, Tarrant addresses the question of why men should care about feminism in the first place and lays the groundwork for a broader discussion of feminism as a global human problem.
Tarrant addresses similar topics in Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power (Routledge, 2007).
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