Although the terms "feminism" and "feminist" did not gain widespread use until the s, they were already being used in the public parlance much earlier; for instance, Katherine Hepburn speaks of the "feminist movement" in the film Woman of the Year. According to Maggie Humm and Rebecca Walker, the history of feminism can be divided into three waves.
The main feminist motivation for making this distinction was to counter biological determinism or the view that biology is destiny. A typical example of a biological determinist view is that of Geddes and Thompson who, inargued that social, psychological and behavioural traits were caused by metabolic state.
It would be inappropriate to grant women political rights, as they are simply not suited to have those rights; it would also be futile since women due to their biology would simply not be interested in exercising their political rights.
To counter this kind of biological determinism, feminists have argued that behavioural and psychological differences have social, rather than biological, causes. Commonly observed behavioural traits associated with women and men, then, are not caused by anatomy or chromosomes.
Rather, they are culturally learned or acquired. Although biological determinism of the kind endorsed by Geddes and Thompson is nowadays uncommon, the idea that behavioural and psychological differences between women and men have biological causes has not disappeared.
In the s, sex differences were used to argue that women should not become airline pilots since they will be hormonally unstable once a month and, therefore, unable to perform their duties as well as men Rogers More recently, differences in male and female brains have been said to explain behavioural differences; in particular, the anatomy of corpus callosum, a bundle of nerves that connects the right and left cerebral hemispheres, is thought to be responsible for various psychological and behavioural differences.
Anne Fausto-Sterling has questioned the idea that differences in corpus callosums cause behavioural and psychological differences. First, the corpus callosum is a highly variable piece of anatomy; as a result, generalisations about its size, shape and thickness that hold for women and men in general should be viewed with caution.
Second, differences in adult human corpus callosums are not found in infants; this may suggest that physical brain differences actually develop as responses to differential treatment.
Third, given that visual-spatial skills like map reading can be improved by practice, even if women and men's corpus callosums differ, this does not make the resulting behavioural differences immutable.
Fausto-Sterling b, chapter 5. Psychologists writing on transsexuality were the first to employ gender terminology in this sense. Although by and large a person's sex and gender complemented each other, separating out these terms seemed to make theoretical sense allowing Stoller to explain the phenomenon of transsexuality: Along with psychologists like Stoller, feminists found it useful to distinguish sex and gender.
This enabled them to argue that many differences between women and men were socially produced and, therefore, changeable. Rubin's thought was that although biological differences are fixed, gender differences are the oppressive results of social interventions that dictate how women and men should behave.
However, since gender is social, it is thought to be mutable and alterable by political and social reform that would ultimately bring an end to women's subordination.
In some earlier interpretations, like Rubin's, sex and gender were thought to complement one another. That is, according to this interpretation, all humans are either male or female; their sex is fixed.
But cultures interpret sexed bodies differently and project different norms on those bodies thereby creating feminine and masculine persons.
Distinguishing sex and gender, however, also enables the two to come apart: So, this group of feminist arguments against biological determinism suggested that gender differences result from cultural practices and social expectations.
Nowadays it is more common to denote this by saying that gender is socially constructed. But which social practices construct gender, what social construction is and what being of a certain gender amounts to are major feminist controversies. There is no consensus on these issues.
See the entry on intersections between analytic and continental feminism for more on different ways to understand gender. Masculinity and femininity are thought to be products of nurture or how individuals are brought up.
They are causally constructed Haslanger And the mechanism of construction is social learning. Feminine and masculine gender-norms, however, are problematic in that gendered behaviour conveniently fits with and reinforces women's subordination so that women are socialised into subordinate social roles: That is, feminists should aim to diminish the influence of socialisation.
Social learning theorists hold that a huge array of different influences socialise us as women and men.
This being the case, it is extremely difficult to counter gender socialisation. For instance, parents often unconsciously treat their female and male children differently. When parents have been asked to describe their hour old infants, they have done so using gender-stereotypic language: Some socialisation is more overt: This, again, makes countering gender socialisation difficult.
For one, children's books have portrayed males and females in blatantly stereotypical ways: Some publishers have attempted an alternative approach by making their characters, for instance, gender-neutral animals or genderless imaginary creatures like TV's Teletubbies.
However, parents reading books with gender-neutral or genderless characters often undermine the publishers' efforts by reading them to their children in ways that depict the characters as either feminine or masculine.Feminist theory focuses on analyzing gender inequality.
Themes explored in feminism include discrimination, objectification (especially sexual objectification), oppression, patriarchy, stereotyping, art history and contemporary art, and aesthetics. Feminist theory aims to understand gender inequality and focuses on gender politics, power relations and sexuality.
While providing a critique of these social and political relations, much of feminist theory focuses on the promotion of women's rights and interests. Feminist Theory and then discuss laws, practices and policies in education that were designed to address gender imbalances at primary school, with special emphasis on .
Feminism keeps men accountable for their participation of sexism and oppression against women while at the same time, acknowledging the negative impact that is pressed upon them as well.
Globalization: The Impact of the Global Economy on Women and Feminist Theory, focuses on the intersection of global market forces and feminism.
A number of . Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender First published Mon May 12, ; substantive revision Wed Oct 25, Feminism is said to be the movement to end women's oppression (hooks , 26).