What is feminism? By general definition, feminism is a philosophy in which womenand their contributions are valued.
It is based on social, political andeconomical equality for women. Feminists can be anyone in the population, men,women, girl or boys. Feminism can also be described as a movement. A revolutionthat includes women and men who wish the world to be equal without boundaries. These boundaries or blockades are better known as discrimination and biasesagainst gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status and economic status.
Everyone views the world with his or her own sense of gender and equality. Feminists view the world as being unequal. They wish to see the gender gap andthe idea that men are superior to women decreased or even abolished. CarolGilligan is one woman who has contributed much time and effort to the feministtheory. Her beliefs and ideas are based upon difference feminism. In this essayI will tie the ideas and beliefs of Carol Gilligan with information from ourtext, the packet read in class and the book, Faces of Feminism.Order now
Carol Gilliganis a lecturer and assistant professor at Harvard University as well as apsychologist. She has many theories that deal with moral reasoning anddevelopment. In her influential book In a Different Voice, she sets forth theidea that women make decisions “according to a criteria of ethics of care andthat men make decisions according to an ethic of rights. “(3) In her book,Carol Gilligan also disagrees with Lawrence Kohlbergs’ theory, which suggeststhat “Few people matured fully in their moral reasoning. .
. but women hardlyever did. “(2) In her opposition Gilligan stated that “women make moraldecisions according to different but equally mature and morally uprightreasoning. “(2) She feels that women are different because they posses adifferent hereditary set of values and beliefs.
This opposition to Kohlberg’stheory was backed by research. Even though there was research done to supportGilligan, it seemed to have experimenter bias. It was not an open or strongexperiment and it only observed the actions of the white middle class. This didnot give a clear or objective view on the separate criteria of women and men. The views and ideas on moral reasoning and development set forth by CarolGilligan are those of many difference feminists. Difference feminism is just onetype of feminism.
It gives a concept that “women should go back to traditionalroles”(3) set by society. It also states that gender is natural and is notlearned by the society in which one lives. Not all Feminists agree with thistheory but there are many feminists, such as Carol Gilligan who agree with thisidea that even though men and women are different, they each have their ownseparate place in society. Difference feminism is “successful because it tellspeople what they want to hear: women really are different in just the ways thatwe always thought.
. . . And men have power, wealth and control of socialresources because women do not really want them. “(3) This idea of differencefeminism sets forth a number of stereotypes.
They give feminists and the generalpublic a skewed view of the theory behind the philosophy. In the book Faces ofFeminism, feminist theorists were asked, “Do women have to be the same as mento be equal?”(1) The majority of responses were yes. It is believed that inorder for women and men to become equal, society must “unlearn and uncondition”(1)the gender roles and standards it has established throughout history. Societyand the people in it have set up the basis for gender difference and now manyfeminists are breaking down those barriers. Carol Gilligans position on moraldevelopment and her views as a feminist, suggest that “womens nature is notsomething to be replaced, but something to be maintained, indeed celebrated, forthe sake both of women and society. “(1) This view is tied in with the generaldefinition of feminism, that women should be valued for their accomplishments.
Womanhood is important and should be celebrated and praised. On that same note,maleness must also be celebrated and praised. Throughout history men havedominated our culture and now through the work of feminists such as CarolGilligan, the roles are beginning to shift. There are more women in theworkplace and more men staying at home.
This idea of gender reversal goesagainst parts of the difference feminist theory. BibliographyTobias, Shelia. Faces of Feminism. Westview Press, Colo 1997. Katha Pollitt.
‘Are women morally superior to men?” 1992.