Feminism And The Private Spher

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By recognising that politics is a science not only of the public realm but also of the private, feminism shows itself to be an ideology that challenges conventional thought. As the question rightly states, it is feminists imparticular that oppose the division but this view has influenced many others to think in such a way about the public and private. In short, feminists believe that the plight of women can only be eased if the private sphere is opened up to political debate. Feminists have stated on numerous occasions that the main way in which they are oppressed is within the private sphere. It is thought that men are able to stunt the progress of women through psycologically degrading them in the home. By doing this, in the private realm, women do not have the confidence (or permission) to perform a role in the public realm. Feminists argue that wife-beating and rape within the home are common ways of degrading women. The current division we have between the public and private means that the state is powerless to address the issue, seeing as it is an issue outside the public sphere. Political intervention is essential for this issue, hence the division needs to disappear. It should be noted also that this hypothesis applies to any weak groups within society, such as the disabled, homosexuals and ethnic minorities. Feminists also oppose the division between public and private because of men s domination in the public sphere. All state institutions in the UK are inhabited overwhealmingly by men; the House of Commons has less than a sixth of its members that are female. Art and literature are still male-orientated disciplines. The point is that when there is a time (like now) where women are equal in name to men, it has very little meaning to women as they are equal only in a male designed world. The Greek playwright Euripides once suggested that women would only be equal when they have the opportunity to contribute to the arts. Feminists say that women are unknowingly oppressed by men because they have submitted themselves to live and think in male defined ways. Feminists add to this that if there were no division between the public and private realm, it would allow the achivements of women in the private sphere to be acknowledged. Radical feminists state that women s qualities like child-bearing, their emmotional awareness and their compassion are qualities overlooked because they are put to use only in the private sphere. In order for women to be fully liberated, these achievements have to be appreciated on the same level as men s achievements. Hence, womens domination of life in the private sphere should balance the domination of men in the public sphere. Feminists have advanced this viewpoint by campaigning for wages for housework, a task usually undertaken by women without reward, in the private sphere. Feminists argue that a job done behind closed doors is of value, just like a proper job in the public sphere. This campaign is a good illustration of what is possible once the division between public and private is ridden of. Women, when they have a legitimately paid job just like men, cannot be economically oppressed, that is to say they would no longer feel dependent on men for money. There are feminists though who have no problem with the divide between public and private. Liberal feminists believe that women are equally rational to men and therefore, once enabled with equal rights, will be able to work with men on an equal basis. Although liberal feminism was the core of feminist thought in the 19th and early 20th century, it is no longer. The leading feminists of that time were middle class women who egotistically paid little attention to women s oppression in the home, seeing as they didn t have to put up with it themselves, being women of high status. Marxist feminists do recognise that women are oppressed in the home, but do not see opening the private sphere up to debate as being the solution. Men and women are said to have a common humanity, and the only

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