Feminist Theories in Socially-Led Theorizing
Feminist theory can be used in research that examines the effects of oppressive systems or barriers on people. The goal is to disrupt these systems and create change.
Many types of feminism have emerged, including first-wave feminism, postmodern feminism, and cultural feminism. Each type of feminism has unique goals and impacts on society.
Socially-lived theorizing involves generating feminist theories and knowledge from the actual day-to-day experiences of groups of people who have traditionally been excluded from the production of academic knowledge. This is done because those people often experience oppressive social systems in ways that members of dominant groups do not.
Gender studies scholars recognize that people's identities are constructed by their social locations in terms of race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, and ability. These multiple identities in combination, in varying degrees, shape how they experience the world and create theory.
Feminists also believe that understanding identity through intersectionality is a more complex way to think about the world than imagining identities as either single-determinant or additive models. In addition, the idea of multiple various identities allows for more nuanced exploration of how men and women, Black and White, etc., may not be so different after all.
Disrupting oppressive systems
The study of oppression helps us identify how systems of power (such as racism, sexism, and ableism) shape a society’s social structures. These patterns of mistreatment are often rooted in a history of slavery and colonialism, and they continue to affect all people.
When researchers use feminist theory, they are interested in disrupting these oppressive systems with a goal of creating change. This type of research can be applied to any field, such as education or action research.
Feminists often examine the way that gender norms are influenced by broader cultural and political trends. This can include studying representation in media or analyzing the ways that sexism and misogyny are shaped by other social norms.
Many people experience multiple forms of oppression simultaneously, and this can make it hard for them to know where their oppressions end and those of other groups begin. This is known as “intersectionality.”
The personal is political
Gender studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores a range of gender issues and questions. It includes topics like sexuality, women's rights and feminist theories.
One of the most prominent motifs in the study of gender is that the personal is political. This is a critical concept in feminism and it has important implications for the way we think about gender.
The idea of the personal being political was first coined in the 1960s by radical feminist Carol Hanisch in her essay “The Personal Is Political”. She believed that if women came to realise how grim their situation was, it would make them more willing to engage in political action.
The phrase has since morphed into numerous meanings and has been adapted to suit a variety of contexts, however its original form still holds significance. Hanisch reflected on her early writings about the importance of the personal in 2006.
The knowledge we create in gender studies is a complex, multilayered, and nuanced collection of articulations and responses to social inequalities. This knowledge enables us to recognize and map different interactions that occur within the context of a gendered reality (Zagzebski 2017).
Students who pursue a Gender Studies major develop an interdisciplinary understanding of how women and men have shaped culture, history, and society. They acquire a critical and analytical framework for examining laws, workplace policies, healthcare regulations, cultural practices, and other factors that affect individuals' ability to thrive.
Graduates with a degree in gender studies are well-positioned for a wide range of occupations, including law, medicine, business, education, public policy, and public health. They are also employed in a number of non-profit and advocacy organizations that work to improve social and economic conditions.