Women participation in sports has a history marked by division and inequity. However, women have experiences major accomplishments by female athletes helping to make significant progress for gender equality and the empowerment of women. The essay will explain some of the historical developments with reference to different theoretical perspective of feminism such as liberal, radical and socialist feminisms. It will also critically discuss feminisms and how female are exploited by patriarchy society.
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Feminism is a dynamic, diverse and often conflicting collection of social theories and moral philosophies (Burke, 2008). It is similar to Marxism because both are political theories that were develop to solve the inequality, exploitation and poverty in society. While Marxism is largely motivated by the struggle of social class, feminism focuses on the experiences of women, particularly in terms of their political, social and economical inequalities. One prospective of feminism focuses on seeking no particular privileges but merely demand that everyone receive equal political, economical and social consideration without discrimination on the basis of sex (Adkins, 2004). Another opposing type of modern feminism, opposes existing political and social institution in general because it’s tied to a male dominated society. Thus, feminism has no single, universal form that represents all feminists.
The rise of feminism movement can be divided into three “waves”. The first wave began in the late 1800s to early 1900s referring mainly to the statue of women in family and allowing women’s right to vote known as the suffrage movement. The second wave refers to the action of the women’s liberation movement beginning in the early 1950s which campaigned for social and legal equality for women. The third wave feminism began in the 1990s and embraced conflict, contradictions and accommodated diversity and change.
Waves of Feminism
The waves of feminism are a historical progression in each waves has bringing a swelling of momentum that carried women closer to equality in society. The early movement has come to known as the first wave which was established in United States and United Kingdom around the late 1800s to early 1900s. They major concerned was to help promote women equality in education, employment and property rights. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, many feminist such as Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone fought to gain more political power for women; particularly the right of women’s suffrage. Woman did have success as a result of the 1st World War occur meaning women replaced men in civilian work-force and also served in the military support roles. Feminist also had significant success in reforms in education, and broadening access to different profession and in healthcare. It is considered that the first-wave came to end when the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed enabling women the right to vote (Lee & Ling, 2001). The progression of first-wave feminism was significant; however, without the continuation of the second-wave, feminisms would not be as advance as it is in current times (can u think of another way can say that), for each wave is interrelated and dependent on each other’s history.
In the early 1960s Second Wave of feminism emerged. Second-wave focuses was broader than the first-wave. It was concerned on inequalities such as the economic freedom, the rights for female to have abortion, equal and accessibility to certain male dominated institution such as sports. It also began to challenge the domination of patriarchy society and gender inequality in all aspects. In 1963 A Feminist named Betty Friedan publicised a landmark book called The Feminine Mystique. This book would be a pivotal moment in the history of second wave feminism. The book give an insight on how upper to middle class women felt discontented about their restricted opportunity in life (Changfoot, 2002). Friedan soon became one of the leading feminist in the Second wave, and eventually helped establish the National Organization for Women, whose purpose was to promote gender equality and to protect and support women rights. Perhaps one of the biggest achievements of Second Wave Feminism was in the United States by the passage of Title IX (Ackerly & Attanasi, 2006). This enabled women to have access to education, particularly in university and professional schools. In addition, the work of these feminists allow employment opportunities that before had been confined to men accessible to women.
The Third Wave of feminism that emerged in the 1990s and is still current to this day. Like all feminism, the third wave focuses on the social, economic, political and personal empowerment of women, but this differ to pervious waves because it concerns were more on the individual empowerment of women and less on activism. Ferguson (2002) commented on the third wave as a “new direction for feminism to celebrates women’s voyage to build meaningful identities in a complex contemporary world” (p2). Third wave feminists celebrate diversity unlike previous waves and the Women’s Liberation Movement; it was often criticized for focusing too narrowly on the events of middle-class, Caucasian and heterosexual women. Third wave feminists do not reject political activism, but the emphasis relies more on women personal empowerment as an initial point for societal change. Zinn and Dill (2005) propose there are multiple systems of domination that create inequality for women known as a matrix of domination.
Feminism is not a unified or a simple philosophy. Many women and man consider themselves feminists; most of their ideology may vary considerably. The feminist theories aim to understand the nature of gender inequality, promoting women’s rights, while generally providing a critique of social relations. This essay will focus on looking a liberal, socialist and radical feminism.
Liberal feminism is characterized on the emphasis of wanting both genders to be equal within society. According to the theory, society itself does not need a major revolution, but rather propose that laws need to be changed and opportunities which enable more accessibly for women to become equal in society. To a liberal feminist, evidence of progress occurs when a number of women gain more positions previous occupied by men, particularly high end positions. In the United Kingdom and the major of the Western world, liberal feminism is the most common form of feminism. Gale, (2009) argues that even if women are no longer reliant upon men, they will still need to be governed by a patriarchal state. Radical Feminist argues institutional changes such as the introduction of women’s suffrage are inadequate to emancipate women.
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In contrast socialist feminism emphasizes that equality for women will not be achieve without a significant change within society mainly economic change also socialist feminists focus on collective change and empowerment. Similar to Marxism, socialist feminists argue that there are basic inequalities built in to a capitalist society because capital and power are shared unequally. Thus, it not sufficient enough for women to achieve powerful positions in society, but power and capital need to be distributed equally (Fleck, 2004). Critic argues that socialist feminism neither is revolutionary nor radical enough to generate a solution to the difficulty for women economic and social exploitation. Another argument is not all male and female relationships are characterised by exploitation and oppression.
Radical feminism is focuses on patriarchy and the system of power that organizes society. It is similar to socialist feminism in the sense that it emphasizes the need for severe social change for women to truly have equality. Radical feminists believe that society is very largely patriarchal, and as a result founds that women are oppressed. A criticism for radical feminism is it focuses much on the patriarchy society and need to consider the concepts such as ethnicity, religion and social class. Another criticism is reverse discrimination when women pushed unfairly into senior position.
Feminism in sports
Women’s participation in sports has risen significantly in the twentieth century, particularly in the last quarter. It this partly due to the changes in modern societies that encourage gender parity. While the level of participation and performance still alters depending on the country and by sport. Although there has been many improvement in the accessibility in sport many feminist argue, that sports has been socially constructed hyper masculine, thus it has been more limited to men. Vale, (1998) found evidence to support this by looking at the incredible resistance to included women in certain men’s institutions. Augusta National is the golf club which is also home to the Masters Tournament which does not allow women members to join. When women have tried to join the club or have made protest outside the parameter, the reaction from the club has boarded on hostility. As a results Vale, (1996) question if sport is so beneficial for men, why do men and institution, hold such resistant to offer all that is good in sport to women. Radical feminism have criticised the patriarchy society on how they portray women in sports. For example Sports Illustrated portrays women by presents demeaning stereotypes of female sexuality, encouraging men to view women as sex objects and by turning voyeurism into a sport.
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