On May 24th, a few dozen people gathered in a conference room at the Central Library, a century-old Georgian Revival building in downtown Portland, Oregon, for an event called Radfems Respond. The conference had been convened by a group that wanted to defend two positions that have made radical feminism anathema to much of the left. First, the organizers hoped to refute charges that the desire to ban prostitution implies hostility toward prostitutes. Then they were going to try to explain why, at a time when transgender rights are ascendant, radical feminists insist on regarding transgender women as men, who should not be allowed to use women’s facilities, such as public rest rooms, or to participate in events organized exclusively for women.
The whole idea about feminism has always raised controversial discussions. These controversies can form good bases for intriguing essay topics. Here is a highlight of 10 unusual essay topics on feminism to consider.
Is there any point, then, to asking what feminism is? Given thecontroversies over the term and the politics of circumscribing theboundaries of a social movement, it is sometimes tempting to thinkthat the best we can do is to articulate a set of disjuncts thatcapture a range of feminist beliefs. However, at the same time it canbe both intellectually and politically valuable to have a schematicframework that enables us to map at least some of our points ofagreement and disagreement. We'll begin here by considering some ofthe basic elements of feminism as a political position or set ofbeliefs. For a survey of different philosophical approaches tofeminism, see “Feminism, approaches to”.
One strategy for solving these problems would be to identify feminismin terms of a set of ideas or beliefs rather than participation in anyparticular political movement. As we saw above, this also has theadvantage of allowing us to locate isolated feminists whose work wasnot understood or appreciated during their time. But how should we goabout identifying a core set of feminist beliefs? Some would suggestthat we should focus on the political ideas that the term wasapparently coined to capture, viz., the commitment to women's equalrights. This acknowledges that commitment to and advocacy for women'srights has not been confined to the Women's Liberation Movement in theWest. But this too raises controversy, for it frames feminism within abroadly Liberal approach to political and economic life. Although mostfeminists would probably agree that there is some sense of“rights” on which achieving equal rights for women is anecessary condition for feminism to succeed, most would also arguethat this would not be sufficient. This is because women's oppressionunder male domination rarely if ever consists solely in deprivingwomen of political and legal “rights”, but also extendsinto the structure of our society and the content of our culture, andpermeates our consciousness (e.g., Bartky 1990).
Yet another positive accomplishment made by the feminist movement is that it has helped millions of women around the world regain self-confidence. Nowadays, a woman is not just a housewife or mother; women are recognized to have equal capabilities with men, and are able to achieve as much as men in professional and self-realization fields. Even the entertainment business is now promoting pro-feminist ideas; in particular, supermodel organized a campaign titled “So What,” which aimed at helping women accept themselves and their imaginary or real imperfections (Divine Caroline). Other celebrities such as Beyonce, Ashton Kutcher, Joss Whedon, and Emma Watson also support and promote the ideas of feminism, helping millions of women feel proud about themselves.
Eco-feminism is one of the 10 unusual essay topics on feminism to consider if you want to write an intriguing essay. The notion of eco-feminism arises when feminism and environmentalism unite. It is an interesting topic because to some people part of it is science, while part of it is nature and another part is religion. It explores how women interact with the natural world and their nature.
Where does this leave us? ‘Feminism’ is an umbrella termfor a range of views about injustices against women. There aredisagreements among feminists about the nature of justice in generaland the nature of sexism, in particular, the specific kinds ofinjustice or wrong women suffer; and the group who should be theprimary focus of feminist efforts. Nonetheless, feminists arecommitted to bringing about social change to end injustice againstwomen, in particular, injustice against women as women.
The preceding account identifies eight sorts of connectionsbetween the domination of women and the domination of nature thathave been defended by ecofeminists. It also indicates both generallyand specifically (in terms of the four essays included in thissection) the nature of the challenges that acceptance of theseconnections poses for contemporary feminism, environmentalism, andenvironmental philosophy. But if the power and promise of ecologicalfeminism runs as deep as many ecofeminists suppose, there must beimplications of ecofeminism for mainstream philosophy as well. Whatare some of these?
An alternative, however, would be to grant that in practice unityamong feminists cannot be taken for granted, but to begin with atheoretical common-ground among feminist views that does not assumethat sexism appears in the same form or for the same reasons in allcontexts. We saw above that one promising strategy for distinguishingsexism from racism, classism, and other forms of injustice is to focuson the idea that if an individual is suffering sexist oppression, thenan important part of the explanation why she is subject to theinjustice is that she is or appears to be a woman. This includes casesin which women as a group are explicitly targeted by a policy or apractice, but also includes cases where the policy or practice affectswomen due to a history of sexism, even if they are not explicitlytargeted. For example, if women are deprived an education and so are,on the whole, illiterate. And if under these circumstances only thosewho are literate are entitled to vote. Then we can say that women as agroup are being disenfranchised and that this is a form of sexistoppression because part of the explanation of why women cannot vote isthat they are women, and women are deprived an education. Thecommonality among the cases is to be found in the role of gender inthe explanation of the injustice rather than the specific form theinjustice takes. Building on this we could unify a broad range offeminist views by seeing them as committed to the (very abstract)claims that:
As review of the literature overview given above reveals, the fouressays included in this section provide only a glimpse of thepositions advocated by ecofeminists. Still, together they raiseissues across all eight categories of woman-nature connectionsthat were identified above. Their inclusion here provides a sample ofthe philosophically relevant contributions ecofeminist historians,sociologists, and philosophers have made to ecofeminist andenvironmental philosophy.
In an article titled “Classical Drag: The Greek Creation of Female Parts,” Sue Ellen Case states that because “traditional scholarship has focused on evidence related to written texts, the absence of women playwrights became central to early feminist investigations” (132).