Monday, April 27, 2015
Jeanette Stevens-H01- Feminist Philosophy
What is feminism?
In modern times, the word “feminism” has come to describe a sub-group of radical, man-hating, lesbians. The true definition and movement couldn't be any more different from this. While there are still many different views and perspectives on what feminism is, most can believe in a central theory: there is an injustice being done towards women and feminists strive for true equality between the sexes-all sexes. There is a great debate among feminists on what constitutes injustice, and a lot of people who agree that everyone should have equality don’t think women are being treated unfairly in today’s society (though a quick look at average pay-rates per profession by gender could tell you otherwise). Feminism isn’t just for women, though: our society puts blanketed gender-stereotypes on men and women that are harmful to everyone.
Feminist pragmatism is a branch of philosophy that feels that feminism and pragmatism go hand-in-hand- “pragmatism” is a branch of philosophy popularized by William James in the late 19th century that states that if an ideology is practical in its consequences, it is therefore true. Impractical ideas should be eradicated. Feminist-pragmatists seek to solve today’s gender problems using this pragmatic thought-process. Hull-House, a home for European immigrants opened in 1889 by Nobel Prize Winners Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, became a hub for female pragmatists (and any woman who wanted to receive an education in society and the arts!)
Jane Addams is the most iconic female figure when it comes to pragmatism. Addams sought to find a way to give women as much of a chance as possible in the early 1900s. Addams’s writings are some of the most varied when it comes to pragmatism due to the people of various ethnicities, backgrounds, and religions she encountered in Hull-House. Ironically, Addams was never recognized as a philosopher until after her death, when women’s rights started to take off. Addams believed that to build a nation truly based on equality, we must start from the ground-up. Children and schooling, she believed, were what would found a feminist society. She cultivated these beliefs in Hull-House and exemplified love and lack of prejudice to all that she encountered. She never identified herself with any labels, other than that of pacifist, because she wanted people of any affiliation to be welcome to her ideas. She co-founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
What Has Feminism Done Recently?
While true equality has yet to be attained, positive changes have happened for women recently. For example, transgendered woman Laverne Cox was the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a television show, Orange is the New Black. Not only is she a pioneer for feminism, but for the LGBT* community as well. The Red Umbrella Fund was created in 2012, which is the first global fund run by and for sex workers. Argentina recently passed an incredibly progressive law allowing anyone to change their registered sex without intervention by a doctor. Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani political activist, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. These are just a few examples of how feminism is transforming the world we live in!
Haslanger, Sally. "Topics in Feminism." Stanford University. Stanford University, 07 Feb. 2003. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
"Feminist Pragmatism." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
Herman, Emmanuelle. "Celebrating 21st-Century Feminism and Why It Matters." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.