Lee's Feminisms Lecture (from Tyson) version 1.7

last revised 2/1/10

Feminist theory focuses on this key idea: Western Civilization is patriarchal (and so are many other civilizations), and because patriarchy is an amalgam of ideologies that blind us to our gender oppressions, some of it's theories are actually very much like Marxist theory (only focused on gender issues). It's broad project is to show how gender roles (stereotypes) are based on patriarchal "norms" (or ideologies) that blind us to the oppression of women and men, but then also to try and do something about this blindness and oppression (the goal of getting equality for women, for instance, but also with the goal of erradicating patriarchy--but how?).

Some think about Feminism in terms of movements or waves:


1st Wave Feminism: suffragettes (Elizabeth Cady Staton and Susan B. Anthony in the U.S.; seen as male destroyers', sex starved spinsters burning for the male organ--Freud; Mary Wholstonecraft, Margaret Fuller, Margararet Singer, Elizabeth Cady Staton were all loved by men said Betty Freidan).


2nd Wave American Feminism, or activist feminism focusing on equality: 1960's Women's Liberation Movement supposedly started with Betty Freidan's The Feminine Mystique (see her posthumous bio); but you also see a move toward increasing our awareness of phallologocentric language like the supposedly generic "Mankind" or "him/his" being used as stand-ins in for all genders—small changes, like using she to refer to all genders; “herstory” “hystery” s/he, (s)he; as Tyson says, though, many people see this as trivial (or worse: see the backlash of Limbaugh's term "feminazis")...but if patriarchy is so very pervasive, wouldn't we have to deal with it at the level of the word/logos as well?


3rd Wave Feminism: queer studies, gender studies (intersexuality, masculine studies, queer theory, post-structuralisms where non-binary ideas disrupt the status quo)

The problem: Getting beyond patriarchy (or getting beyond any oppressive system) in any of these instances. How do you get out of something that is so pervasive?

Literary Things to look at:


French Feminism--Marxist, Lacanian, and Post-structuralist: