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Gender Performativity Theory by Butler (2010)

Discuss about the Changing Perspectives On Gender.

Women rights have been the major issue under concern in the globe today. Advocates, politicians and sociologist have been working to promote gender equality whereby men and women, girls and boys will have equal rights, power and opportunities in our everyday life. Unequal treatment of men and women in the society has raised an alarm and has led to negative consequence in the community. Women being the victims of the inequality, the traditional treatment of women has led to evolution of feminism.  The frequent medicalization of women due mental problems that arise from domestic violence, the inequality in power in the work places, lack of voting rights, properties ownership right, right to education, discriminations due to gender, race and color are major factors that has influenced the social workers to advocate for women rights. As stated by Butler and Scott (2013), Feminists believe in social, political and economical equality of the sexes. Such experiences stirred the feminists to form strong bonds of solidarity which eventually led to feminism movement (Rowbotham, Segal and Wainwright 2013).  The campaigns against women mistreatment has been successful in fighting women suffrage in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and other countries where women had no right to vote or via for leadership positions (Fawcett 2018). However, there has been a shift of the feminist discourse since the era of liberal and radical feminism. Liberal feminism discourse suggests that women must think and behave in ways that are traditionally perceived to be for men for them to achieve equal status. This encourages women to be independent and to support themselves financially. While the radical feminism discourse tends to promote women segregation by pointing out that women are different and the differences they bring in the society should be celebrated. These different thoughts on gender and feminism have led to development of various feminism theories.

In Butler (2010) gender performativity theory, she describes gender as a stylized repeated act. That is, continuous performance of an act in a certain manner dictates our gender. That is, our everyday action, behavior, speech and dressing code describe our masculinity or femininity identity.  Butler does not accept the gender identity that is formulated by the society. The society attaches gender to our biological sex, and it constructs gender roles that are to be performed by a man or woman. The gender roles are taught to children and they grow knowing them.The society expects a woman to dress, walk or behave in a feminine manner. Laws are set to makes people conform to gender norms.However, Butler claim that gender is real to the extent it is performed. In her work in From Performativity to Precarity, she indicates that when one does not conform to the constructed gender roles by the society one is prone to being exposed to precarities such as violence, discrimination, displacement which can eventually lead to malnutrition or death. The theory therefore views objectification of women as the major cause of gender inequality. As according to Heflick and Goldenberg (2009), the perception of women as objects and as less humans has exposed them to sexual assaults and discrimination in places of work (p. 599). For instance, in Afghanistan, women had no freedom of movement out of their house or freedom to seek medical attention incase of disease. They were to move out of the house in company of a male gender due to the perception that they were objects and had no freedom to make decisions of their own (Kapoor 2008).

Gender Trouble Theory by Butler (2011)


Gender trouble theory by Butler (2011), seek to deconstruct the essential gender identity that is socially constructed and to criticize the domination of women by men which she felt led to oppression of people who are homosexual and transgender. As asserted by Ferfolia (2013), lesbians and gay men are usually derided, harassed, silenced and made invisible in Australia. This discrimination is reinforced through social, cultural and political institutions (p. 169). Butler viewed the definition of gender in the societal way as a limitation since she did not view gender as natural. The gender roles from the society perspective limited these lesbians and gays freedom to enjoy their sexual right. In her theory, she argues that gender and sex have binary association and gender identity is complex in relation to sex. She pointed out that gender identity has caused inequality in politics due to the notion of man dominance and this affects productivity. In this theory, she reflects on the value of trouble and how to live in it. She further noted that it is important to identify what is expected of us when one is in trouble. Here she challenged that feminism politics should be embraced regardless of male dominance by creating political trouble through feminism politics. She viewed trouble making as the appropriate intervention for gender discrimination.

In feminist perspective of science theory, Crasnow et al (2009) affirm that underrepresentation of women in the field of science has been a practice for a long time. As asserted by Gunnarsson (2007), this has affected the reliability and production of knowledge in science (p.351). feminists have identified women discrimination in science inquiry. The theory therefore view gender as relating to norms where a woman is viewed as inferior and whose opinions cannot be put into consideration especially in critical matters. The knowledge knower has been considered to be the male scholars. However, research has indicated that the entry of female scholars into science has led to development of more questions which are relevant to science research. This has enhanced the reliability of results and has motivated more research. This theory stated that there is biasness against women in the science field. As stated by Pollack (2013), physicists, chemists and biologists prefer a young male scientist for hire than a female with similar qualifications. This has discouraged women from engaging in science due to marginalization.


Simians, Cyborgs and women theory developed by Haraway (2013), indicates the importance of gender, science and technology. This theory evaluates the claims about women innate nature in immunology, socio-biology and primatology. Animals for example primates have been used for research to explain the human nature. While cyborgs which are cybernetic energy, as implied by Haraway, humans are cyborgs and the relationship between the Simians, cyborgs and women elaborate the behavior of female gender when exposed to certain conditions. Abuse of women in businesses, technology and entertainment has been highly contributed by their innate nature of inferiority. However, Haraway suggests that men should examine how they benefit from a system that oppress women.  This will help to develop methods of fighting discrimination. And promote the gender equality. Research has indicated that women are different. Therefore, these differences needto be appreciated and they should be allowed to use utilize these differences for their benefits rather than discriminating them.

Feminist Perspective of Science Theory

The cyborgs manifesto by Haraway (1991), where she views gender as having boundaries. In her theory she gives account of the international feminist movement with an aim of homogenizing women experiences. Though the experiences cut along the border, all women who are exposed to gender inequality mostly have similar experiences. For instance, women oppression contributed by color differences suffers similar treatments all over the globe.  The feminist therefore through technology, feel they can create an environment with gender boundaries such that there are no aspects of feminism or masculinity. As Haraway use cyborg in this theory, she defines it as a cybernetic energy.  This is due to technology development.  She states that humans have become more connected to technology and this tend to change our experiences. Consequently, it leads to development of a world free of gender and hence no discrimination. In this theory human are related to cyborgs. She indicates that humansare not different from animals and that they evolved from the animal


Kimmels theory (2005) as seen in his work in the Handbook of studies on men and masculinities,men superiority to women has been a key player in gender inequality. As he states that the society tend to favour men over women due to their status in the community. However, feminists strongly oppose this and claim that women are equal to men and hence they should be given equal chances of employment, expression and leadership. This tend to promote women independence and promote financial stability by engaging in activities the society claims to be for men. This theory has raised a lot of questions in finding to determine whether women are capable of performing as men in a specific field especially technical field. In his work he points out that masculinity is equated with human rationality of men and women were marked by sexuality, emotions, and their bodies. This made women more inferior to men. In contrary as asserted by Pettifor, Macphai, Anderson and Maman (2012), in relationship where there is love, financial independence follows and this increases productivity in a family (p. 485). That is, if a woman is given equal chance as a man in terms of employment, there is high possibility of financial stability and this provides equal chance of making decision. However, superiority of man has been evidenced in various disciplines in our daily lives.  For example, man dominate in the research field, technology field and executive jobs. This has always given men an upper hand in the society as compared to women who the society views as week and volatile objects. This exposes the women to violence, discrimination and oppression.

Simians, Cyborgs and Women Theory by Haraway (2013)

Moraga’s andAnzaldua (2015),indicated that gender was a core factor in the discrimination of “women of color” in America. In their bookThis bridge called back: Writings by radical women of color, Intersectional aspects such as age, race, sex orientation and color contributed to the oppression they experienced. As they elaborated through their testimonies and interviews, they had been discriminated and oppressed to a large extent to a point of some of the feminists losing their lives. White women were oppressed due to their gender but had an advantage of the race. However, the black women had both disadvantages of gender and color.  As according to bell hooks notion of on marginal position experienced by black women and double burden of race and gender hadworsen their conditions in America. This theory therefore claim that gender is a tool of discrimination and oppression. Feminist identified deprivation of equal treatment with men of the same qualifications and economic status which provoked them to form feminism movement to fight for women rights. The deprivation of equal treatment was vividly evident in the process of seeking employment. Men had ease in finding jobs as compared to women regardless of their color. Furthermore, women who were lucky in securing jobs were paid low salaries compared to their counterparts. However, these oppressions were more severefor black women.

Moreton- Robinson (2000), in his book Duggabaibah or place of whiteness: Australian feminist and race, similarly argues on intersectionality of race, gender, sex and whiteness. He points out that racism has occupied a big margin in Australia where non-white women are discriminated against. He points out that the case become worse when gender comes to play. As according to bell hooks notion of white supremacy, the white enjoys more advantages than the non- whites. For instance, the middle class white women had privileges over the non-whites even in the feminism group, the white feminists could not hide their racial privileges. It was evident that they could not appreciated fellow non-white feminists. In this theory, Morten confirms that racial factor highly contributed to non-white women discrimination and oppression.  As stated by Sharma a physiologist, non-white women have struggled to overcome social, cultural and institutional barriers in their attempt to gain equality. This indicates that Australia is far from achieving gender equality. Cases of sexual harassment in place of work have been reported by these women though no action is taken against the perpetrators who are mostly whites. The marginalized, oppressed women suffer risks of losing their jobs, sexual harassments, domestic violence and lack of opportunity to express oneself.  

The Cyborgs Manifesto by Haraway (1991)


These feminists’ thoughts that indicates discrepancies each having a different view on gender has facilitated development of various theories that support the gender equality. Though it is a dilemma to the globe, the theories help in policies making and also in implementation of interventions necessary for gender equality. However, these theories have been criticized and others have been positively recommended for their intensive role in demolishing gender inequality.

Conclusively, gender equality is achieved when both men and women enjoy equal rights, opportunities and ease access to resources. Gender equality being the third Millennium goal, research indicates that the goal is far from being attained (Kabeer 2005, p. 479). As shown by the various feminists discussed above, gender has been described differently. It is viewed as performativity where a stylized act or behavior in a day to day life is termed as gender. This aspect of gender that sometimes tend to cause gender trouble due to men being seen as superior than woman and denying them the opportunity to access executive job or running for top seats in the government. The feminist comes out strong and suggest that trouble should be created to enhance achievement of gender equality. Science has also shown some degree of discrimination to female scientist. Gender has also been compared to masculinity of men. This aspect gives man the superiority over woman which has highly contributed to inequality. This gives man the power to dictate on women. Racial and color factor which has been in large extent the major aspects to discrimination has also defined gender as inferiority. It is shocking to realize that racial factor is still a challenge in this 21st century. discrimination due to color or ethnicity all the above gender perspectives prompted the feminist to join feminist and fights for women liberation and equality.

From the discussed theories, it can be forecasted that feminism debates will continue changing as time goes by. The evidence that the feminists are working day and night and observing trends on gender to promote equality. However, from the suggested interventions by the discussed feminists, the social, political and other relevant institutions ought to be incorporated into these movements to enhance achievement. Significantly, it has been noted that major risk factors to gender inequality is lack of knowledge or awareness, women inferiority, poverty, low educational level and poor parenting. Therefore, these institutions are to conduct trainings to the public to pass information. Workshops and advertisements on this issue will be a step to achieving gender equality.  Protection for the feminists is fundamental since they are prone to torture or murder due to their initiatives, consistency and patience to waiting for the results. This therefore implies that the government has a bigger role to play to ensure that the women are protected from violence, sexual harassment, mental disorders, displacement and helped to evade maternal and premature deaths. This will stir global development and work towards boosting the living standards of the people while achieving the vision 2030.

Kimmel's Theory (2005)

References

Butler, J 2013. Precarity and performativity 1:4, Quasi Modo, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZgzsVxgiIQ , accessed 8 February 2017.

Butler, J. and Scott, J.W. eds., 2013. Feminists theorize the political. Routledge.

 Butler, Judith. 2011., Gender Trouble. [online]. Routledge. Available fromhttps://www.myilibrary.com?ID=344208 ; 7 February 2017. (You can also access the book at this site)

Crasnow, S, Wylie, A, Bauchspies, WK and Potter, E 2015. “Feminist Perspectives on Science”, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2015/entries/feminist-science/ , accessed 7 Feb 2017.

Fawcett, M., 2018. Women's Suffrage: A Short History of a Great Movement. Charles River Editors via PublishDrive.

Ferfolja, T., 2013. Sexual diversity, discrimination and ‘homosexuality policy’in New South Wales' government schools. Sex Education, 13(2), pp.159-171.

Gunnarsson, E., 2007. Other sides of the coin: A feminist perspective on robustness in science and knowledge production. International Journal of Action Research, 3(3), pp.349-363.

 Haraway, D 1991, Simians, cyborgs and women: the reinvention of nature, London: Free Association, London.

Heflick, N.A. and Goldenberg, J.L., 2009. Objectifying Sarah Palin: Evidence that objectification causes women to be perceived as less competent and less fully human. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(3), pp.598-601.

Hooks, b.,1990, “marginality as a site of difference”, in R. Ferguson, M. Gever, T. T. Minhha, &C. West (eds.), Out There: Marginalisations and Contemporary Cultures, New York: The New Museum of Contemporary Art New York, 341-343.

https://homepage.westmont.edu/hoeckley/readings/symposium/pdf/201_300/220.pdf (Ch 8 A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century).

Kabeer, N., 2005. Gender equality and women's empowerment: A critical analysis of the third millennium development goal 1. Gender & Development, 13(1), pp.13-24.

Kapoor, I., 2008. The postcolonial politics of development. Routledge.

Kimmel, MS, Hearn, J and Connell R (eds) 2005, Handbook of Studies on Men and Masculinities, SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi, (brows e).

Moraga, Ce and Anzaldu?a, G 2001, This bridge called my back: writings by radical women of color, 3rd edn, Third Woman Press, Berkeley, CA (browse).

Moreton-Robinson, A 2000, 'Duggaibah or 'Place of Whiteness': Australian feminists and race', in J Docker & G Fischer (eds), Race, Colour and Identity in Australia and New Zealand, UNSW Press, Sydney, pp. 240-55.

Pettifor, A., MacPhail, C., Anderson, A.D. and Maman, S., 2012. ‘If I buy the Kellogg's then he should [buy] the milk’: young women's perspectives on relationship dynamics, gender power and HIV risk in Johannesburg, South Africa. Culture, health & sexuality, 14(5), pp.477-490.

Pollack, E., 2013. Why are there still so few women in science?. The New York Times Magazine, 3.

Rowbotham, S., Segal, L. and Wainwright, H., 2013. Beyond the fragments: Feminism and the making of socialism. Merlin Press.

Sharma, N., Gender Inequality in Australia.

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