Feminism: Participation of Women in Politics
Democracy is when the political thinkers and leaders think as one collective unit instead of individuals. Democracy is to discuss, analyze and find solutions for the nation’s problems from a majority consensus without ignoring the rights and answers for the minorities of the nation. It helps the government form and cultivate a way to work under one united force to develop and enhance the infrastructure of the state (Beckwith PG 90). Feminism is a philosophy derived by similar social, political and ethical structural theories mainly formed with the intention to mainly free women of the atrocities, insecurities and inequality they face all over the world (Walters, as cited by Beckwith Pg 98). Feminism and feminist movements mainly aim to bring a much more paralleled outlook for the sexes in this world in all walks of life. Feminism supports that no decision whether social, political or ethical should be made on the ground of the gender of those involved. All the advocates of this philosophy believe that a person’s uniqueness and intelligence should be components for deciding his/her social, political or financial privileges (www.elissetche.org/dico/F.htm).
In this paper we will mainly compare and contrast the impact that feminist movements have had on the political standing of the women as well as the men in general. The overall impact of the feminist movement has been in helping the women cultivate a feeling of a joined and clustered uniqueness as well as develop global concern for the hazards and perils faced by women all over the world while focusing on strengthening the female stature in political dealings.
Throughout history, the world politics have been dominated by a men and male-driven philosophies and thoughts. This, however, changed in the early 1960s. The feminist movements before 1960 were significant, yes, but in a constricted demography. The real impact of the philosophy of feminism came in 1972 when the movement gained immense support and popularity (Ramazanoglu Pg 178). This proved to be the strongest era for female political participation as the feminist movement was spreading like fire, gaining loyal support and was being heard worldwide (Janet, as cited by Beckwith Pg 111). This fire, however, subsided by the time the year 1976 dawned when the association between the national politics and feminist movements became less than trifling or significant.
All through these years, the main work being put in to enhance the female political participation had been through emphasis on proper and thorough education. Also, the political participation for women varied in intensities, for example, emphasis on voting was not that significant while the emphasis on alternative liberal protests was a major part of the work done by numerous feminist movements (Caroline, pg 78).
Andersen states that it is because of the link and association between the education and feminist movements that changing and varying patterns in the political participation of the women have emerged (Andersen, as cited by Beckwith Pg 111). This is the reason he believes that the female participation and its impact in the political spheres in 1972 was far more significant than in 1976. He, furthermore, states that the educated women were far more influential and in control in 1972 then the men at that time. Hence, he states that the activity and mobilization of female political participation can be successfully achieved with the recruitment of educated women in influential political positions rather than mass recruitment and participation of women.
The four generations of the feminist movement, namely first, second, third and fourth, seemed to have no significant pattern to form a conclusive theory on mass participation. Also, the support and popularity of the movement had very little to do with the ratio of female participation in the political sphere. The feminist movement was very strong in the first and third generations and not so much in the other two. In fact, the overall female participation of the women in the political sphere through all generations was more or less comparable (Beckwith Pg 90).
Even though, historical and generational analysis does not help us configure a relation between the strength of the feminist movement and female political participation, we cannot discard the impact or influence completely. The researches done so far do show a constructive relation between the political participation of women as well as the feminist movements. What future researches need to focus on now is the impact of certain liberal movements and protests on the generations of the movements, specifically the fourth generation (Beckwith Pg 90).
Looking at the social perspectives, women are normally brought up with a constant association to someone else i.e. family, husband, children, etc. So for them when stepping in to the political arena, it becomes somewhat easier to merge into the “we” part of the democratic setup and form decisions thinking in relative and interconnected terms. Women are more adaptive then men in forming relationships and existing within the contexts those relationships. All feminist scholars and advocates have stated this fact broadly and hence declare that the participation of women in the political and democratic setup helps the development and implementation of the overall design of the democratic political setup. They believe that while the male counterparts turn to reflect on how to tackle the association of a collective unit, the female activists can prudently start working on the application of the efforts made collectively on a venture. This is so because they are already used to considering and acting upon what is in the best interest of everyone, (through the use of affiliation, not power) outside their personal needs and preferences. The only difference here would be that their circle of concern would be more widespread; i.e. It will include a whole society instead of just their household (Ramazanoglu Pg 178). However, the downside of this could be that the feminist group might use the power they have to overlap the voices of those that are not necessarily similar to their political ideas. If and when this happens, the whole idea of a democratic setup would be dismantled.
One interesting fact is that the overall participation of women in politics is not that different form the participation of men in politics. In fact, the association of the feminist movement and political participation shows insignificant contrasts for men and women as a whole. This shows that even though feminism has an impact on the participation of women and their development, it also has a constructive impact on the stature of men in the overall social and political standings. The fact is that the men who support feminist movement were far more politically and socially active by the end of 1976 than those who didn’t support the feministic theories. In fact, there were times during the feminist movements when the men supporting feminism were far more active, influential and successful then the women supporting the feminism movements. This proves that feminism is not limited to influencing the stature of women even though it proposes so. In fact, feminism might actually be just another supportive and reasonable constituent of the overall liberal philosophy. The main ideas brought forth and supported by the feminist movement was to recognize the women as part of the overall social and political structure in an effort to develop the philosophy of liberalism. Considering the facts and scenarios given, the feminism movements should be expected to have constructive impact on the political participation of both the women as well as the men (Beckwith Pg 111, 112).
Andersen Kristi. Working Women and Political Participation, 1952-1972. American journal of political science, 3, 1975. This paper studies the reduction in the gender-based selection or division in the political setup of different countries over the last 2 decades. Andersen mainly accounts this change to the group of women who urged to work outside their homes. He also examines the link between the phenomenon of feminism, the increase or impact on female political participation and the influence of the 1972 elections in the activation or growth of the working women phenomenon.
Caroline Ramazanoglu. Feminism and the Contradictions of Oppression. London and New York. 1989. This book mainly focuses on the difficulties faced when forming an association between the feminist social theory and feminist political strategy. The recent growing popularity of the phenomenon has enhanced the relations amid the men and women as well as its own efficient as a tool to remove differences. Nevertheless there are still many opposing opinion of the impact of feminism.
Definition of feminism taken from www.elissetche.org/dico/F.htm
Janet a Boles. The Politics of the Equal Rights Amendment: Conflict and the Decision Process. New York: Longman, 1979. The recent demands for increased ratio of political representation of women sparked this discussion on the problem of group interests and representation. Hence, this discussion employs and recommends what the future researches should focus on like public opinion, interest groups, social movements, international politics, political elites, and public policy.
Karen Beckwith. American Women and Political Participation: the impacts of work, generation, and feminism. Contributions in women’s studies. 1979. Greenwood Press, New York. Karen Beckwith analyzes the pattern of the female participation in the political arena in America during 1952-1976. She paid special attention to the spheres of voting, electoral activism, conventional non-electoral participation, and political protest. She also examines three explanations that are apparently exclusive to the female political participation but, surprisingly, concludes that there is very little difference in the overall participation ratios between the men and women.
Walters, Margaret. Feminism: A very short introduction. Oxford 2005 taken at http://www.thefword.org.uk/reviews/2006/01/feminism_a_very.Margaret Walters gives a historical account of the phenomenon of feminism that encompasses that the roots of feminism, voting rights, and the liberation of the sixties, and examines the modern conditions of women across Europe, in the United States, and the Third World countries.
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