Women studies is a multidisciplinary field that consists of studies on politics and history based on fundamental principles relating to the female gender. Common issues which are explored during the feminist studies include race, gender, class and sexuality with reference to inequalities that exist in society (Howe 18).
Women’s studies were developed as a separate academic program from other departments in the United States. The faculty of women studies emerged out of sustained student and teacher activism within the institutions of higher learning creating necessary political awareness for its programs. The field then transformed itself into an independent discipline with programs ranging from bachelor to doctoral cadres. Women studies and the related gender studies were subsequently developed into independent faculties in several other colleges in different countries. The development of the discipline and its spread beyond the United States is due to a consistent campaign in raising consciousness on women’s affairs across societies. Radical feminist activism has been characterized by rallies, demonstrations, and presentations before academic committees and legislative assemblies in different countries.
The curriculum on women studies engages students through discussions and reflection on practical experiences in life particularly on issues that affect women. Discussions reflect on coursework while methodologies for study follow the conventional methodological pedagogies. Women studies utilize the pedagogy approach to engage students and their teachers on important aspects of the course (Butler, 15). Materials from legendary authors in women studies are used as part of the curriculum. Such authors include Alice Walker and Audre Lorde whose works are used to form the basis for argumentative discourses on the subject of women studies. Women studies, therefore, explores a feminist perspective on gender and how it applies to issues such as race, religion, and age in creating balance on power in society. The structure and system of the power equation in society are investigated based on differences in gender and sexuality. Women studies, therefore, explores ways of alleviating social dominion and oppression. The discipline of women studies encourages its participants to become ever aggressive in fighting various oppressions in the society that undermine women in particular and the rest of the people in general. The underlying objective is to reinforce human rights in society.
The background on how people suffer from different oppressions develops the curriculum for women studies by identifying such issues as racism, class differentials, homophobia, and so forth (Jayapalan 14). The programs engage students in social justice debate and related activism which also integrate participants into the society through relevant practical internships. Consequently, participants are facilitated to discover how oppression affects people’s lives especially women in order to appreciate the significance of the matters concerned. The curriculum for women studies explores theories on feminist studies, queer theory, African studies, and black feminist theory among others. Through their active participation, students are able to critique the underlying theories appropriately in order to create the most relevant solutions to the challenges that women go through. An important element of women’s studies revolves around creative arts which explore the application of literature, poetry, performing arts as well as visual arts which enables students to express the different forces of expression that confront women in a creative manner. The performances highlight the challenges that women experience in an unbalanced society by integrating relevant theoretical analyses and performing arts.
This refers to the theory and analysis of research by explaining the technique of gathering evidence. The feminist methodology is grounded on the premise that no universal feminism ideology exists neither is there a universal woman (Griffin 16). The interpretation of this principle varies depending on the diversity in people’s personal and social backgrounds. The plurality of women’s experiences provides the basis for a feminist approach when investigating structures and ideologies that undermine the female gender in different societies. The feminist methodologies explore relevant research material on the subject and the various remedies to the different oppressions in society.
This methodology explains knowledge in terms of the experiences that people go through as well as their feelings towards the challenges of life. This technique, therefore, seeks knowledge that best describes women’s experiences as well as supports the elimination of stereotypes, patriarchy, and falsehoods that revolve around the feminine gender (Beins& Kennedy 25). Women are encouraged to express their feelings firsthand without fear of reprisals.
Feminist standpoint epistemology
Researchers investigate different experiences of oppressed women in society in order to apply the information in appropriate social transformations and activism which benefits women. The research investigates the problems that women go through in their homes, at the workplace, and in different social settings and economic backgrounds.
Feminist postmodernism and post-structuralism
This theory interrogates knowledge and the process of gathering information by focusing on the realities that confront women in society. It rejects abstract theories on the subject matter instead pursues concrete social issues that affect women.
The method deals with the actual experiences of women in different societies. It applies the technique of reflexivity in order to synchronize the objective of the research and the experiences of the respondents (DiPalma& Winkler 30). Women facing oppression are interviewed on pertinent issues to determine the real-life situations that face people in society to investigate the objectives of the research and course content. Materials from feminist works are substantiated by testimonies from women experiencing similar circumstances. The degree of conformity between the experiences of women and the coursework determines the legitimacy of the research portfolios. There exists a balance between classroom content and feedback from field surveys on the feminist agenda. The contradiction of the curriculum by any facts from research undertaken in the field confirms ambiguities in either theory or methodology.
The method explores the techniques of storytelling in expressing the details of the oppressions that someone has experienced. This is a thorough approach that allows for intense communication between researchers and respondents to obtain real experiences from people (Cole, Rothblum and Chesler 35). Respondents are provided with the right space for expressing their real-life situations through narration. Researchers pay attention to sensitive issues affecting women in particular. Oppressions that have a significant impact on women have a direct bearing on other members of society. The roles that women play in conventional society include being mothers, wives, girlfriends and sisters. When a mother is molested in any way, her children bear the brunt of diminished family care due to the strong attachment existing between them. The husband is also psychologically affected when his wife is incapacitated by social injustices and oppressions which prevent her from earning a living or expressing her inborn talents and gifts.
Focus group interviews
Group discussions create hypotheses that validate the different experiences and ideas of people. Deliberations provide insight into the salient features that guide the research process. Group interviews provide the methodology for sharing experiences from different people to establish a mutual platform for the substantiation of research undertakings (College 37). The content of the curriculum covered in women’s studies takes into account writings and other works related to the feminist agenda. Classroom discussions on this subject establish the foundation for subsequent research on issues that affect women, particularly through activism. The relationship between relevant curricula and actual experiences of women validates the hypothesis of future research and fieldwork.
In this methodology, participants are engaged in direct observations of the social and cultural practices through their active involvement in different societies. The approach focuses on the female gender in terms of investigating their experiences, ethics, and theories to understand the challenges which women in different societies face (Howe 21).
This involves the study of articles and cultural products that touch on women’s issues. Published articles are not fixed instead they are used in discussing relevant theories in categories that match with specific issues that women experience in their lives. The texts are investigated through a deconstruction approach in an attempt to analyze missing facts which have an impact on women as well.
The current state of affairs on women issues is identified through surveys from recent happenings. It explores a modern approach to women’s issues in real-time. The feminist approach, therefore, appreciates the contributions of different people especially the marginalized voices of women on matters that affect women. The different lines of thinking are recognized through an elaborate appreciation of various interpretations of the underlying theories (Butler 19). The feminist approach in women’s studies seeks to develop a harmonious space for developing fruitful relationships that strengthen the capacity of women in reflecting on their problems in society. Issues related to power inequalities and privileges that affect women in the society and the dynamics of culture are analyzed during the active deliberations on the women content.
Feminist activism expressly focuses on a multiplicity of issues that range from experiences of women, environmental issues, politics, reproductive health, gender, race, race, and feminist sculpture and art. Activism includes activities such as protests, boycotts, demonstrations, and visual arts. Current activism is not limited to women’s issues alone instead it entails all aspects that ensure equality in society for all. Current feminist activism, therefore, explores all relevant means for identifying the oppressive structures and forces in the universe and their consequences on all human beings. Feminist activism is the channel that empowers all persons in the world to champion the rights of everyone. The approach focuses on the relationship between socio-political issues and cultural factors that affect people in society. The methodology empowers people to investigate all the factors that affect different categories of persons, their implications on individual and societal wellbeing (Jayapalan 20).
Consequently, consistent and radical feminism enables people to direct their energies and time towards freeing persons from social inequalities and injustices. Students of women studies are automatic feminist activists. The classroom is therefore connected to society through relevant programs and discussions on social issues which require change. In the course of learning, students of women’s studies apply the humanistic/multicultural approach in interrogating issues that directly affect people in the world intending to create alternatives. The programs investigate power systems in the society, oppression, social inequalities, and human suffering to creatively provide solutions to the problems (Griffin 29). The classroom experience is directly linked to the experiences in the real world. Students are therefore trained on how to bridge between formal learning and active participation in community affairs to transform society. Oppression is a central subject in women’s studies but the main task lies in offering sustainable solutions to the problem of social injustices through concerted efforts.
Scholars have argued that the programs offered under the women’s studies curriculum are biased towards politics instead of actual education. The political dimension of women’s studies is emphasized at the expense of education programs. Deans of faculties in the respective programs have been accused of policing insensitive language, qualitative research methodologies instead of quantitative analysis in addition to haphazard teaching (Beins& Kennedy 35). The result has been the general victimization of men as oppressors of women while women are portrayed as the victims of a patriarchal society. Such radical feminist ideologies have caused untold suffering to families by interfering with normal relations between men and women. The court systems, labor, and constitution policies have also not been spared by the feminist agenda being championed through the programs covered in women studies.
Since the family is regarded as the basis of society, women’s studies have extensively focused on the oppressions that mothers and daughters experience in their homes. In doing this, men who are considered to be the head of the family have been portrayed negatively either as perpetrators of domestic violence and other gender-based violence (DiPalma& Winkler 40). It should not be ignored that women in different societies have suffered silently in their homes. This is because patriarchal systems in primitive societies have rendered women as sexual slaves to their male counterparts either as objects of sexual pleasure or tools for childbearing. Sexual and reproductive health is an important subject in women’s studies since it focuses directly on the feminist agenda. The curriculum, therefore, seeks to empower women through education to increase their knowledge on matters of sexuality and reproductive health.
The political question centers on the social and cultural injustices in the society which have oppressed women from all spheres. In essence, women have been condemned to serve men as housewives, cooks, and maids apart from the tiring responsibility of being a mother without incentives for support. Traditionally, the place of a woman has been in the kitchen thereby restraining her from active participation in politics and leadership. Women have been marginalized in virtually all societies. The enlightenment process in civilized society has led to increased exposure of women to the education building their careers beyond the traditional setting towards greater political and social representation (Cole, Rothblum and Chesler 42).
Social inequalities which differentiate between various races fragment society. Social classes arising from racist ideologies lead to the marginalization of people from the important sectors of national development and social cohesion. The race has an origin in the history of colonialism, religious extremism and primitivism. Racism results in social inequalities on political and economic platforms. People suffer from human rights abuses and political oppression as a result of racist activities. Racism does not differentiate against gender. However, women are bound to suffer more than men in a society with racial inequalities. This is because social inequalities render women vulnerable to patriarchal systems in a racially inclined society. Marginalization of black Africans in South Africa due to Apartheid, a racial system of rulership led to substantial suffering on black women. The confrontations that took place in the cities and townships between the police and the African protestors destabilized peace and order in South Africa exposing women to rape, murder and disease.
The burden of taking care of children and their families rests upon the woman. When cases of political instability are witnessed in a society such as during war and racial differences, women are forced to seek protection for their own lives in addition to the wellbeing of their children. When a particular race subdues another in a conflict, vulnerable populations include women and children. Feminist activism, therefore, seeks to set up a balanced society with equal opportunities to all races, tribes and gender. The tensions between people from controversial races are identified through the interviews that subsequently correct the anomalies through appropriate alternatives (College 43). The task of fighting feminist-oriented racism demands the courage of the participants in correcting existing imbalances in society. Demonstrations, rallies, and presentations before relevant government institutions are necessary when fighting racism. There should be sustained campaign racism in political, social, and academic platforms to remove the barriers that exist between different people. Stereotypes attached to different races must be eliminated to win the war against such prejudice. Change of policy is also required on matters related to violations of peoples’ rights due to the color of their skin, gender or ethnic differences. Negative ethnicity catalyzes racial prejudice and gender violations in any society. Students of women’s studies are therefore goodwill ambassadors for society through their commitment to equality.
The relationship between men and women in society is an important subject in women’s studies. The roles and responsibilities that women and men play in society are for their mutual benefit. Oppressions and social injustices which result from gender disparities contradict the expectations of civilized society (Howe 25). The traditional roles of women in society include being mothers and wives. Men are regarded as the head of the family whose primary roles include providing for the family. The relationship between men and women determines whether they are successful in meeting their obligations in society. Feminist activism has facilitated gender equity in different society creating the necessary environment for women to achieve similar or higher status as their male counterparts. Patriarchal systems have always suppressed women in abject poverty and illiteracy due to chronic marginalization.
Through feminist activism, the girl child has been able to access education in societies where women were not considered for schooling or formal employment apart from the traditional roles of child-bearing and motherhood (Butler 22). Access to formal learning is attributed to an increased consciousness about the plight of women condemned to social obscurity and illiteracy. Feminist activism has therefore facilitated the rise of women into leadership positions in the world as a result of their career development. Educated women have been able to compete for leadership and political representation in different countries with their male counterparts. The quality of life has improved due to better standards of living among learned women. It is conceived in women’s studies that oppressions against women can be fought properly when women are empowered to represent their interests in national assemblies and other forums in society. The contribution of men to the feminist agenda is guided by the foundations already established through women activists. Activism is therefore important in benchmarking necessary gender-based policy guidelines with women issues at heart. Increased representation of women in political and government institutions is possible through sustained feminist activism (Jayapalan 26). A feminist-conscious society allows for equal representation of women and men in the political, social and economic arena.
Women studies have developed into an independent discipline with an emphasis on the feminist agenda. The development of its curriculum is based on theories and articles that focus on issues that affect women in one way or another. Analysis of these theories seeks to understand their conceptual background and methodologies. The study underscores the need to analyze information in women’s studies transparently. Students pursuing the programs immediately acquire the identity of feminist activists through their concerted approach when fighting social injustices and oppressions against women (Griffin 34). The field appreciates that no universal woman exists in the world neither is there a unique feminist ideology. Consequently, issues that affect women in society are identified and integrated with other human rights violations in the fight for equity and social cohesion.
Academic programs are therefore integrated with real-life experiences through methodologies such as group interviews, surveys and ethnography. Students are encouraged to become proactive in their education in order to change difficult circumstances for the betterment of the entire society. Teachers and students are motivated by their mutual purpose for transforming the world to become a better place to live devoid of primitive chauvinism and corruption. Critical issues investigated in women’s studies programs include sexuality, race, gender and class. Social inequalities frustrate women most since they are vulnerable and have been victims of historical injustices and class differentials (Beins& Kennedy 44). Women empowerment and gender equity foster growth among all races and gender. Radical feminism and activism is the hallmark of the vibrant program of women’s studies. The art, literature, and methodologies applied in analyzing relevant programs are based on a practical approach for learning instead of empty rhetoric and theory.
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