There are so many feminisms…

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this module! In the lesson, we learned that feminist activists, theorists, and thinkers take a number of different approaches. It would be pretty close to impossible to come up with a definition of feminism that would capture the contours of the entire field of feminist scholarship. One way to manage the breadth of perspectives within feminist scholarship is to distinguish between different kinds of feminism.

In the lesson, we used flashcards to identify and define some of the more influential approaches used by feminist scholars to explain gender-based oppressions. Another way to make sense of the wide variety of feminist approaches is to think historically; in the lesson you saw a timeline that introduced the waves as a metaphor for understanding how feminist theories have changed over time.

Though it’s useful to understand the metaphor of the waves – and its limitations – and it can be helpful to put names to different feminist theoretical approaches, ultimately these approaches tend to flatten out the diversity and complexity of the ideas that are offered by feminist theorists and thinkers. For this reason, the focus of the module has been on introducing you to a wide variety of writers working in a wide variety of formats. As you move forward in this class – and indeed, after you’ve left WGS101 – you can use the ideas offered by Truth, Woolf, Combahee River Collective, Savard, Bourgeois, and Abu-Lughod to help you to develop your own strategies for analysing the world as it exists and, in turn, to envision new worlds.

Test Yourself

Feminisms in Focus

CHALLENGE ONE: From your perspective, what is the most important gender issue facing us today? Ask five other people – classmates, friends, coworkers, family members – what issue they would identify as most pressing gender issue of the day. Did everyone come up with a different answer to your question? If they were similar, how do account for the similarities? If not, why do you think their answers were do different? How could you best represent this diversity?

Feminisms in Focus

CHALLENGE TWO: In this lesson, we saw that feminist thought can take many forms. How about popular music? For this challenge, explore the following music videos and consider the distinct perspective that each artist brings to popular understandings of feminisms:

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