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According to Hooks (2000), feminism is defined a collection of movements that are meant to define, establish, and defend equal social, economic and political rights as well as equal opportunities or chances for women. Feminism is at large centered on women related issues. However, feminism is concerned with gender equality and therefore a number of feminists contend that the liberation of men is a significant part of feminism, such that they are as well affected by gender roles and sexism in a negative way (Donovan, 2001). Of the feminist theories, liberal feminism will be considered in the course of this discussion. Liberal feminism insists on the equality of women and men through legal and political reform (Greene, 2008).
Liberal feminism is said to be an individualistic form because it considers the individual interaction of women and men as the starting point from which a society is transformed into a place that is gender-equitable. Women are considered as being capable of maintaining their equality by becoming responsible for their own choices and actions. As claimed by liberal feminism, men and women are the same because gender differences are not explained biologically (Greene, 2008). Therefore, under the law, women and men should be treated equally.
Liberal feminism is considered to have existed in two main strata, namely, nineteenth century and twentieth century liberals. The liberal feminists in the nineteenth century did not focus on the remove of the misconception between gender and sex. They focused merely on advocating for individual rights with regard to gender related to female sex. The classical liberals in the nineteenth century believed that protection of civil liberties was one way of making a state to be ideal. John Stuart Mill is one of the nineteenth century liberal feminists. The liberal feminists in the twentieth century, however, have aimed at ensuring that women are freed from various oppressive gender roles (Andersen & Taylor, 2008).
Issues, implications and supports of the theory
Important issues that radical feminists consider include sexual harassment, education, voting, affordable healthcare, affordable childcare, access to abortion and reproductive rights, fair work compensation, and showing the frequency of domestic and sexual violence against women. Other issues identified by liberal feminists include family, disability rights, marriage equality, media activism, and economical rights of mothers. Liberal feminists believe that women's oppression qualifies to be the most significant form of oppression. Oppression is entrenched in the minds of people and therefore it cannot be overcome by mere restructuring of the society (Greene 2008).
The liberal feminists believe that all women have the ability to attain equality and therefore there is a possibility of gender equality without restructuring the society. This can be managed only by changing men's attitudes and by emphasizing the state of equality between men and women. In the contemporary society, liberal feminism is concerned with economic re-organization as well as considerable wealth redistribution, since equality is among the modern political targets most closely related to liberal feminism (Andersen & Taylor, 2008).
Liberal feminists have claimed that motherhood and women are not similar. The assumption that child caring is primary responsibility for mothers and that they cannot be responsible workers, brings about gender discrimination in the workplace. When family needs are not satisfied by workplaces and fathers not responsible in child care, then it forces mothers to accept reduced wages and lifetime earnings because their work is interrupted (Andersen & Taylor, 2008). Therefore mothers experience occupational and economic cost of bringing up their children, even though the society benefits as a whole from healthy child care.
Liberal feminists have suggested that flextime is the solution to enable workers to satisfy family responsibilities. Flextime allows employees freedom to choose favorable working days and hours, while assured equal benefits like seniority tracks, healthy insurance, and opportunities for promotion. Informal practices and formal policies should consider every worker's whole life if discrimination in workplace is to be eliminated (Greene, 2008).
The primary contribution of liberal feminism is to expose the issue of women discrimination in the modern society. This discrimination is concerned with gender differences in which women and men are differently treated. According to liberal feminist theory gender equality can only be achieved if biological differences between women and men are ignored (Andersen & Taylor, 2008). Particularly under the law, women and men are equal and should not be treated in a gender biased manner. Due to liberal feminism in the United States, women have been free to take professions and jobs that were formally dominated by men, the wage scales have been equalized, and abortion has been legalized (Greene, 2008).
The liberal feminist politics contribute by using the affirmative action programs and antidiscrimination legislation to eliminate gender inequality, particularly in the job market. In the Scandinavian countries, feminism has been seen outdated and therefore both men and women are treated equally. Gender equality in homes and workplace that liberal feminism accomplished depends on steady incomes, good jobs, family-friendly colleagues and employers, and two-parent families (Donovan, 2001).
According to Greene (2008), the logical and positive consequence of liberal feminism is a society that is not based on men and women as socially significant categories. Liberal feminists have dealt with the issue of women's child caring abilities and they have found that the parenting skills are not inborn but they are learned. This means that fathers can as well learn the skills of raising children and relief the mothers from the task. When a task like parenting is left to mothers alone, it becomes a burden because bringing up children is both emotionally and physically intensive. Mothers' responsibility of child caring undermines the achievement of gender parity in paid chores, because employers believe that childless women as well as fathers are the categories of people who can be committed to their work (Andersen & Taylor, 2008).