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Feminist Criticism 

Feminism is a movement which advocates women’s right for equality politically, economically, socially and intellectually.  Most religions express views that women should be equal,but in practice they are subjugated and submissive to men.  For many women this was and is oppressive, restrictive and disempowering.  

With early moves (First wave) for enfranchisement (right to vote) in the late 19th C. through to the 1970’s moves  (second wave) for equal pay, economic freedom, equal sharing of household tasks and the removal of the glass ceilings in business,  women have asserted their liberation from the dominance of men.  

Feminist literary Criticism focuses on the balance of power in gender relationships and women’s assertion of freedom, autonomy, and independence.  Women can be equal in many fields and are superior in others.  Feminism analyses literature in the light of it portrayal of women in relationship to males. 

Terminology includes: Patriarchy, paternalism, chauvinism, misogyny, misandry and maternalism are current. 

Flaws or limitations in Feminist views 

While many positive advances have been made, extreme views on masculinity have created chasms between the two genders.  Fragile men’s egos have been intimidated and scared many men off and many women now find themselves economically and socially liberated but domestically and socially isolated as men have sought more docile submissive women from other cultures.  With a few more generations of conditioning this could sort itself out. 

More alarming is the reaction in many non western countries where the position of women has deteriorated, driven by extreme religious fundamentalism – Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim.  The rights and freedom of women is contracting, not expanding.  Millions of young girls in China are missing. In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – where social conservative attitudes favour boys, women are subjugated.  Women are silenced, covered up, beaten, raped, and even killed to demonstrate the dominance of men.  

Whilst most religions espouse the values of equality between men and women, in their practice they tend to be very patriarchal and exclude women from positions of power or influence. 

The following excerpt is from the Encyclopaedia of Mormonism.

Feminism: The word feminism means many things to many people. Though Catherine MacKinnon's understanding of what feminism ought to mean does not represent all feminism, her definition of feminist theory is helpful as a general characterization: "A theory is feminist to the extent it is persuaded that women have been unjustly unequal to men because of the social meaning of their bodies" (35). Thus, feminism is any "system" of thought or political or social movement that incorporates the assumption that "women have been unjustly unequal to men because of the social meaning of their bodies." Such movements, theories, etc. can range across "a variety of views on the nature of women" (Richards) though they have in common that they argue "for a pluralistic vision of the world that regards as equally important the experiences of women of all races and classes" (Richards).

The doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints converges in some areas with the ideals of feminism and diverges in others. It insists on the absolute spiritual equality of women and men, proclaiming that "all are alike unto God," both "black and white, bond and free, male and female" (Gal. 3:28). Gifts of the spirit are given equally to men and women: "And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also" (Alma 32:23).

So central is the equality of all humankind to Christ's message that during his earthly ministry Christ openly rejected cultural proscriptions that relegated women to an inferior spiritual and political status. . . . Such equality of women and men is based on the celestial model of heavenly parents, both Father and Mother, who share "all power" and have "all things . . . subject unto them" (D&C 132:20) and who invite their children to emulate their example of perfect love and unity and become as they are. Mormons are taught that righteous power, held by heavenly parents and shared with their children, is never coercive but is characterized "by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned" (D&C 121:41). While the implications of these expansive beliefs are always subject to individual implementation, Mormon women and men have found in these doctrines sources of spiritual strength, including the desire to know more about Mother in Heaven. (Encyclopaedia of Mormonism)


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