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Campus Guide to Feminism

Caroline Prendergast



Contained in this little Guide to Feminism on Campus are all sorts of things that are relevant to feminists, feminism, and all the women at Vic Uni.
The right to abortion not only guarantees women the right to end unwanted pregnancies, it also gives them the right to exercise autonomy over their own bodies. The landmark Supreme Court decision (USA) Roe vs. Wade decided that what went on between a woman and her doctor was private, leaving the decision to terminate a pregnancy in the hands of the women and her doctor.
Anarchist feminists argue that the state and patriarchy are twin aberrations. To destroy the state is to destroy the major agents of institutionalised patriarchy; to abolish patriarchy is to abolish the state.
Black Feminism:
The amalgamation of Racism and Sexism and the respective socio-economic disadvantages is argued by black feminists as more significant and oppressive than the ‘simple’ gender divisions argued by other feminists.
Eco-Feminism argues that the destruction of the environment is the product of the patriarchy. This is because the patriarchy has alienated men from nurturing and caring roles and from the home, and created the desire in men to exploit both women and the environment.
International Working Women’s Day:
An international celebration of women in the workforce.
Lesbian Feminism:
Lesbian Feminism manifests itself in two forms. Firstly as an expression of Radical Feminism (below),and secondly to recognise the experiences of homosexual women encountering both a sexist and homophobic forms of oppression.
Liberal Feminism:
Liberal feminism is based on the principles of individualism within the liberal movement. Liberalism is a movement that is intrinsically democratic, with all people having equal right to access both public and political life. There is a long history of contention between Radical and Liberal Feminists, as Radical Feminists believe that Liberal Feminists are part of the oppressive patriarchal system – failing to challenge its existence and focusing on merely changing the way the patriarchy asserts itself.
Suggested reading
On the Subjection of Women, John Stuart Mill. 1869 The Feminine Mystique, Betty Freidan. 1963.
No Diet Day:
No Diet Day (also known as Love Your Body Day) is the annual celebration of the human body and all the shapes and sizes it comes in. It is observed internationally on the 6th of May.
Post-Modern Feminism:
In true Po-Mo style these feminists call into question the very validity of the women’s movement and its existence. Po-Mo feminists believe there is no such thing as an inherent female identity.
Psychoanalytical Feminism:
Although many feminists have condemned psychoanalytical theories, such as “penis envy” and “castration fear” as misogyny, psychoanalytical feminism deconstructs the process by which they claim binary gender stereotypes are constructed, identifying this process of construction as social conditioning.
Suggested reading
Psychoanalysis and Feminism, Juliet Mitchell. 1975
Radical Feminism:
Radical feminism is about moving outside of the dominant political system. Radicals believe that gender is the most significant divide throughout humanity and identifies the patriarchy in everything such as; the family unit and sexual interactions, not just the public arena. Radical Feminists see other forms of oppressions as secondary. Radical Feminism falls into two categories: difference feminism and egalitarian feminism. Egalitarian feminists see gender as entirely constructed by the patriarchy as a way of de-sexing women and keeping them from fully engaging in all spheres of existence. Difference feminism is based on promoting and protecting the essential differences between men and women. They believe women are in some ways superior to men by embodying certain principles like creativity, sensitivity, and nurture. Difference feminists promote political lesbianism, whereby women choose either celibacy or lesbianism rather than enter into oppressive sexual relationships with men.
Suggested reading
Patriarchal Attitudes, Figes. 1970
The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer. 1970
Rape, sexual violence and domestic violence:
These are feminist issues because they are overwhelmingly crimes perpetrated by men against women, and are disturbingly common crimes – one in three women in New Zealand experience physical and/or sexual abuse at the hands of a partner throughout their lifetime. This fact is backed up by numerous academic, government and help centre research as well as police statistics (for example Fanslow, J., and Robinson, E., “Violence against women in New Zealand: prevalence and health consequences” 26 November 2004, The New Zealand Medical Journal, Vol.117, No.1206).
Reclaim the Night:
Reclaim the Night is an annual event at which members of the community march out at sunset against the curfew mentality imposed on women by the patriarchy.
Socialist Feminism:
A main theme of socialist feminism is that patriarchy can only be understood in the light of social and economic factors. Socialist feminists do not believe that women only face political or legal disadvantages that can be fixed by either equal legal rights or the achievement of equal opportunities, they argue that the relationship between the sexes is rooted in the social and economic structure and nothing short of a social revolution can offer the prospect of genuine emancipation. Most socialist feminists believe that to serve the economic interests of capitalism, women should be confined to the domestic sphere of motherhood and housework.
Suggested Reading
The Origins of the Family, private property and the state, Engels. 1884, 1976.
Wellington Independent Rape Crisis:
Wellington Independent Rape Crisis is a feminist organisation that works towards eliminating rape and sexual violence within our community and aiding and empowering the victims of Rape and Sexual Violence. “We are committed to the elimination of rape and sexual abuse and to the empowerment of women and children by raising community awareness through political action, education, and the provision of healing and support services.”
Women’s Fest:
Women’s Fest is an annual week long celebration that acknowledges and celebrates all things woman. Coming up soon (September 11- 15) this year it will be headlined by Anika Moa. This year’s timetable will be available soon.
Women’s Refuge:
Women’s Refuge is the place for women to go when they are suffering the effects of violence in their lives. It is a safe place for women who have been abused, and is a man-free zone.