Feminist sociology

Feminist sociology is a conflict theory and theoretical perspective which observes gender in its relation to power, both at the level of face-to-face interaction and reflexivity within a social structure at large. Focuses include sexual orientation, race, economic status, and nationality.[1]

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's (1860-1935) work helped formalize feminist theory during the 1960s. Growing up she went against traditional holds that were placed on her by society by focusing on reading and learning concepts different from women who were taught to be housewives. Her main focus was on gender inequality between men and women along with gender roles placed on by society. Where men go to work secure proper income for the white ±family while women stay at home and tend to the family along with house hold chores. She "emphasized how differential socialization leads to gender inequality". Yet, she did agree that biologically there is different between those born with female and male parts kmt.

Parts of her research involves a theoretical orientation of a multidimensional approach to gender and discusses more in depth in her book Women and Economics. Due to gender roles she believes that women pretend to live a certain life to avoid achieving their full potential living the role of a housewife. This is an example of a theory neurologist, Sigmund Freud, cultivated using a psychoanalysis process called conscious and subconscious state of mind. The specific example given would be considered falling under false consciousness instead of "true" consciousness.[clarification needed] Leading the belief that women are viewed as property towards their husbands because despite their own work they may do; economically women were still dependent on husbands to provide financial support to themselves and their family. She also said that the traditional division of labour was not biologically driven, but instead pushed upon based on[clarification needed] how structure of society was established since before the nineteenth century.

In the end Gilman describes it as sociobiological tragedy because women are disregarded as being part of the ideology of "survival of the fittest". Instead females are thought to be soft and weak individuals that are only good for productive reasons. Females are depicted as emotional and frail human beings who are born to serve their husbands, children, and family without living for herself. Gilman's research was conducted during a time where women being a sociologist were unheard of; she lived during a time that women couldn't even vote. Her research helps create a ripple effect along with other female sociologists that help paved wave for feminism, feminist, and concepts to correlate with feminist theory.[2]

Historical Context of Feminist Sociology

The study of sociology had been mostly androcentric up until the 1970s, when sociological thinking began to shift to focus on women, as well. In 1963s, the Equal Pay Act, which was signed by John F. Kennedy, outlawed the wage disparity based on sex (Grady).[3] The Equal Pay Act was one of the first ways that the United States began to shift its mentality about women's rights, and how women should be treated in the workplace, and in society. While the Equal Pay Act focused solely on equal pay for equal work regardless of sex, the Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed in a fight against discrimination of any kind in the workplace. A major form of discrimination many women face in the workplace is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of illegal discrimination based on an abuse of power which can range from “inappropriate jokes” to “outright sexual assault” and more (Conley 312).[4] While sexual harassment is not a form of discrimination uniquely faced by women, when it occurs in the workplace it often involves the subordination of women by a male superior or coworker.[5] The Equal Pay Act and Title VII were some of the first ways that the United States began to shift its mentality about women's rights, and how women should be treated in the workplace, and in society. In the 1970s, many women fought for the right to dictate what happens to their body, such as establishing legal abortions, as well as making forced sterilization illegal (Grady).[3] This shifted how Americans saw women, and the country began changing to allow women to have more control over their bodies.  

Starting in the early 1990s, several instances of sexual harassment and abuse became well known and started a push for women to open about their own encounters with harassment. The allegations by Anita Young that Justice Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her was one of these instances. After Thomas was confirmed as a justice on the Supreme Court regardless of these allegations, more women began to speak out. In surveys taken after the hearings, it was reported that “between 40 and 65 percent of women claim to have experienced sexual harassment on the job”(Sapiro). This social shift led to a change in attitude over bodily autonomy, and boundaries within the workplace, and throughout life. Beginning in the mid 1990s, women began to come forward with sexual harassment complaints and sexual assault allegations against their male counterparts, which led to a movement of drastically increased numbers of women taking a stance against sexual violence, leading to society recognizing there is a fundamental problem concerning sexual harassment (Grady).[3] This, in turn, led to another movement in recent years called the “Me Too Movement” that led many women to coming forward with their own stories and encounters, showing the scope that sexual harassment affects women across the world.