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A2 Unit 1 - Power and Politics

9) Feminist views of power

The feminist view of power is relatively simple; they believe that power in society is unequally, and unjustly, balanced towards men. Feminists say this leads to the discrimination of women, with men using their power to control women’s lives.

Many feminists separate the power men have over women into two “spheres”, the public and the private spheres. Even many feminists would concede that in the public sphere, such as the workplace and politics, the balance of power is becoming more equal. For example, government laws and legislation mean both men and women must be paid equally.

However, feminists argue it is in the private sphere that the greatest inequality lies; government laws and legislation can’t directly affect the family. For example, women normally have the childcare duties, and will often perform the ‘triple-shift’ Feminist Carol Pateman said that this inequality in the private sphere directly stopped women from gaining power in the public sphere.

Evaluation of feminist theories

Feminist theories have been very useful in contributing to our understanding of power, without feminists raising issues surrounding gender inequalities women might still be as emasculated today as they were 100 years ago.

However, a lot of the theories and points feminists make are seen as too sweeping and vague. For example, not all families are built upon as patriarchal system, and not all women are in charge of child care. This means that the feminist theories can’t be applied to every family, and often they are incorrect.


About Sam Cook

A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology


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