Term Paper: Feminism in Politics

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Feminism in Politics

Without a doubt, one of most influential and complex political issues of the last several decades is that of the feminist movement, or more precisely, the effect that feminism has had on various areas of politics and political science. In an effort to fully comprehend the various facets of this relationship, this paper will focus on two primary areas: the major feminist critiques of mainstream political science, and the contributions feminism has made to the study of political participation. Upon conclusion of this paper, the reader will have gained a greater understanding and appreciation of the sphere of influence of feminism itself.

Feminist Critiques of Mainstream Political Science

Feminism, by its very nature, takes on political nuances; much like racial minority groups have embraced political activism over the years to advance their various causes, so too have gender-based minorities. In fact, most sources agree that the conversion of a female person into a feminist is largely due to strong political beliefs backed up by specific actions to bring attention and recognition to the cause of women's rights (Zivi, 2004). This being the case, the question is asked as to exactly how feminists feel about mainstream political science.

Feminist critiques of mainstream political science, as research indicates, begin at the very core of political science itself, as based on the traditional view. Traditionally, the conventional wisdom behind political science held that politics was a man's area of endeavor because of the often brutal nature of political pursuits, and minority groups such as women, ethnic and racial groups were simply dismissed from the inner workings of political science because of their detachment from the mainstream (Phillips, 1998). Considering this, the absurdity of that argument is clear. Feminists have long made a valid argument that political science has excluded them by categorizing women and politics within political science rather than women in politics, or more precisely, the question as to why women are so often kept out of the political arena.

The feminist critique of political science as exclusionary and prejudiced is not merely based on their own perceptions; one of the earliest political thinkers, Aristotle, put forth the theory, thousands of years ago, that true democracy could not exist without the voices of all people being heard, rather than just the voice of the dominators of the system, much like males have dominated females historically (Phillips, 1998).

After viewing the critiques of mainstream political science by feminists against the backdrop of contemporary and ancient perspective, there are several key points, correctly pointed out by the feminists, which become abundantly clear: first, in a general sense, politics is not a pure science by any stretch of the imagination because of the fact that from its beginnings, it has not been open minded and tolerant of the participation and commentary of all groups, especially women. Additionally, women have been stereotyped as being too fragile, weak, uninformed or what have you to participate in the political system. Using such a broad and sweeping generalization about an entire group of people without applying the scientific method and reaching provable hypotheses completely negates political science as any sort of a valid science in and of itself. Therefore, when feminists criticize the classic view of political science from these viewpoints, their critique makes logical sense and is able to be proven, unlike many of theories of political science overall.

Feminist Contributions to the Study of Political Participation

Moving beyond the valid critiques that feminists have made against conventional political science, the contributions that feminists have made to the study of political participation are noteworthy. Reflecting back to the "conversion" from a woman to a feminist that was cited earlier in this paper, by their very nature, feminists are political beings for a variety of reasons. Again, it bears repeating that one of the most effective catalysts for social change is political participation, and it is that political participation that has given the feminist movement a certain degree of muscle over the decades (Randall, 2002). This being said, the question arises as to exactly where feminists stand politically and how they participate politically.

At the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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