Research Paper: Interdisciplinary Studies Disciplines Women's Studies and Communication

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Women Studies and Communications

Women's Studies

Key Concepts

There is a number of evolving key concepts which continue to help Women's Studies develop as an academic doctrine. First, there is a general consensus that American society, as well as many others throughout the globe, is dominated by male driven power. This has created a patriarchal hegemony, where men dominate the society, and then turn to oppress women in a number of differing ways. A double standard is a concept where there is a different set of standards held by society in terms of the behavior for men and women. Here, the research suggests that "in feminist analysis, men's power to define the content of formal and informal behavioral cultures means that the criteria or standards used to evaluate and regulate women often differ to those used for men" (Pilcher & Whelehan, 2004, 51). Because our society is dominated by a male driven hegemony, double standards are normally restricting the behaviors of women in comparison to men. There is a negative stigma and a sense of marginalization associated to the gender role of females. Gender itself is a term which is thought to actually be a culturally constructed concept, in comparison to sex which denotes the physical sexual attributes of an individual. Gender is a societal term, and thus gender roles are generated by the cultural norms of that particular society in question. This reinforces stereotypes in that women are socialized to embody particular roles that are feminized. Feminization is another major key term, especially in regards to the discussion the feminization poverty. Here, the research suggests that "Since the 1960s in the United States the poor have been more likely to be single females, members of female-headed households, and elderly females" than their male counterparts (Tierney, 1999, p 489). This has contributed to the growth in what is known as the feminization of poverty, where the male dominated society has begun to associate a limited financial capability with women being stereotyped accordingly. Thus, the make dominance has subjugated women based on these restricted gender roles.

Current Theories

Most of the current theories within Women's Studies are broken mainly into three general categories, "psychodynamic theories that consider early attachment problems, conflict, and/or sexual repression as primary, learning theories that favor a conditioning model, and social/cultural feminist" theory which tends to show a general cultural praise for certain feminine traits (Tierney, 1999, p 65). Feminist theory is one of the oldest theories at work within Women's Studies. It outlines the concept of our society being a patriarchal one, and as such women hold a marginalized role based on their inferiority, as deemed by the male elite. It provides a foundation for the reason for why gender discrimination and inequality is so prevalent in our society and others. There are also several other theories present. Queer theory is a major theory which was born out of Women's Studies. It essentially agrees with the major key concept that gender is a socially constructed element. Although, queer theory denotes that gender is not fixed, representing a fluid and changeable role that is constructed of a myriad of various elements. The ultimate goal of the theory is thus to help destroy conventional gender roles and identities that are restricting to those who do not fit directly within the labeled category. Additionally, there is now what is known as post-modernist feminism theory. According to the research, "postmodern feminists have emerged as academic feminists who deconstruct the category 'woman' in order to show how gender is a performance rather than an essential characteristic of an individual body" (Tierney, 1999, p 480). Essentially, this theory builds upon the growing concept that gender is a socially constructed topic and that it rarely… [END OF PREVIEW]

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