gender and Politics

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A series of contributions by feminists in the field of politics and political theory has focused on the ways in which women's issues, concerns, and participation are excluded from the public political arena because of the division between the private and public spheres, on the one hand, and the language and politics of universal political rights, on the other. Feminists have challenged these constructs and have pointed out that the public and the universal have both historically been masculine in nature. From Mary Wollstonecraft's concern with women's rights in the public sphere, shared in France by Condorcet and his wife Sophie de Grouchy, to the slogan of second‐wave feminism—‘the personal is political’—feminists have sought greater access to institutional politics, and to reconstitute the political world. While the concern of liberal feminism has been improving access for women to institutions of public power, through improved educational facilities, equal opportunities legislation, and anti‐discrimination politics, and therefore challenging political patriarchy from within, other feminists, especially Marxists and radical groups, have challenged the very linking of the political to public. They believe that the reason why women have been systematically excluded from the political arena is the false distinction that has been made and sustained by patriarchy between the public and the private worlds. Feminists have also challenged the institutionalized, delegational form of politics in this context, emphasizing the importance of participation per se. Black feminists have contributed to the debate on politics by insisting upon the importance of race in Western societies, which does not allow them to participate in political life both as women and as black persons. Feminist groups have historically struggled with the question of making alliances with other groups. While some have wanted women's groups to be exclusive to women, others have sought alliances with men on specific issues affecting both sexes.


Subjects: Politics.

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