Carl defined Feminism as “the vast collection of social movements and theories about gender differences, proposing social equality for all people”. Thinkers of feminism believe that men and women are equal and that women deserve the same opportunities as men. There were three waves of feminism. First-wave feminism was between 19th and 20th century, which was about women’s suffrage movement and protested legal inequality such as voting. Second-wave feminism began in 1960’s, which focused on social independence and equality in the workplace and education. This also included protection form sexual and domestic violence. In 1990’s, a third-wave feminism came about as a result of failure that first and second waves had. The third-wave feminism focused on multiracial and socioeconomic groups. This movement encouraged women to be outspoken and address issues such as abuse, rape, and sexuality.
Although women are earning more degrees than men, they continue to face wage gap and glass ceiling at workplace. Feminist theory focuses on bringing equality in work and education as well as expanding the human opportunities for women by allowing their enrollment to graduate schools and career choices. In addition, feminist theory focuses on eliminating gender stratification. A woman can now do a job that was once done by men, such as becoming a Marine. It also focuses on ending violence against women because male violence perpetuates gender inequality in our society. For example, a fake British law allows a man to beat his wife as long as the stick is not larger than his thumb in diameter. There are two types of feminism, liberal and radical. Liberal feminists believe in equal opportunities for women where they can pursue their interests and achieve equality without being discriminated. Radical feminists agree with liberal feminists but they carry the ideas further by focusing on capitalism. This is where one might avoid doing traditional women activities such as childbearing.
Functionalism theory argues that competition between men and women is eliminated and family life runs smoothly because the differences between them help maintain the society. For example, women are placed in a sphere where they take care of children and perform domestic tasks while men go out and work to provide for the family, which are complementary. In conflict theory, it is argued that women are at the bottom of the system regardless. In other words, it is a patriarchal society and the work a woman does is often devalued, reinforcing the power for men. In symbolic interactions, it is believed that behaviors come about by ‘doing gender’ based on everyday interactions such as female behaving in feminine ways and males behaving in masculine ways. Nevertheless, significant feminist efforts and movements are in progress to bring equality between male and females.
In this essay, we will discuss chapter 11: Gender Stratification—The Social Side of Sex, from the book Think Sociology by John D. Carl (2011). This essay has three main ideas. The first idea focuses on gender differences in children. We will learn about gender construction, gender roles, and the media. The second idea focuses on gender inequality in education, workplace, and politics. Here, we will learn about lack of career opportunities and wage gap at workplace. The third idea focuses on feminism and the perspectives of the feminist theory. Here, we will have an insight on the types of feminism by learning about functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and conflict theory. With this knowledge, one can understand the gender stratification.