by Michael Turner
Feminism is a response to inequalities propagated by patriarchal social structures that have come out of antiquity. Feminist anthropology contributes a diverse group of voices to the field from the researcher’s point of view, in addition to representing voices of different groups of women (Bratton 1998). Feminist anthropologists like Silvia Forman have been influential in the fight for women’s rights for pay equity in the U.S. and the right to work in the public or private sphere, and have stressed that women have the right to make choices for themselves (Lorber 2012). However, there has been a growing awareness that these things are not necessarily issues for all women around the world, and feminist anthropology has brought to light their concerns and found ways these women can empower themselves to effect change (Erickson 2010).
The goal of feminism as a political movement is to make women and men more equal legally, socially, and culturally (Webster 2015). Gender inequality takes different forms, depending on the economic structure and social organization of a particular society and the culture of any particular group within that society. In terms of gender inequality, it is usually women who are disadvantaged relative to similarly situated men (Zinn 2011). Although feminism has transformed the social and cultural landscape in many countries in the past forty years, gender inequality still exists (Lorber 2012).
Feminist Anthropology lends a woman’s perspective to social science that—until recently—male bias dominated. Feminist Anthropology applies all four anthropological fields—archeological, biological, cultural, and linguistic (Miller 2011)—to promote shifts in legislation, as well as social and cultural equality.
The beneficiaries of feminism may be one specific oppressed group or many. Feminist identity may be implicit, but as long as the perspective is critical and the goal is political, economic, and cultural equality for women, then it is feminism (Lorber 2012).
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