to change oppressive structures and to connect abstract ideas with concrete

To change oppressive structures and to connect

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to change oppressive structures and to connect abstract ideas with concrete problems for political action” (p. 11). Oppression has been defined as the “absence of choices” (Hooks, 1984, p. 5). Women in Western society have choices with regard to everyday human experi- ences, which include production of resources, reproduction, and the merger of the biological and psychological (Flax, 1999). It is for this reason that some women do not name oppression as a concern or identify as feminists. “The
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Lay, Daley/A CRITIQUE OF FEMINIST THEORY absence of extreme restrictions leads many women to ignore the areas in which they are exploited or discriminated against; it may even lead them to imagine that no women are oppressed” (Hooks, 1984, p. 5). Types of Feminism The understanding and analysis of oppression are central to feminist theories. Much of the work in the second wave of feminism focused on attempts to identi- fy the nature of women’s oppression. Theories may identify the lack of education, economic dependence, unequal political rights, or the need for control over sex- uality as related to the nature of oppression. Theories address the causes of oppression as the cultural order, labor and economic relations, biological differ- ences, political institutions, and women’s own self-understanding. Feminist the- ory requires us to critically analyze what is happening in our social world from multiple contexts and provide strategies for the amelioration of adverse condi- tions that effect the lives of women (Kolmar & Bartkowski, 2000). Though one central feminist theory has not evolved, basic principles are commonly given when describing feminism, including such concepts as valuing women and their experiences, identifying conditions that oppress women, changing society through advocacy, and recognizing that many factors, not just gender, impact a woman’s actions and views (McCormick & Bunting, 2002). The progress in femi- nism has been more focused on different types of feminism. Feminism has evolved in different arenas rather than as one unified concept. The labels that define those arenas have varied. The most commonly used are eight separate feminist theories: black feminism, radical feminism, cultural fem- inism, lesbian feminism, liberal feminism, Marxist feminism, materialist femi- nism, and socialist feminism (Andermahr, Lovell, & Wolkowitz, 1997; Evans, 1995). Some theories can be grouped due to similarities, but distinctions offer a broader critical lens of a myriad of political, social, economic, ethnic, and cultur- al contexts. Black feminism focuses not only on women, but specifically on the struggles of black women (Kanneh, 1998). Collins (2000) saw the concern of black feminism as resisting oppression through empowerment, which entails understanding the intersection of racism and sexism. Black feminist thought insists “that both the changed consciousness of individuals and the social transformation of political and economic institutions constitute essential ingredients for social change” (Collins, 1991, p. 221). Black women face social practices within a historical con-
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