1 (2017), 1, 3-20

Feminist Research

The Feminist Views: A Review

Kalpana Nehere 1

1.Gatha Cognition

Dr.Kalpana Nehere*

*.Gatha Cognition. eic_fr@gathacognition.com

Dr.Kalpana Nehere 1

1.Gatha Cognition. eic_fr@gathacognition.com


Graphical Abstract


  1. Marxist and socialist feminists struggled for women’s rights.
  2. Radical feminists confined to entire change in social structure for equality.
  3. Feminists focused on gender equality, women’s emancipation and empowerment.
  4. Men have control over women’s sexuality and labour.
  5. Feminism is an effective and useful tool for social welfare.
  6. Liberal, individual and career feminists aimed at participation, empowerment and emancipation of women.


The first wave of feminism emphasised on women’s emancipation and equality, whereas the second wave focused on female oppressions and struggled for their liberation. The third wave stressed the individual empowerment. 1) The Marxist feminism confined to united struggle for women’s rights. 2) The socialist feminism exposed the gender aspects of welfare state. 3) The liberal feminists struggled for the empowerment and public participation of women, 4)The individual feminism aimed at personal abilities of woman, 5) The career feminism inspired women to free in the ‘World of Men’, 6) The global feminism insisted the boundary breaking activities for women’s empowerment and reorder the rules, 7) The radical feminists bounded to entire change in social structure for equality, 8) The lesbian feminists denied the need of men for existence of women, 9) The black feminists struggled for equality within the races and Dalit within castes, 10) The womanism supported the self-identity and -respect, 11) The cultural feminists and literature explained the cultural roots of discriminations and exploitations of women, 12) The eco-feminists focused on environmental aspects and resources related to women. However, 13) The existentialists are conscious about interdependence. The feministic analyses are active, challenging and important for social welfare.


Patriarchy , Feminism , Marxism , Socialism , Liberalism , Womanism , Feminist waves , Feminist theories , Women empowerment


The cultural aspects such as traditions, rituals, symbols, literature, etc. in India and abroad show the close association between women and nature. There are some symbolic expressions like ‘Mother Earth,’ ‘Mother Nature,’ ‘Virgin Land,’ ‘Barren River,’ ‘Flowery Women’, etc. describe the relation of women with the Earth (Jubimol, 2012). Robert Briffault (1876-1948) described the central role of women in gynaecocracy as: ‘the state of things brought about by the economic domination of women who remain controllers of property is one of gynaecocracy’, in his ‘The Mothers’ (1927). In gynaecocracy, the child was lived with mother and there were motherly relations including mother, son, daughter, brother and sister (Karve, 1972). The father was visiting member of that family. Therefore, the motherly belief was prominently practised on trust and ruling force of that society (Omvedt, 1985). The women have invented agriculture as well as cloth. These inventions are solid foundation of human culture. Rg-veda portrays the queen (Nir-rti) of that historical society (gynaecocracy) (Patil, 2010). Nir-rti says ‘I am Rashtri’ which means the chief power in the society. She meant for apportion the cultivated land into members of the society (kul), equally. Rashtri has no masculine of Raja (king). In another example, Pururava became a king after the sexual intercourse with Urvasi. The ‘deva-vivaha’ (sacred marriage) was essential to be a king (Patil, 1982). However, in the process of transformation from gynaecocracy/matriarchy to patriarchy, the role of women in society and family has been shrunk. Patriarchal society allowed men to have wives, women slaves, property rights, etc. They denied women the rights including property, remarry, child custody, even her ovary, etc.

The eminent philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Kant, etc. supported to the common belief in contemporary society that of lacking women’s abilities like deliberate, self-determination, etc. (Witt, 2004, Schott, 2004, Thorgeirsdottir, 2004). Aristotle (384 B.C.) explained the connections between 1) form and being male, and 2) matter and being female (Witt, 2004). Aristotle specified the courage of man shown in commanding and woman in obeying (Hawkesworth, 2004). This Aristotle’s theory of nature provides the direct theoretical support for the political status of inequality between men and women (Witt, 2004). He insisted women (matter) to compromise for men (form) (Witt, 2004, Majumdar, 2009). Witt (2004) criticised that Aristotle considered gender inequalities as fundamental (Schott, 2004). Nietzsche (1844-1900) adopted this Aristotelian philosophy of sex and gender contradictions (Thorgeirsdottir, 2004). He emphasised on the traditional metaphysical dualities such as truth and falsity‚ mind and body‚ reason and emotions for explanations of binary opposition of sexual difference. Aristotle argued that citizens only participate in political life and believed that women, children and slaves cannot be citizens.

Schott (2004) reported Kant’s (1724-1804) remarks which were based on metaphysical analyses about women’s inferiority (Driscoll and Krook, 2012) as: 1) female characters are contrast to male, 2) lack of self-determination, 3) their natural fear and timidity, and 4) unsuitable for scholarly work, etc. Kant tried to support his views on the ground of nature concerned about the preservation of the embryo. It implanted fear among the women i.e. a fear of physical injury and timidity. Therefore, these weaknesses of women ask men legitimately for masculine protection. Kant’s philosophy regarding women is ‘not to reason, but to sense’ (Schott, 2004). It illustrates the discriminating feeling, sensuality and femininity. Thus, male and female identities are philosophically and culturally determined as masculinity and femininity (Deal and Beal, 2004, Volpp, 2001, Driscoll and Krook, 2012).

In Mahabharata, Gandhari had closed her eyes for the sake ofher blind husband-Dhrutarashtra. It was naturally expected that she should became eyes of her blind husband. However, she adopted disability, artificially which was willingly accepted by Mahabharata as well as the society. It proves the male dominance. Karve (1972) proved that all kind of property rules are applicable to woman as she is a property of man. Therefore, traditionally, she has no right to own property. Manusmriti believed that the age of marriage should be eight years for woman and twenty four years for man (Salunkhe, 1993). Mahabharata supported the old man to marry a girl child. Manusmriti as well as Mahabharata described that it is not sin to speak lie to woman and also for marriage (Salunkhe, 1989).   

Contemporary Hindu traditions, rituals and literature support male to have central position in the family and society. They advise society to take care of male child: and many more things including a) before marriage - do not marry a girl who has no brother, b) at marriage - give blessings like ‘Ashtputra Bhav’ (have eight sons), c) after marriage - 1) typical preparation at the time of intercourse, 2) different recipes i.e. boiled banana, etc., 3) performing the specific rituals like ‘Dohale’ (ceremony) in pregnancy. It is dominantly observed that parents and family members perpetually and happily distribute ‘Pedha’ (Indian sweets) after the birth of male child and ‘Barfi’ (Indian sweets) for girl child at birth. Many such observations show the discriminating approach towards girls and boys regarding clothes, education, even food and necessary things, etc. Some of the families, who have male and female child, prefer boy first to give higher and quality education. Indian feminists’ movements are attacked by the ‘Hindu iconography’ and ‘Sanskrit idioms’ (John, 1998). They argued that Indian womanhood is the guarantor of cultural difference from the West. Similar observations are recorded by Keller (1994) that is, American print media promotes the maintenance of a gendered division of work at home and workplace.

The patriarchy can be summarised as: 1) an individual man holds power through the institution of fatherhood, 2) the ‘symbolic power’ of father as the essence of patriarchy within culture and the unconscious, 3) the foundation of patriarchy as specific to the relationship between father and daughter, 4) patriarchy emerges out of the pre-capitalist kinship networks and institutionalised in the nuclear family, and 5) complex relationship between power and gender (Foord and Gregson, 1986, Mendes, 2011, Moghadam, 1992, Barrett et al., 2005, Antonijevic, 2011). Patriarchy is, most frequently, associated with material and ideological control over women’s sexuality and labour at home and workplace (Foord and Gregson, 1986, Moghadam, 1992). Father plays the role of provider and head of the family, and mother as caretaker and heart of the family (Zinn, 2000). Therefore, women’s movements have tried to reconceptualise the basic concepts of patriarchy, gender and empowerment.

John (1998) focused on the history of struggle against patriarchal oppressions along with critical assessments of the feminist interventions. Now, there are no media and continent about women’s exploitations at home, work and social space. The feminist themes include health facilities, legal services, popular education, communication, race, sexual option, ecology, etc. (Liu, 2007). Waterman (1993) focused on health, reproductive rights, violence against women, lesbian relationships and position of coloured and indigenous women. Women are harassed sexually, mentally, physically, intellectually, socially, economically, etc. Lachover (2013) highlighted the comments of feminist leader, Betty Friedan in 1960s on the central feminine image emerged from women’s magazines. The home is ultimate source of happiness to women (Bandarage, 1984). However, there is forced segregation of women in the house (Bressey, 2010). Feminism exposed different types of violence i.e. militarized, global economic, neo-colonial, discursive, masculine and violence for gender, sex, identity, love, tolerance, etc. (Zalewski and Runyan, 2013). Feminism in Taiwan is also committed to the investigation of ‘sexual questions’ include sexual harassment and violence against women, reproductive rights and pornography (Liu, 2007). The enthusiastic feminist critical literature demonstrate the inferior image of women in contemporary society such as weak, mad, fearful, subjective, supportive, usable, showpiece, dependent, melancholic maiden (Ussher, 2005) and therefore, submissive. Further, Ussher (2005) stated that women’s madness has clearly moved from mythology to mass industry. All these beliefs are not only supported by religious systems but also the state (Marshall, 2008). For instance, many of the temples in India do not allow women to enter and pray. The state toilet facilities provided for women at public places are not only less in quantity but of poor quality. Therefore, feminist thinkers, philosophers, writers, activists and politicians look into the matter from centuries.

Religious approach to the origin of the nature coincided with philosophical idealism. Idealism claims that world is not cognisable (Sen, 1998, Prasad, 2011). Therefore, the religious idealism supports to ignore the slaves, shudra as well as women. Patriotic religious thinkers believe that there are only finite human lives of those who recognize freedom to be a difficult task under one sky and on one shared earth (Matustik, 2002). For instance, Hawkesworth (2004) pointed the dwarfed approach of fascist philosopher which believes that ‘God’ assists ‘Man’ to protect from a dangerous feminist body.

On the other hand, materialism is the philosophy based on the reading of human surroundings i.e. the sun, moon, mountains, rivers, plants, animals as well as human beings with life, spirit, truth or reality. Materialism believes that physical reality is the only reality. Nowka (2007) reported that Mary Hays (1760-1843) used materialism and necessitarianism in her ‘Memoirs of Emma Courtney’ to examine the character of Emma, the protagonist with feministic theories. Kajiwara (1968) reported the materialistic approach of Virginia Woolf presented in her writings. Historical materialism views historical change as the result of the actions of human being within the material world and not as the hands of God or some other spiritual force (Deal and Beal, 2004). Further, George Orwell (1903-1950) has compared the ideologies such as 1) idealism, 2) materialism, 3) realism, and 4) socialism to understand the problems created by capitalists and conflict between idealism and materialism through his novels (Prasad, 2011). Thus, materialistic philosophers are concerned not with the spirit but with the body (Kajiwara, 1968). The philosophy claims the human as element of the great world which is cognisable. Therefore, the inferior status of women in family and human society is cognisable. This cognitive nature gives birth to feminism (Kajiwara, 1968, Nowka, 2007).

Feminist research is the research by, about and for women. However, it is not true that all research by or about women is feminist but the research conducted by and about men may be feminist (Cosgrove and McHugh, 2000, Hans, 2013). This kind of research includes women’s lives, equalities, empowerments, socializations and improved status (Ghosh, 2007). Cosgrove and McHugh (2000) suggested feminist research for: 1) giving voice to women’s experience, 2) moving away from dichotomous thinking, 3) incorporating reflexivity, 4) adopting a collaborative approach, and 5) using research as a tool for emancipation. Campbell and Wasco (2000) characterized the process of feminist research into four primary groups i.e. 1) expanding methodologies to include both quantitative and qualitative methods, 2) connecting women for group-level data collection, 3) reducing the hierarchical relationship between researchers and their participants to facilitate trust and disclosure, and 4) recognizing and reflecting upon the emotionality of women’s lives. Feminist research includes the action of feminist practitioners and researchers across modernity, postmodernity and possibly postmodernity to democratic transformations for experiences of girls and women (Weiner, 2004). Zalewski and Runyan (2013) have explored questions about feminism and violence to constructively complicate understandings about relationships. Feminism is conventionally positioned as oppositional to direct and structural violence (Turksma, 2001). They have attracted attention to militarized violence, global economic violence, neo-colonial violence, discursive violence: masculinise violence and violence among/of women. Feminism exposes violence: gender, sex, identity, domestic violence of love and the everyday violence of tolerance.

Feminist philosophers are engaged to project the two significant areas of concern i.e. historical exclusion and negative characterization of women (Witt, 2004). Philosophical interpretations of feminist criticism include (a) the explicit misogyny of great philosophers, (b) gendered interpretations of theoretical concepts, and (c) synoptic interpretations (Witt, 2004). Hemmings (2005) has highlighted the restricted nature of feminism to figure their histories and secondly ongoing contests and relationships. The feminism strongly connected to Western feministic theory which emerges as singular and bonsai. The women were considered as a subject and object of feminist knowledge. However, Hemmings (2007) denied the views of Wittig, Foucault and Butler refigure sexuality as both pleasure and constraint.

Feminist philosophy inferred differently with religious and/or spiritual beliefs: 1) some of the feministic views integrate woman into religious framework, and 2) some completely reject previous notions of religiosity and spirituality (Miller and Wieling, 2003). Jolly et al. (2012) have conceptualised other feminists including scholars of women’s movements, oral historians, narratologists and philosophers with four broad justifications of feminism: 1) political understanding, 2) knowledge, 3) relationships, and 4) psycho-social framework of analysis. Feminist empiricists and standpoint theorists think that feminist criticism will allow an elimination of bias views about women in science (Witt, 2004). Some of the writers attempted to synthesis socialist, feminist, ecological and spiritual criticism of global as well as local level (Bandarage, 1984, Waterman, 1993).

Most of the women’s magazines recognized that women increasingly work outside the home (Lachover, 2013) with less attention to work environment for the issues like leisure, consumerism, homemaking and sex. They have neglected the problems of social inequality in the workplace (Zinn, 2000). Feministic movements are rooted in communal, national and regional scales. Many of them have addressed local gender relations in middle class families (Waterman, 1993). Mendes (2011) has investigated the problems and solutions to women’s oppression/inequality represented by the members of women’s movements. He identified oppositions, supports, conflicts and goals of the movements. Mulas (2005) has pointed out that the feminism is a question of identity, own struggle and sensitivity to the complex, ambiguous and contradictory nature of man.


Simone De Beauvoir (1908-1986) reported that Christina De Pisan (1364-1430) was the first woman who ‘takes up her pen in defence of her sex’ in 15th century. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) urged her sister to divorce and criticized the social norms. She believed that women are rational creatures and concentrated on the moral demands of equality, particularly in education for women as a source of freedom.

According to Elaine Showalter the history of women’s writing in the West is divided into three phases i.e. 1) A feminine phase (1840-1880) - women writers imitated the male writers in their norms and artistic standards, 2) A feminist phase (1880-1920) - a different and often a separate position was maintained, and 3) A female phase (1920 onwards) - a different female identity, style and content. Feminist histories require a broad historical geography and to integrate the theoretical contribution of women (Bressey, 2010).

2.1   The First Wave Feminism

The term, ‘First Wave Feminism’ is commonly used in nineteenth and early twentieth century for European and North American feministic movements. They struggled for women’s rights to vote and professional participation. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) is a mother of First wave feminism. She published ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ in 1792. Wollstonecraft argued that women would be equal to men in every respect if they are provided same education and opportunities as men. She stands against an injustice suffered by women (Code, 2000). In this period, the feminists’ were concerned with education, employment, marriage laws and plight of intelligent middle class single woman. They were primarily concerned with the problems of working class white women of upper middle class. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Sojourner Truth are first wave feminist thinkers in US, struggled for social, civil and religious conditions and rights of women. In early twentieth century, the feminist achieved basic rights for women in countries like UK, 1918 and USA, 1920. In 1880, the monthly paper, Anti-caste was devoted to the interests of the coloured races at global scale (Bressey, 2010). It was the first British anti-caste paper published from England. British feminists were less interested in women’s issues than race. Feminist imperial sensibility in India has illustrated that ‘equality’ prioritised the emancipation of white women before their colonised sisters (Bressey, 2010). Women’s issues were raised in different perspectives as: 1) universal suffrage after 1945 and 2) questions of development and poverty from women’s perspectives in 1960s (John, 1998). ‘One World Women’s Movement’ (1988) by Bulbeck is a very useful survey and critique of international debates amongst academic feminists regarding global patriarchy, race and gender, imperialism and development, etc. (Waterman, 1993). Thus, twentieth century feminism ends up the first wave of feminism which is concerned with inequalities, collective social and political interests and self-determination of women. Twentieth century feminism expanded and split into broad areas as reformist and revolutionaries. Reformist feminists are liberal and revolutionaries are radicals, socialists and Marxists.

Major achievements of the first wave feminists are: 1) access for women to secondary, higher and professional education, 2) property rights to married women, and 3) improvement in rights to divorce and child custody. US feminists achieved the voting rights, property rights and birth control. John, 1998). However, feminists fail to secure the right of women’s vote at large. 1950s and 1960s are the ‘silent period’ for Indian women’s movements. They enormously depended on nation state through democracy, socialism and non-alignment (John, 1998). Further, in 1970s the women’s movements re-emerged in rural as well as urban areas e.g. The Progressive Organisation of Women in Hyderabad formed during 1970s.

2.2   The Second Wave Feminism

The second wave feminism originated from the writings of the British feminist, Juliet Mitchell (b. 1940) with an ideology of radicalism based on economic and social conditions (Code, 2000). Many of the feminists in 1960s to 1990s were particularly connected to social movements i.e. the anti-Vietnam protests and the civil rights movement. They struggled for reproductive rights, legalizing abortion and birth control, analyzing gender differences, attaining equal rights in political and economic realms and gaining sexual liberation (Kontou, 2008). They focused on socio-economic issues like equality in employment, sexual harassment and the discriminations based on class, race, sexuality, age, ability, ethnicity, religion and political consequences. These feminists achieved success in sexual freedom, equal funding to women and integration between workplace and political areas. It is notable that, the US feminists fought against beauty contest in 1968 to stop discrimination among women for race, colour, expressions, etc. with the sense of male domination and usage. On the other hand, British activists struggled for equal pay for equal work.

Feminism committed to producing critical constructive analysis of systemic power structure, theoretical presupposition, social practices and institutions that oppress and marginalize the women and effecting social transformation. Second wave feminists have departed radically from the early attempts to represent women as a caste, a class or a homogeneous group and devoted to develop theoretical tools for examining points of convergence and divergence in women’s lives.

However, the feminists like Adrienne Rich have remarked that second wave feminists tried to find space for women within patriarchal structure. They believed that man’s world is the real world i.e. patriarchy equivalent to culture that generalize man, human kind, black, children, parents, the working class, etc. Women are subgroup hold true for mother, daughters, sisters, wet-nurses, etc. with the specialized function like breast-feeding (Code, 2000).

2.3   The Third Wave Feminism

American feminist writer, Rebecca Walker has coined the term ‘Third Wave Feminism’ which aimed at social and economic equality. The major concerns are sexual freedom, including women from different groups like colour, culture, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and low income. However, these feminists are mainly struggled for: 1) reproductive rights, 2) protection from violence at home, workplace and public place i.e. rape and domestic abuse, 3) economic rights as equal pay, parity of regard, pensions, poverty, recognition of caring work, 4) sex discrimination act, 5) more female Member of Parliament, 6) religious right as women clergy, rabbi, and 7) equality at workplace - more women at work and more men at home.

Thus, feminist contributions can be summarized as (Weiner, 2004)

1)      The first wave feminism in Western countries was in the 19th and early 20th centuries as a liberal feminism aimed at emancipation and equality. They struggled for: a) removal of barriers to women’s participation in public life, and b) inserting women into male ways of knowing and doing [girls participate in science, technology, mathematics and boys in languages and humanities].

2)      The second wave (Western) feminism from the mid-twentieth century concentrated on the cultural features of female oppression and the structural, social and psychological transformations to achieve women’s liberation (Rockler, 2006). Therefore, feminism not only challenged contemporary sexual relations and politics but produced a new language and discursive framework of: a) liberation rather than emancipation, and b) collectivism rather than individualism. Second wave feminism challenged to official (patriarchal) curricula, texts and behaviours and practices including sexuality, femininity and masculinity.

3)     The third wave feminism suggested women’s issues in three steps: a) the representation of female empowerment as individual transformation, b) the simplistic resolution of systemic women’s economic problems, and c) the portrayal of political issues as worthy of mockery. Individual empowerment was a key focus of third wave feminism (Rockler, 2006). Western feminists focused on human rights, economic exploitation and political domination (Narayan, 1998).


Feminism focused on to increase the awareness of all individuals regarding the realities of women’s oppression. Consciousness is an integral part of feminist theories. Feminist frameworks attempt to provide the basis for: 1) increasing the self-esteem of women, 2) active participation in decision making and social action, 3) empowerment, and 4) facilitating the recognition by societies for value and worth of women. The concept of empowerment, rooted in feminist theory and practice. Feminist practice defines, 1) the linkages between personal and social change, and 2) provides strategies and methods for empowering the women to make meaningful changes in their lives (Garner, 1999, Moghadam, 1992).

Juliet Mitchell observed the connections of feminist theories with transforming material and social conditions responsible to the practice (Code, 2000). Feminism empowers different women to voice their justice, equality and liberty by mobilizing sex solidarity (Hawkesworth, 2004). Equality in the economic field is an urgent need, which can bring justice in the society (Prasad, 2011).  Therefore, feminist goal can be outlined as property rights, political rights, suffrage, educational and occupational opportunity, equal pay legislation, abortion rights, etc. (Hawkesworth, 2004, Wynne, 2005, Prasad, 2011). Feminist theory and practice struggle to free all women: women of colour, working class women, poor women, disabled women, lesbians, old women, economically privileged, heterosexual women, etc. (Crichton et al., 1999, Bressey, 2010). The feminist formulations have developed and transformed over time in response to the material realities of daily conditions, ideological sensitivity to gender issues, the linguistic and political competencies and historical events (Ghosh, 2007). Some of the feminist theories are reviewed to understand views, approaches and aims of feminist activities: 1) The Marxist Feminism, 2) The Socialist Feminism, 3) The Liberal Feminism, 4) The Individual Feminism, 5) The Career Feminism, 6) The Existential Feminism, 7) The Cultural Feminism, 8) The Global Feminism, 9) The Radical Feminism, 10) The Lesbian Feminism, 11) The Postmodern Feminism, 12) The Literary Feminism, 13) The Black Feminism, 14) The Dalit Feminism, 15) The Eco-feminism and 16) The Womanism. 

3.1   The Marxist Feminism

Some of the feminists have used Marxist theories to explain the women’s issues. Marxist advocates a revolutionary struggle to overthrow capitalist institution. Marxist and socialist feminists claimed that 1) power have nothing with sex, but class, wages and property, 2) family maintains patriarchal and class inequality, 3) capitalist agenda is an obstacle in the way of women’s struggle for equality, and therefore, 4) capitalism and modernity as the main enemies for feminism (Moghadam, 1992). In present economic state, the ‘well-being’ of the family is depend on the women’s capacity to produce immediate needs of the family i.e. cooking, cleaning, washing, child and family caring, etc. as well as marketable things like cloth, thread, milk, butter, etc. Women provide the unpaid labour (domestic slavery) within the framework of caste, religion and personal relationships of marriage. In fact, she produces the exchange values in invisible family products on the name of men. Therefore, the man is always in search of a wife who has ‘hands of gold’ for ‘domestic labour’. On this background, Marxist and socialist feminism advocate the changes in economic relations and material conditions (Brown, 1997, Garner, 1999). Joseph (2007) has noted that Marxism has emphasised on global structures and strategies of capitalism. There are philosophical perspectives, beliefs, and practices that promote both human compassion and that kind of society. Karl Marx (1818-1883) has suggested that ‘free development of each is the condition for the free development of all’ (Slott, 2011). Marxist feminism carries nationalisation of private property, collective child rearing and the leading assignment to women in factories (Liu, 2007). Gender roles and the status of women are tied to and shaped by forms of production and property relations (Moghadam, 1992).

Marx suggests that abstract labour is a social power that at once homogenises individuals and places them into discrete identity groups and ineluctable classes (Liu, 2007). Abstract labour holds individuals together and reproduces society first by reproducing the conditions of social production. Marx understands the value of labour power from the point of view of the reproduction of society. Therefore, value is determined by abstract labour, the aggregate production of commodities in society as a whole. The value is defined by the cost of social conditions that are required for the production of that commodity and for the reproduction of the labourer who works for commodity (Liu, 2007). The value of a commodity is the amount of human labour, but the value of the commodity of human labour is determined by moral and discursive operations outside the capitalist reproduction scheme. Therefore, the reproduction of capital is both the reproduction of the material forces and the reproduction of ‘the social conditions of production’ i.e. the family, the police, the army, the school, etc. However, Aristotle reported that members of the working class have no sense of themselves as participators in the work that occupies most of their waking hours (Code, 2000).

Marx defines communism as involving the ‘positive abolition of private property’, the ending of ‘human self-alienation’, and the ‘real appropriation of human nature’ (Srikanth, 1997, Reiner, 2008). Marxist philosophers and activists believe that only an overall change in societal conditions could solve the problems of gender inequality (Reiner, 2008). They have addressed issues like marriage, family law, and equality at workplace (Reiner, 2008). Marxists viewed that the societal relations as forming a totality and notion of ‘sensuous human activity’. They have ignored the terms related to women like gender, sex, sexual relations, and family as an important analytical categories. Capitalists have considered the married woman as a property of husband but Marxists have described marriage as ‘incontestably a form of exclusive private property’ (Reiner, 2008).  Marx has pointed in his ‘The Communist Manifesto’ that in bourgeois society, a wife is seen as ‘a mere instrument of production’ (Reiner, 2008).

The views of Marxist feminism are largely unidentified (Lokaneeta, 2001). Socialist movements have connected the personal intimate to the state and state policies. They have considered that every person including woman equally at all dimensions in the state. Charlotte P. Gilman (1860-1935) and Alexandra Kollontai (1872-1952) have explained many unidentified part of Marxist feminist history and women’s oppression i.e. sexual and ideological aspects (Lokaneeta, 2001). Majority of the feminists have focused on the middle class women which is basically bourgeois feminism. Class can be shaped through gender and race (Bressey, 2010). Marxists believed in united struggle for women’s rights across all classes to emancipate the woman from the ‘burdens of motherhood’ (Lokaneeta, 2001). Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) shows that husband occupying the position of bourgeois and wife proletarian. Marx believed that patriarchy is the major source and cause of joint growth of male and capital dominance (Garner, 1999, Reiner, 2008). Moghadam (1992) examines the emancipatory content of development from a Marxist feminist perspective: 1) the process of development has contributed to the dissolution of classic patriarchy, and 2) socio-economic development, paid employment for women, contributes to gender equity and emancipation of women. Whereas, American socialist feminist, Sheila Rowbotham has expressed her views in ‘Women Consciousness and Man’s World’ (1973) as: 1) self-consciousness is a pre-condition for survival of women, 2) trust in each other required for struggle of women, and 3) women should break the sound of silence and carefully listen to the language of silence i.e. source for male dominance. Further, Srikanth (1997) has noted the limitations of Marxist feminism: 1) the class struggle and hold revolutionary overthrow of capitalism as a social necessity, and 2) freedom from hunger, unemployment, capitalist exploitation. Gender oppression is more important than freedom for sexual choice. However, some of the feminists have criticised that the Marxist feminism was for defining productive labour only. The labours produce the things which have an exchange value, create surplus value and have a direct relation to capital. Marxists did not understand the values and they delegitimized the significance of domestic labour performed by women. They deeply analysed exploitation in the industrial mode of production but failed to look into the family to search the discriminations and exploitations at personal, intimate and space.

Criticism on Marxist feminism are: 1) Simply abolishing marriage is not acceptable solution (Reiner, 2008), 2) Marx defines the division of ‘labours in the sexual act’ - contemporary feminists were disagreed with differences between men and women without problematising the valuation (Reiner, 2008), and 3) another criticism is that devaluing the work of women (Foord and Gregson, 1986). Marxist theory illuminates the common location of many women in the mode of production. It illuminates the structures of power, domination and hierarchical relations that underlie the cultural, religious, ideological, national, and ethnic differences among women (Gimenez, 2004). Socialist feminism presents Marxism as a gender blind historical materialism. It attempts to subordinate women’s need in class struggle (Liu, 2007). However, Reiner (2008) has noted that points raised by critics against the Marxist approaches are mistakenly interpreted. Marx has declared the demolition of ‘human self-alienation’ which is not supporting to husband centric relationship between married man and woman. Marx was committed to equality between men and women. In fact, he paid little attention to the issue of gender equality but that did not support to inequalities between men and women. Marx has intended to abolition private property (Foord and Gregson, 1986). Gimenez (2004) has noted that Marxist feminism is supporting to struggle for rights and opportunities to all women whereas, that all women do not share the same class interests. Therefore, Marx disagreed with woman slavery for husband in contemporary marriage framework, while his faith on friendly marriage promoted society to demolishing the traditional bondages of marriage. Marx’s moral relationship of friendly marriage is mutual dependence not a formal control i.e. women as a form of property or slave.

3.2   The Socialist Feminism

Marxists as well as socialists explained conditions of women within the framework of social class and private property. Socialist feminists expressed their views on women’s oppression from their work in the family and economy. Inferior position of women is the result of class based capitalism. Socialists have defined the terms of private sphere (home) and public sphere (work). The private sphere is oppressing the role of women in the household and equal opportunities for women in the public sphere. Foord and Gregson (1986) have pointed that the patriarchy is a universal term used for male dominance in feminist writing. Therefore, socialist feminist’s work is significant in exposing the gendered aspects of the welfare state (Blackburn, 1995).

Socialist feminists have emphasized on the family and its relationship with paid and unpaid work of women from 1970s (Blackburn, 1995). The nuclear families support to maintain the class and inequalities. Marxist and socialist feminism advocate the changes in economic relations and material conditions (Brown, 1997, Garner, 1999). Socialist feminists devoted to improve the social conditions of women through protection at workplace (Bressey, 2010). Therefore, many feminists have emphasized on desirability and validity of socialist feminism (Devika, 2008) and challenged to capitalist values (Lachover, 2013).

Socialist feminists have elaborated the presence of patriarchy at various levels: 1) personal - unconscious (Jolly et al., 2012), 2) psychological - in culture, ideology and society (Deal and Beal, 2004,), 3) trans-historical - human existence (production-people-reproduction), and 4) economic or material - in any combination (Foord and Gregson, 1986). They have focused on production facts i.e. 1) the nature provides material for transformation, 2) people provide the labour necessary for production, and 3) reproduction refers to the physical reproduction of labour (Foord and Gregson, 1986). All they are essential for the existence of human life.

Socialist feminists have grafted the concept of patriarchy on classical Marxism and added a third system of racism. They fail to address: 1) discrimination in many other groups in society to define class inequalities, 2) not having definite alternatives, and 3) solutions are indistinct and inconsistent (Blackburn, 1995). Early socialist feminist like German activist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) believed that questions of women would be solved in the process of socialist revolutionary changes. Whereas, Clara Zetkin (1857-1933) and Alexander Kollantai have expressed that women’s issues should be addressed separately for acknowledgment of dual oppressions by capitalism and patriarchy. Further, welfare state criticized the socialist feminist as: 1) their strategy is often ambiguous and lacking in clarity, and 2) they fail to take into account the benefits of dependent women for the welfare state.

3.3   The Liberal Feminism

Liberal feminist, John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) has focused on issues of education and equal rights of women (Code, 2000). Liberal feminism is a moderate form of feminist emphasized upon society rather than revolutionary change. Men have access to more lucrative and prestigious jobs in the formal sectors of the economy. Women are engaged in least productive and least paid activities in position of lacking the property, skills, capital and education (Saptarshi and Bhagat, 2005). These situations force women to accept the jobs with low quality, dignity, paid, etc. at field, street, maids or prostitutes, etc. (Bandarage, 1984). Therefore, liberal feminists explained position of women in terms of unequal rights based on artificial barriers in women’s participations in public life (Kensinger, 1997). They focused on individual freedom (Enslin and Tjiattas, 2004, Joseph, 2007), women’s values and questioning to men. They struggled to 1) achieve equal social, political and legal rights, and 2) access to education, health and welfare with equal job opportunities (Pomeroy et al., 2004).

Society mainly controlled by men but some powers can be transferred to women with equal opportunity. Some writers have hoped regarding regressive economic policies of ‘First World’ countries which will be mobilised to poor and working class women (Waterman, 1993). However, in reality the opportunities are not equally distributed and they are confused and nobody have benefits from the system. Feminist thinkers have interpreted that this society discriminating the women by sex and gender. Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Stewart (1803-1880), The Grimke Sisters [Sarah Moore Grimke (1792-1873) and Angelina Emily Grimke (1805-1879)], Molly Yard (1912-2005), Betty Friedan (1921-2006) and Gloria Steinem (b. 1934) are prominent writers focused on the liberal feminism. Traditional philosophy of liberal feminism sees subordination (for equality and justice) of women in capitalist society (Bandarage, 1984, Prasad, 2011). Liberal feminism regards social policy as an important force in affording access to economic opportunity and civil rights to women (Bandarage, 1984, Lachover, 2013). The liberal feminism exemplified by Friedan was gradually replaced by Neo-Marxist feminism based on the concept of hegemony as defined in 1971 by the Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci (Lachover, 2013).

Liberal feminism looks at laws in the existing social structure to solve problems of gender inequity (Brown, 1997). The liberal women’s movement attacked women’s lack of political and economical equality and interference in women’s reproductive freedom by Governments (Garner, 1999, Prasad, 2011). Gandhian phase played an important role in providing liberal opportunities to women for public work in India. Although the gender division of work and male dominance are not been seriously challenged (Joseph, 2007). The primary role of the family is to provide arenas for privacy, intimacy, sexual pleasure and shared parental role. New industry based economy i.e. software industry demands more working hours and mobility requires some provisions for small children (Joseph, 2007). It happens with upper middle working class but not in the section of poor women. Stone (1987) believed that one can free of elitism and patriarchy, if concrete liberations are implied. With accepting these philosophical principles and internal logic of the law, the life partner should be responsible (Weait, 2007).

Liberal and radical feminism dominated the American movements. They primarily defined the issues of abortion and the equal rights (Mendes, 2011). Liberal feminists demanded reformations of public institutions for equal rights for both genders through new laws and regulations (Waterman, 1993, Code, 2000, Enslin and Tjiattas, 2004). Liberal feminism also dealt with challenges from the cultural relativists (Enslin and Tjiattas, 2004) struggle for inclusive concept of justice. Bressey (2010) focused on brotherhood of man which aimed to ‘secure to every member of the family, freedom, equal opportunity, and brotherly consideration’.

Thus, the first wave feminism was to make women citizens. Further, the second wave feminists supported to women for 1) fully free sellers of own labour power, 2) substantially dismantling the mandated women’s subservience in marriage, 3) denied the rights of men on her body and reproductive capacity, and 4) denied legitimated economic marginalisation. However, social reproduction and care taking become burden on women (Joseph, 2007).

Contemporary cultural setup supports to men’s control on women and able to socialize them into unquestioning acceptance (Enslin and Tjiattas, 2004). Therefore, mainstream feminists do not believe that patriarchy can actually be transformed into equality (Liu, 2007). Enslin and Tjiattas (2004) have elaborated limitations of liberal feminism: 1) too individualistic, 2 ) fails to appreciate the value of community and group, 3) disregards to people’ identify with religion, heritage and ethnicity, 4) disregards to social and historical differences, 5) fundamentally requires self-alienation, and 6) no individual scarifies for collective interests. Weait (2007) noted that processes of legal adjudication on questions are concern with sex, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and relationships. Therefore, neither liberal nor radical theoretical positions provide an authentic theory to protect justice through law (Weait, 2007). Feminists have taken up the problem of women’s body practices to debate over their meanings for gender and sexuality. However, Lachover (2013) criticised the wrong presentation of women in modern liberal society through media. Some of the active feminists fought against beauty contest in USA in 1968 to stop discrimination among women with the sense of men. At the same time women were on strike for equal pay for equal work to men in ‘Ford Car plant, Britain’. Therefore, liberal feminism has two fronts: 1) fight for equalities in all sense, and 2) fight to protect from attack of new offshoots of male dominance.

3.4   The Individual Feminism

American feminists defined the individualism as ‘a belief that the individual has a primary reality, whereas society is a secondary’ (Rockler, 2006). Marx believed on person’s individual existence at the same time a social being (Reiner, 2008). Pitts (2010) has indentified gendered subjectivities linked to rootedness of bodies, realities of gender, race, and power relations. Individualism focuses on abilities and accomplishments in terms of universal values of talent, leadership qualities, etc. (Lachover, 2013). Therefore, Mulas (2005) has depicted the questions of 1) individual identity, 2) pressure upon an individual, 3) the quest for the consolations of order and meaning, and 4) the constant threat of cruelty and annihilation. Cheng (2000) has reported the Freudian themes of individualism. Further, individualistic movements have focused on the expansion of equal opportunities for women within the existing system referred as liberal feminism with economic, social and political systems (Rockler, 2006). Therefore, they are finding individual woman’s interests within liberal framework of society based on individual abilities and opportunities.

The policy of gender equality has been adopted by major states, as an official state policy emphasised on individual success (Barrett et al., 2005). However, there is large confusion of understanding: 1) the concepts of feminism, femininity and beauty, and 2) interpretations of gendered and national identities. According to Judith Butler (b. 1956), individuals actively perform gender in specific settings, rather than being constructed (Weiner, 2004). Mill’s individualism means men and women would probably be similar (Reiner, 2008).

Some of the critics including Waterman (1993) and Sue and Feng (2010) have questioned the feminists association with Western racist, capitalist and patriarchal discourse and practice of development, emancipation and subordinates democratisation. Sue and Feng (2010) have criticized the individual approach of the feminist literature i.e. magazines. They stated that the models presented on the magazines are ‘inaccessible, unreal and simply non-human’. They are more self-conscious appeal to a playful, ironic, and visually literate, but not feminist (Sue and Feng, 2010).

3.5   The Career Feminism

The career feminism is an extension of liberal and individual feminism. The theoretical concept of career feminism is introduced and constructed by women’s magazines especially devoted for working women (Lachover, 2013). The career and liberal feminism share a desire for free individual in the society. Therefore, personal transformation is essential than socio-political changes to achieve the goals. The career feminism inspires individual women to free in a ‘World of Men,’ but not to free all women by changing society for women to take their lives into their own hands. The woman’s rights in liberal society presented for job opportunities which are traditionally defined by male. Therefore, the woman has to discover her own strengths and learn to act assertively as well as submissively.

3.6   The Existential Feminism

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) and Albert Camus (1913-1960) viewed that each person as an isolated being casted into an alien universe and there is no inherent human truth, value, or meaning (Code, 2000). Existential ethics form consciousness of interdependence with others (Stone, 1987). Mulas (2005) explained the characters i.e. Neville and Jinny who share an interest in the existentialist enjoyment of the moment. Concrete liberalism defined as radical existential and multicultural democracy (Matustik, 2002). However, some of the writers have pointed the duality of existential vision. Mangayarkarasi (2012) has presented the two opposed relationships i.e. love and hatred with Canada. The hatred was changed into love with Canada as a successful settlement. In the same way, many times and cases, the person shows their dual nature as they lost or achieved, which expected. Some noted dualities of existence are: landscape and mindscape, wilderness and order, alienation and identification, and nature and culture (Mangayarkarasi, 2012). The capitalist approaches bound within ‘the framework of a pre-existing sexual division of labour that assigns child-rearing responsibilities exclusively to women. It demands the presence of women at home’, and therefore, women are excluded from the workplace (Reiner, 2008). Existentialists’ activism is inadequate bridge between women’s freedom and socialist activism (Stone, 1987).

3.7   The Global Feminism

It is boundary-breaking activities and philosophies of feminism for women empowerment by globalizing institutions of re-ordering gender roles (Zalewski and Runyan, 2013). Postmodern analyses focused on ‘individual and private acts of resistance’ and back towards a ‘structural analysis of global capitalism’. Waterman (1993) has reported Bulbeck’s three models of global feminism viz.: 1) movements against men and patriarchy, (2) struggle against racial imperialist male dominance, and 3) constellation of localized movements for higher wages for all workers, a political regime, women’s control of reproductive choice and satisfactory autonomy.

Zalewski and Runyan (2013) have reported that traditional feministic theories failed to achieve women’s empowerment but created violence between individual and society. Therefore, they refer ‘Global’ feminism as institutionalised feminism for empowerment of women through neoliberal strategies as microcredit and the Global capital. Waterman (1993) has reported that feminist and women’s internationalism is richer, more complex and differs from the labour movements. Women’s internationalism is not threatening the capital or state and coincided with industrial capitalism facilitate international awareness and linkages. These feminist movements are equivalent to the bureaucratic international socialist. Waterman (1993) has focused on: 1) middle class feminist internationalism based on reproductive technologies, 2) relations between middle class and poor women, 3) relations between feminists, and 4) relationship between feminists and non-feminists.

The Global feminism seeks to explain the interconnections of feminist struggle by examining the worldwide economic factors which combine the national histories of colonialism, religion, and culture to oppress women (Garner, 1999). Women in new international division of labour have wide range work with theoretical complexity shaped by ‘capitalist patriarchy’. Middle class women are wage-dependent either through their own wages or of male. Neoliberal governance promises to individual social mobility for ‘good girls’ who dutifully get educated and acquire their places in the global economy (Zalewski and Runyan, 2013).

Mulas (2005) has reported the aspects of human personality in a new global scenario based on Virginia Woolf’s personality and C. B Cox’s book ‘The Free Spirit’ (1963): 1) imaginative impulse (Bernard), 2) desire to impose order upon material things (Louis), 3) delight in personal relationships (Neville), 4) pleasure of the body (Jinny), 5) joy in the motherhood (Susan), and 6) life of solitude (Rhoda). Therefore, challenges before the Indian feminism are revealed against the impact of the politics of the Hindu Rights, the Hindutva movements and globalisation (Ghosh, 2007).

3.8   The Postmodern Feminism

Postmodern feminism attempted to construct the social and cultural ideas about gender (Brown, 1997). They argue that woman is a socially defined and inherently distorted term. Postmodern feminist theory is free from prejudice and discrimination. They are aware about the oppression of women, process, empowerment, and the value of unity and personal experience (Pomeroy et al., 2004). Rockler (2006) has described that the young women should equipped for living fluidity of femininity in the postmodern world. Postmodern feminism embraces diversity and the coexistence of truths, roles, and realities. Thus, the focus is on female strengths rather than subjugation (Pomeroy et al., 2004).

3.9   The Radical Feminism

Germaine Greer (b. 1939) is well known academic writer, journalist and scholar gave significant but controversial voices of radical perspective in the 20th century. It is widely accepted situation that the male power and privilege is the basis of social relations (Lewis, 2007). Sexism is the ultimate tool used by men to keep women oppressed. Radical feminists believed that men are the enemy and they control, exploit and oppress women through domination in employment, family relations, sexual relations and status. Women are deeply oppressed, widespread and the most suffering group of the society. Sexual oppression is a most significant form of women’s suppression. Capitalist system is derived from patriarchy which imposes supremacy of men over women, encourage women to stay far away from men, reject heterosexual marriage and lesbianism. Patriarchy believes that men are biologically stronger than women and women are meant for reproduction only. In this society, men are dominant and have their autonomy, superiority, particularly in capitalism with benefits (Foord and Gregson, 1986). Men oppress women through girdles, false eyelashes, high heels, make up, and different slogans about patriarchal.

Race, class, and gender structures disappear, if individuals can imagine themselves and shape their bodies and identities within the culture with choice and freedom. Therefore, the radical feminists worked for consciousness. The radical feminists, postmodern feminists and post-structural feminists rigorously argued that the body projects or represent the patriarchal oppression of female body (Pitts, 2010). The sexualisation of female body is the foundation of patriarchy. Radical feminists have described that the female body projection is self-mutilate and self-hatred. Many women hampered for foot binding, cosmetic surgery, dieting, etc. Forcefully, they are modifying their bodies with false consciousness.

Radical feminists argued that society is psychologically structured on needs of male and order to maintain that women’s needs are subjugated. The fabric of society fundamentally altered to male centric (Garner, 1999). Therefore, radical feminism expected to change the social structure beginning with the equal relationship between men and women (Brown, 1997). The global solidarity for women’s health and reproductive rights covers issues like 1) co-optation and 2) institutionalisation of radicalism versus reformism, racism and classism (Waterman, 1993).

Lachover (2013) noted that the radical feminism emerged in the countries where it gave way to liberal feminism in 1970s and the peace movement in 1980s. Radical feminism focuses on oppression of female (Pomeroy et al., 2004). Harriet Taylor Mill (1807-1858) proposed radical changes in patriarchal marriage system. She argued that a divorced woman should retain guardianship of her children and their financial responsibilities. She believed that women are not to barter of men for bread (Code, 2000). Radical feminism is revolutionary, rejects relations of men, believes women’s liberation and focused more on womanhood (Miller, 2007). Women exist without men and keep their lives separate from men and abolish the nuclear families. They recognised lesbianism as a way to fight with male dominance (Pomeroy et al., 2004).

3.10   The Lesbian Feminism

Adrian Rich (1929-2012) was an American lesbian radical feminist who developed an idea as ‘women are originally homosexual’ based on De Beauvoir’s (1908-1986) views. Lesbian feminists believe that lesbianism is a tool to reject compulsory way of life, sought heterosexuality as betrayal, liberating all women, attack on male dominance and resistance against patriarchy. Lesbian feminism challenges the organisation of society both heterosexual and male dominance (Garner, 1999). Feminists claimed that lesbian feminists or cultural feminists totally ignored the need to fight against private property that institutionalises patriarchy and gender oppression (Srikanth, 1997). Lesbian feminism is a logical extension of radical feminism who attempts to reject the patriarchy and gender inequalities.

3.11   The Cultural Feminism

The feminism stands for ‘rights’ and culturalism stands for ‘culture’ (Volpp, 2001). The culture defines the way of life of every individual and society including thoughts, beliefs, behaviour, customs, traditions, rituals, dress, language, art, music, literature, etc. (Sharma, 2012, Mangayarkarasi, 2012). Foord and Gregson (1986) have noted perspectives of society into four forms of internal relation between man and woman: i) biological reproduction, ii) heterosexuality, iii) marriage, and iv) nuclear family. The problems of discriminations between male and female arise in the expressions of the cultural elements. The men are always trying to use cultural elements for inculcating the domination through power. Male and female identities are culturally determined as masculinity and femininity, respectively (Deal and Beal, 2004, Plain and Sellers, 2007). In patriarchy based culture, women stand in supportive role. Exploited relationships between male and female, family crisis, identity loss, cultural conflicts and generation gap are commonly identified problems (Barrett et al., 2005). Cultural feminism holds that women are more peaceful, cooperative, and nurturing than men because women reproduce the species (Garner, 1999).

Hindu fundamentalists have projected sati as a central component of Indian culture. Even in the modernized society, they try to flourish the concept through different cultural activities i.e. Sati Mandir, TV serials, etc. Sati became a lofty symbol of ‘ideal Indian womanhood’ indicates feminine nobility and devotion to family (Narayan, 1998).

National culture and traditions often operate to justify the exploitation, domination, marginalization of religious, ethnic minorities, socially subordinate castes and the poor. These culture and traditions are used to dismiss variety of political demands for justice, equality, rights and democracy. Some reported similarities between Western and Indian culture are: 1) hierarchical social system, 2) huge economic disparities between members, and 3) inequality of women with systematic ignorance. Narayan (1998) has presented some identical aspects of Indian woman: sexually constrained, ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition bound, domestic, family oriented, victimized, etc. contrast to Western woman as educated, modern, having control over their own bodies and sexualities and freedom to take their own decisions.

Narayan (1998) has noted some rebellious Indian women as 1) educated and 2) challenging to the traditions, and 3) questioning about differences among women and between men and women. Gender essentialism often equates the problems, interests and locations of some socially dominant groups into men and women i.e. ‘all men’ and ‘all women’. However, the femininity goes with women.

Cheng (2000) has reported interests of women in self-determination and gender-sensitive of immigrants i.e. recognition to non-white skin and foreign accent, emotional crises, linguistic shifts, cultural maladjustments with their background of gender, race, ethnic, class and culture. However, all immigrants are confused, nostalgic, home sick and struggled for power in various forms (Sharma, 2012). Sex-subordinating cultural practices have bad effects like: 1) forces beyond individual community, 2) women considered for sexist cultural practices, and 3) women as perennial victims (Volpp, 2001).

Indian writers including Roy, Mukherjee and Syal, etc. depicted the perception of Indian woman identity in India, USA and England (Bedjaoui, 2009). Cross cultural under currents 1) give a new vision of Indian women, 2) pleasing to Western mind and feelings, and 3) yet reflecting their Indianness. Roy presented that the Indian woman dares to cross the boundaries of caste. Mukherjee presented that the construction into a free-thinking and -acting woman in USA. Syal portrayed the heroine to present more liberal and Westernized Indian family. The cross cultural hybridity includes identity of woman related to gender and caste (Bedjaoui, 2009). However, Okin (1998) stated that the multiculturalism is bad for women.

Sharma (2012) has discussed the cultural conflicts i.e. racial, colour, religious, social and ideological differences. Immigrants are facing number of clashes across the world i.e. American-African, European-Asian, Australian-Asian, etc. Cross culture issues are: 1) struggle with the realities of new world, 2) children struggle to find their place in society, 3) adapt different culture, and 4) bear respect to their roots while adapting the foreign culture. Sharma (2012) compared the images and memories of life in Calcutta with Boston. Immigrants are trying to inculcate the cultural values of their origin in newly born baby in foreign culture. Indian immigrants are in confusion of Indian religious radical culture and foreign individualism (Miller and Wieling, 2003). This dual nature of Indian immigrants creates cultural conflicts between new generations (Sharma, 2012, Rajesh, 2012). The parents insist them to follow Indian culture specifically to women i.e. rituals. ‘Americanized’ new generations adopt American cultural practices and lifestyle. Therefore, youngsters are sufferers and feeling uncomfortable to carry Indian traditions in American lifestyle e.g. Indian style names. The male youngsters are trying to present themselves as rebellious with change in cultural identities like name, love affairs with white girls, etc.

Sharma (2012) has stated the binary opposition between Indian roots and familial ties. Pressurised women from discriminating Indian culture try to revenge in foreign liberal society i.e. American. They felt marriage as a restriction. Therefore, some of the immigrant women from India have not considered the marriage as a duty following their generations. They are not willing to accept, adjust and settle for something less than their ideal happiness. Therefore, some of the authors have presented different characters and situations to inculcate the ideas like ‘one can change her lifestyle or culture, but one cannot forget her culture forever’ (Sharma, 2012).

3.12   The Literary Feminism

Women are suppressed by patriarchy i.e. male dominance observed across the modern history of human being. Therefore, feminist writers criticized the traditional discriminative views of literature about women. Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is a founder of English literary feminism and portrayed revolutionary domestic women’s issues in her writings e.g. ‘A Room of One’s Own’ (1929), an important essay in the history of feminism and active women’s movements. The central theme is to own private room in the house i.e. private property giving personal privacy and an independent mind to participate in cultural questions. The literary feminism can be outlined into Anglo-American feminism and French feminism. Dale Spender (b. 1943) criticized the effects of Empirical discrimination exercising through terms in use i.e. doctor, history, man-days, etc. in her book ‘Man Made Language’ (1980). French feminism developed under the influence of psychoanalyses e.g. Sigmund Freud’s contribution. Simone de Beauvoir expressed her critical views in ‘The Second Sex’ (1949) that woman is always seen as the ‘Other’. They represent binary oppositions between male and female.

In the late 19th century, Woolf noted that movements of women were engaged in struggle for justice, equality and liberty (Prasad, 2011). Halsey (2011) has noted that female literary networks were created, maintained, expanded and perpetuated through a study of the popular English writer Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1855) in the 19th century. Many feminists’ mind conflated with a fight for women’s rights narrowly - the right to earn a living, to receive own wages, to be educated, to enter the professions, and to vote (Hawkesworth, 2004). Some feminist literary critics noted that: 1) the construction of gender norms as a radical critique of patriarchy, 2) links between colonialism and the commodification of women’s bodies, 3) education is a mean of social transformation of women, 4) developing alternatives to existing state policy, and 5) redefining the freedom and empowerment of women (Ghosh, 2007). Feminism empowered more women to give voice for their concerns (Hawkesworth, 2004) and it is never finished project. Virginia Woolf focused on prime relation to reality i.e. common life (Mulas, 2005). She portrayed six characters to present psychological response to challenge passes through three stages: i) despair, ii) renewal of strength, and iii) desire for confrontation. Feminists are rejecting the male dominance as bad behaviour.

Rajesh (2012) has reported that English influenced Indians in various ways i.e. dress, food, hobby, habits, and manners. Characters like Jemubhai Patel, Sai, Noni, Lola, Mrs. Thondup, and Uncle Potty etc. think that the Indian culture is mundane or barbarian. They want to maintain their status as English. Kiran Desai’s ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ deals with the serious consequences of colonialism and the Anglicised Indian culture. Therefore, feminism is better understood as practice than as a social movement which can be possible to represent and understand through literary studies (Hawkesworth, 2004). 

3.13   The Black Feminism

Black feminists examined the similarities between themselves and the white middle class feminists. Sinha (2011) has noted that women can pass the boundaries of race, sex and domestic violence. Therefore, black feminists forcefully raised the issues of existing social divisions for woman differences based on race, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, and age (Williams, 1996). They have represented three key themes: 1) self-definition, 2) self-valuation, and 3) nature of oppression. However, white feminists didn’t take into consideration that this world is black and half of the population is women (Saulnier, 2000). Further, Sinha (2011) has examined a black woman’s journey from oppression, subjugation, violence, male domination, emancipation and happiness.

3.14   The Dalit Feminism

The structure of dominant society inherently places men in the roles of power (Pomeroy et al., 2004). In Indian society, Brahmin is dominant caste, has fixed the centric role of men through their traditions and literature. Hindu religious literature says that the women of shudra have to be sexually assaulted and not to marry. It limits the caste structure. The rebellious love story of Chandali and Bhikku Anand is famous in Buddhist literature. Ghosh (2007) pointed the Western scholarly and popular writings which ignored the poorest sections of Indian society i.e. the ‘dalits’. Whereas, Sharad Patil (1925-2014), A. H. Salunkhe (b. 1943), Sharmila Rege (1964-2013) and many others concentrated on non-brahminical re-conceptualisation of feminist agenda in contemporary India. They emphasised to reformulate the purely upper-caste historiographies that lead to more nuanced and dialectical understanding. However, Dalit literature and feministic writings are very meagre in quantity (Datar, 1999).

3.15   The Eco-feminism

The feminist geographers revealed the feminist issues in 1980s e.g. employment, family, welfare provision, domestic divisions of labour, institutionalised sexism, violence and sexuality (Foord and Gregson, 1986). Human geographers focused on spatial differences, uneven development and spatial uniqueness. However, the feminist geographers are influenced by the socialist feminists and their views are far from comprehensive. 

The Eco-feminists saw men’s control over land as responsible for the oppression of women and destruction of the natural environment. They criticized the idea of focusing too much on a mystical connection between women and nature. The goals of eco-feminism are: 1) development of women’s spirituality and women’s culture, and 2) restructuring of society to increase the social valuation of women and culture, with peace and ecology (Garner, 1999, Saulnier, 2000). Eco-feminists deform the cultural feminist theory and assumed that women are nonviolent and tune with the earth (Saulnier, 2000). Mount (2011) has analysed the eco-feministic aspects depicted in ‘Nectar in a Sieve’, (1954) by Kamala Markandaya.

3.16   The Womanism

The womanism is a useful theory for guiding the intervention of women who were marginalised by sex, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation (Saulnier, 2000). It represented as (Mweseli, 2007): 1) womanism - self-namer, self-definer, family-centred, sisterhood (Hawkesworth, 2004, Miller, 2007), 2) strong concert with male, struggle, whole, authenticity, flexible role play, respect, spirituality, recognise, male compatibility, respect to elders, adaptability, ambiguity, mothering, nurturing, and 3) feminism - political, economical, social, cultural, equality, organised activity on women’s rights and interests. Research suggests that female students learn better in a cooperative manner (Pomeroy et al., 2004). Garner (1999) has defined womanism as: sexism -one of the multiple, interlocking systems of oppression functioning simultaneously and interdependently. Black women novelist, Alice Walker (b. 1944) holds a distinct position, for raising the issues of women’s oppression in the family and society. Womanism is transforming agency against male dominance (Sinha, 2011). However, Zalewski and Runyan (2013) have reported that feminism has ‘gone wrong’, and ‘been failed’ to achieve anticipated visions due to fundamental misinterpretation as feminism equal to gender solution and doing violence to injustice. They have supported to ‘empowering women’ through neoliberal strategies such as microcredit. Sinha (2011) has reported that women move towards a transformed life of freedom and helped by the other female characters. Alice Walker’s main objective was to emphasize the concept of ‘sisterhood’ as a way to liberation, irrespective of race and culture.


Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was the founder of behavioural psychology, deals with psychoanalysis, unconscious, repression, Oedipus complex and illusion. She particularly interested in personal and social functions of religion. ‘Totem and Taboo’ (1913) developed a theory of religion based on a reconstruction of the psychological origins of primitive society. It explores the prehistoric past of human civilization. Her ‘The Future of an Illusion’ (1927) focuses on contemporary religion more precisely, belief in God and projection concerning in modern society (Deal and Beal, 2004). Freud provided three interrelated definitions of psychoanalysis: 1) a discipline focused on investigating the unconscious, 2) a therapeutic method for treating nervous disorders, and 3) a growing body of research data (Deal and Beal, 2004). Feminism has interfaced differently with our religious and spiritual beliefs (Miller and Wieling, 2003). Whereas, Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) has focused on 1) formation of subject and the role of unconscious, and 2) radical reinterpretation of Freud and psychoanalysis in light of structuralism (Deal and Beal, 2004). Further, Marx stated that true human emancipation requires the freedom from religion rather than the freedom of religion (Liu, 2007). Barrett et al. (2005) have paid attention towards critical nature of minority and dominant group of the development of psychological and feminist theory. They contributed in intersection of race, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, immigration and experiences of women of colour, Latinas, migrants, lesbians and other subgroups of women.


The patriarchy relies on institution of fatherhood, ‘symbolic power’ within culture and the unconscious, specific relationship between father and daughter, nuclear family, and complex relationship between power and gender (Foord and Gregson, 1986, Mendes, 2011, Moghadam, 1992, Barrett et al., 2005, Antonijevic, 2011). Man has physical and ideological control over women’s sexuality and labour (Foord and Gregson, 1986, Moghadam, 1992). Women are discriminated, exploited, treated as mad, weak, slave, dependant, subjective, etc. Therefore, feminists focused on reconceptualising the basic concepts of society for gender equality, women’s emancipation and empowerment.

The first wave feminism emphasised on women’s emancipation and equality whereas second wave focused on female oppressions and struggled for women’s liberation and third wave on individual empowerment. 1) The Marxist feminism confined to united struggle for women’s rights, 2) The social feminism exposed the gender aspects of welfare state, 3) The liberal feminist struggled for the empowerment and public participation of women, 4) The individual feminism aimed at personal abilities of woman, 5) The career feminism inspired individual woman to free in a ‘World of Men’, 6) The global feminism insisted the boundary breaking activities for women’s empowerment and reorder the rules, 7) The radical feminists bounded entire change in social structure for equality, 8) The lesbian feminists denied the need of men for existence of woman, 9) The black feminist struggled for equalities within races and the Dalit for within castes, 10) The eco-feminist focused on environmental aspects and resources, 11) The womanism supported self-identity and -respect, 12) The cultural feminist and literature explained the cultural roots of discriminations and exploitations of women, however, 13) The existentialists were consciousness about interdependence.

Feminist studies have a wide scope in various fields Including literature, sociology, psychology, legitimacy, political sciences, educational sciences, economics, geography, theology, medical sciences, basic sciences, technology, administration, etc. The topics include: 1) subsistence struggles, 2) the politics of food, fuel, and firewood, 3) women’s health and reproductive freedom, 4) education for women and girls, 5) employment opportunity, equal pay, safe working conditions, 6) protection against sexual harassment - rape and domestic violence, 7) sexual trafficking, 8) women’s rights as human rights, 9) militarisation, 10) peacemaking, 11) environmentalism, 12) sustainable development, 13) democratisation, 14) welfare rights, AIDS, 15) parity in public office women’s e-news, 16) feminist journals and press, 17) curriculum revision, 18) feminist pedagogy, 19) feminist scholarship (Hawkesworth 2004), etc.

Feminist works need: 1) systematic research dimension with self-reflexivity, 2) sophistication and generalisation of theoretical work, 3) clarification of concepts and theories, 4) communication amongst women internationally, 5) examining contemporary research, 6) to find the major sources of feminist information including individuals, organisations, social and women’s history, and 7) to promote area-specific studies for geographic region and socio-cultural groups (Waterman, 1993). Thus, the field of feministic studies is active, challenging and important area of research for social welfare (Yanay-Ventura and Yanay, 2016).

Conflict of Interest

The author confirms that content in this article has no conflicts of interest.


The author thanks ‘Taylor and Francis Online’ for free article access under STAR [Special Terms for Authors and Researchers] support. The reviewers are also thanked for rigorous reviews and suggestions for better draft. This content is a part of the Ph.D. thesis.



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