Friday, November 9, 2012

Standpoint Theory Essay

Essay on The Standpoint Theory

The standpoint theory itself lies in the necessity to get along with the dominant class for the reasons of survival. Therefore, the feminist theory arose on the basis of the social reality vision developed by women as a subordinate group (Swigonski, 1994, 390). In the process of formation, the feminist standpoint theory was designed by women searching for the methods to survive in the men-dominant world.

Feminism being a social movement referred to postmodern trends originally relies on the theory that there exist no differences between the two sexes, female and male, except biological ones (Harding, 2008, 14). However, it is argued that women are sometimes distinguished within the social conditions only and this causes controversies in the standpoints, while racial, economical, and historical views are often neglected and not taken into consideration (Harding, 2004, 318-321; 2005).

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According to Swigonski (2004, 391-392), the main tenets of the standpoint are developed through researches that identify the power of point and possession of knowledge as the determinative factors in choosing a role in the struggle for the feminist rights and freedoms. Education is a less powerful factor for that its impact cannot be objectively evaluated. Everyday life, however, provides deeper guidance in the relevant issues of oppression and can be the most influential source of maintaining a standpoint, especially in cases where previous factors are not easily accessible. 
Primarily mentioned in the 18th century, the standpoint feminist theory was accurately observed in the 1960-70s with the development of class and labor definitions and dawn of women movements (Harding, 2008, 14-15; Swigonski, 1994, 390) but not only the rich ones as originally observed. Later in the 1970s, the issue of discrimination arose involving women of virtually all races, cultures, and ethnicities.
In 1970s, women searched for the means of fighting inequality and dominance of the opposite sex in all aspects of human life. From diverse points of view, the movement pursued different goals.    
The following debates disclose where strengthening of the movement and improvement of confidence among the participants were originated from (Harding, 2004, 318). However, the participants were not always able to refer to the global audience because of the way how the various concepts within the feminist standpoint theory were socially situated (Swigonski, 1994, 390). 
As a matter of fact, the standpoints of women with different backgrounds do not coincide so unification of their experiences often fails. From the epistemological point of view, there is likely to be a group with a common interest in order to be able to struggle for this interest productively. In practice, feminists do not always share the same standpoint, and this negatively reflects on the performance of the whole movement. Harding (2004, 321) finds the right description for this calling supporters as “women who do not make up the majority of feminist theorists”. The fragmentation in terms of strategies and approaches makes the movement less attractive by blurring its main goal and idea.     
One of the feminism debates takes place around the position of a woman in the society. It is primarily argued that woman’s functions in terms of modern society are narrowed down to keeping household and bringing up children (Harding, 2004, 318). However, historical background identifies namely such division of roles between sexes pointing at these female responsibilities as the basic ones. Universalism theory complements this idea but emphasizes on treating any human as of universal quality, namely equally.
The debates also concern the context of the standpoint interpretation. Only feminist analysis observes women as an oppressed category. Social approach refers to feminists as a minority segment along with national, sexual, and other minorities that also fall under the so-called oppression. The way how the minorities are treated is virtually the same but with the only distinction in the objectivity and form of presentation, Swigonski (1994, 390) points out.  
Another misconception lies in the distinction between political standpoints where “female” and “feminist” refer to somewhat different meanings identifying that a feminist can be a person of any sex (Harding, 2004, 318). Therefore, it is obvious that the concept of feminist involves not only women but men as well, and there are certainly male supporters of the movement.
Final important issue mentioned by Brooke (2004, 99) and Swigonski (1994, 391) lies in the controversies of feminist members within the same group called “outsiders within”. The whole group of individuals can potentially have several standpoints, which should either apply to different realities or damage the integral concept.
Concluding the aforementioned, I would like to point out that the key to success apparently lies in the uniformity of the standpoint. If the opinions of participants and suporters differ, there is less probability that this group or community will get along. 
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