Feminism brings many things to philosophy including not only a variety of particular moral and political claims, but ways of asking and answering questions, constructive and critical dialogue with mainstream philosophical views and methods, and new topics of inquiry. Feminist philosophers work within all the major traditions of philosophical scholarship including analytic philosophy, American Pragmatist philosophy, and Continential philosophy. Entries in this Encyclopedia appearing under the heading “feminism, approaches” discuss the impact of these traditions on feminist scholarship and examine the possibility and desirability of work that makes links between two traditions. Feminist contributions to and interventions in mainstream philosophical debates are covered in entries in this encyclopedia under “feminism, interventions”. Entries covered under the rubric “feminism, topics” concern philosophical issues that arise as feminists articulate accounts of sexism, critique sexist social and cultural practices, and develop alternative visions of a just world. In short, they are philosophical topics that arise within feminism.
Although there are many different and sometimes conflicting approaches to feminist philosophy, it is instructive to begin by asking what, if anything, feminists as a group are committed to. Considering some of the controversies over what feminism is provides a springboard for seeing how feminist commitments generate a host of philosophical topics, especially as those commitments confront the world as we know it.
2. What is Feminism?
2.1 Feminist Beliefs and Feminist Movements
The term ‘feminism’ has many different uses and its meanings are often contested. For example, some writers use the term ‘feminism’ to refer to a historically specific political movement in the US and Europe; other writers use it to refer to the belief that there are injustices against women, though there is no consensus on the exact list of these injustices. Although the term “feminism” has a history in English linked with women's activism from the late 19th century to the present, it is useful to distinguish feminist ideas or beliefs from feminist political movements, for even in periods where there has been no significant political activism around women's subordination, individuals have been concerned with and theorized about justice for women. So, for example, it makes sense to ask whether Plato was a feminist, given his view that women should be trained to rule (Republic, Book V), even though he was an exception in his historical context. (See e.g., Tuana 1994.)
Our goal here is not to survey the history of feminism — as a set of ideas or as a series of political movements — but rather is to sketch some of the central uses of the term that are most relevant to those interested in contemporary feminist philosophy. The references we provide below are only a small sample of the work available on the topics in question; more complete bibliographies are available at the specific topical entries and also at the end of this entry.
In the mid-1800s the term ‘feminism’ was used to refer to “the qualities of females”, and it was not until after the First International Women's Conference in Paris in 1892 that the term, following the French term féministe, was used regularly in English for a belief in and advocacy of equal rights for women based on the idea of the equality of the sexes. Although the term “feminism” in English is rooted in the mobilization for woman suffrage in Europe and the US during the late 19th and early 20th century, of course efforts to obtain justice for women did not begin or end with this period of activism. So some have found it useful to think of the women's movement in the US as occurring in “waves”. On the wave model, the struggle to achieve basic political rights during the period from the mid-19th century until the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 counts as “First Wave” feminism. Feminism waned between the two world wars, to be “revived” in the late 1960's and early 1970's as “Second Wave” feminism. In this second wave, feminists pushed beyond the early quest for political rights to fight for greater equality across the board, e.g., in education, the workplace, and at home. More recent transformations of feminism have resulted in a “Third Wave”. Third Wave feminists often critique Second Wave feminism for its lack of attention to the differences among women due to race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion (see Section 2.3 below; also Breines 2002; Spring 2002), and emphasize “identity” as a site of gender struggle. (For more information on the “wave” model and each of the “waves”, see Other Internet Resources.)
However, some feminist scholars object to identifying feminism with these particular moments of political activism, on the grounds that doing so eclipses the fact that there has been resistance to male domination that should be considered “feminist” throughout history and across cultures: i.e., feminism is not confined to a few (White) women in the West over the past century or so. Moreover, even considering only relatively recent efforts to resist male domination in Europe and the US, the emphasis on “First” and “Second” Wave feminism ignores the ongoing resistance to male domination between the 1920's and 1960's and the resistance outside mainstream politics, particularly by women of color and working class women (Cott 1987).
One strategy for solving these problems would be to identify feminism in terms of a set of ideas or beliefs rather than participation in any particular political movement. As we saw above, this also has the advantage of allowing us to locate isolated feminists whose work was not understood or appreciated during their time. But how should we go about identifying a core set of feminist beliefs? Some would suggest that we should focus on the political ideas that the term was apparently coined to capture, viz., the commitment to women's equal rights. This acknowledges that commitment to and advocacy for women's rights has not been confined to the Women's Liberation Movement in the West. But this too raises controversy, for it frames feminism within a broadly Liberal approach to political and economic life. Although most feminists would probably agree that there is some sense of “rights” on which achieving equal rights for women is a necessary condition for feminism to succeed, most would also argue that this would not be sufficient. This is because women's oppression under male domination rarely if ever consists solely in depriving women of political and legal “rights”, but also extends into the structure of our society and the content of our culture, and permeates our consciousness (e.g., Bartky 1990).
Is there any point, then, to asking what feminism is? Given the controversies over the term and the politics of circumscribing the boundaries of a social movement, it is sometimes tempting to think that the best we can do is to articulate a set of disjuncts that capture a range of feminist beliefs. However, at the same time it can be both intellectually and politically valuable to have a schematic framework that enables us to map at least some of our points of agreement and disagreement. We'll begin here by considering some of the basic elements of feminism as a political position or set of beliefs. For a survey of different philosophical approaches to feminism, see “Feminism, approaches to”.
2.2 Normative and Descriptive Components
In many of its forms, feminism seems to involve at least two groups of claims, one normative and the other descriptive. The normative claims concern how women ought (or ought not) to be viewed and treated and draw on a background conception of justice or broad moral position; the descriptive claims concern how women are, as a matter of fact, viewed and treated, alleging that they are not being treated in accordance with the standards of justice or morality invoked in the normative claims. Together the normative and descriptive claims provide reasons for working to change the way things are; hence, feminism is not just an intellectual but also a political movement.
So, for example, a Liberal approach of the kind already mentioned might define feminism (rather simplistically here) in terms of two claims:
- (Normative) Men and women are entitled to equal rights and respect.
- (Descriptive) Women are currently disadvantaged with respect to rights and respect, compared with men […in such and such respects and due to such and such conditions…].
On this account, that women and men ought to have equal rights and respect is the normative claim; and that women are denied equal rights and respect functions here as the descriptive claim. Admittedly, the claim that women are disadvantaged with respect to rights and respect is not a “purely descriptive” claim since it plausibly involves an evaluative component. However, our point here is simply that claims of this sort concern what is the case not what ought to be the case. Moreover, as indicated by the ellipsis above, the descriptive component of a substantive feminist view will not be articulable in a single claim, but will involve an account of the specific social mechanisms that deprive women of, e.g., rights and respect. For example, is the primary source of women's subordination her role in the family? (Engels 1845; Okin 1989) Or is it her role in the labor market? (Bergmann 2002) Is the problem males' tendencies to sexual violence (and what is the source of these tendencies?)? (Brownmiller 1975; MacKinnon 1987) Or is it simply women's biological role in reproduction? (Firestone 1970)
Disagreements within feminism can occur with respect to either the descriptive or normative claims, e.g., feminists differ on what would count as justice or injustice for women (what counts as “equality,” “oppression,” “disadvantage”, what rights should everyone be accorded?) , and what sorts of injustice women in fact suffer (what aspects of women's current situation are harmful or unjust?). Disagreements may also lie in the explanations of the injustice: two feminists may agree that women are unjustly being denied proper rights and respect and yet substantively differ in their accounts of how or why the injustice occurs and what is required to end it (Jaggar 1994).
Disagreements between feminists and non-feminists can occur with respect to both the normative and descriptive claims as well, e.g., some non-feminists agree with feminists on the ways women ought to be viewed and treated, but don't see any problem with the way things currently are. Others disagree about the background moral or political views.
In an effort to suggest a schematic account of feminism, Susan James characterizes feminism as follows:
Feminism is grounded on the belief that women are oppressed or disadvantaged by comparison with men, and that their oppression is in some way illegitimate or unjustified. Under the umbrella of this general characterization there are, however, many interpretations of women and their oppression, so that it is a mistake to think of feminism as a single philosophical doctrine, or as implying an agreed political program. (James 1998, 576)
James seems here to be using the notions of “oppression” and “disadvantage” as placeholders for more substantive accounts of injustice (both normative and descriptive) over which feminists disagree.
Some might prefer to define feminism in terms of a normative claim alone: feminists are those who believe that women are entitled to equal rights, or equal respect, or…(fill in the blank with one's preferred account of injustice), and one is not required to believe that women are currently being treated unjustly. However, if we were to adopt this terminological convention, it would be harder to identify some of the interesting sources of disagreement both with and within feminism, and the term ‘feminism’ would lose much of its potential to unite those whose concerns and commitments extend beyond their moral beliefs to their social interpretations and political affiliations. Feminists are not simply those who are committed in principle to justice for women; feminists take themselves to have reasons to bring about social change on women's behalf.
Taking “feminism” to entail both normative and empirical commitments also helps make sense of some uses of the term ‘feminism’ in recent popular discourse. In everyday conversation it is not uncommon to find both men and women prefixing a comment they might make about women with the caveat, “I'm not a feminist, but…”. Of course this qualification might be (and is) used for various purposes, but one persistent usage seems to follow the qualification with some claim that is hard to distinguish from claims that feminists are wont to make. E.g., I'm not a feminist but I believe that women should earn equal pay for equal work; or I'm not a feminist but I'm delighted that first-rate women basketball players are finally getting some recognition in the WNBA. If we see the identification “feminist” as implicitly committing one to both a normative stance about how things should be and an interpretation of current conditions, it is easy to imagine someone being in the position of wanting to cancel his or her endorsement of either the normative or the descriptive claim. So, e.g., one might be willing to acknowledge that there are cases where women have been disadvantaged without wanting to buy any broad moral theory that takes a stance on such things (especially where it is unclear what that broad theory is). Or one might be willing to acknowledge in a very general way that equality for women is a good thing, without being committed to interpreting particular everyday situations as unjust (especially if is unclear how far these interpretations would have to extend). Feminists, however, at least according to popular discourse, are ready to both adopt a broad account of what justice for women would require and interpret everyday situations as unjust by the standards of that account. Those who explicitly cancel their commitment to feminism may then be happy to endorse some part of the view but are unwilling to endorse what they find to be a problematic package.
As mentioned above, there is considerable debate within feminism concerning the normative question: what would count as (full) justice for women? What is the nature of the wrong that feminism seeks to address? E.g., is the wrong that women have been deprived equal rights? Is it that women have been denied equal respect for their differences? Is it that women's experiences have been ignored and devalued? Is it all of the above and more? What framework should we employ to identify and address the issues? (See, e.g., Jaggar 1983; Young 1990a; Tuana and Tong 1995.) Feminist philosophers in particular have asked: Do the standard philosophical accounts of justice and morality provide us adequate resources to theorize male domination, or do we need distinctively feminist accounts? (E.g., Okin 1979; Hoagland 1989; Okin 1989; Ruddick 1989; Benhabib 1992; Hampton 1993; Held 1993; Tong 1993; Baier 1994; Moody-Adams 1997; Walker 1998; Kittay 1999; Robinson 1999; Young 2011; O'Connor 2008).
Note, however, that by phrasing the task as one of identifying the wrongs women suffer (and have suffered), there is an implicit suggestion that women as a group can be usefully compared against men as a group with respect to their standing or position in society; and this seems to suggest that women as a group are treated in the same way, or that they all suffer the same injustices, and men as a group all reap the same advantages. But of course this is not the case, or at least not straightforwardly so. As bell hooks so vividly pointed out, in 1963 when Betty Friedan urged women to reconsider the role of housewife and demanded greater opportunities for women to enter the workforce (Friedan 1963), Friedan was not speaking for working class women or most women of color (hooks 1984, 1-4). Neither was she speaking for lesbians. Women as a group experience many different forms of injustice, and the sexism they encounter interacts in complex ways with other systems of oppression. In contemporary terms, this is known as the problem of intersectionality (Crenshaw 1991). This critique has led some theorists to resist the label “feminism” and adopt a different name for their view. Earlier, during the 1860s–80s, the term ‘womanism’ had sometimes been used for such intellectual and political commitments; more recently, Alice Walker has proposed that “womanism” provides a contemporary alternative to “feminism” that better addresses the needs of Black women and women of color more generally (Walker 1990).
2.3 Feminism and the Diversity of Women
To consider some of the different strategies for responding to the phenomenon of intersectionality, let's return to the schematic claims that women are oppressed and this oppression is wrong or unjust. Very broadly, then, one might characterize the goal of feminism to be ending the oppression of women. But if we also acknowledge that women are oppressed not just by sexism, but in many ways, e.g., by classism, homophobia, racism, ageism, ableism, etc., then it might seem that the goal of feminism is to end all oppression that affects women. And some feminists have adopted this interpretation, e.g., (Ware 1970), quoted in (Crow 2000, 1).
Note, however, that not all agree with such an expansive definition of feminism. One might agree that feminists ought to work to end all forms of oppression — oppression is unjust and feminists, like everyone else, have a moral obligation to fight injustice — without maintaining that it is the mission of feminism to end all oppression. One might even believe that in order to accomplish feminism's goals it is necessary to combat racism and economic exploitation, but also think that there is a narrower set of specifically feminist objectives. In other words, opposing oppression in its many forms may be instrumental to, even a necessary means to, feminism, but not intrinsic to it. E.g., bell hooks argues:
Feminism, as liberation struggle, must exist apart from and as a part of the larger struggle to eradicate domination in all its forms. We must understand that patriarchal domination shares an ideological foundation with racism and other forms of group oppression, and that there is no hope that it can be eradicated while these systems remain intact. This knowledge should consistently inform the direction of feminist theory and practice. (hooks 1989, 22)
On hooks' account, the defining characteristic that distinguishes feminism from other liberation struggles is its concern with sexism:
Unlike many feminist comrades, I believe women and men must share a common understanding — a basic knowledge of what feminism is — if it is ever to be a powerful mass-based political movement. In Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, I suggest that defining feminism broadly as “a movement to end sexism and sexist oppression” would enable us to have a common political goal…Sharing a common goal does not imply that women and men will not have radically divergent perspectives on how that goal might be reached. (hooks 1989, 23)
hooks' approach depends on the claim that sexism is a particular form of oppression that can be distinguished from other forms, e.g., racism and homophobia, even though it is currently (and virtually always) interlocked with other forms of oppression. Feminism's objective is to end sexism, though because of its relation to other forms of oppression, this will require efforts to end other forms of oppression as well. For example, feminists who themselves remain racists will not be able to fully appreciate the broad impact of sexism on the lives of women of color. Furthermore because sexist institutions are also, e.g., racist, classist and homophobic, dismantling sexist institutions will require that we dismantle the other forms of domination intertwined with them (Heldke and O'Connor 2004). Following hooks' lead, we might characterize feminism schematically (allowing the schema to be filled in differently by different accounts) as the view that women are subject to sexist oppression and that this is wrong. This move shifts the burden of our inquiry from a characterization of what feminism is to a characterization of what sexism, or sexist oppression is.
As mentioned above, there are a variety of interpretations — feminist and otherwise — of what exactly oppression consists in, but the leading idea is that oppression consists in “an enclosing structure of forces and barriers which tends to the immobilization and reduction of a group or category of people” (Frye 1983, 10-11). Not just any “enclosing structure” is oppressive, however, for plausibly any process of socialization will create a structure that both limits and enables all individuals who live within it. In the case of oppression, however, the “enclosing structures” in question are part of a broader system that asymmetrically and unjustly disadvantages one group and benefits another. So, e.g., although sexism restricts the opportunities available to — and so unquestionably harms — both men and women (and considering some pairwise comparisons may even have a greater negative impact on a man than a woman), overall, women as a group unjustly suffer the greater harm. It is a crucial feature of contemporary accounts, however, that one cannot assume that members of the privileged group have intentionally designed or maintained the system for their benefit. The oppressive structure may be the result of an historical process whose originators are long gone, or it may be the unintended result of complex cooperative strategies gone wrong.
Leaving aside (at least for the moment) further details in the account of oppression, the question remains: What makes a particular form of oppression sexist? If we just say that a form of oppression counts as sexist oppression if it harms women, or even primarily harms women, this is not enough to distinguish it from other forms of oppression. Virtually all forms of oppression harm women, and arguably some besides sexism harm women primarily (though not exclusively), e.g., body size oppression, age oppression. Besides, as we've noted before, sexism is not only harmful to women, but is harmful to all of us.
What makes a particular form of oppression sexist seems to be not just that it harms women, but that someone is subject to this form of oppression specifically because she is (or at least appears to be) a woman. Racial oppression harms women, but racial oppression (by itself) doesn't harm them because they are women, it harms them because they are (or appear to be) members of a particular race. The suggestion that sexist oppression consists in oppression to which one is subject by virtue of being or appearing to be a woman provides us at least the beginnings of an analytical tool for distinguishing subordinating structures that happen to affect some or even all women from those that are more specifically sexist (Haslanger 2004). But problems and unclarities remain.
First, we need to explicate further what it means to be oppressed “because you are a woman”. E.g., is the idea that there is a particular form of oppression that is specific to women? Is to be oppressed “as a woman” to be oppressed in a particular way? Or can we be pluralists about what sexist oppression consists in without fragmenting the notion beyond usefulness?
Two strategies for explicating sexist oppression have proven to be problematic. The first is to maintain that there is a form of oppression common to all women. For example, one might interpret Catharine MacKinnon's work as claiming that to be oppressed as a woman is to be viewed and treated as sexually subordinate, where this claim is grounded in the (alleged) universal fact of the eroticization of male dominance and female submission (MacKinnon 1987; MacKinnon 1989). Although MacKinnon allows that sexual subordination can happen in a myriad of ways, her account is monistic in its attempt to unite the different forms of sexist oppression around a single core account that makes sexual objectification the focus. Although MacKinnon's work provides a powerful resource for analyzing women's subordination, many have argued that it is too narrow, e.g., in some contexts (especially in developing countries) sexist oppression seems to concern more the local division of labor and economic exploitation. Although certainly sexual subordination is a factor in sexist oppression, it requires us to fabricate implausible explanations of social life to suppose that all divisions of labor that exploit women (as women) stem from the “eroticization of dominance and submission”. Moreover, it isn't obvious that in order to make sense of sexist oppression we need to seek a single form of oppression common to all women.
A second problematic strategy has been to consider as paradigms those who are oppressed only as women, with the thought that complex cases bringing in additional forms of oppression will obscure what is distinctive of sexist oppression. This strategy would have us focus in the U.S. on White, wealthy, young, beautiful, able-bodied, heterosexual women to determine what oppression, if any, they suffer, with the hope of finding sexism in its “purest” form, unmixed with racism or homophobia, etc. (see Spelman 1988, 52-54). This approach is not only flawed in its exclusion of all but the most elite women in its paradigm, but it assumes that privilege in other areas does not affect the phenomenon under consideration. As Elizabeth Spelman makes the point:
…no woman is subject to any form of oppression simply because she is a woman; which forms of oppression she is subject to depend on what “kind” of woman she is. In a world in which a woman might be subject to racism, classism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, if she is not so subject it is because of her race, class, religion, sexual orientation. So it can never be the case that the treatment of a woman has only to do with her gender and nothing to do with her class or race. (Spelman 1988, 52-3)
Recent accounts of oppression are designed to allow that oppression takes many forms, and refuse to identify one form as more basic or fundamental than the rest. For example, Iris Young describes five “faces” of oppression: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and systematic violence (Young 1990c, Ch. 2). Plausibly others should be added to the list. Sexist or racist oppression, for example, will manifest itself in different ways in different contexts, e.g., in some contexts through systematic violence, in other contexts through economic exploitation. Acknowledging this does not go quite far enough, however, for monistic theorists such as MacKinnon could grant this much. Pluralist accounts of sexist oppression must also allow that there isn't an over-arching explanation of sexist oppression that applies to all its forms: in some cases it may be that women's oppression as women is due to the eroticization of male dominance, but in other cases it may be better explained by women's reproductive value in establishing kinship structures (Rubin 1975), or by the shifting demands of globalization within an ethnically stratified workplace. In other words, pluralists resist the temptation to “grand social theory,” “overarching metanarratives,” “monocausal explanations,” to allow that the explanation of sexism in a particular historical context will rely on economic, political, legal, and cultural factors that are specific to that context which would prevent the account from being generalized to all instances of sexism (Fraser and Nicholson 1990). It is still compatible with pluralist methods to seek out patterns in women's social positions and structural explanations within and across social contexts, but in doing so we must be highly sensitive to historical and cultural variation.
2.4 Feminism as Anti-Sexism
However, if we pursue a pluralist strategy in understanding sexist oppression, what unifies all the instances as instances of sexism? After all, we cannot assume that the oppression in question takes the same form in different contexts, and we cannot assume that there is an underlying explanation of the different ways it manifests itself. So can we even speak of there being a unified set of cases — something we can call “sexist oppression” — at all?
Some feminists would urge us to recognize that there isn't a systematic way to unify the different instances of sexism, and correspondingly, there is no systematic unity in what counts as feminism: instead we should see the basis for feminist unity in coalition building (Reagon 1983). Different groups work to combat different forms of oppression; some groups take oppression against women (as women) as a primary concern. If there is a basis for cooperation between some subset of these groups in a given context, then finding that basis is an accomplishment, but should not be taken for granted.
An alternative, however, would be to grant that in practice unity among feminists cannot be taken for granted, but to begin with a theoretical common-ground among feminist views that does not assume that sexism appears in the same form or for the same reasons in all contexts. We saw above that one promising strategy for distinguishing sexism from racism, classism, and other forms of injustice is to focus on the idea that if an individual is suffering sexist oppression, then an important part of the explanation why she is subject to the injustice is that she is or appears to be a woman. This includes cases in which women as a group are explicitly targeted by a policy or a practice, but also includes cases where the policy or practice affects women due to a history of sexism, even if they are not explicitly targeted. For example, if women are deprived an education and so are, on the whole, illiterate. And if under these circumstances only those who are literate are entitled to vote. Then we can say that women as a group are being disenfranchised and that this is a form of sexist oppression because part of the explanation of why women cannot vote is that they are women, and women are deprived an education. The commonality among the cases is to be found in the role of gender in the explanation of the injustice rather than the specific form the injustice takes. Building on this we could unify a broad range of feminist views by seeing them as committed to the (very abstract) claims that:
- (Descriptive claim) Women, and those who appear to be women, are subjected to wrongs and/or injustice at least in part because they are or appear to be women.
- (Normative claim) The wrongs/injustices in question in (i) ought not to occur and should be stopped when and where they do.
We have so far been using the term ‘oppression’ loosely to cover whatever form of wrong or injustice is at issue. Continuing with this intentional openness in the exact nature of the wrong, the question still remains what it means to say that women are subjected to injustice because they are women. To address this question, it may help to consider a familiar ambiguity in the notion “because”: are we concerned here with causal explanations or justifications? On one hand, the claim that someone is oppressed because she is a woman suggests that the best (causal) explanation of the subordination in question will make reference to her sex: e.g., Paula is subject to sexist oppression on the job because the best explanation of why she makes $1.00 less an hour for doing comparable work as Paul makes reference to her sex (possibly in addition to her race or other social classifications). On the other hand, the claim that someone is oppressed because she is a woman suggests that the rationale or basis for the oppressive structures requires that one be sensitive to someone's sex in determining how they should be viewed and treated, i.e., that the justification for someone's being subject to the structures in question depends on a representation of them as sexed male or female. E.g., Paula is subject to sexist oppression on the job because the pay scale for her job classification is justified within a framework that distinguishes and devalues women's work compared with men's.
Note, however, that in both sorts of cases the fact that one is or appears to be a woman need not be the only factor relevant in explaining the injustice. It might be, for example, that one stands out in a group because of one's race, or one's class, or one's sexuality, and because one stands out one becomes a target for injustice. But if the injustice takes a form that, e.g., is regarded as especially apt for a woman, then the injustice should be understood intersectionally, i.e., as a response to an intersectional category. For example, the practice of raping Bosnian women was an intersectional injustice: it targeted them both because they were Bosnian and because they were women.
Of course, these two understandings of being oppressed because you are a woman are not incompatible; in fact they typically support one another. Because human actions are often best explained by the framework employed for justifying them, one's sex may play a large role in determining how one is treated because the background understandings for what's appropriate treatment draw invidious distinctions between the sexes. In other words, the causal mechanism for sexism often passes through problematic representations of women and gender roles.
In each of the cases of being oppressed as a woman mentioned above, Paula suffers injustice, but a crucial factor in explaining the injustice is that Paula is a member of a particular group, viz., women (or females). This, we think, is crucial in understanding why sexism (and racism, and other -isms) are most often understood as kinds of oppression. Oppression is injustice that, first and foremost, concerns groups; individuals are oppressed just in case they are subjected to injustice because of their group membership. On this view, to claim that women as women suffer injustice is to claim that women are oppressed.
Where does this leave us? ‘Feminism’ is an umbrella term for a range of views about injustices against women. There are disagreements among feminists about the nature of justice in general and the nature of sexism, in particular, the specific kinds of injustice or wrong women suffer; and the group who should be the primary focus of feminist efforts. Nonetheless, feminists are committed to bringing about social change to end injustice against women, in particular, injustice against women as women.
3. Topics in Feminism: Overview of the Encyclopedia Sub-Entries
Given a schematic framework for considering different forms of feminism, it should be clearer how philosophical issues arise in working out the details of a feminist position. The most straightforward philosophical commitment will be to a normative theory that articulates an account of justice and/or an account of the good. Feminists have been involved in critiquing existing normative theories and articulating alternatives for some time now. A survey of some of this work can be found under “Feminism, interventions”, in the sub-entries within “Feminist Political Philosophy”, viz., Liberal Feminism, Materialist Feminism, and Radical Feminism. (See also Hampton 1993; Jaggar 1983; Kittay 1999; MacKinnon 1989; Nussbaum 1999; Okin 1979; Okin 1989; Pateman 1988; Schneir 1972; Schneir 1994; Silvers 1999; Young 1990.)
However, there is also important philosophical work to be done in what we have been calling the “descriptive” component of feminism. Careful critical attention to our practices can reveal the inadequacy of dominant philosophical tropes. For example, feminists working from the perspective of women's lives have been influential in bringing philosophical attention to the phenomenon of care and care-giving (Ruddick 1989; Held 1995; Held 2007; Hamington 2006), dependency (Kittay 1999), disability (Wilkerson 2002; Carlson 2009) women's labor (Waring 1999; Delphy 1984; Harley 2007), scientific bias and objectivity (Longino 1990), and have revealed weaknesses in existing ethical, political, and epistemological theories. More generally, feminists have called for inquiry into what are typically considered “private” practices and personal concerns, such as the family, sexuality, the body, to balance what has seemed to be a masculine pre-occupation with “public” and impersonal matters. Philosophy presupposes interpretive tools for understanding our everyday lives; feminist work in articulating additional dimensions of experience and aspects of our practices is invaluable in demonstrating the bias in existing tools, and in the search for better ones.
Feminist explanations of sexism and accounts of sexist practices also raise issues that are within the domain of traditional philosophical inquiry. For example, in thinking about care, feminists have asked questions about the nature of the self; in thinking about gender, feminists have asked what the relationship is between the natural and the social; in thinking about sexism in science, feminists have asked what should count as knowledge. In some such cases mainstream philosophical accounts provide useful tools; in other cases, alternative proposals have seemed more promising.
In the sub-entries included under “feminism (topics)” in the Table of Contents to this Encyclopedia, authors survey some of the recent feminist work on a topic, highlighting the issues that are of particular relevance to philosophy. These entries are:
See also the entries in the Related Entries section below.
- Alexander, M. Jacqui and Lisa Albrecht, eds. 1998. The Third Wave: Feminist Perspectives on Racism, New York: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press.
- Anderson, Elizabeth. 1999. “What is the Point of Equality?” Ethics, 109(2): 287-337.
- Anzaldúa, Gloria, ed. 1990. Making Face, Making Soul: Haciendo Caras, San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books.
- Baier, Annette C. 1994. Moral Prejudices: Essays on Ethics, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Barker, Drucilla and Edith Kuiper. 2010 Feminist Economics, New York: Routledge.
- Barrett, Michèle. 1991. The Politics of Truth: From Marx to Foucault, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
- Bartky, Sandra. 1990. “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power.” In her Femininity and Domination, New York: Routledge, 63-82.
- Basu, Amrita. 1995. The Challenge of Local Feminisms: Women's Movements in Global Perspective, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
- Baumgardner, Jennifer and Amy Richards. 2000. Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
- Beauvoir, Simone de. 1974 (1952). The Second Sex, Trans. and Ed. H. M. Parshley. New York: Vintage Books.
- Benhabib, Seyla. 1992. Situating the Self: Gender, Community, and Postmodernism in Contemporary Ethics, New York: Routledge.
- Bergmann, Barbara. 2002. The Economic Emergence of Women (Second edition) New York: Palgrave, St. Martin's Press.
- Breines, Wini. 2002. “What's Love Got to Do with It? White Women, Black Women, and Feminism in the Movement Years,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 27(4): 1-095-1133.
- Brownmiller, Susan. 1975. Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, New York: Bantam.
- Calhoun, Cheshire. 2000. Feminism, the Family, and the Politics of the Closet: Lesbian and Gay Displacement, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- –––. 1989. “Responsibility and Reproach.” Ethics, 99(2): 389-406.
- Campbell, Sue, hetitia Meynell and Susan Sherwin. 2009. Embodiment and Agency, University Park, PA: Penn State Press.
- Carlson, Licia. 2009. The Faces of Intellectual Disability: Philosophical Reflections, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
- Collins, Patricia Hill. 1990. Black Feminist Thought, Boston, MA: Unwin Hyman.
- Cott, Nancy. 1987. The Grounding of Modern Feminism, New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Crenshaw, Kimberlé. 1991. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review, 43(6): 1241-1299.
- Crenshaw, Kimberlé, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller and Kendall Thomas. 1995. “Introduction.” In Critical Race Theory, ed., Kimberle Crenshaw, et al. New York: The New Press, xiii-xxxii.
- Crow, Barbara. 2000. Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader, New York: New York University Press.
- Davis, Angela. 1983. Women, Race and Class, New York: Random House.
- Davis, Lennard J. 2010. The Disability Studies Reader, 3rd edition. New York: Routledge.
- Delmar, Rosalind. 2001. “What is Feminism?” In Theorizing Feminism, ed., Anne C. Hermann and Abigail J. Stewart. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 5-28.
- Delphy, Christine. 1984. Close to Home: A Materialist Analysis of Women's Oppression, Trans. Diane Leonard. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
- Duplessis, Rachel Blau, and Ann Snitow, eds. 1998. The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women's Liberation, New York: Random House (Crown Publishing).
- Dutt, M. 1998. “Reclaiming a Human Rights Culture: Feminism of Difference and Alliance.” In Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age, ed., Ella Shohat. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 225-246.
- Echols, Alice. 1990. Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-75, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
- Engels, Friedrich. 1972 (1845). The Origin of The Family, Private Property, and the State, New York: International Publishers.
- Enloe, Cynthia. 2007. Globalization and Militarism: Feminists Make the Link, hanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
- Farr, Kathryn. 2004. Sex Trafficking: The Global Market in Women and Children, New York: Worth Publishing.
- Findlen, Barbara. 2001. Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation, 2nd edition. Seattle, WA: Seal Press.
- Fine, Michelle and Adrienne Asch, eds. 1988. Women with Disabilities: Essays in Psychology, Culture, and Politics, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
- Firestone, Shulamith. 1970. The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution, New York: Bantam.
- Folbre, Nancy. 2010. Greed, Lust, and Gender: A History of Economic Ideas, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Fraser, Nancy and Linda Nicholson. 1990. “Social Criticism Without Philosophy: An Encounter Between Feminism and Postmodernism.” In Feminism/Postmodernism, ed., Linda Nicholson. New York: Routledge.
- Friedan, Betty. 1963. The Feminine Mystique, New York: Norton.
- Frye, Marilyn. 1983. The Politics of Reality, Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press.
- Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. 1997. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature, New York: Columbia University Press.
- Green, Joyce, ed. 2007. Making Space for Indigenous Feminism, London: Zed Books.
- Grewal, I. 1998. “On the New Global Feminism and the Family of Nations: Dilemmas of Transnational Feminist Practice.” In Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age, ed., Ella Shohat. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 501-530.
- Hamington, Maurice. 2006. Socializing Care: Feminist Ethics and Public Issuses, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
- Hampton, Jean. 1993. “Feminist Contractarianism,” in Louise M. Antony and Charlotte Witt, eds. A Mind of One's Own: Feminist Essays on Reason and Objectivity, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
- Harley, Sharon ed. 2007. Women's Labor in the Global Economy: Speaking in Multiple Voices, New Burnswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
- Haslanger, Sally. 2004. “Oppressions: Racial and Other.” In Racism, Philosophy and Mind: Philosophical Explanations of Racism and Its Implications, ed., Michael Levine and Tamas Pataki. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
- Held, Virginia. 1995. Justice and Care: Essential Readings in Feminist Ethics, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
- –––. 1993. Feminist Morality: Transforming Culture, Society, and Politics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Held, Virgina. 2007. The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political, Global, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Heldke, Lisa and Peg O'Connor, eds. 2004. Oppression, Privilege, and Resistance: Theoretical Perspectives on Racism, Sexism, and Heterosexism, New York: McGraw Hill.
- Hernandez, Daisy and Bushra Rehman. 2002. Colonize This! Young Women of Color in Today's Feminism. , Berkeley: Seal Press.
- Herrman, Anne C. and Abigail J. Stewart, eds. 1994. Theorizing Feminism: Parallel Trends in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
- Heywood, Leslie and Jennifer Drake, eds. 1997. Third Wave Agenda: Being Feminist, Doing Feminism,
- Hillyer, Barbara. 1993. Feminism and Disability, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
- Hoagland, Sarah L. 1989. Lesbian Ethics: Toward New Values, Palo Alto, CA: Institute for Lesbian Studies.
- hooks, bell. 1989. Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black, Boston: South End Press.
- –––. 1984. Feminist Theory from Margin to Center, Boston: South End Press.
- –––. 1981. Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, Boston: South End Press.
- Hurtado, Aída. 1996. The Color of Privilege: Three Blasphemies on Race and Feminism, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
- Jaggar, Alison M. 1983. Feminist Politics and Human Nature, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
- Jaggar, Alison M. 1994. Controversies within Feminist Social Ethics, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
- James, Susan. 1998. “Feminism.” In Edward Craig (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. 10. London: Routledge, p. 576.
- Kempadoo, Kamala, ed. 2005. Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work, and Human Rights, Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.
- Kiss, Elizabeth. 1995. “Feminism and Rights.” Dissent, 42(3): 342-347
- Kittay, Eva Feder. 1999. Love's Labor: Essays on Women, Equality and Dependency, New York: Routledge.
- Kymlicka, Will. 1989. Liberalism, Community and Culture, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Longino, Helen. 1990. Science as Social Knowledge Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Mackenzie, Catriona and Natalie Stoljar, eds. 2000. Relational Autonomy: Feminist perspectives on Autonomy, Agency and the Social Self, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- MacKinnon, Catharine. 1989. Towards a Feminist Theory of the State, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- –––. 1987. Feminism Unmodified, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Maturi, Ellen, ed. 2003. Women and the Economy: An Economic Reader, New York: M.E. Sharpe.
- McRuer, Robert and Abby Wilkerson, eds. 2003. “Desiring Disability: Queer Theory Meets Disability Studies.” Special Issue Gay and Lesbian Quarterly, 9. 1-2.
- Moghadam, Valentine M. 2005. Globalizing Women: Transnational Feminist Networks, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.
- Mohanty, Chandra, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres, eds. 1991. Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
- Molyneux, Maxine and Nikki Craske, eds. 2001. Gender and the Politics of Rights and Democracy in Latin America, Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan.
- Moody-Adams, Michele. 1997. Fieldwork in Familiar Places: Morality, Culture and Philosophy, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
- Moraga, Cherrie. 2000. “From a Long Line of Vendidas: Chicanas and Feminism.” In her Loving in the War Years, 2nd edition. Boston: South End Press.
- Moraga, Cherrie and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds. 1981. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings of Radical Women of Color, Watertown, MA: Persephone Press.
- Narayan, Uma. 1997. Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions, and Third World Feminism, New York: Routledge.
- Nussbaum, Martha. 1995. “Human Capabilities, Female Human Beings.” In Women, Culture and Development : A Study of Human Capabilities, ed., Martha Nussbaum and Jonathan Glover. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 61-104.
- –––. 1999. Sex and Social Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- O'Brien, Mary. 1979. “Reproducing Marxist Man.” In The Sexism of Social and Political Theory: Women and Reproduction from Plato to Nietzsche, ed., Lorenne M. G. Clark and Lynda Lange. Toronto: Toronto University Press, 99-116. Reprinted in (Tuana and Tong 1995: 91-103).
- O'Connor, Peg. 2008. Morality and Our Complicated Form of Life: Feminist Wittgensteinian Metaethics, University Park, PA: Penn State Press.
- Ong, Aihwa. 1988. “Colonialism and Modernity: Feminist Re-presentation of Women in Non-Western Societies.” Inscriptions, 3(4): 90. Also in (Herrman and Stewart 1994).
- Okin, Susan Moller. 1989. Justice, Gender, and the Family, New York: Basic Books.
- –––. 1979. Women in Western Political Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Pateman, Carole. 1988. The Sexual Contract, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
- Reagon, Bernice Johnson. 1983. “Coalition Politics: Turning the Century.” In: Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology, ed. Barbara Smith. New York: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, 356-368.
- Robinson, Fiona. 1999. Globalizing Care: Ethics, Feminist Theory, and International Affairs, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
- Rubin, Gayle. 1975. “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ”Political Economy“ of Sex.” In Towards an Anthropology of Women, ed., Rayna Rapp Reiter. New York: Monthly Review Press, 157-210.
- Ruddick, Sara. 1989. Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace, Boston: Beacon Press.
- Schneir, Miriam, ed. 1994. Feminism in Our Time: The Essential Writings, World War II to the Present, New York: Vintage Books.
- –––. 1972. Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings, New York: Vintage Books.
- Scott, Joan W. 1988. “Deconstructing Equality-Versus-Difference: or The Uses of Poststructuralist Theory for Feminism.” Feminist Studies, 14 (1): 33-50.
- Silvers, Anita, David Wasserman, Mary Mahowald. 1999. Disability, Difference, Discrimination: Perspectives on Justice in Bioethics and Public Policy, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield.
- Simpson, J. A. and E. S. C. Weiner, ed., 1989. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press. OED Online. Oxford University Press. “feminism, n1” (1851).
- Snitow, Ann. 1990. “A Gender Diary.” In Conflicts in Feminism, ed. M. Hirsch and E. Fox Keller. New York: Routledge, 9-43.
- Spelman, Elizabeth. 1988. The Inessential Woman, Boston: Beacon Press.
- Springer, Kimberly. 2002. “Third Wave Black Feminism?” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 27(4): 1060-1082
- Tanner, Leslie B. 1970 Voices From Women's Liberation, New York: New American Library (A Mentor Book).
- Taylor, Vesta and Leila J. Rupp. 1996. “Lesbian Existence and the Women's Movement: Researching the ‘Lavender Herring’.” In Feminism and Social Change, ed. Heidi Gottfried. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.
- Tong, Rosemarie. 1993. Feminine and Feminist Ethics, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
- Tuana, Nancy and Rosemarie Tong, eds. 1995. Feminism and Philosophy, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
- Walker, Alice. 1990. “Definition of Womanist,” In Making Face, Making Soul: Haciendo Caras, ed., Gloria Anzaldúa. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 370.
- Walker, Margaret Urban. 1998. Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics, New York: Routledge.
- –––, ed. 1999. Mother Time: Women, Aging, and Ethics, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
- Walker, Rebecca, ed. 1995. To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism, New York: Random House (Anchor Books).
- Ware, Cellestine. 1970. Woman Power: The Movement for Women's Liberation, New York: Tower Publications.
- Waring, Marilyn. 1999. Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women Are Worth, Second edition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
- Weisberg, D. Kelly, ed. 1993. Feminist Legal Theory: Foundations, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
- Wendell, Susan. 1996. The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability, New York and London: Routledge.
- Wilkerson, Abby. 2002. “Disability, Sex Radicalism, and the Problem of Political Agency.” NWSA Journal, 14.3: 33-57.
- Young, Iris. 1990a. “Humanism, Gynocentrism and Feminist Politics.” In Throwing Like A Girl, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 73-91.
- Young, Iris. 1990b. “Socialist Feminism and the Limits of Dual Systems Theory.” In her Throwing Like a Girl and Other Essays in Feminist Philosophy and Social Theory, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
- –––. 1990c. Justice and the Politics of Difference, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
- Young, Iris. 2011. Responsibility for Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Zophy, Angela Howard. 1990. “Feminism.” In The Handbook of American Women's History, ed., Angela Howard Zophy and Frances M. Kavenik. New York: Routledge (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities).
Other Internet Resources
Resources listed below have been chosen to provide only a springboard into the huge amount of feminist material available on the web. The emphasis here is on general resources useful for doing research in feminist philosophy or interdisciplinary feminist theory, e.g., the links connect to bibliographies and meta-sites, and resources concerning inclusion, exclusion, and feminist diversity. The list is incomplete and will be regularly revised and expanded. Further resources on topics in feminism such as popular culture, reproductive rights, sex work, are available within each sub-entry on that topic.
“Waves” of Feminism
Feminism and Class
Marxist, Socialist, and Materialist Feminisms
Women and Labor
Feminism and Disability
Feminism, Human Rights, Global Feminism, and Human Trafficking
Feminism and Race/Ethnicity
African-American/Black Feminisms and Womanism
Asian-American and Asian Feminisms
American Indian, Native, Indigenous Feminisms
Feminism, Sex, Sexuality, Transgender, and Intersex
Thanks to Elizabeth Harman for research assistance in preparing this essay. Thanks also to Elizabeth Hackett, Ishani Maitra, and Ásta Sveinsdóttir for discussion and feedback. Thanks to Leslee Mahoney for the 2011 revisions.
Argumentative Essay Topics From Team At Essay Basics
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250+ Argumentative Essay Topics
|1||Is rugby dangerous?|
|2||Are footballers overpaid?|
|3||Is athletics underrated?|
|4||Is golf fun?|
|5||Is golf only meant for the rich in the society?|
|6||Where does golf get its revenue?|
|7||Is swimming healthy?|
|8||Why is marching band grouped as a sport?|
|9||Does cheerleading fit in games?|
|10||How is chess considered as a beneficial sports activity?|
|11||Hockey as a dangerous sport.|
|12||Steroid users should be banned from any sports activities.|
|1||Are we becoming technological zombies?|
|2||Will there come a time when there will be no innovation and technological advancement?|
|3||Is the current technology too advanced for us?|
|4||Are mobile phones killing authenticity?|
|5||Will robots make us lazier or more efficient?|
|6||What should be the actual cost of technology?|
|7||Are technological gadgets, the leading cause of cancer?|
|8||Is this the age of digital explosion?|
|9||Can the chip control the mind too?|
|10||Is FaceBook a great invention or the end of privacy?|
|11||Communication in social networks: is it a good invention or the end of good communication?|
|12||Impacts of cell phones on people: its pros and cons.|
|13||Are we too much reliant on technology?|
|14||Has internet brought about more harm than it is good?|
|15||Technology as a thief of creativity.|
|16||Do we need cell phones?|
|17||What impacts has the technology impacted on the community as a whole?|
|18||How some electronics bring about diseases?|
|1||Are politicians corrupt?|
|2||How do politicians gain influence?|
|3||Do some politicians engage in illegal activities?|
|4||Is the government doing enough to curb corruption?|
|5||Is the president supreme?|
|6||Is there anyone above the law?|
|7||Are the physically disabled considered in government?|
|8||Is the government overspending?|
|9||Does the government influence court decisions?|
|10||Is the government right in all its policies?|
|11||Pros of Monarchy.|
|12||Advantages and disadvantages of conservatism.|
|13||Democracy: is it the only option for governing?|
|14||Can the politicians do better?|
|15||Is politics an art?|
|16||Is politics a ‘clean’ game?|
|17||Famous people in the society should not get involved in politics.|
|18||How does the government oppress the taxpayers in the country?|
|19||Is politics considered an art or a talent?|
|20||Why are governors categorized among the corrupt?|
|21||The system has become more corrupted.|
Dating and Sex
|1||Is there a right age to start having sex?|
|2||What should be the role of the partners in a relationship?|
|3||Is polygamy or polyandry, a form of relationship?|
|4||Should homosexuality be legalized in every country?|
|5||What should one do if sex is too painful?|
|6||The civil marriage and what it entails?|
|7||Is online dating fruitful?|
|8||Is it proper to join dating sites and dating clubs to get a partner?|
|9||What is the best way to solve issues in a relationship?|
|10||Is it okay to date a younger man?|
|11||What should be the maximum age gap between partners in a relationship?|
|12||After how many dates should sex happen?|
|13||Are phones the chief reason for most relationship issues?|
|14||Is communication the most important element of dating?|
|15||Is it proper to date different races?|
|16||What is incest?|
|17||Are long distance relationships effective?|
|18||Is sex education important?|
|19||How does cheating impact relationship?|
|20||Is it wrong to date your boss?|
|21||Must there be love for sex to happen?|
|22||Long distance relationships.|
|23||Sex and violence: is it acceptable on TV?|
|24||Marriage life: does it lead to a routine?|
|25||The choice between sexual freedom and morality.|
|26||Is there gender equality?|
|27||Are there supposed to be specific roles for each gender?|
|28||Is there a stronger and weaker sex?|
|29||Are there specific jobs and careers for each gender?|
|30||Is there gender discrimination in religion?|
|31||Feminism and its positive and negative impacts on the lives of women.|
|32||Who are more intelligent: men or women?|
|33||Can men and women be friends?|
|34||Military service and gender.|
|35||Is age a limiting factor while dating?|
|36||Polygamy is not that evil.|
|37||How do pedophiles shatter the esteem of children?|
|38||Why is interracial dating encouraged in this new world order?|
|39||Why long distance relationships never make it.|
|1||Does art pay?|
|2||What are the challenges faced by artists?|
|3||Is art a profession?|
|4||How can artists market their work?|
|5||Is art gender-specific or age restrictions?|
|6||Is gothic art the best in history?|
|7||Can modern art be considered as art?|
|8||Is graffiti a part of art?|
|9||Graffiti is an illegal art.|
|10||Left-handed individuals are good at art compared to the fellow right-handed individuals.|
|11||Why is gothic art considered as evil art?|
|12||Can you succeed in life with art as a profession?|
Music and Movies
|1||Is today’s music educational?|
|2||Are musicians right to sing in both secular and religious genres?|
|3||Why are women used in most songs?|
|4||Why do people like secular more than religious songs?|
|5||How do musicians make money?|
|6||Is music a profession?|
|7||How long should a movie take?|
|8||Is music appropriate for all ages?|
|9||How are psychology and music connected?|
|10||Children tend to learn instruments better than adults.|
|11||All women prefer movies that have romance.|
|12||Do actors survive on only the money that they earn from acting?|
Internet and Social Media
|1||Can you get genuine friends online?|
|2||How do social media affect behavior?|
|3||Is online business profitable?|
|4||How does one avoid fraud on the internet?|
|5||Is there online bullying?|
|6||Should parents monitor what their kids are doing online?|
|7||Should parents be on social sites?|
|8||Is online privacy important?|
|9||What are the risks of online transactions?|
|10||Can we trace someone online?|
|11||Is censorship of internet necessary?|
|12||The unfair presentation of facts by mass media and should it be punishable?|
|13||Do firewalls assist in preventing bad content to the users?|
|14||How can you avoid the catfish type of people in the social media?|
|15||Has Whatsapp proven itself as an efficient communicating social media tools?|
|16||Can online friends stick by you even in harsh times?|
|17||How old should the children be allowed to access the social media sites and utilities?|
|1||Is the U.S being too lenient on Israel?|
|2||What should be done in the case of Syria and ISIS?|
|3||Is Russia supporting the ‘bad guys?’|
|4||How can the problem in Kashmir be solved?|
|5||Is the world turning a blind eye on South Sudan?|
|6||The third world war – is it possible?|
|7||What are the impacts of the contracting Chinese economy?|
|8||Is China a genuine superpower?|
|9||Who is wrong, between North and South Korea?|
|10||Is Iraq a failed state?|
|11||The issue between Israel and Palestine.|
|12||Is Somalia fast becoming a terrorist hub?|
|13||How can the world combat terrorism?|
|14||The war in Iraq and the questions for and against it.|
|15||Is pacifism utopia or the real way to peace?|
|16||Globalizations: its pros and cons.|
|17||The war in the Middle East and America will never end.|
|18||Did the death of Saddam reduce conflict in the world?|
|19||Globalization will be the main reason for the third world war.|
|20||How can ISIS be abolished?|
|21||How was the war in Iraq justified?|
Law enforcement and Justice System
|1||Should court proceedings be televised?|
|2||The possibility of eliminating judicial errors.|
|3||Adoption of children by gay couples.|
|4||Punishment of desecration of religious objects.|
|5||The most suitable age for voting.|
|6||Are the police justified to use live ammunition?|
|7||Military service: should be compulsory?|
|8||Is drug testing in the workplace a violation of your rights?|
|9||Is it right for someone to be judged in a foreign country?|
|10||Should the drinking age be increased or reduced?|
|11||Should the driving age be increased or reduced?|
|12||Is the International Criminal Court fair in its judgments?|
|13||What is alimony and who should pay it?|
|14||What should be done to improve the police force?|
|15||Gay marriage: Should it be accepted in all the democratic nations?|
|16||Is it proper to merge the police and the army?|
|17||Laws prohibiting the use of heroin: Should they also be applied to tobacco?|
|18||Generally, is there justice?|
|19||Advertising of alcohol and whether it should be prohibited.|
|20||Should voluntary euthanasia be legalized?|
|21||Should marijuana be legalized?|
|22||Is maintenance of law and order, relative?|
|23||Is capital punishment a thing of the past?|
|24||Use of cell phones while driving: is it acceptable or should it be banned?|
|25||The justice systems are corrupted beyond repair.|
|26||Is the criminal justice system in countries racist?|
|27||Do the police favor law offenders from their race?|
|28||Should live ammunition be used in college students’ strikes?|
|29||Are the law enforcers justified to sacrifice a hostage for the sake of the others?|
Parenting and Childhood
|1||What is the right age to give birth?|
|2||Are there any complications with late parenthood?|
|3||Just which is the best way to discipline a kid?|
|4||How should adolescents be handled?|
|5||Should parents go for further training in parenthood?|
|6||Is it right to house your child past the age of 30?|
|7||What should a parent do, if the child is consistently rude?|
|8||Should failed parenting be criminalized?|
|9||Should there be distinction of duties between the parents?|
|10||How should a single parent play both roles of father and mother, to the child?|
|11||Should we reward our children for good conduct?|
|12||Is extreme pampering dangerous for our kids?|
|13||What should a parent do to protect the kid from bad company?|
|14||How can parents nurture talent?|
|15||Motherhood and the most suitable age.|
|16||Small or large families: The best alternative for children.|
|17||How old can you legally become a parent?|
|18||Is Down’s syndrome related to late childbearing?|
|19||What is the most standard number of children that parents can bear?|
|20||Between a father and mother, who has the most roles?|
|21||What is the greatest way of punishing your child?|
|1||Is this the most immoral generation in history?|
|2||Are we slowly getting swallowed with our own arrogance?|
|3||How can the current generation be properly managed?|
|4||Is this generation a product of experimental parenting?|
|5||Is there the relation that was there in the past, at present?|
|6||Necessity of school uniform.|
|7||Teen marriages and should they be allowed.|
|8||What is the effect of violent games in real life?|
|9||Does this present generation know how to maintain relationships?|
|10||Has this generation become brainwashed with communication technology?|
|11||The increasing number of teenage mothers.|
|12||Do movies that are violent and immoral have an impact on the behavior of this generation?|
|13||Does this current generation follow any rules?|
Religion and Spirituality
|1||Just what is the meaning of the word ‘evil?’|
|2||Relevance of all religions: are they all good?|
|3||Is there anyone righteous in the word at the moment?|
|4||Which religion is right?|
|5||Is there heaven and hell?|
|6||Atheism as a religion.|
|7||Is there God?|
|8||Why are there so many religions in the world now?|
|9||Why did Christianity split into so many distinct religions as there are now?|
|10||Is yoga more spiritual than fasting?|
|11||Are today’s pastors genuine?|
|12||What happens, or where do people go, after they die?|
|13||Is death final? If God is there, why are people suffering so much?|
|14||Why do Christians get divorced at almost the same rate as non-Christians?|
|15||Why do different prophets preach contradictory teachings?|
|16||Why is Islam preaching violence yet it is a religion of peace?|
|17||Does the soul exist?|
|18||Is reincarnation real?|
|19||What is karma?|
|20||Why were we created?|
|21||Why is there too much evil in this world?|
|22||Is the Sabbath controversial?|
|23||Is it a mandatory to go to respective places of worship?|
|24||Is having many religions justified?|
|25||The world would be better if the religions were not there.|
|26||Do alternatives related to evolution exist?|
|27||Can religion be considered as a force of evil?|
|28||Will cloning mean the end of morality in the world?|
Morality and Responsibility
|1||Who should be in charge of one’s morality?|
|2||Is there a perfect punishment for immorality?|
|3||Are the current religions guiding people in the right direction?|
|4||What is the meaning of life?|
|5||Did we come from one creator?|
|6||Is black PR acceptable?|
|7||Contraceptives and birth control.|
|8||Are security cameras an infringement of privacy?|
|9||Ethics issues affecting prolonging of people’s lives by scientists.|
|10||Banning of pornography.|
|11||Is mankind losing its morality?|
|12||What is the reason why people don’t live up to their full potential?|
|13||Is peer pressure bad?|
|14||Where did the universe originate from?|
|15||How does one build self – esteem?|
|16||Is personality important in the image of a person?|
|17||Is abortion a form of murder?|
|18||Is Euthanasia a form of mercy killing or a crime?|
|19||Pros and cons of hunting.|
|20||Right to murder and the society.|
|21||How important is the education on patriotism?|
|22||Animal testing: A necessity or savageness.|
|23||Is keeping animals in zoos acceptable?|
|24||The morals behind cloning.|
|25||Necessity of death penalty: is it a vestige of the past?|
|26||Suicide is a brave act of cowardice.|
|1||Is education becoming useless?|
|2||Is plagiarism a serious crime as it is put to be?|
|3||Corporal punishment in schools.|
|4||What is worse, exam cheating or boycotting?|
|5||Is the current education system relevant?|
|6||University degree: is it necessary for success?|
|7||Are colleges churning out half-baked professionals?|
|8||Importance of mandatory physical education for students?|
|9||Is homeschooling considered as a basic form of schooling?|
|10||Has education become so much commercialized?|
|11||Is academic grading helpful in performance?|
|12||Should boarding in schools be banned?|
|13||How can a student acquire all-round education?|
|14||Should there be specific dress codes in schools?|
|15||Should education be mandatory?|
|16||Is online education important?|
|17||Should education be privatized?|
|18||Sex education in schools: should it be halted or increased?|
|19||Video games at school.|
|20||Education and its importance in the developing of a country.|
|21||Is sign language equally important as the foreign languages?|
|22||For foreign language to be effective, it should be implemented right from kindergarten.|
|23||Should single-sex education be introduced in colleges and universities?|
|24||Sports should be made a compulsory course in higher learning institutions.|
|25||The examinations results do not necessary reflect the knowledge of the child.|
Jobs and Careers
|1||Should a parent choose the career for the child?|
|2||Are some careers better than others?|
|3||Can one do a career he/she has not studied?|
|4||Why are other professions paying than others?|
|5||How long should a person work in a day?|
|6||Should there be a dressing code for each profession?|
|7||What is the best profession?|
|8||Afternoon nap facilities should be introduced in the working places.|
|9||Should all careers overlook tattoos?|
|10||Does experience apply in all types of works?|
|11||Should short dresses be banned from the workplaces?|
|12||Some career opportunities have prestige compared to others.|
Health and Nutrition
|1||How much protein should be taken in a day?|
|2||What is the diet of a pregnant woman?|
|3||What is the best way to slim or gain weight?|
|4||What is the ideal amount of water for a healthy person?|
|5||What causes cancer?|
|6||What is the best meal for a diabetic patient?|
|7||Vegetarianism and health?|
|8||Are traditional and alternative medicines reliable?|
|9||Is fast food beneficial or detrimental?|
|10||Can man live without eating meat?|
|11||Stimulants used by sports people.|
|12||Going to hospital and self-treatment.|
|13||Is being broke a habit?|
|14||Heroin should be made compulsory to the terminally ill patients.|
|15||Unhealthy foods should comply with high taxation so as to prevent the processing.|
|16||Access to free health care should be made available to everyone.|
|17||Ancestry knowledge is essential for healthy living.|
|18||Drug addiction is not a disease as it is entirely dependent on the choice of the individual.|
|1||Are we alone in the universe?|
|2||How big is the universe?|
|3||Is there a connection between science and religion?|
|4||How can we prove that the earth revolves?|
|5||Is there life on moon?|
|7||Different theories to explain the origin of the universe.|
|8||Are there stars that are bigger than the sun?|
|9||What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?|
|10||How did the continents split?|
|11||Is there some language for animals?|
|12||How did the ancients use science?|
|13||Is there any science behind life?|
|14||Nuclear energy and safety issues.|
|15||Importance of alternative sources of energy.|
|16||Is genetic research improving or destroying the lives of people?|
|17||Is global warming a belief or a real danger?|
|18||Space exploration leads to wastage of money.|
|19||The greatest hoax in history was the NASA moon landing.|
|20||Is Mars considered as the next destination for humans?|
|21||GMOs will be the savior of the hunger problems faced by the world.|
|22||Do animals interact with each or is it just coincidence?|
|1||What is the best place to go on a date?|
|2||What is the greatest bargain you have ever got?|
|3||Can hiking happen at night?|
|4||Is rock climbing dangerous?|
|5||What should be the appropriate dressing code for church?|
|6||Is the current trend in fashion attractive?|
|7||Should there be a measure of just how far fashion should go?|
|8||Is the present fashion better than the ancient one?|
|9||What is the appropriate manner to prepare for a dinner date?|
|10||Are high heels good for the body?|
|11||Destruction of forests as a crime against the planet.|
|12||The different views of the bombing of Hirosima and Nagasaki.|
|13||Rainforests and why their destruction should be prohibited.|
|14||Wealth and happiness.|
|15||Most suitable age to find friends.|
|16||Possibility of having everyone in the world as rich.|
|17||Our ideas and their influence on the world.|
|18||Pros and cons of living in the city or in the country side.|
|19||People have never been content with what they have in life.|
|20||Can laziness be considered as a bad thing?|
|21||Is social status that important?|
|22||Is the society still a sexist world?|
|23||Are foreign films the main cause of the increasing immorality in the society?|
|1||Artificial intelligence cannot make life convenient.|
|2||Artificial intelligence is not dangerous to humanity.|
|3||Self-preservation and real acquisition is inherent.|
|4||Can artificial intelligence detect human emotions?|
|5||Artificial intelligence can aid in mind reading.|
|6||Robots can educate humans.|
|7||Are the advancements in artificial intelligence viable?|
|8||Robots are not the pioneers to artificial intelligence.|
|9||Automation and artificial intelligence are the same.|
|10||Artificial intelligence is all about technology.|
|11||Everything cannot be solved through artificial intelligence.|
|12||Artificial intelligence can cede control over humanity.|
|13||Artificial intelligence cannot be competent to man.|
|14||Humans have a general purpose intelligence.|
|15||Artificial intelligence is a belief.|
|1||Are space explorations worth the time, money and resources?|
|2||Can space exploration save mankind?|
|3||Technologies used in space exploration can help solve earth’s problems.|
|4||Space exploration gives us no direct benefit.|
|5||Is the need to colonize space viable?|
|6||Having not fully explored the earth, is it viable to explore space?|
|7||Unmanned probes are not the best choice for space exploration.|
|8||Is space exploration necessary for understanding the world?|
|9||The scientific knowledge of space has value beyond the measurements of cost.|
|10||Space explorations can lead to physical and environmental hazards.|
|11||Space explorations do not guarantee long term survival.|
|12||Is it necessary to prioritize space exploration programs?|
|13||Space explorations can provide us with new and untested raw materials.|
|14||Are we causing damage to other ecosystems through space explorations?|
Life in the Future
|1||Will we be able to feed earth without destroying it?|
|2||We can colonize outer space.|
|3||Will there ever be a cure of AIDS?|
|4||Will global warming pose as a threat to nature?|
|5||Sexual and gender issues can be altered.|
|6||Homo sapiens can survive in the next 300 years.|
|7||Gender equality can be achieved in the sciences.|
|8||Peace can exist worldwide.|
|9||Will natural disasters be predictable with warning times?|
|10||Global warming can be stabilized?|
|11||Can we be able to understand dark matter?|
|12||Robots will be able to perform major labor jobs.|
|13||Will there be satellite controlled cars?|
|14||Extinction can be avoided.|
|15||Can the whole world have adequate health care?|
|1||Is getting drunk a crime?|
|2||Should marijuana be illegalized?|
|3||A drug test should be mandatory to students.|
|4||Drug abuse is easy to control.|
|5||The use of tobacco should be illegalized.|
|6||Should smoking be allowed among teenagers?|
|7||Smoking zones should be brought down.|
|8||Parents are the main reason why there are rampant cases of drug abuse among teenagers.|
|9||Drug abuse ads are effective.|
|10||Drug abuse is not a problem for teenagers.|
|11||Can universities impede student drinking?|
|12||Is a drug abuse era significant?|
|13||Drug misuse is not effective.|
|14||Can the abuse of prescription drugs risk in addiction?|
|15||Drugs are not harmful to our health.|
|1||Having more vegetarians will strip off people’s income.|
|2||A meat rich diet is healthier than a vegetarian diet.|
|3||A meat rich diet is expensive than a vegetarian diet.|
|4||Vegetables keep one healthier while meat eating diets are more prone to chronic diseases.|
|5||Meat rich diets are more essential for normal body functions.|
|6||Vegetarianism influences mental ability.|
|7||A vegetarian diet helps in weight loss.|
|8||It is impossible to live without eating meat.|
|9||Does being a vegetarian imply that you have a longer life span?|
|10||Can one survive on a vegetarian diet?|
|11||An increase in the number of vegetarians will put some wild animals at risk.|
|12||Vegetarianism is unhealthy.|
|13||A vegetarian diet is more important to an athlete than a meat rich diet.|
|14||Vegetarians care more about animal suffering than that of humans.|
|15||There is no significant environmental impact that is brought about by a vegetarian lifestyle.|
|1||Can tattoos be considered valid art?|
|2||Tattooing and crime are not related.|
|3||Tattooing does not define an individual’s personality.|
|4||Should tattooing be banned on medical grounds?|
|5||Tattooing is still a taboo in the society.|
|6||Tattooing should not be a factor in job recruitment.|
|7||Should tattooing be allowed in the workplace?|
|8||Peer pressure is a major factor which influences one in having a tattoo.|
|9||Tattooing and Paganism are not related.|
|10||Do people who have tattoos look more attractive?|
|11||It is not wrong for a Christian to tattoo.|
|12||Tattooing should be discouraged for teachers.|
|13||Tattooing is a viable method of creating memories.|
|14||Tattooing is an act of rebellion.|
|15||Should tattooing still be considered a delinquent behavior?|
|1||EDM music is noise.|
|2||EDM is not the new age hard metal.|
|3||Electronic dance music is not associated with drugs.|
|4||Terrible music is not popular than EDM music.|
|5||EDM music is all about performance.|
|6||EDM music helps in boosting one’s immune system.|
|7||EDM music is a boon.|
|8||EDM music is not chaotic.|
|9||EDM music stimulates the mind.|
|10||EDM music helps in stress reduction.|
|1||Rap music brings about gender issues with it.|
|2||Rap music can cause violence and hostile behavior among teenagers.|
|3||Politics and rap music do not correlate.|
|4||Rap music influences sexual behavior among teenagers.|
|5||Rap music is not the best genre for vocal improvisation.|
|6||Rap music can be insulting.|
|7||Rap music is not more popular than other music genres.|
|8||Rap music does not portray one’s cultural background.|
|9||Should rap music be censored?|
|10||Is rap music big enough to be considered a culture?|
|1||Rock music does not foster bad behavior among the youth.|
|2||Rock music is not related with Satanism.|
|3||Rock music does not engage negative influence among the youth.|
|4||Rock music is not authentic.|
|5||The rock and roll lifestyle is not fully associated with drugs.|
|6||Rock music does not have deeper emotional content.|
|7||Stupidity is regarded as a virtue in rock music.|
|8||Rock music has a positive influence in the society.|
|9||Does rock music acknowledge religion?|
|10||Rock music is a more popular genre than other music genres.|
|1||Economic success in Trump’s regime is visible|
|2||Donald Trump is perfect at making enemies|
|3||Donald Trump does not support globalization|
|4||America needs Trump to restore honesty|
|5||Donald Trump: Why he will not make America Great Again?|
|6||Donald Trump is not a champion for environment|
|7||Why Donald Trump is the most pathetic President?|
|8||Donald Trump is a direct president|
|9||American People chose Racist Trump instead of President|
|10||Is Donald Trump a Narcissistic President?|
|1||Blockchain: A Bitcoin crypto-currency.|
|2||Is Blockchain Secure?|
|3||Is Threat or Opportunity comes first in Blockchain|
|4||Blockchain Use-case: Payment and Insurance|
|5||Blockchain no longer a revolution in banking|
|6||Blockchain improves due to Brexit|
|7||Blockchain impacts positively on Energy|
|8||Blockchain improves Trade Finance|
|9||Blockchain improves developing nations more than developed nations|
|10||Blockchain reverse revolution|
|1||Market demands and authority control crypto-currencies|
|2||Cryptocurrency is a breeding ground for mistrust|
|3||Cryptocurrency is an amusement to the market|
|4||Cryptocurrency enhances confidential transaction|
|5||International co-operation: A sure way to regulate crypto-currencies|
|6||Cryptocurrencies burst due to bitcoin|
|7||Cryptocurrencies enhance transaction security|
|8||Cryptocurrencies promote black market|
|9||Cryptocurrencies: the best investments for future|
|10||Cryptocurrency: the best replacement for economic market|
Internet Of Things
|1||End-to-end security challenge brings down internet of things|
|2||Fog computing boosts internet of things|
|3||Sharing in social network taints improve internet of things|
|4||IoT no longer guarantees security and privacy|
|5||IoT improves agricultural productivity|
|6||IoT promote environmental conservation|
|7||Intelligence controls IoT|
|8||Is IoT making us stupid?|
|9||IoT vehicle simulation system does promote accidents|
|10||IoT enhances cybercrimes|
|1||Machine learning helps in fraud detection|
|2||Machine learning enhances stock market prediction|
|3||Machine learning enhances man replacement with machines|
|4||Machine learning makes people zombies|
|5||Machine learning promotes digital exploration|
|6||Chip can control our brain|
|7||Machine learning promotes communication|
|8||Machine learning promote sedentary lifestyle with passive learning|
|9||Robotics replaces human in various activities|
|10||Programming of machines endangers the freedom of choice|
|1||Are we becoming Facebook zombies?|
|2||We are too advanced for Facebook|
|3||Facebook is responsible for intellectual laziness|
|4||Facebook is responsible for fake news|
|5||We do not need Facebook|
|6||Facebook is responsible for relationship breakups|
|7||Facebook hinders privacy|
|8||Facebook: The home of fraudsters|
|9||Facebook encourages cyber bullying|
|10||Facebook promote censorship|
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Structure Of The Argumentative Essay
The introduction is the first part of the argumentative article as it will either capture the attention of the reader or bore at the same time. The introduction should provide general information that will be included in the article. The points can be highlighted in the introduction so as to show the necessity of the title thus the need for an argument. You should also state your argumentative thesis statement in the introduction. The thesis will give you a guideline on how to go about with writing the essay. The thesis should, therefore, be phrased as a general statement of the main idea being discussed. Ensure your thesis is not in the form of a title but rather a general statement that is specific and unified at the same time. Your thesis should be relevant so that the article can use a structure that is flexible so as to fit in the shoes of the readers. Below is an example of a thesis statement:
Topic: GMOs will be the savior of the hunger problems faced by the world.
GMOs can greatly assist in the eradication of hunger in the world.
For the body to achieve the intended meaning, ensure the points evolve from being general to specific. This technique is essential as it offers a platform of fully exhausting the points in a systemic manner. Use transition words so as to connect the paragraphs and make the point flow. Start the body paragraph by using a topic sentence followed by the argumentative evidence that will support the claim. Finish up the paragraph by illustrating how that particular point is related to the argumentative thesis in the introduction.
The conclusion gives the overall verdict of the argument. You can also restate the ideas that you have discussed in the body paragraphs so as to make your point valid. The conclusion should also aim at motivating the reader to do research in the future. The conclusion is related to the argumentative introduction as the topic as well as the thesis statement is restated in a more convincing manner. The conclusion also gives you a platform of illustrating your decision concerning the argument in the article and why you have settled on that particular decision. Try not to introduce new ideas as they will give the readers an ideology that the article is not comprehensive enough.
Argumentative Essay Outline (sample)
The above-mentioned topic selection can give you a clear understanding of what to write about. All you need to do is to pick the topic you are comfortable with and elaborate on it: develop a thesis and fully open it up. Please remember to write a strong conclusion to your paper. This will help sum everything up. Thank you.