Feminist social theories put to the test

A dissertation at Örebro University in Sweden brings to light major weaknesses in feminist social theories. They are untenable, far too undeveloped, and laden with insoluble internal problems of logic.

“Feminist social theories provide us with an ideologically colored picture of society,” maintains Helen Lindberg.

"As social scientists, we are duty-bound to follow a scientific ethos, otherwise no one benefits, not even women. Instead it hurts the struggle for gender equality. I am writing this dissertation in the hope that it will further the struggle for gender equality in society.”

The dissertation examines four comprehensive theories that each claims to address the issue of how we should be able to understand and explain gender inequality and the unbalanced power relations between the sexes today. The theories - Anna G. Jónasdóttir’s Theory of Love Power, Catharine M. MacKinnon’s radical feminism, Luce Irigaray’s gynocentric distinctivist feminism, and Judith  Butler’s queer feminism - are very different from each other and offer different answers to the question.

Helen Lindberg feels it is unfruitful to use the theories for social scientific research on gender relations, since they rest on starkly ideological foundations and evince faulty internal coherence.

The theories offer little or no scope for the individual to be able to  change or develop society and have difficulties accomodating empirical evidence. The dissertation also discusses the political goals that the theories can be seen as leading to.

“Some of them are clearly utopian and others are vague and quite undeveloped,” says Helen Lindberg.

Helen Lindberg points to the splintering within the Swedish  political party Feminist Initiative as an example of what happens in politics when the various feminist ideological positions meet.

It was not only that the party consisted of different strong-willed individuals. The members also based their convictions on different feminist ideologies, and when they were not compatible, strife  ensued.

Instead, feminist social theories, like other normative and ideologically based social theories, such as Marxism and Liberalism, should be regarded as aids in establishing what problems need to be addressed. Helen Lindberg also points out that there is a parallel between Marxism and feminism regarding their development as scientific and ideological projects in that both have always had a close relationship with liberation-oriented political action.

Helen Lindberg also points to the development from feminism to postfeminism. Post feminism rejects the fundamentals of feminist theory and the previous foundations. Postfeminism shifts and expands the feminist focus from the relation between women and men to also include gender identities regardless of sex, for example, as urgent  both as a research focus and for political attention.

In her youth Helen Lindberg was fascinated by Marxist-oriented  radical feminism, but she found it wanting when it came to dealing with the experiences of different women.

“Writing the dissertation has been like plunging into a fierce wrestling match with my own convictions,” says Helen Lindberg.

Source: The Swedish Research Council

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User comments

Apr 27, 2009
Feminism is wrong. It does not pretend to achieve equality. They are perfectly fine with the fact that there is much more money for research for woman's diseases. What they want is complete domination, complete elimination of men. They assume that our sexual biological dimorphism does not mean differentiation at the level of psychological processes and abilities. What drives them is anger and deep grounded envy.

What about research that shows that testosterone levels are related to power in men?

Or the research that shows how animals naturally form non-egalitarian power relations? (If you place two rat males in a cage, one of them is going to eat more than the other and dominate space. The division of resources is not 50/50).

There are lots of empirical data that completely oppose feminism.

Apr 29, 2009
The Rockefellers admitted they funded the feminism movement to tax the other half of the population. It's statistically impossible for a majority of americans to raise a family on one income

Apr 29, 2009
What exactly says this article, because I couldn't find any discovery or news in it, besides that someone researched feminists theories.
And to men-women diseases are more researched, because women bear babies. They share their bodies with your babies, it's not that bad for them to be healthy, you know. You're precisely as ridiculous, as those radical feminists.

May 04, 2009
"internal cohesion"


These are the key words.Progress in this

area depends on unity.As long as the feminists

are split the way they are men will always come

out on top.

H B Quasimodo

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