There are many schools of thought within philosophy, leaving plenty of room for any individual to find the approach that suits them best. Over the years, new ways of thinking have developed, addressing more modern needs.
Enter philosophical feminism. Philosophical feminism takes a look at what philosophy has done thus far before commenting on the impact it has left. This form of philosophy emphasizes the role of gender while also pointing out the damage some forms of philosophy have caused in terms of bias. All while standing up for the schools of thought that fight for equality.
As one might imagine, philosophical feminism first came into being during the women’s movement (the 1960s-1970s). This was a time period in which women started questioning their given role in life.
It’s also when they began to question their presence – or lack thereof – in history. In particular, philosophical feminism took a hard look at philosophy and saw nearly no works of women in the more favored writings.
In turn, this caused a radical change in the way many feminist philosophers looked at the subject. Suddenly, the prevalence of a bias against women became clear. However, the bodies of work that defended women’s rights became all the more precious (see Plato’s works and his stance that women should also be allowed and encouraged to lead).
This way of looking back at philosophy created something new: feminist theory. It’s an extension of feminism in that it supports the same goals and beliefs. However, its goal is to understand gender inequality while also tackling concerns that would ultimately promote equal rights.
Unsurprisingly, there are many different branches within feminism itself. These branches include Radical Feminism, Separatist Feminism, Sex-Positive Feminism, Anarcha-Feminism, Black Feminism, Socialist Feminism, Liberal Feminism, and French Feminism. However, this is by no means a complete list.
To understand more about the philosophy of feminism, it helps to look to the leading names in the field. Feminist philosophers of note include Jane Addams (the mother of social work), Martha Nussbaum (author of The Fragility of Goodness), Cori Wong (Time for a Change), and Rachel Anne Williams (Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism, and Politics). Once again, this is by no means a complete list, just a place to start your own avenue of research.