Feminist sociology

Feminist sociology is a conflict theory and theoretical perspective which observes gender in its relation to power, both at the level of face-to-face interaction and reflexivity within a social structure at large. Focuses include sexual orientation, race, economic status, and nationality.[1]

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's (1860-1935) work helped formalize feminist theory during the 1960s. Growing up, she went against traditional holds that were placed on her by society by focusing on reading and learning concepts different from women who were taught to be housewives. Her main focus was on gender inequality between men and women along with gender roles placed on by society. Where men go to work secure proper income for the family while women stay at home and tend to the family along with household chores. She "emphasized how differential socialization leads to gender inequality," but she did agree that biologically there is a difference between those born with female and male parts.[2]

Parts of her research involved a theoretical orientation of a multidimensional approach to gender and discusses it more in depth in her book Women and Economics. Due to gender roles she believed that women pretended to live a certain life to avoid achieving their full potential living the role of a housewife. This is an example of a neurological theory, as developed by Sigmund Freud, which is cultivated using a psychoanalysis process called conscious and subconscious state of mind. The specific example given would be considered falling under false consciousness instead of the consciousness that helps control our daily lives. Leading the belief that women are viewed as property of their husbands, economically women were still dependent on husbands to provide financial support to themselves and their family. Gilman argued furthermore that the traditional division of labor was not biologically driven, but instead forced upon women based on the structure of society since before the nineteenth century. Society played a big role for women and their actions in their daily lives.

Gilman described this as a sociobiological tragedy because women are disregarded as being part of the ideology of "survival of the fittest". Instead, females are thought to be soft and weak individuals who are only good for productive purposes, and who are depicted as emotional and frail beings born to serve their husbands, children, and family without living for themselves. Gilman conducted her research at a time when women engaged in science were unheard of and when women were barred from voting. Her research helped create a ripple effect, along with that of other female sociologists, that helped pave the way for feminism and concepts related to feminist theory.[3]