Social Theory and Gender

An analysis of feminist social theory’s impact on sociology in terms of the validity of issues of sex, gender and oppression, using Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ as a reference.

The following paper examines how both blacks and women have experienced exclusion and discounting of their sociological positions based solely on either their color or gender, regardless of the “rationality” of their arguments in the past. This paper discusses how feminist sociologists are insisting that what has been labeled their “radical feminist” approaches to the development and application of social theory be given the same weight as that of men in the field and the experiences and culture of half the world’s population be considered in the study of the whole.
In January 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft completed A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, the first major work of feminist theory. She was one of many 18thcentury feminists who were responding to the wave of social revolution sweeping Europe and America, hoping to assure that women would be considered entitled to the same natural rights as men. Male theorists who developed and enforced the natural rights doctrine did not accept the feminist position. Their world view of the Enlightenment was predicated upon the assumption that the rational world is superior to, and must control, the nonrational world; men rational and therefore the lords of creation and had the right to impose their reason on all without it: women, nonhuman creatures and the earth itself. The view of women as excluded from legal personhood was legalized by Blackstone in his common law stating that the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband. This meant, that as non-persons, married women had no property rights, no control over inheritance, no control over custody and no right to bring civil suit.