The following is part of a series of blog posts I wrote while taking an education PhD course on Epistemologies. A summary of all posts in the series is included in this paper: Developing an Appreciative Understanding of Epistemologies in Educational Research: One Blogger’s Journey.
From a qualitative research perspective, being a women is an important aspect of my world-view. I cannot deny that I see the world differently than a man would. Being a women is an important part of who I am, and certainly my gender identity will affect the way in which I approach research. But does that mean I’m inherently a feminist?
My introduction to feminism was in an introduction to sociology course that I audited. The professor (a male professor) was clearly a feminist, and spoke often of the feminist perspective. One particular example he used was the debunking of common knowledge. He talked about how common knowledge says that women talk more than men, but research has proven otherwise. Why do we feel this way then? The reason is that what women say is often considered as unimportant, and as a result, women’s words are seen as extraneus, thereby giving the impression that women talk more. Personally, I see that type of feminist research as valuable. I appreciate it.
However, this weeks readings on feminism (Olesen, 2005) did not resonate at all. I guess my concern is with angry and highly political feminism, and that I don’t relate to that at all. I had to look further into the different types of feminism to see if there is a strain that I can honestly say I relate to. Weitz (2011) describes two types of feminism: difference feminists and empowerment feminists. “Difference feminists view gender and sexism as deeply embedded in the structure of society and as intimately entwined with oppression based on ethnicity and sexuality, while also sometimes questioning or queering the very nature of sex and gender. Empowerment feminists oppose sexism, but believe that they can circumvent it through their individual choices and rarely raise deeper questions regarding the inherent nature of sex and gender” (p.227). From Weitz’ perspective, I would classify myself as an Empowerment feminist. I want to break down barriers for women, but I don’t see any value is attempting to break barriers by being angry.
I think I’ll need to do a little more reading about feminism to determine exactly how feminists theories will influence the way in which I do qualitative research. I don’t think that I particularly identify as feminist but I also don’t identify as not feminist. The influence is there, just not as “in your face” as it would be if I were taking a difference feminist perspective.
Olesen, V. (2005). Early millennial feminist qualitative research: Challenges and contours. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 235-278). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Weitz, R. (2011). Teaching dangerously: When feminisms collide. Feminist Teaching, 20(3), 226-236.