Many people may follow a women’s demonstration in one of the world’s cities, some sympathize with their demands, others fear them, and others attack it, but few contemplate and discuss the banners, slogans and demands raised in that demonstration, investigate the backgrounds and ideologies of the feminist currents participating in it, and compare them To reveal their differences and differences between them.

And the book "On Feminist Political Theory: Intellectual Structures and Contemporary Trends" by Iraqi researchers Raad Abdel-Jalil Mustafa Al-Khalil and Hussam Al-Din Ali Majid, which was published by the World of Knowledge series in April 2022, is a quiet reading that does not underestimate or exaggerate the study of this phenomenon.

It is a sober intellectual reading that permeates the history of feminist ideologies, their intellectual, economic, social and political roots and extensions, with a view of their effects on women themselves, men, society and humanity as a whole.

This book comes decades after the emergence of feminist organizations and associations that achieved for women legal, political, economic, cultural and social demands and rights. Although Arab and Muslim women benefited from some of those demands and rights, they have not yet achieved what Western women have achieved, who see that they are still far from Achieving "full equality" with men and far from achieving "absolute freedom" for them.

Who is the woman?

The two Iraqi researchers open their book with a simple but complex question at the same time, which is "Who is a woman?", a central question for an American documentary called (What is a Woman?).

Before answering the first chapter, the first chapter presents a conceptual rooting of feminist theory, noting that the first to coin the term “feminism” was the French writer Hubertin Auclert in the year 1882, however, feminist thought extends to before this time period, and the term refers to “ideological commitment to Working towards achieving social, economic and political equality between men and women, whether within the same country or across the world.

The concept of feminism can be defined as "not only a political movement, but a description of all ideas, theses and movements that take the liberation of women and improving their conditions as their core goal... and it is an integral part of the group of new social movements that have emerged since the 1960s."

Feminism, like other social movements, needs a theory in order to explain reality and develop solutions according to a perception of what women's conditions should be.

Although there is a differentiation between feminism as a political theory, and feminism as a socio-political movement, there are characteristics that unite it, the most prominent of which is its relentless pursuit to create a global resonance for its issues and theses through international conferences, especially in an attempt to transcend the boundaries of emergence that make it a phenomenon closely related to the context. cultural and historical aspects of the West, and work to impose its own perceptions of women.

The second chapter examines feminism in terms of whether it is one theory or multiple theories by delving into its basic assumptions, what feminist theory is trying to say and striving for on the one hand, and its position in the political map as a whole on the other.

As for the third chapter, it deals with the intellectual influences in the formation of the Western mind and its consequences on the attitude towards women, starting with Plato and Socrates, passing through the divine books, and reaching the political intellectual currents from traditional and modern Marxism and liberal capitalism to postmodernism.

While the fourth chapter discusses the concept of feminism from an intellectual angle and the general and sub-directions of this concept, the fifth chapter sheds light on the march of feminist ideas and their plurality and development along with the development of women’s demands from the late 18th century to the beginning of the 21st century. It also reviews liberal feminist theory and radical feminism, Socialist feminism, postmodern feminism, black feminism and other different classifications.

In the sixth chapter, the researchers dealt with the mechanisms adopted in dealing with societal diversity based on the distinction between men and women (sex and gender), especially the feminist quota mechanism as an ideal tool for empowering women and uprooting the deprivation and oppression that afflicted them, according to what feminist activists believe.

The researchers did not skimp on putting feminist theories in the balance of criticism and evaluation, and the position of feminist thought in general, and the possible future effects on women, men and society alike.

Those six chapters formed a fertile ground for answering many questions about what women complain about and what they believe and demand of rights, and are they prevented from enjoying those rights in developed countries at least and in our time?

What are the frames of reference from which feminists derive their material?

And what path did feminist thought take to achieve that purpose?

What are the most important developments that he experienced during his career?

Is subjugation and persecution limited to men?

Or does the woman practice it on her black sisters and those who come from other classes, races and ethnicities already suffering from exclusion and deprivation?

Why is there so much interest in women and the feminist movement today in the market of ideas?

And what are the reasons for that?

As for the central question that concerns feminism (Who is a woman?) it deals with her social status in light of the division of the social world in which women live into two types of human entities. Everything, in order for feminists to conclude that women are the secondary and oppressed gender or other gender, and this perception will determine the nature of the problem that women suffer from, which needs answers about how and why the situation and conditions of women have become this way?

Pillars of feminist currents

The answers of the feminist currents to these and other questions differed according to 3 conceptions of the solution. The first sees the necessity of assimilation, i.e. acceptance of socially approved frameworks and standards and work through them to achieve equality between men and women in basic rights and opportunities, and the second perception attempts to overthrow deliberate values ​​and practices or escape from Captivity as restrictions imposed by the culture and power of men on women from the home to school and the street, and does not exclude even the workplace.

As for the third perception, it is embodied in presenting a special perception that carries with it the belief in the futility of such divisions, which included women and men, and which were also placed between women and women themselves, as terms for categories or classifications that had been created socially and do not stem from a real biological reality, that is, they are from without meaning.

Feminist currents, in looking at how to confront women’s oppression and improve their conditions, depend on two basic concepts: patriarchy (patriarchy) and gender / gender (gender), and feminism believes that these two concepts are interrelated, but “without them we will only have theories and explanations of causal and empty of Any meaning, which is what feminist textbooks struggle with,” say Gary Gertz and Amy Mazur.

The first signs of difference between feminist currents appear in looking at the patriarchal system. Liberal feminism sees it as limited to the private sphere rather than the public, while Marxist feminism sees it as a system dependent and attached to capitalism, while radical feminism sees it as playing a major role in the tragic situation of women throughout history. As for socialist feminism, she sees that patriarchy and capitalism work to exploit and oppress women.

In order to achieve the goals of feminist currents, the term gender was established, which accepts biological difference but rejects the social effects of biological difference between men and women. Feminists believe that these effects are subject to change according to the management of the individual, that is, the human right to change his biological sexual identity and social roles resulting from his gender. This will entrench the issue of officially recognizing homosexuals and justify the inclusion of their rights in the circle of basic human rights, such as their right to same-sex marriage, to form “families” and even to adopt children or surrogacy.

The critique of the identifiable distinction between men and women contributed to the crystallization of the "Queer Theory", and thus feminist thought has reached its logical ends at the hands of postmodern feminists.

This theory attacks the concept of sex as based on the biological and social differentiation between men and women and the consequent rights and duties on both parties, and demands the abolition of the two gender categories (male and female) in order to create an alternative identity or alternative identities based on non-reproductive sexual intercourse as a means of instinctive gratification or Al-Shahwani and centralizing it in determining the identity of individuals and their social roles, which increases the demands for recognition of the moral and legal existence of other groups that have different sexual desires and tendencies and different ways of expressing them.

Positive discrimination and the quota system

As for the economic and political fields, feminism did not achieve its goals in them despite Western and international support. In the labor law - for example - which stipulated that wages should be equal for similar jobs, its success was minimal, because women and men undertake vastly different jobs in the public and private spheres (the family). Therefore, feminism sought to link minimum social rights (maternity leave, employment, health care...) and minimum political rights in general.

In order to politically empower women, women have been given preferential treatment in order to help them advance socially, economically and politically, and it is forgotten that those who “deprive” women in developing countries - for example - are those who possess a great deal of power and economic benefits, whether they are from abroad. (Western countries) or from within (the parties controlling governance and the economy).

The quota, as a temporary measure for the political empowerment of women, raises several problems, including that it is a form of quotas (ethnic quotas, ethnic quotas, and sectarian quotas...), and that it has become a continuous mechanism in the polls even though it should be a temporary measure only, and that women in most countries It has not yet reached equality with men, as the global average of that equality is only 22% and has not reached the 30% set by the United Nations in order to be able to make a real difference in decision-making and influence it.

The quota in some institutions in Arab countries only led to the arrival of nepotism by appointing female relatives of politicians.

The researchers believe that the quota system and the policy of positive discrimination cause reverse discrimination towards males and those with qualifications and qualifications to occupy a certain job position. In order to achieve equality of return.

Arab feminism is a state project

According to the book “On Feminist Political Theory: Intellectual Structures and Contemporary Trends,” feminism in Arab countries suffers from an intellectual dispersion (liberal, anti-imperialist, patriotic, Marxist, and Islamic), and from “the ambiguous mentality and the culture of male domination that constitutes the depth of political imagination.” In the Arab society”, and also suffers from questioning their efforts and activities due to the state’s sponsorship of the feminist movement in the Arab world, so “the feminist movement is linked to an authoritarian past and a lack of independence from the ruling political class,” according to the researchers.

Arab feminism is also accused of its subordination and double subordination to the duality of the central or colonial states, and the marginal or independent countries from colonialism, which marginalize women more ferociously than the center. A high bureaucracy with the aim of demonstrating the state’s support for women’s participation in government.. and the access of some women to ministerial positions and parliamentary seats, not because they would represent women’s interests, but because they would sacrifice these interests in the service of the state in a way that consolidates the position that women are merely a project of the state and political authority.

According to the book, this political restriction is further exacerbated among women of “religious minorities” in the cases of Lebanon and Iraq, who suffer from complex discrimination (sexual, cultural/identities, values ​​and loyalty to sect, family, and clan). Despite this, the Iraqi researchers believe that Arab women were able to remove 90% of the gender discrimination practiced against them is in the fields of education, health and social care, but in the political field and decision-making centers, they only dealt with this discrimination 15%.

Feminist flaws

And between the chapters of the book “On Feminist Political Theory… Intellectual Structures and Contemporary Trends” and what feminist currents propose, the two Iraqi researchers made several observations, the most important of which are:

  • Feminist currents suffer from a sharp difference between them that prevents the crystallization of a clear intellectual and political discourse that distinguishes their common feminist identity.

    Also, many of the ideas and opinions of feminist currents do not enjoy originality, but rather relied on the major intellectual doctrines of liberalism, Marxism, Freudianism, modernism, and others. Sexual/gender in the environment of traditional conflicts, whether class, racial, ethnic, etc., but they produced social and global awareness of the validity of what they claim and pressed to change many ideas and practices that contradict their goals.

  • Feminism talks about the oppression that women were suffering in general, but it neglected that exploitation and oppression suffered by other social groups that are similar to them, perhaps in the type of oppression and not in its degree and level, and failed to link the two situations, “Exploitation and oppression are an indivisible whole, and it is not eliminated by work. Rather, this is achieved through the concerted efforts of all the oppressed, women and men, from all groups.”

    Moreover, to say that the goal of equality between men and women is to promote justice between them ignores the factors of class, race, gender, powers and other things in which women differ from one another, “Indeed, European-American funding for these projects tends to stem from those distinguished human beings and tends to tend to towards the less privileged people,” according to the book.

  • The feminists focus in their discourse on women exclusively, and this is a vague, or explicit, call for a mono-sex and gender world, that is, the domination of women over the world.

    Moreover, the development of societies would not have been achieved without the existence of a division of social labor, in the public sphere, and in the private sphere (the family), which is a necessary method for survival and development.

  • The general and traditional framework of “Western” feminist thought looks at the feminist issue from the perspective of the global system, and that states and national economies are located within global capitalist relations based on tripartism, periphery and semi-periphery, and from this angle no social change occurs outside the global context.

    Women are exploited for the purpose of demolishing the foundations of traditional society and achieving targeted modernization, as “changing the local, regional and global reality requires, in the first place, working to bring about a change in stereotypical perceptions and ideas generated in the context of bilateral relations and roles of both men and women.”

  • Black feminism has focused on criticizing Western feminism as racist feminist by ignoring the exploitation and oppression of racial and class feminism, slavery, forced labor and other oppressive practices practiced by American capitalism, and that Western feminist demands express a "white female voice" only.

  • That the movement is not a global but a Western phenomenon, as feminists assume that the situation of non-Western women can be improved through Western feminist theses, that is, it is based on a foreign culture that does not suit women in the third world, that is, it is an ideology of bourgeois women and makes other women alienate from their culture and religion.

  • Feminism ignores the disparity in women’s possession of the elements of material power. Women, like men, vary in their affiliations. Women belonging to the dominant majority or to the class of power and money possess elements of power, kinship, and relationships that enable them to voice and impose their opinions on all.

"Gender Conflict"

The two Iraqi researchers, Raad Abdul Jalil Mustafa Al Khalil and Hussam Al Din Ali Majid, ask about the background and nature of the swearing or persecution in which the woman was a victim, and about the conditions that the male sex must fulfill in order for this "conflict between the sexes" to end.

They point out that the answer must evoke two things, the first of which is that women are creatures that do not live in isolation from the world, and that they are an essential pillar of human life in which women share existence alongside men, and the consequent duties and responsibilities.

The second matter is the natural imposed sexual difference between men and women, which means that both of them have anatomical and psychological characteristics that distinguish each from the other, individual and social tendencies, functions and roles, which leads to the reality of their integration and the need for each other for the survival and continuity of the human race.