Multiculturalism And Feminism Are Both Culturally Important Movements Within Modern Society Today

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Multiculturalism and feminism are both incredibly important movements within modern society today. Multiculturalism is the construction of civil and political policies in order to overcome the extensive entrenched inequalities formed by the attempted assimilation of minority cultures (Kymlicka, 2012). Feminism is the movement for the social, political and economic equality of the sexes (Adichie, 2011) Both these movements are crucial for building a world in which everyone feels safe, appreciated and equal, no matter their gender or cultural background. However, some feminist scholars such as Susan Okin have proposed that multiculturalism and feminism are in fact in tension, and that these two goals cannot be achieved simultaneously. This essay will analyse the argument that multiculturalism and feminism are in opposition, and some of the real world examples of these theories. This essay will also discuss some of the flawed assumptions behind this argument and why these two ideals are not necessarily in tension. Some feminists, including Susan Okin, argue that feminism and multiculturalism are in opposition, that one cannot be achieved without disadvantaging the other. Okin argues that “Many (though not all) of the cultural minorities that claim group rights are more patriarchal than the surrounding cultures.” (Okin, 1997). Therefore when these groups are given the group rights accorded to them through multiculturalism, the individual women within the group are disadvantaged. This means that women living in the same country, but in different cultural groups and therefore with different group rights, may have vastly different legal rights and live very different lives. Culture and gender relations are complexly intertwined, which... ... middle of paper ... ...efit one another. Many minority groups live in low socio-economic areas, or have been exposed to warfare and other traumas during their lives. Poverty and stressful environments can increase the prevalence of sexual violence and oppression towards women (Plichta, 2001). By using multiculturalism to improve the status of these groups, the lives of women within these groups will also be improved. Cultural practices are fluid and constantly changing, and as such to encourage cultural groups and practices to “become extinct” (Okin, 1998) as Okin does is highly problematic. Instead if these groups were allowed and encouraged to develop and adapt their cultural practices to reflect a more egalitarian and modern world, then this would result in a better situation for the women within these cultural groups, than leaving them bereft of their culture, tradition and community.

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