Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 1989


Published in INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL SCIENCE REVIEW 64:3 (Summer 1989), pp. 123-131. Copyright 1989 Pi Gamma Mu.


Feminist theories present a number of options for organizing a model of inequality for women. At times, these present mutually exclusive concepts or definitions, or even causal factors. Patriarchal theories will not be used because they do not perceive women's oppression. Without an assumption of sex stratification and oppression, women's reality cannot be accurately described. Along with these patriarchal models, sex role socialization theories have been criticized for having (1) an emphasis on finding a singular universal truth and verification method, (2) a commitment to objectivity and observer neutrality, (3) dichotomous classification and primarily causal models, (4) ahistorical views, and (5) nonreflexive use of language as a medium for transmitting thoughts, concepts, and theories. Both patriarchal and sex role models ignore the dependence of discourse on "particular positions established by particular modes of language." (Pateman and Gross, 1986: 200). For example, sex role analyses use bipolar concepts, such as masculinity and femininity as givens. Even models of androgyny anticipate the reality of a continuum with fixed masculine and feminine end points. Thus, the language used in creating patriarchal and sex role theories sets parameters that cannot be ignored or transformed by the models themselves.

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