Feminist Ethics

Feminism is divided into four different types: classical, difference, radical, and equity feminism. The first, classical feminism, is characterized by focusing on the personhood of women, supports the values of liberty and opportunity for women, and seeks to protect women as individuals. Women are seen as partners with men, and both commonalities and biological differences are recognized. Philosophies underlying difference feminism date back as far as the early Greeks and emphasize fundamental differences in biological, emotional, psychological and spiritualism of the sexes. (Wikipedia) More socially focused is radical feminism, which carries a philosophy that outlines the social dominance and privilege of men through the oppression of women. According to radical feminism views rights, privileges, and social power are divided by gender with men receiving the most in all three areas. (Lewis) Equity feminism is a view that sees the political state as the main source of oppression for women and seeks to eliminate not only oppressive laws, but also laws that grant women special privileges solely based on gender. (Baehr)

The four different types of feminism can be illustrated by applying the philosophies to the issue of women in the military. Classical feminists hold that women should be allowed the same opportunity to serve as men, though this view involves the woman conforming to the male-designed military role. Difference feminism suggests females are better suited to diplomatic military roles and should be left out of combat roles. (Goldstein) Radical feminism sees any exclusion of females from combat roles as based solely on gender discrimination and a way to limit power positions available to females. In a radical feminist view, women should be granted the same power and combat military positions as men. Equity feminism also holds that women should have opportunity to serve in all military positions. However, since equity feminism is against granting special privileges based solely on gender, it allows the opportunity only to women who can master the same level of competency required of men for the position.


Baehr, Amy R. Liberal Feminism. 18 October 2007. 7 March 2013. <>.

Goldstein, Joshua S. Gender Studies. 2001. 7 March 2013. <>.

Lewis, Jone Johnson. Radical Feminism. 2013. 7 March 2013. <>.

Wikipedia. Difference Feminism. 26 February 2013. 7 March 2013. <>.