Feminist method

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The feminist method is a means of conducting of scientific investigations and generating theory from an explicitly feminist standpoint. [1] Feminist methodologies are varied, but tend to have a few common aims or characteristics, including seeking to overcome biases in research, bringing about social change, displaying human diversity, and acknowledging the position of the researcher. [2] Questioning normal scientific reasoning is another form of the feminist method. [3]


Each of these methods must consist of different parts including: collection of evidence, testing of theories, presentation of data, and room for rebuttals.[ citation needed ] How research is scientifically backed up affects the results. Like consciousness raising, some feminist methods affect the collective emotions of women, when things like political statistics are more of a structural result When knowledge is either constructed by experiences, or discovered, it needs to both be reliable and valid. [4]

Strong feminist supporters of this are Nancy Hartsock, Hilary Rose, and finally Sandra Harding. [5] Feminist sociologists have made important contributions to this debate as they began to criticize positivism as a philosophical framework and, more specifically, its most acute methodological instrument—that of quantitative methods for its practice of detached and objective scientific research and the objectification of research subjects (Graham 1983b; Reinharz 1979).

More recently, feminist scholars have argued that quantitative methods are compatible with a feminist approach, so long as they are attentive to feminist theory. [6] These methodological critiques were well placed against a backdrop of feminist scholarship struggling to find a place for alternative values within the academy. Such concerns emerged from a sense of despair and anger that knowledge, both academic and popular, was based on men's lives, male ways of thinking, and directed toward the problems articulated by men. Dorothy Smith (1974) argued that "sociology ... has been based on and built up within the male social universe".

Objectivity and the construction of the Other

Feminist methods have, in large part, been scaffolded as a rebuttal to existing research methods that operate under imperialist, racist, and patriarchal assumptions about the research subject. [7] By pointing out the biased perspectives and assumptions of researchers, feminist scholars work to elucidate the ways in which the idea of objectivity has operated merely as a stand-in for the white, male perspective, [8] and how feminist methods, in contrast, work to produce knowledge in which “the researcher appears to us not as an invisible, anonymous voice of authority, but as a real, historical individual with concrete, specific desires and interests.” [9]

Also inherent in the traditional researcher-subject relationship is the subject-object relationship, for the researcher becomes the autonomous subject when they study other humans as objects, as in this case the “subject” is ironically objectified through the process of scientific investigation, which does not take into account their agency or the will of their community. [10] Subjects are also simultaneously “Othered” by Western researchers who exotify their ways of life through “a Western discourse about the Other which is supported by ‘institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrines, even colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles.’” [11]

Reinharz therefore posits that the destruction of the Other and the remodeling of the traditional subject-object relationship must occur simultaneously through explicit engagement with three different actors in feminist research: the researcher, the reader, and the people being studied. [12] In this way, productive, feminist methods attempt to “demystify” and “decolonize” [13] research through recognizing how traditional methods construct the Other and are cloaked in a false objectivity, and subsequently to deconstruct these narratives in order to “talk more creatively about research with particular groups and communities – women, the economically oppressed, ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples.” [14]

Questioning gender as a scientific construct

Through questioning science Anne Fausto-Sterling came up with alternatives to the concept of having only two sexes, male and female. [15] She argues that through biological development there is a possibility of having five sexes instead of two. [16] She believes there are male, female, merm (male pseudohermaphrodites, i.e. when testicular tissue is present), ferm (female pseudohermaphrodites, i.e. when ovarian tissue is present), and herm (true hermaphrodites, i.e. when both testicular and ovarian tissue is present). [17]


Alison Jaggar disputes the dichotomy between reason and emotion and argues that rationality needs emotion. [18] She states emotions are normally associated with women and rationality is associated with men. [19] She also claims that there are many theories as to the origins of emotions, and in the long run listening to emotions might lead to better decisions. [20]

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Anne Fausto-Sterling American sexologist

Anne Fausto-Sterling is the Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Biology and Gender Studies at Brown University. She participates actively in the field of sexology and has written extensively on the biology of gender, sexual identity, gender identity, gender roles, and intersexuality.

Donna Haraway scholar in the field of science and technology studies

Donna J. Haraway is an American Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department and Feminist Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, United States. She is a prominent scholar in the field of science and technology studies, described in the early 1990s as a "feminist, rather loosely a postmodernist". In 2002, she was awarded the J.D. Bernal Prize, the highest honor given by the Society for Social Studies of Science, for lifetime contributions to the field.[41] Haraway is the author of numerous foundational books and essays that bring together questions of science and feminism, such as "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century" (1985) and "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective" (1988). Additionally, for her contributions to the intersection of information technology and feminist theory, Haraway is widely cited in works related to Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Her Situated Knowledges and Cyborg Manifesto publications in particular, have sparked discussion within the HCI community regarding framing the positionality from which research and systems are designed. She is also a leading scholar in contemporary ecofeminism, associated with post-humanism and new materialism movements. Her work criticizes anthropocentrism, emphasizes the self-organizing powers of nonhuman processes, and explores dissonant relations between those processes and cultural practices, rethinking sources of ethics.

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Shulamit Reinharz was the Jacob Potofsky Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University until 2017. During her tenure at Brandeis, she was director of the women's studies program from 1991 to 2001 and launched The Scholars Program, the first graduate program to focus on Jewish women. She was the founding director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute in 1997 and founder and director of the Women's Studies Research Center in 2001.


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