The economic and social development of the Western society made possible the rise of social intention to struggle for the equality and realization of the idea of diversity in all spheres of social life. The rise of the Feminists became an important event at the end of the 18th century. As a result, the following forms of the feminist movements became crucial for the shaping of diversity concept. As Richardson, McLaughlin and Casey underline, when Feminism “opened up the private realm to investigation and certain givens of what generated gender and sexuality were dispelled, debates about how we conceptualize both gender and sexuality steadily grew” (Richardson, McLaughlin, and Casey 1). Thus, with the further development of the social considerations concerning the mentioned issues, the Queer theory appeared. Namely, this post-structuralist critical theory is the result of the social transformations initiated by the traditional concepts’ feminist deconstruction, as well as the Feminist social activity that presupposed the appearance of new movements and conceptions oriented on the realization of the idea of social diversity. Despite that, the Feminist and Queer theories differ in some important points that presumed the gap between these approaches that at the same time have the same roots and tend to the similar goal of the social diversity and equality. While the Feminists believe in the primacy of gender in social relations and try to overcome the patriarchal tendencies through the global activity against the gender inequality in the fields of economics and politics, the Queer theorists underline the importance of sexuality and tend to concentrate their attention on the local issues of cultural kind.
The main differences between the Feminist and the Queer approaches to the social problematics concern two aspects of the issues analyzed by those theories. The first one regards the interrelation between the concepts of gender and sexuality, while the second one is realized through the political issues these approaches are involved into. Thus, according to Richardson, McLaughlin and Casey, the differences in the two aspects mentioned make clear all the main contradictions of lesser importance that occur between these major approaches to the social problematics (Richardson, McLaughlin, and Casey 1). The importance of the indicated issues is presupposed by their significance for both theories, because each of those issues embodies one of two components crucial for both Feminists and Queer theorists. Furthermore, the position concerning the interrelation between gender and sexuality sets the main tenets of the approaches’ theoretical cores, while the political preferences concern the practical aspect of them. At the same time, both Feminism and Queer theories necessarily combine theory with practice, because of their orientation on the social transformations and realization of gender or sexual aspect of social equality. For both approaches, the acceptation of a contrary view on the issues mentioned mean the refutation of the core ideas that constitute the conceptual specifics of Feminist and Queer theories respectively.
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The Feminist approach to the social reality is primarily based on the binary opposition of the oppressive and the oppressed genders that form a general structure of society through their mutual interrelations. Thus, through such interpretation of society built on the constant gender opposition, the Feminist theorists conclude that females have to struggle against the patriarchal dominance in order to achieve the equality and establish the social diversity. The patriarchal society, in its turn, depends on the indisputable dominance of the male gender, and this dominance supposes all the relationships within such a society. However, the full range of such relationships involves all the spheres of social issues; thus, the social activity of the Feminists should concern all the spheres of public life as well. Through the mentioned characteristics of the Feminist theory, the solutions of the main two issues that presuppose the difference between the Feminists and the Queer theorists become obvious. As for the relationship between the concepts of gender and sexuality, the former one is accepted as the fullest one that surmises everything in a society. As Richardson, McLaughlin and Casey claim, gender for the Feminists “is a social division that shapes women and men lives and ultimately shapes sexuality” (Richardson, McLaughlin, and Casey 2). The solution of the question concerning the politics originates from the gender-oriented sociological approach of the Feminists as well. In the center of the Feminists’ interest is “the resonance with global struggle and the intent to participate in the state, political and economic arenas” (Richardson, McLaughlin, and Casey 2). It is clear that the base for the root of such global approach is the binary sociological interpretation of the social relationship and the problem of power as well as the solution of the interrelations of the concepts of gender and sexuality proposed by the Feminists. In other words, the generalized characteristic of the theory assumes its general application.
The Queer theory appeared on the ground of the challenges and problematics discovered by the Feminism, and in this way, the dialogue between these two approaches to the social reality is presupposed by the specifics of their origins. Besides, the Queer theory appeared as an alternative approach to the social inequality based on the specific attention to the concept of sexuality. According to Richardson, McLaughlin and Casey, sexuality in the context of the Queer theory is a “whole cluster of the most crucial sites for the contestation of meaning in twentieth-century western culture” (Richardson, McLaughlin, and Casey 2). The difference between the Feminist and the Queer theories regarding this issue is clear. On the one hand, sexuality for the Feminists is just one of the gender relationships’ aspects, while in the Queer theory it possesses an important significance of an independent and self-sufficient factor of social relationships. The difference between sexuality and gender is that the roots of the former concept which are not limited by the social relationships only, and thus it can be as significant factor as gender is. The same relates to the second issue that constitutes the difference between the approaches analyzed: the Queer theorists’ relation to the political problems. In contrast to the Feminists, the Queer theorists are oriented on the “local activities of performative transgression, within which cultural realms tend to dominate” (Richardson, McLaughlin, and Casey 3). It is obvious that the orientation on the local issues is presupposed by the central position of the concept of sexuality in the Queer theory, because sexuality, in contrast to gender, assumes much more diversity than that of the Feminist binary approach.
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Through the comparison provided, it is apparent that the Feminist theorists operate with much more generalized interpretation of the social reality than that of the Queer theorists. The cause of that is the difference between the concepts of sexuality and gender: while the latter one is presupposed socially and can be analyzed, transformed and overcome through the sociological approach. Besides, the former one is much more complicated phenomenon that appears as the result of multiple factors of different kinds. That is the main reason for the Feminists’ orientation on the global issues along with the Queer theorists’ occupation by the concrete cases that have no solutions based on the sociological generalizations characteristic for the Feminists.