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Feminist Political Theory

  1. Lori Watson

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee757

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Watson, L. 2013. Feminist Political Theory. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Feminism, broadly understood, has two principal aims: first, to understand, diagnose, and analyze the forms and sources of gender inequality; and, second, to offer principles, policies, and directives to undo gender inequality as well as provide a vision for gender equality. Given the diversity of analyses on both fronts, “feminism(s),” rather than “Feminism,” is a more accurate term for the collection of views that identify with these principal aims. Given that one underlying theme in feminist approaches is demonstrating the ways in which politics, understood as power relations, is present in our everyday lives, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to describe feminist theory as a whole as a kind of political philosophy. However, the goal in this piece is to describe a more narrow set of feminist theorizing, that has to do more directly with political theory traditionally understood. The focus of such feminist political theory often includes an examination of the state and its role in either the reproduction of gender inequality or its potential for redressing such inequality. Some feminist political theory involves substantive critiques of conventional political theory that does not theorize gender relations explicitly; its aim is to reframe many of the central questions of political theory in ways that place issues of gender inequality front and center.


  • feminist philosophy;
  • politics;
  • equality;
  • feminism;
  • gender