The history of feminism has gone through many stages but in all times the main aim of all feminists was to protect the rights of women and to struggle for their equality with men. Unfortunately, in the majority of countries women have been always discriminated by men. Modern feminist theorists try to find the roots of this oppression and the ways to overcome it. Therefore, today there are many schools within the feminist theory, which base on psychological, historical, social, economic studies, etc.
Psychoanalytic trend in feminism is based on the idea that gender of a person depends on his psycho-sexual development from the early childhood. The followers of this school believe that gender division of the society begins from the childhood when boys are brought up to be masculine and strong and girls to be feminine and weak. Later on such development leads to the dominance of men and to the strengthening of this tendency. Men become firmly convinced of their strength and omnipotence and women believe that they are weak and dependent on men. The adherents of this school are guided by Freud’s psychoanalytical theories. In order to avoid the development of gender division of the society this school offered to introduce coeducation of boys and girls in schools (Tong, 2008).
Another feminist school, which is occupied with the problems of gender discrimination, is legal theory school. It sees the main reason of discrimination of women in the injustice of law. Feminist legal theorists believe that due to the preconceived judgments, law became the force that contributed to the historical inequality of men and women.
Today the followers of this theory search for the proofs of the crucial role of law in women’s discrimination and try to change the jurisprudence in order to change the attitude of law to women (Tong, 2008).
It is necessary to mention that these two schools differ from others because they examine the reasons of oppression of women. Other schools pay more attention to the assertion of women’s rights in particular spheres. Thus, for example, feminist literary criticism school pays much attention to the image of women in literature and to the issue of women’s authorship. The appearance of feminist literary criticism gave rise to the development of a number of female authors who devoted many works to the status of women in society, particularly to their discrimination by men. Among the most prominent fighters for women’s equality, one can name such authors as Mary Ann Evans (writing under the pen name George Elliot), Margaret Fuller, Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Kate Chopin.
Feminist literary criticism school is very similar to feminist film theory school and to the feminist art history school. The adherents of film theory analyze the depiction of women in films, the characteristics of female characters and the tendency in the development of female images in modern cinema. The followers of art history theory examine the image of women in art throughout centuries and try to change the opinion of a woman’s status by artistic means. At the same time the theorists of this school are concerned about the equality of women artists and men artists.
Another large feminist theory school is feminist economics. This trend is characterized by the heightened interest to the role of women in economics as well as it considers women’s points of view on the modern economics and its development. Besides the followers of this trend draw attention of the public how Gross Domestic Product does not measure unpaid work fulfilled by women, such as childcare, household duties, etc (Mccann & Kim, 2002).
Among minor feminist theory schools it is necessary to note such as feminist history and feminist geography theories, which can be called approaches to the investigation of feminism. Feminist history concerns the interpretation of history from female perspective. The main aim of this trend is to create a new more balanced point of view of historical events. Feminist geography addresses particular cases of women’s discrimination in different parts of the world.
To make a conclusion, we have analyzed the main schools in feminist theory. If to mark out their common and distinguishing features, it is necessary to note that every school refers to a particular sphere of people’s life. They regard the image of women in literature, cinema, art; they pay attention to the role of women in economics, politics and history. However, what unites all of them is that all the trends in feminist theory focus on the status of women in the society throughout the history. All of them struggle for the equality of women and men and the establishment of a positive image of a woman.