Problems of Gender Roles and Development of Feminism

The problem of gender roles is one of the important issues in modern society that causes a chain of disputes. Rivalry between men and women became more prominent when the concept of Feminism acquired clear meaning and was spread throughout the world. A great number of female writers have published a series of books, where they show tough life of women in the society that lives with stereotypes in its mind and puts dark labels at strong women, who are about to rebel. These writers also developed feminism theories. However, as it has turned lately, these theories, to some extent, infringe women’s interests, who live not in the USA or Europe.

Western feminism theory inability to fit women’s life in the Third World countries

The predominant part of feminist women is from the countries of the Third World. These women claim that some feminist theories and, especially, “western feminism” do not take into consideration a bunch of problems which, for instance, Asian or Indian women experience in their countries. Shirin M. Rai in her work “Women and The State” explores the imbalance in a wide range of issues, such as poor involvement of Third State women in political and social life within their countries. She unveils such terrible facts as rape, murder, beatings in police custody continue to be common features of state operation especially in rural areas (Rai 35). This is conditioned by the lack of education, economic inequality, weak social protection, hence, women become more dependent. In her view, western feminist theory does ignore the experience of Third World women. Another professor, Bullbeck Chilla, also underlines in her work that western feminism theory is mostly written for women from Europe and America. In her opinion, women from Asian and other so-called third countries criticize this theory for its “whiteness” (Bulbeck 2) for many reasons. Her summary of literature of non-western women demonstrates that this theory could not be momentarily implemented into other cultures. This is proven by the western feminist main concept of opposition between self and society. For instance, in Muslim cultures self is more group-oriented, while efforts to become individual are seen as a disturbance to collective harmony. Professor Christine Sylvester studies the history of feminists’ attempts to include gender roles in the study of international relations. The author examines how the “nation” (i.e. women) problematic gave rise to feminism. In her research paper Sylvester also criticizes “western theory” and introduces a notion of “nations” of feminism and theory of international relations. In this way, she underlines, that one idea can be hardly implemented into lives of all women, because it does not consider a number of minutiae that may be very vital for women from the Third World. She tries to build bridges between communities and to translate ideas from one culture to another. She suggests “to tolerate cultural differences and to seek potential for building community in spite of these differences” (Sylvester 94).


To sum it up, the most spread and known western feminism theory drastically limits women from the Third World, as its main concepts (such as opposition between self and society) cannot be realized within this or that community due to its historic development or culture. The above-mentioned authors emphasize that the role of women in modern society should not be neglected. As it is seen in their works even now a great number of women in Third countries do not have such an opportunity as to be educated, their ignorance limits them in freedom. This problem should not be viewed only as women’s; this should touch upon the whole humankind.


Bulbeck, Chilla. Re-Orienting Western Feminisms. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Rai, Shirin M. Women And The State. Taylor & Francis Group, 1996.

Sylvester, Christine. Feminists International Relations. The Unfinished Journey. Cambridge University Press, 1994.

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