Cultural Relativism and Feminism Term Paper by Quality Writers

Cultural Relativism and Feminism
This paper discusses human rights versus the right to cultural self-determination and group rights.
# 103627 | 2,428 words | 9 sources | MLA | 2008 | US

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In this article, the writer notes that one of the key tensions in contemporary feminist theory is the tension between cultural rights on the one hand, and gender equality rights, that is, women's human rights, on the other hand. It is argued that cultural relativism cannot be allowed to supersede universal rights, and therefore that radical cultural relativism must be rejected. The writer maintains that at most, a partial cultural relativism may be accepted - but what is really needed is an ongoing debate to try and arrive at universal human rights that can be agreed on globally. Whatever these rights turn out to be, the key point that is argued is that claims of cultural relativism function to preserve male privilege, just as in the West, rhetoric about traditional family values has tried to hold the fort against the introduction of basic human rights, such as votes for women and marriage for same-sex couples. The appeal to culture or tradition does not automatically confer legitimacy on unjust customs.

From the Paper:

"One solution is to try to reform these cultures from within. The problem is that within a paradigm of collective rights, this is often neither practical nor possible. It is argued that Nagengast (1997) has a better solution, when she proposes that what is really needed is continuing debate, with a view to arriving at a consensus as to what would constitute universal rights - and that while we are doing this, radical cultural relativity must be rejected.
"Coomaraswamy notes that Asian scholars have also suggested a way of reframing this debate, by couching it in terms of Asian values as specifically non-Western values. In this reframing, the key point that is argued is that Western values privilege individual rights over communal values .."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Bolt, C. (2000). The ideas of British suffragism. Votes for Women, Eds. J. Purvis & S.S. Holton: 34-56. London: Routledge.
  • Calhoun, C. (2002). Feminism, the Family, and the Politics of the Closet: Lesbian and Gay Displacement. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Cookmaraswamy, Radhika. (n.d.). Different but free: Cultural relativism and women's rights as human rights. (REFERENCE NEEDS TO BE COMPLETED)
  • Dutton, D. G. (1995). The Domestic Assault of Women: Psychological and Criminal Justice Perspectives. Vancouver, B.C.: University of British Columbia Press
  • Gatens, Moria. (2004). Can human rights accommodate women's rights? Towards an embodied account of social norms, social meaning, and cultural change. Contemporary Political Theory, 3: 275-299.

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APA Format

Cultural Relativism and Feminism (2008, May 22) Retrieved September 28, 2022, from

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"Cultural Relativism and Feminism" 22 May 2008. Web. 28 September. 2022. <>