Feminist Thought

A More Comprehensive Introduction

Rosemarie Tong and Tina Fernandes Botts

Fifth Edition • July 18, 2017 • 432 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813349954 • $49.00 USD$63.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813350707 • $29.99 USD$37.99 CAN

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A classic resource on feminist theory, Feminist Thought offers a clear, comprehensive, and incisive introduction to the major traditions of feminist theory: from liberal feminism, radical feminism, and Marxist and socialist feminism to women of color feminisms, care-focused feminism, psychoanalytic feminism, existentialist feminism, postmodern and poststructural feminism, and ecofeminism.

The fifth edition has been thoroughly revised, and now includes a new chapter on third wave feminism and queer theory. In addition, the discussion of women of color feminisms has been expanded into two chapters: women of color feminisms in the United States and women of color feminisms on the world stage.

Learning tools like the end-of-chapter questions and the bibliography organized by topics within chapters make Feminist Thought an essential and handy resource for students and thinkers who want to understand the theoretical origins, current state of, and future trajectories of feminist thought and action.


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Rosemarie Tong is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and the former director of the Center for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Internationally recognized for her contributions to feminist thought and bioethics, Dr. Tong is past coordinator of the International Network on Feminist Approaches to Bioethics and a recent past Chair of the Committee on the Status of Women for the American Philosophical Association.

Tina Fernandes Botts is an assistant professor of philosophy at California State University, Fresno. She is the editor of Philosophy and the Mixed Race Experience, published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2016, and is the former chair of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Black Philosophers. She is currently the co-editor of the APA’s Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience.


The Diversity of Feminist Thinking

1. Liberal Feminism
Conceptual Roots
Before the “First Wave”: Equal Education
“First Wave” Liberal Feminism: Equal Liberty and the Suffrage
“Second Wave” Liberal Feminism: Equal Rights
Toward “Third-Wave” Liberal Feminism: Sameness Versus Difference and Egalitarianism
“Third-Wave” Liberal Feminism: Intersectionality
Critiques of Liberal Feminism
Questions for Discussion

2. Radical Feminism
Radical-Libertarian Feminism in General
Radical-Cultural Feminism in General
Controversies Between Radical-Libertarian and Radical-Cultural Feminists
Critiques of Radical Feminism
Questions for Discussion

3. Marxist and Socialist Feminisms
Some Traditional Marxist Concepts and Theories
Classical Marxist Feminism: General Reflections
Contemporary Socialist Feminism: General Reflections
Contemporary Women’s Labor Issues
Critiques of Marxist and Socialist Feminisms
Questions for Discussion

4. Women-of-Color Feminism(s) in the United States
Women-of-Color Feminism(s) and the “First Wave”
Women-of-Color Feminism(s) and the “Second Wave”
Women-of-Color Feminism(s) and the “Third Wave”
Distinct Women-of-Color Feminism(s)
Critiques of Women-of-Color Feminism(s) in the United States
Questions for Discussion

5. Women-of-Color Feminism(s) on the World Stage: Global, Postcolonial, and Transnational Feminisms
Global Feminism in General
Postcolonial Feminism in General
Transnational Feminism in General
Critiques of Global, Postcolonial, and Transnational Feminisms
Questions for Discussion

6. Psychoanalytic Feminism
Classical Psychoanalytic Thought: Focus on Sigmund Freud
Anglo-American Critiques and Appropriations of Freud: Focus on Dorothy Dinnerstein, Nancy Chodorow, and Juliet Mitchell
Contemporary Psychoanalytic Thought: Focus on Jacques Lacan
Critique of Jacques Lacan
“French” Psychoanalytic Feminism: Focus on Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva
Critiques of Freudian, Lacanian, and Psychoanalytic Feminist Thought
Questions for Discussion

7. Care-Focused Feminism
The Roots of Care-Focused Feminism
Critiques of Care-Focused Feminism
The Roots of Maternal Ethics
Critiques of Maternal Ethics
Questions for Discussion

8. Ecofeminism
Some Roots of Ecofeminism
Early Conceptions of Ecofeminism
Women, Nature, and Culture: Some Tensions
Nature Ecofeminism
Spiritual Ecofeminism
Transformative Ecofeminism
Global Ecofeminism
Vegetarian Ecofeminism
Environmental Ecofeminism
Critiques of Ecofeminism
Questions for Discussion

9. Existentialist, Poststructural, and Postmodern Feminisms
Existentialism: Focus on Jean-Paul Sartre
Existentialist Feminism: Focus on Simone de Beauvoir
Critiques of Existentialist Feminism
Poststructuralism: Focus on Michel Foucault
Poststructural Feminism: Focus on Judith Butler
Critiques of Poststructural Feminism
Postmodernism: Focus on Jacques Derrida
Postmodern Feminism: Focus on Hélène Cixous
Critiques of Postmodern Feminism
Questions for Discussion

10. Third-Wave and Queer Feminisms
Third-Wave Feminism
Critiques of Third-Wave Feminism
Feminist Queer Theory
Critiques of Feminist Queer Theory
Questions for Discussion


Praise for the third edition:

Winner of a Choice Outstanding Academic Titles(OAT) award for 2009

“No other work gives one such a sense of the scope and substance of the major traditions of feminist theory. This richly transformed new edition of Feminist Thought is an indispensable resource for those who want to understand the theoretical origins and complexities of contemporary feminist debates. Tong’s comprehensive understanding of feminist theory enabled her to craft an indispensable overview that clearly illustrates the challenges as well as the promises of the range of approaches, perspectives, and frameworks that comprise feminist efforts to identify sources of oppression and transform women’s status as the ‘second sex.’”
—Nancy Tuana, Penn State University

“The third edition of Feminist Thought is an invaluable guide to all scholars and students of feminist theories. It provides a comprehensive overview of the richly diverse set of perspectives that guide feminist theory and action. Rosemarie Tong is generous, respectful, and even-handed in her clear and eloquent presentation of the strengths of each perspective, while providing fair but challenging criticism of its limitations. This edition improves on its excellent predecessors by being more comprehensive, more persuasive in its categorization of several theorists, and more helpful in understanding the relations among multicultural, global, and postcolonial feminist approaches. It is an essential resource for anyone seeking to engage with feminist theory.”
—Susan Sherwin, University Research Professor, Philosophy and Gender and Women’s Studies, Dalhousie University

“The best introduction to feminist theory is now even better! Rewritten with substantially new chapters on multicultural, global, and postcolonial feminism, care-focused feminist thought, psychoanalytic feminism, and contemporary socialist feminist theory, this new edition of Feminist Thought provides an updated account of the rich traditions of feminist thought and brings them more fully into dialogue on behalf of future possibilities. Current, crystal clear, comprehensive, and critical: It is indispensable for both beginning students and more advanced readers.”
—John J. Stuhr, Emory University

“As in previous editions, Rosemarie Tong helps us understand better what we thought we knew, provides us with an easy entry into new perspectives we would like to know more about, and weaves it all together into a beautiful quilt she calls Feminist Thought. Just what is needed for teachers and students!”
—James P. Sterba, co-author of Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men?

Praise for the second edition:

“…provide[s] meaningful examples of how feminist theory can contribute to reconciling the needs for diversity and difference with those for integration and unity, precisely identifying and recognizing those differences as important ones.”
— Gender, Technology, and Development

”The first edition of Feminist Thought published in 1989 was at the time regarded as one of the most invaluable guides through a wide diversity of complex, feminist thought. This second, more comprehensive edition shares all the virtues of the first. Rosemarie Putman Tong has that rare gift of being able to critically grapple with, yet fully respect, the substance of widely differing feminist critical approaches. In turn the reader is guided to think critically, respectfully and sympathetically.”
— Women’s Philosophy Review

“Tong has done it again! This eagerly awaited new edition of Feminist Thought provides an up-to-date, critical introduction of the major traditions in feminist theory. New chapters on ecofeminism and multicultural and global feminism make this book an indispensable introduction to the diversity of feminist thought. Providing a clear and comprehensive examination of emerging perspectives in feminist theorizing, Feminist Thought is an essential resource for students and thinkers who want to understand the theoretical origins and complexities of contemporary feminist debates.”
— Nancy Tuana, University of Oregon

“I have looked at the revised edition of Rosemarie Tong’s Feminist Thought, and like it very much. My students loved the original for its clarity and comprehensiveness; they will appreciate the new, updated one still more. I recommend it highly!”
— Laura Purdy, University of Toronto and Wells College

“An illuminating, up-to-date discussion of the many varieties of feminism. Invaluable for scholars and students alike. Tong has surpassed herself.”
— James P. Sterba, University of Notre Dame

Praise for the first edition:
“Nicely balanced, eminently readable.… As an overview of the immense variety and richness of activist, literary, and philosophical feminist thought, this is a very good book. It should find its niche in women’s studies programs.… It is a book that feminist sociologists should read.”
— Contemporary Sociology

“Simply a splendid survey of all the major ways of theorizing about women in contemporary society.… This is an ideal book for introducing students and nonstudents alike to the strengths and the richness of our feminist intellectual traditions.”
— Sandra Bartky, University of Illinois–Chicago

“More than a survey; an original, critical analysis that pushes the frontiers of political thought as thought by feminists.”
— Jean Bethke Elshtain, Vanderbilt University

“This is an excellent book—-beautifully written, clear, philosophically probing, and insightful—-just what I would expect from Rosemarie Tong. I especially appreciate having the discussions of psychoanalytic, existentialist, and postmodern feminism, which give the book more breadth than other overviews of feminist theory.”
— Susan Wendell, Simon Fraser University

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