Undertaking an extended project like a dissertation or capstone on topics centred upon Feminist philosophy and critique is a powerful way to contribute to an ever-growing and complex field of research. The overarching theme of ‘Feminism’ is an all-encompassing and broad topic, so there are many avenues to explore. This has never been truer in 2021, and the following list will hopefully give you some inspiration for culturally relevant themes and topics to explore in your dissertation.
- Feminism in the Third Wave and Beyond
- Intersectional Feminism
- Feminism and Body Politics
- Feminism in the Developing Context
Feminism in the Third Wave and Beyond
It is broadly argued that Feminism’s history can be broken down into three waves, with each wave becoming more complicated as the goals and focus evolved in a changing world, through the means of a cultural discussion broadcasting ever more voices. In 2021, there has never been critical thought and scholarship available, so it’s often hard to disentangle Feminist critique to create a clear understanding of what the third wave is, and whether we’ve moved past it. Writing your dissertation on the third wave and how it can be defined is a challenging topic that includes wider discussions of race, gender, economy, colonialism, and the environment.
- Generational conflict in the Feminist movement: Is it possible to define the three distinct waves of Feminism from one another while still articulating a unified philosophy?
- Why the idea ‘if you believe men and women are equal, then you’re a Feminist’ is insufficient in the third wave of the Feminist movement.
- Post feminism vs. The Fourth Wave: Can Feminism navigate the fractured landscape of 21st-century Feminist thought to create a cohesive movement?
- An examination of the insufficiency of the third wave as a final evolution of Feminist thought, and how the next wave will be defined.
In a turbulent year, Black Lives Matter dominated the cultural discussion. Despite the origins of the movement in the United States, as a response to disproportionate rates of police brutality against the country’s African-American population, the conversation happened worldwide. Feminism’s origins are white, and the movement has historically failed to incorporate women of colour, or adequately explore the intersectional nature of privilege and discrimination. Exploring intersectionality and the place it has in the Feminist movement has never been more relevant, and it’s never been more necessary.
- What role does Feminism play in the leadership and organisational structure of the Black Lives Matter movement?
- Exploring the link between police brutality and patriarchal society through a Feminist critique.
- White Feminism and political whiteness: How can the Feminist movement reconcile co-occurring experiences of supremacy and victimhood in 2021?
- Black Trans Lives Matter: A critical evaluation of the role of identity politics in 21st-century social justice movements.
- What are the challenges Intersectional Feminism faces in disentangling systems of oppression from one another, and how can the movement navigate this complexity?
- The role of men in a movement for women: What is the responsibility of Feminism in addressing the concerns of gay and trans men?
- Domestic violence as an intersectional issue: How can Intersectional Feminist scholarship contribute to a framework for effecting social change?
Feminism and Body Politics
From choice to size to ownership to liberation, the politics of the female body in a patriarchal society is central to any discussion of equality. Trying to determine liberation from sexualisation, or ethics from the freedom to choose is a tangled debate, and it’s one that is arguably the most contentious points of fracture in the current Feminist movement. Looking at the culture of body politics through multiple schools of Feminist thought is a vital way to establish understanding in a complicated discussion.
- Feminist sex work and the body politics of Only Fans: What does sexual liberation look like in today’s Feminist movement, and is it contaminated by oppressive patriarchal structures that govern?
- WAP: Empowerment versus Degradation or exploring 2021’s musical and cultural landscape through the lens of first, second, and third-wave Feminist thought.
- Is fat acceptance a Feminist issue? Looking at the philosophy of fatness as a rejection of patriarchal standards of beauty.
- How has capitalism exploited the Feminist body positive movement in consumerist societies?
- Does the movement of the body politics of personal responsibility contradict the goals of health at every size, and where is the line between advocacy and irresponsibility?
- An exploration of the contradicting viewpoints surrounding the ethics of trans athletes in professional sports in contemporary Feminist philosophy.
- Exploring the debate between proponents of trans-inclusive language and Feminist scholars who oppose the decline of language dedicated to the feminine.
Another debate that has dominated the global discourse is the growing impact and increasing threat climate change poses to our ailing planet. Exploring the historical relationship between environmental and Feminist movements is an interesting way to outline the history of both and assess the importance Feminist advocacy could have for the future of environmental activism. However, with concerns of imperialism, globalisation, and class all inextricably woven into the fabric of the debate, it provides an interesting topic to responsibly explore on philosophical, political, and economical grounds.
- The world is a woman: How can Feminist philosophy inform our understanding of the current debate surrounding climate change?
- What is Feminism’s role in preventing environmental degradation in 2021?
- A women’s right to choose and the ethical debate surrounding the consumption of animal product: Is veganism a Feminist ideal?
- The problems of Ecofeminism: Where is the line between protecting an oppressed ecology and the imposition of oppressive ideals?
- Exploring the connection between anti-environment and anti-Feminist political philosophy in the Authoritarian right.
- Privilege or Priority? A critical analysis of the Ecofeminist movement’s failure to address class concerns and the impact this has had on its effectiveness.
Feminism in the Developing Context
In 2021, there is such a delicate balance that exists between advocating for vulnerable populations and inadvertently propping up supremacy through disempowerment – this means that Feminist movements can be accused of ignoring global struggles of gender inequality because the topic is difficult to approach. However, it is an important topic to consider, and it should not be ignored because of a fear of controversy. Dedicating your academic research to assessing the responsibility of Feminism as a global movement or looking at Feminist philosophy in developing contexts is an interesting and meaningful way to contribute to global development and gender equality.
- How does Feminist thought in developing contexts differ to the Feminist philosophy of the west?
- A critical approach to the ways in which Western Feminism fails to address the concerns of global women.
- In a postcolonial society, is it possible for a Western philosophy to adequately represent women living in the fallout of colonial rule?
- What is the relationship between highly religious communities in developing nations and the occurrence of Feminist movements?
- The history of Feminism in Kenya – what does the history of the Feminist movement look like in independent Kenya, and how does it parallel the evolution of the movement in the UK?
- Is the promotion of gender equality in developing contexts a moral responsibility or an imperialist endeavour?