The term "womanist" is a term used to generally describe the act of acting womanly; this may include behavior that is willful, courageous or audacious according to Alice Walker, who coined the term "womanist epistemology." The term "feminist" generally takes on another meaning. Feminist more often refers to females or women who's primary intent includes promoting the rights and equal opportunities of women. Feminist epistemology thus has more to do with examining the ways that gender influences one's ideas about knowledge, practices and justification (Anderson, 2003). It is a method for identifying how dominant ideas and feminist practices disadvantage women and other minority groups, and is an approach that attempt to help promote reform of various conceptions and practices so that women's interests are best served (Anderson, 2003).
This is undoubtedly a benefit or pro of feminist epistemology, as it focuses on supporting women's activities, interests and needs. As a con however, this line of thinking often singles out women and may in some cases reinforce traditional gender roles, stereotypes or social hierarchies that exist with respect to women's rights and abilities (Anderson, 2003). Feminist epistemology also focuses more on pitting men against women and pointing out the oppressive relationship that exists between men and women. This may be viewed in a negative light as it draws attention to social inequalities in a negative rather than productive manner.
Feminist epistemology also concerns itself more with women's ways of knowing or acquiring their beliefs compared with men's justifications or ways of knowing or having justified beliefs (Washington University, 2006). It entails knowing how social relations or our knowing practices about gender influence actions and attempts to help provide social models of knowing practices (Grasswick & Andersen, 2000).
Feminists epistemologists are more likely to share common interests... Continues...