oxford views updated May 18 2018
dif·fer·ence / ˈdif(ə)rəns/ •
n. a point or way in which people or things are not the same: the differences between men and women. ∎ the state or condition of being dissimilar or unlike: their difference from one another. ∎ a disagreement, quarrel, or dispute: the couple are patching up their differences. ∎ a quantity by which amounts differ; the remainder left after subtraction of one value from another: the gross margin is the difference between the total cost of the goods and the final selling price. ∎ Heraldry an alteration in a coat of arms to distinguish members or branches of a family.•
v. [tr.] Heraldry alter (a coat of arms) to distinguish members or branches of a family.PHRASES: make a (or no) difference have a significant effect (or no effect) on a person or situation: the law will make no difference to my business.with a difference having a new or unusual feature or treatment: a fashion show with a difference.
oxford views updated Jun 27 2018
Although increasingly employed with reference to ethnic, class, and age divisions within social groups, the term ‘difference’ was initially used by ‘second wave’ feminist
writers, who defined the term politically, seeing it as a polarity both between women and men and among women themselves. Kate Millett and Shulamith Firestone viewed women's differences from men as a principal manifestation of women's oppression by men. Others see the term as referring more to the fact that women have a different experience of work, love, and family, indeed a different psychology, from that of men. It is also used in the negative sense of social exclusion
and subordination, although radical feminists such as Mary Daly see it as a positive phenomenon, difference as a cause to embrace and celebrate. Black feminists such as Audre Lorde have attacked the misleading universalism of feminism and stressed the deep differences existing between women at all levels, especially with regard to access to scarce resources and power, as a result of ethnic differences and divisions based on class and sexual orientation. In recent years there has been a growing multiplicity of women celebrating differences, but some argue this results in a loss of homogeneity in the women's movement, while others point out that the politically neutral notion of difference to a great extent disguises social inequality
—both between women and men, and among women themselves.