Autonomy and equality in cultural perspective: Response to Sawitri Saharso

Feminist Theory 5 (3):329-332 (2004)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In “Feminist ethics, autonomy and the politics of multiculturalism”, Sawitri Saharso argues that the feminist concern to protect women’s autonomy legitimates and permits two practices which might otherwise seem antithetical to feminism: hymen repair surgery and sex-selective abortion. Sex-selective abortion is given pragmatic support: since it is rare in the Netherlands (the focus of Saharso’s paper), and since limitations on abortion would adversely affect the autonomy of women who sought an abortion for other reasons, Saharso concludes that Dutch law ought not to be changed to make such abortions more difficult. Hymen repair surgery is given much stronger support: she concludes that making it available is “both a multiculturalist action and good feminism” (Saharso, 2003: 211), thus suggesting that there need be no clash between feminism and multiculturalism. In this paper, I argue that Saharso’s argument takes inadequate account of the ways in which the practices reinforce sex inequality in the culture as a whole. As a result, her treatment of women’s autonomy gives insufficient weight to culture despite her aim to support multiculturalism.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 84,292

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Headscarves: A Comparison of Public Thought and Public Policy in Germany and the Netherlands.Sawitri Saharso - 2007 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 10 (4):513-530.
Autonomy, gender, politics.Marilyn Friedman - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Women’s Autonomy and Feminist Aspirations.Marilyn Friedman - 1996 - Journal of Philosophical Research 21:331-340.
Sex-Selective Abortion: A Matter of Choice.Jeremy Williams - 2012 - Law and Philosophy 31 (2):125-159.
The weight of context: Headscarves in Holland. [REVIEW]Odile Verhaar & Sawitri Saharso - 2004 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 7 (2):179-195.


Added to PP

17 (#676,172)

6 months
4 (#200,270)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Sex-Selective Abortion: A Matter of Choice.Jeremy Williams - 2012 - Law and Philosophy 31 (2):125-159.
Human Autonomy, Law, and Technology.Jennifer Chandler - 2010 - Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society 30 (1):3-3.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Add more references