Polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, punishing women for being raped, differential access for men and women to health care and education, unequal rights of ownership, assembly, and political participation, unequal vulnerability to violence. These practices and conditions are standard in some parts of the world. Do demands for multiculturalism — and certain minority group rights in particular — make them more likely to continue and to spread to liberal democracies? Are there fundamental conflicts between our commitment to gender equity (...) and our increasing desire to respect the customs of minority cultures or religions? In this book, the eminent feminist Susan Moller Okin and fifteen of the world’s leading thinkers about feminism and multiculturalism explore these unsettling questions in a provocative, passionate, and illuminating debate. Okin opens by arguing that some group rights can, in fact, endanger women. She points, for example, to the French government’s giving thousands of male immigrants special permission to bring multiple wives into the country, despite French laws against polygamy and the wives’ own bitter opposition to the practice. Okin argues that if we agree that women should not be disadvantaged because of their sex, we should not accept group rights that permit oppressive practices on the grounds that they are fundamental to minority cultures whose existence may otherwise be threatened. In reply, some respondents reject Okin’s position outright, contending that her views are rooted in a moral universalism that is blind to cultural difference. Others quarrel with Okin’s focus on gender, or argue that we should be careful about which group rights we permit, but not reject the category of group rights altogether. Okin concludes with a rebuttal, clarifying, adjusting, and extending her original position. These incisive and accessible essays — expanded from their original publication in Boston Review and including four new contributions — are indispensable reading for anyone interested in one of the most contentious social and political issues today. The diverse contributors, in addition to Okin, are Azizah al-Hibri, Abdullahi An-Na’im, Homi Bhabha, Sander Gilman, Janet Halley, Bonnie Honig, Will Kymlicka, Martha Nussbaum, Bhikhu Parekh, Katha Pollitt, Robert Post, Joseph Raz, Saskia Sassen, Cass Sunstein, and Yael Tamir. (shrink)
Susan Moller Okin. AFTERWORD or greater weighting of these over “masculine" values. For how are women to continue to assume all of the nurturing activities that allegedly both follow from and reinforce their “naturally” superior virtues, and ...
In this pathbreaking study of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, and Mill, Susan Moller Okin turns to the tradition of political philosophy that pervades Western culture and its institutions to understand why the gap between formal and real gender equality persists. Our philosophical heritage, Okin argues, largely rests on the assumption of the natural inequality of the sexes. Women cannot be included as equals within political theory unless its deep-rooted assumptions about the traditional family, its sex roles, and its (...) relation to the wider world of political society are challenged. So long as this attitude pervades our institutions and behavior, the formal equality women have won has no chance of becoming substantive. (shrink)
This article assesses the development of Rawls’s thinking in response to a generation of feminist critique. Two principle criticisms are sustainable throughout his work: first, that the family, as a basic institution of society, must be subject to the principles of justice if its members are to be free and equal members of society; and, second, that without such social and political equality, justice as fairness is as meaningful to women as the unrealized promise of ‘Forty acres and a mule’ (...) was to the newly freed slaves. (shrink)
The recent global movement for women's human rights has achieved considerable re-thinking of human rights as previously understood. Since many of women's rights violations occur in the private sphere of family life, and are justified by appeals to cultural or religious norms, both families and cultures (including their religious aspects) have come under critical scrutiny.
This two-volume set focuses on issues in contemporary feminist debate, including: the critique of mainstream political theories, the feminist reconstruction of political concepts, the impact of the different voice ethic of care on moral theory, and the equality/difference debate.
Feminism is a political stance more than a systematic theory. Political life forms its base: its goal is to change the world. Like Marxism, or any other movement aimed at political change, its thought is inextricably mingled with action. Unlike Marxism, an ideology initiated by a single man, feminism is essentially plural. It is thought derived implicitly from the experience of every woman who has resisted or tried to resist domination.
Throughout history, women and men have been seen as "opposites" in various respects. Examples from the writings of political theorists illustrate this point, while Virginia Woolf is shown to have departed radically from the general tendency to dichotomize sexual difference. Further, this "need" to dichotomize sexual differences contributes to anxiety about and stigmatization of homosexuality. As the social salience of gender becomes reduced, it is to be expected that hostility to homosexuality will decline.
The articles collected in this critical edition represent a variety of interpretations both of the kind of feminism Mill represents and of the specific arguments he offers in The Subjection of Women including their lexical ordering and relative merit. Each selection is preceded by a brief and useful summary of the author's position intended to assist introductory students.