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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

feminist theory of state

This note discusses developments in feminist state theory through a comparison of feminist interventions into jurisprudence, criminology, and welfare state theory.
Early feminist work on the state analyzed how women were subordinated by a centralized state. More recently, feminist scholars unearthed how states are differentiated entities, comprised of multiple gender arrangements. This discovery of state variation surfaced differently in these three branches of scholarship. Feminist legal theorists concentrated on multiple legal discourses, feminist criminologists on the diverse sites of case processing, and feminist welfare theorists on the varied dimensions of welfare stratification. Because of their different approaches to state gender regimes, these scholars have much to offer, and to gain from, one another. Thus, this chapter argues for the importance of an interdisciplinary feminist dialogue on the state. It also suggests ways to promote such a dialogue and to insert a sociological perspec tive into this new mode of theorizing.
Feminism refers to movements aimed at establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights. Some people argue that gender is a social construction that harms all people; feminism thus seeks to liberate men as well as women. Feminists, persons practicing feminism, can be persons of either sex.
Feminist theory emerged from these feminist movements and includes general theories and theories about the origins of inequality, and, in some cases, about the social construction of sex and gender, in a variety of disciplines. Feminist activists have campaigned for women's rights—such as in contract, property, and voting—while also promoting women's rights to bodily integrity and autonomy andreproductive rights. They have opposed domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. In economics, they have advocated for workplace rights, including equal pay and opportunities for careers and to start businesses.
The movements and theoretical developments were historically led predominantly by middle-class white women from Western Europe and North America, but, since then, more women have proposed additional feminisms.
Protofeminism preceded feminism and is based on sources other than feminists' writings. Feminists' writings then began to appear, such as those by Christine de Pizan in the 15th century and Mary Wollstonecraft in the late 18th century. Starting in the 19th century, feminism tended to arise in what we now refer to as waves, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom.First-wave feminism sought equality in property rights, changes in the marriage relationship, and, eventually, in women's suffrage, or women's right to vote. Second-wave feminism, also sometimes called women's liberation, began in the 1960s and focused on discrimination and on cultural, social, and political issues, and books about it included The Feminine Mystique and The Second Sex. It was often accused of orienting to upper middle-class white women and, sometimes, of biological essentialism. Third-wave feminism began in the 1980s or early 1990s and addresses feminism across class and race lines, as being grounded in culture rather than biology, and through many issues, so there exists less concentration on particular issues.
Post-feminism is, depending on the participant, either a later development of feminism or a denial that feminism has any continuing justification, so not all feminists consider post-feminism a part of feminism, some viewing it rather as a critique of feminism.
Feminist theory aims to understand gender difference and gender inequality and focuses on gender politics and sexuality. Providing a critique of these social and political power relations, much of feminist theory focuses on the promotion of women's rights. Themes explored in feminist theory include discrimination, stereotyping, objectification (especially sexual objectification), oppression, and patriarchy. Feminist theory is academically concentrated in women's studies and encompasses work in history, anthropology, sociology, economics, literary criticism, (supported by women's literature, music, film, and other media), art history, psychoanalysis, theology, philosophy, geography, and other disciplines.
Elaine Showalter modeled the development of feminist theory, although Toril Moi criticized this model, seeing it as essentialist,deterministic, and failing to account for the situation of women outside the West.
Movements and ideologies
Several overlapping movements of feminist ideologies have developed over the years.
Liberal feminism seeks individualistic equality of men and women through political and legal reform without altering the structure of society.
Socialist feminism connects oppression of women to exploitation, oppression, and labor. Marxist feminists feel that overcoming class oppression overcomes gender oppression; some socialist feminists disagree. Radical feminism considers the male-controlled capitalisthierarchy as the defining feature of women's oppression and the total uprooting and reconstruction of society as necessary and has branched into such as anti-pornography feminism, opposed by sex-positive feminism. Anarcha-feminists believe that class struggle andanarchy against the Staterequire struggling against patriarchy, which comes from involuntary hierarchy. Cultural feminism attempts to revalidate undervalued "female nature" or "female essence";its critics assert that it has led feminists to retreat from politics to lifestyle. Separatist feminism does not support heterosexual relationships. Lesbian feminism is thus closely related. Some writers criticize separatist feminism as sexist.
Womanism emerged after early feminist movements were largely white and middle-class. Black feminism argues that sexism, classoppression, and racism are inextricably bound together. Chicana feminism focuses on Mexican American, Chicana, and Hispanic women in the United States. Multiracial or "women of colour" feminism is related. Standpoint feminists argue that feminism should examine how women's experience of inequality relates to that of racism, homophobia, classism, and colonization. Postcolonial feminists argue that colonial oppression and Western feminism marginalized postcolonial women but did not turn them passive or voiceless.Third-world feminism is closely related. These discourses are related to African feminism, motherism, Stiwanism, negofeminism, femalism, transnational feminism, and Africana womanism.
Conservative feminism is conservative relative to the society in which it resides. Libertarian feminism conceives of people as self-owners and therefore as entitled to freedom from coercive interference. Individualist feminism or ifeminism, opposing so-called gender feminism, draws on anarcho-capitalism.
Postmodern feminists argue that sex and gender are socially constructed, that it is impossible to generalize women's experiences across cultures and histories, and that dualisms and traditional gender, feminism, and politics are too limiting. Post-structural feminism uses various intellectual currents for feminist concerns. Many post-structural feminists maintain that difference is one of the most powerful tools that women possess. Contemporary psychoanalytic French feminism is more philosophical and literary than is Anglophone feminism.
Ecofeminists see men's control of land as responsible for the oppression of women and destruction of the natural environment, but a criticism is that ecofeminism focuses too much on a mystical connection between women and nature.
Movements share some perspectives while disagreeing on others. For example, some consider men oppressed by gender roleswhile others consider men primarily the causative agents of sexism.
Some feminists have argued that men's issues are an important part of feminism, as men's equality is necessary for women's equality. These feminists point to legal and social imbalances in regard to father's rights, male rape and spousal battery, negative social expectations for men, and a narrow definition of "masculinity."
The feminist movement has effected change in Western society, including women's suffrage; in education; in gender neutrality in English; job pay more nearly equal to men's; the right to initiate divorce proceedings; the reproductive rights of women to make individual decisions on pregnancy (including access to contraceptives and abortion); and the right to enter into contracts and own property. Feminists have struggled to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, emphasizing the grounds as women's rights, rather than as men's traditional interests in families' safety for reproductive purposes. On economic matters, feminists have advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave, and against other forms of gender-specific discrimination against women. They have achieved some protections and societal changes through sharing experiences, developing theory, and campaigning for rights.
From the 1960s on, the campaign for women's rights was met with mixed results in the U.S. and the U.K. Other countries of the EECagreed to ensure that discriminatory laws would be phased out across the European Community.
In the U.S., the National Organization for Women (NOW) began in 1966 to seek women's equality, including through the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which did not pass, although some states enacted their own.
Reproductive rights in the U.S. centered on the court decision in Roe v. Wade enunciating a woman's right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term. Western women gained more reliable birth control, allowing family planning and careers. The movement started in the 1910s in the U.S. under Margaret Sanger and elsewhere under Marie Stopes and grew in the late 20th century.
The division of labor within households was affected by the increased entry of women into workplaces in the 20th century. Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild found that, in two-career couples, men and women, on average, spend about equal amounts of time working, but women still spend more time on housework, although Cathy Young responded by arguing that women may prevent equal participation by men in housework and parenting.
Although research suggests that, to an extent, both women and men perceive feminism to be in conflict with romance, studies of undergraduates and older adults have shown that feminism has positive impacts on relationship health for women and sexual satisfaction for men, and found no support for negative stereotypes of feminists.
In international law, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international convention adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and described as an international bill of rights for women. It came into force in those nations ratifying it.
In religion, feminist theology reconsiders the traditions, practices,scriptures, sacred texts, and theologies of religions from a feminist perspective. Its goals include increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, reinterpreting male-dominated imagery and language about the deity or deities, and determining women's place in relation to career andmotherhood. Most Christian feminists agree that God does not discriminate by sex. New feminism is a branch of difference feminism within Catholicism. Islamic feminism aims for full equality in public and private life, highlights the deeply rooted teachings of equality in the Quran, encourages questioning patriarchal interpretation of Islamic teaching. and draws on secular and Western feminist discourses. Jewish feminism addresses all major branches of Judaism to open up all-male prayer groups, end exemption from positive time-bound mitzvot, and enable women to function as witnesses and to initiate divorce. The Dianic Wiccan feminism, one faith of many in Wicca, is female-focused and Goddess-centered and teaches witchcraft as every woman's right. In Wicca, "the Goddess" is a deity of prime importance, along with her consort the Horned God. In the earliest Wiccan publications, she is described as a tribal goddess of the witch community, neither omnipotent nor universal, and it was recognised that there was a greater "Prime Mover", although the witches did not concern themselves much with this being. Atheist feminism objects to sexism in all major religions.

Relationship to political movements

In the U.S., feminism, when politically active, formerly aligned largely with the political right, e.g., through the National Woman's Party, from the 1910s to the 1960s, and presently aligns largely with the left, e.g., through the National Organization for Women, of the 1960s to the present, although in neither case has the alignment been consistent.


Since the early twentieth century, some feminists have allied with socialism. In 1907, at an International Conference of Socialist Women inStuttgart, suffrage was described as a tool of class struggle. Clara Zetkin of the Social Democratic Party of Germany called for women's suffrage to build a "socialist order, the only one that allows for a radical solution to the women's question".
In Britain, the women's movement was allied with the Labour party. In the U.S., Betty Friedan emerged from a radical background to take leadership. Radical Women is the oldest socialist feminist organization in the U.S. and is still active. During the Spanish Civil War,Dolores Ibárruri (La Pasionaria) led the Communist Party of Spain. Although she supported equal rights for women, she opposed women fighting on the front and clashed with the anarcha-feminist Mujeres Libres.[98]
In Latin America, revolutions brought changes in women's status in countries such as Nicaragua, where feminist ideology during the Sandinista Revolution aided women's quality of life but fell short of achieving a social and ideological change.
The end of Communist governments led to changes in Eastern European gender roles.


Nazi Germany and the contemporary fascist states illustrate the disastrous consequences for society of a state ideology that, in glorifying traditional images of women, becomes anti-feminist. In Germany, after the rise of Nazism in 1933, there was a rapid dissolution of the political rights and economic opportunities that feminists had fought for during the prewar period and to some extent during the 1920s. In Franco's Spain, the right-wing Catholic conservatives undid the work of feminists during the Republic.Fascist society was hierarchical with an emphasis and idealization of virility, with women maintaining a position largely subordinate to men's.
British Fascism, for its part, attracted many women to its ranks. In particular, three prominent suffragette leaders (Mary Allen, Mary Richardson, and Norah Elam) used militant tactics to get votes for women in Britain in the early 1900s, and that had earned them Holloway prison terms, where they underwent hunger and thirst strikes and force feeding in the cause. During the 1930s, all three became prominent leaders in Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF). Elam became a BUF propagandist, driven by her disillusionment with what she saw as the antiquated Party political system that then dominated. She asserted that women had been given the vote simply to patronize and shut them up, making them think they were taking part in democratic decision-making, and then shrewdly sidelining them and making them politically impotent. Her Fascist propaganda bitterly criticized fellow suffragettes for giving up the feminist agenda and returned time and again to a concern with women's lack of freedom and the lack of influence that any one individual can exert through voting alone. The alternative to democracy she believed the BUF offered was not simply a vague utopian vision. She referred to the practical ideology underlying her Fascist concept. This New Creed, she believed, came in the form of a "Corporate State" which would deliver real equality and participation for all citizens, Corporatism being a system in which various groups in society (economic sectors and professional specializations) are conceived as the essential parts of the state making up the whole, the organs making up the body. The British House of Commons would be made up of representatives from each Corporation. She detailed little. When she was put forward as a candidate for a Parliamentary seat in Northampton in 1936, Mosley accompanied her to Northampton to introduce her to her electorate at a meeting in the Town Hall, where in a public meeting he announced that "[h]e was glad indeed to have the opportunity of introducing the first candidate, and it killed for all time the suggestion that National Socialism proposed putting British women back into the home. Mrs Elam had fought in the past for women's suffrage ... and was a great example of the emancipation of women in Britain". Whether this idea of a Corporate State would ever have produced for women the power to influence public life in the way Elam hoped was never realised in Britain. World War II and its aftermath revealed the full horrors of fascism and what it was capable of and coincided with the demise of the BUF, which never actually fought or won any seats in elections.

Scientific discourse criticism

Some feminists, such as Evelyn Fox Keller, criticize traditional scientific discourse as historically biased towards a masculine perspective, including the idea of scientific objectivity. Primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy notes the prevalence of masculinely coined stereotypes and theories, such as of the non-sexual female, despite "the accumulation of abundant openly available evidence contradicting it".
Many feminist scholars rely on qualitative scientific research methods that emphasize women's subjective and individual experiences, including treating research participants as authorities equal to the researcher. Objectivity is eschewed in favor of open self-reflexivity and the agenda of helping women. Also, part of the feminist research agenda is the uncovering of ways in which power inequities are created and/or reinforced in society and in scientific and academic institutions. A feminist approach to research often involves nontraditional forms of presentation.

Biology of gender

Modern feminist science challenges the biological essentialist view of gender. However, it is increasingly interested in the study of biological sex differences and their effect on human behavior. For example, Anne Fausto-Sterling's book, Myths of Gender, explores the assumptions embodied in scientific research that purports to support a biologically essentialist view of gender.
Her second book, Sexing the Body, discussed the alleged possibility of more than two true biological sexes. This possibility only exists in yet-unknown extraterrestrial biospheres, as no ratios of true gametes to polar cells other than 4:0 and 1:3 (male and female, respectively) are produced on Earth. However, in The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine argues that brain differences between the sexes are a biological reality with significant implications for sex-specific functional differences. Steven Rhoads illustrated sex-dependent differences across a wide scope.
Carol Tavris, in The Mismeasure of Woman, uses psychology and sociology to critique theories that use essentialism and biologicalreductionism to explain differences between men and women. She argues that "women are not the better sex, the inferior sex or the opposite sex", rather she contends that there are ever-changing hypotheses that justify inequality and perpetuate stereotypes.
Cordelia Fine, in Delusions of Gender, argues that there is currently no scientific evidence for innate biological differences between men and women's minds, and that cultural and societal beliefs contribute to commonly perceived sex differences.

Evolutionary biology

Sarah Kember—drawing from numerous areas such as evolutionary biology, sociobiology, artificial intelligence, and cybernetics in development with a new evolutionism—discusses the biologization of technology. She notes how feminists and sociologists have become suspicious of evolutionary psychology, particularly in as much as sociobiology is subjected to complexity in order to strengthen sexual difference as immutable through pre-existing cultural value judgments about human nature and natural selection. Where feminist theory is criticized for its "false beliefs about human nature", Kember then argues in conclusion that "feminism is in the interesting position of needing to do more biology and evolutionary theory in order not to simply oppose their renewed hegemony, but in order to understand the conditions that make this possible, and to have a say in the construction of new ideas and artefacts."


Feminism has led to increased participation by women in the health care they receive (e.g., the book Our Bodies, Ourselves), deliver (e.g., as doctors and midwives), and seek (e.g., lactivism).


Feminist therapy is the application of feminist principles to psychotherapy.


Different groups of people have responded to feminism, and both men and women have been among its supporters and critics. Among American university students, for both men and women, support for feminist ideas is more common than self-identification as a feminist. The US media tends to portray feminism negatively and feminists "are less often associated with day-to-day work/leisure activities of regular women." Men have responded in each wave of the movement positively and negatively, varying from pro-feminism to masculism, the men's rights movement, and anti-feminism.

Masculism and Men's Rights Movements

Masculism emerged in the 20th Century as a reaction to the feminist movement in order to address men's interests and rights. The masculist movement encompasses a broad range of views and attitudes towards feminism. Some masculists view masculism as a complementary movement to feminism, with both movements seeking to correct gender discrimination, while other masculists explicitly oppose feminism and support a "new patriarchy." Pro-feminist academics like Michael Flood, Michael Messner, and Michael Kimmel are involved withmen's studies.[123][124][125][126][127] Michael Flood, a pro-feminist, has characterized the movement as anti-feminist men's rights activists who "have ridden the wave of right-wing backlashes against “political correctness” and efforts at social justice"

Men as feminists

Philosopher Jeremy Bentham demanded equal rights for women in the 18th century. In 1866, philosopher John Stuart Mill (author of "The Subjection of Women") presented a women's petition to the British parliament and supported an amendment to the 1867 Reform Bill.
Some feminist women maintain that identifying and participating as a feminist is the strongest stand men can take in the struggle against sexism. Highlighting critical debates about masculinity and gender, the history of men in feminism, and men's roles in preventing violence and sexual assault, a critical analysis of first-person stories by feminist/profeminist men addresses the question of why men should care about feminism in the first place and lays the foundation for a larger discussion about feminism as an all-encompassing human issue, drawing on earlier work. Fidelma Ashe argues that traditional feminist views of male experience and of "men doing feminism" have been monolithic and explores the multiple political discourses and practices of pro-feminist politics and evaluates each strand through an interrogation based upon its effect on feminist politics.
In the 21st century, new reactions have emerged from male scholars in gender studies
Other feminist women argue that men cannot be feminists, being incapable simply because, in terms of their acculturation, they are not women. They maintain that men are granted inherent privileges that prevent them from identifying with feminist struggles, thus making it impossible for them to identify with feminists.


Pro-feminism is the support of feminism without implying that the supporter is a member of the feminist movement. The term is most often used in reference to men who are actively supportive of feminism. The activities of pro-feminist men's groups include anti-violence work with boys and young men in schools, offering sexual harassment workshops in workplaces, running community education campaigns, and counseling male perpetrators of violence. Pro-feminist men also are involved in men's health, activism against pornography including anti-pornography legislation, men's studies, and the development of gender equity curricula in schools. This work is sometimes in collaboration with feminists and women's services, such as domestic violence and rape crisis centers. Some activists of both genders will not refer to men as "feminists" at all and will refer to all pro-feminist men as "pro-feminists".

Criticisms by women of colour, with lower incomes, or not Western

During much of its history, feminist movements and theoretical developments were led predominantly by middle-class white women from Western Europe and North America.[24][30][31] However, at least since Sojourner Truth's 1851 speech to American feminists, women of other races have proposed alternative feminisms. This trend accelerated in the 1960s with the civil rights movement in the United States and the collapse of European colonialism in Africa, the Caribbean, parts of Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Since that time, women in developing nations and former colonies and who are of colour or various ethnicities or living in poverty have proposed additional feminisms.


Antifeminism is the opposition to women's equalityor the opposition to feminism in some or all of its forms. Writers such asCamille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers, Jean Bethke Elshtain, and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese have been labeled "anti-feminists" by feminists. Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge argue that in this way the term "anti-feminist" is used to silence academic debate about feminism. Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young's books Spreading Misandry and Legalizing Misandry explore what they argue is feminist-inspired misandry. Christina Hoff-Sommers argues feminist misandry leads directly to misogyny by what she calls "establishment feminists" against (the majority of) women who love men in Who Stole Feminism: How Women Have Betrayed Women. Marriage rights advocates criticize feminists like Sheila Cronan who take the view that marriage constitutes slavery for women and that freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage.
State theory is a relatively recent addition to feminist scholarship. Although many political sociologists spent the last decade bringing the state back into their field, many feminist social scientists used this period to conceptualize ways to bring the state into the study of gender.
Initially, feminists drew the state into gender studies through analyses of the state's role in reproducing patriarchal social relations; they examined how women, as a homogenous group, were oppressed by a centralized state.
More recently, feminists have eschewed such conspiratorial notions of state patriarchy to take up the more complicated task of illuminating the ways states shape, and are shaped by, gender relations. Through studies of state spheres--including welfare provisions, legal codes, and penal policies--feminist theorists uncovered how states are differentiated entities, composed of multiple gender arrangements. The result has been the proliferation and diversification of feminist analyses of the state. This chapte r charts the trajectories of the new feminist scholarship on different state realms.
To a large extent, this new feminist scholarship is organized by the type of state apparatus. Some scholars focus on the dynamics of welfare redistribution and policy formulation (Skocpol 1992, Orloff 1993, Gordon 1994); others center on the assignment of political citizenship and legal rights (Pateman 1988, MacKinnon 1989, Rhode 1989). Still others are concerned with the formation of penal and disciplinary practices (Smart 1990, Daly 1994, Messerschmidt 1997). Existing reviews tend to echo these divisions by systematizing feminist analyses of a particular state apparatus and fleshing out their contributions to general scholarly debates (Smart 1991, Orloff 1996, Daly & Maher 1998). By dialoguing with non-feminist scholars, feminists made inroads into "mainstream" social science and heightened the visibility of their work (Chavetz 1997). Although extraordinarily important, these external dialogues often deflected attention from internal feminist exchanges. Feminist welfare scholars rarely refer to the work of feminist legal theorists or criminologists; the reverse is also true. Thus, we lack an understanding of the theoretical developments and empirical findings of different branches of feminist state theory.
This notes crosses the traditional borders of subfields to compare feminist interventions into jurisprudence, criminology, and welfare state theory. I chose these fields for three primary reasons. First, although not all of these scholars claim to study the state per se, they all analyze the gendered dynamics of state apparatuses. Second, feminist research in these areas has been the most extensive, thus allowing me to compare work of similar complexity. Third, feminist scholarship in these fields has the most relevance to a broad sociological audience; it addresses issues of concern to sociologists of law, criminologists, and political sociologists. This does not imply that I confine my analysis to texts written exclusively by sociologists. Although I place sociological work in the forefront, feminist state theory is too interdisciplinary to be limited to one field. At the same time, I do restrict my discussion in several ways. Most importantly, I address feminist analyses of the state's gender regime--or the "state of play of gender relations in a given institution" (Connell 1987, p. 120). I review works that illuminate the state processes and arrangements active in fashioning gender relations in the legal, criminal justice, and welfare systems. My interest is less in feminist discussions of how or why women and men reach state systems, and more in their theories of the gendered processes that subjects encounter once embedded in these systems.
Even within these conceptual parameters, it is exceedingly difficult to do justice to the vast literature on gender and the state. Thus, this chapter is necessarily schematic; it paints a portrait of feminist state scholarship in broad strokes. Nonetheless, the portrait has a frame. As I analyze developments in these three fields, I compare feminist work in two dimensions: their accounts of the state as "need interpreter" and as "need satisfier" (Fraser 1989). I explore the extent to which feminists in these fields view state gender regimes as operating through interpretive structures, redistributive structures, or some combination of the two. How do feminists understand the state's role in interpreting the categories of gender? Do they see these acts of interpretation as key to the gender regimes of law, criminal justice, and welfare? Or do they conceptualize state regimes as primarily redistributive in nature, that is, as stratifying women and men through differential access to material goods, social rights, and punishment? Have feminists connected these dimensions to link state interpretation and stratification? In short, I investigate the trajectories of three branches of feminist scholarship through "cultural" and "structural" perspectives.
This two-dimensional framework will facilitate dialogue among feminist thinkers who too often seem to talk past each other. It also offers a way to disentangle the complex processes that make up state gender regimes, and it highlights the similarities and differences in feminist theoretical trajectories and empirical findings. In all of these fields, feminists have moved away from simply critiquing nonfeminist scholarship or imposing mainstream paradigms onto gender analyses. They have developed models that draw on and expand existing frameworks. Their models tend to share a critical, albeit tacit, understanding of the state as a multifaceted entity. In a similar manner, they expose the way state arenas are often fraught with conflicting and contradictory messages about gender. When taken together, this feminist work replaces the notion of a singular, centralized state structure with a conception of the diversity of state apparatuses.
This recognition of state variation has surfaced differently in these three fields of feminist studies. Feminist legal scholars have developed sophisticated theories of legal interpretation and textual representation, but remain less attentive to the law's stratifying dimensions. I discuss this development in the first section of this chapter. Feminist criminologists, on the other hand, have done extraordinary empirical work on the redistributive inequalities of the criminal justice system, but have yet to advance a full theorization of the politics of representation. I describe this trajectory in the second part of the chapter. Recent feminist welfare state theory has moved in two directions--one strand examining the politics of redistribution and the other examining the politics of recognition. It has also begun to link these state dimensions in provocative ways. These theoretical innovations have much to offer, and to gain from, feminist jurisprudence and criminology. I outline these lessons in the chapte r's third section. In the concluding section, I argue for the importance of establishing a dialogical field that encompasses feminist analyses of the state. I also suggest ways to create such a field and to insert a sociological perspective into this new mode of theorizing.
Feminist jurisprudence arose in the 1970s in response to political and intellectual developments in the field of law. From the onset, feminist legal scholars were closely tied to the second-wave women's movement (Weisberg 1993). As more women entered law school, they began to problematize issues of sexual discrimination; as many of them became practitioners, they confronted difficulties "doing law" as feminists (Kay 1985, Littleton 1987). Feminist jurisprudence also emerged along with critical legal studies, forming part of a larger critique of legal liberalism and the inherent logic of law (Menkel-Meadow 1988). Feminist jurisprudence also arose at a time when sociologists of law had largely moved away from structural approaches toward ideological and interpretive frameworks (Seron & Munger 1996). Thus, the timing of feminist jurisprudence's birth shaped its subsequent maturation. These broad intellectual currents surfaced in the development of feminist jurisprudence--in its view of the law as a sexist ideolo gy, then as an interpretation of gender relations, and finally as a constitutive discourse.
Much of the early work in feminist jurisprudence chronicled the law as an institution of male dominance. Like many Marxist feminists, these scholars indicted the law as a tool and a symbol of male power. Echoing Hartmann (1976), they claimed that the law acted to secure private patriarchy--by excluding women from the public sphere and refusing to interfere in the domestic realm, the law ensured that women remained subordinate to men (Taub & Schneider 1982, Polan 1982). Moreover, echoing Rubin (1975), feminist legal theorists argued that law was constructed around the exchange and commodification of women (Rifkin 1980). The law distorted social reality in the interest of men and was thus integral to patriarchal culture (McIntosh 1978).
Such conspiratorial arguments were a sign of the times, reminiscent of early trends in feminist theory. Although provocative, these conspiracy theories soon proved to be limited. They were of little help to feminist practitioners in their struggles doing law. Nor did they offer particularly nuanced accounts of legal institutions. Like feminist theory in general, feminist jurisprudence began to shift focus to view the law as an interpretive structure that articulated powerful statements about gender differentiation. Throughout the 1980s, feminist scholars unearthed the legal system's gender regime and explicated the state of play of gender relations in legal doctrine. There was little consensus over the character of this regime: For some, the law's gender regime operated through its assumptions of gender difference, for others through its sameness standard, and for still others through its constitution of gendered subjects.
Gender Regimes of Difference and Sameness
The equality/difference debate within feminist jurisprudence is well documented in the literature (Fineman & Thomadsen 1991, Weisberg 1993, Smith 1993, Holland 1996). At the center of the debate were competing visions of the legal system's representation of gender. On one side were those scholars who viewed the law's insistence on gender difference as the core of its regime: by conceiving of women and men as fundamentally different, the law perpetuated discrimination against women. Commonly known as "equality feminists," these scholars analyzed the gendered assumptions of U.S. legal theory and practice. Like their feminist predecessors, they located the law's gender bias in women's exclusion from the rights granted to some men (Minow 1987). Their work documented the long history of such exclusion and linked it to classifications of "real" sex differences (Eisenstein 1988). In effect, they argued that the law reproduced gender inequality by adhering to an ideology of difference (Williams 1984). The solution wa s therefore clear: if the law's gender regime rested on sexual difference, it could be countered by accentuating sexual similarity. Equality feminists therefore pushed legal liberalism to its limits--claiming that the …
Prepared by Biju P R,Assistant Professor in Poltical Sceince,Govt Brennen College,Thalassery

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