The Social Construction of Women and the Possibility of Change: Unmodified Feminism Revisited
Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Chapter 5, p. 463, 1992
21 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2008
Date Written: July 31, 1992
This review essay attempts an assessment of the first systematic statement of Catharine MacKinnon's feminism. It follows the structure of her book, first analyzing the critique offered of marxism and liberalism in her attempt to articulate an unmodified feminism. The author concludes that the critique of marxism is inconclusive and that of liberalism targets a caricature that few liberals would recognize. Next, MacKinnon's account of sexuality as the linchpin of gender inequality is discussed, and the argument made that its claim that female sexuality is entirely the product of male desire appears to render change impossible. In fact, her exposition of consciousness raising as the engine of social change, assumes what it is supposed to explain - how women come to consciousness of their subordination. Finally, a similar argument is leveled at her analysis of law. Her stipulative account of the features of the legal definition of equality leaves no room for the possibility of change. Only by refusing fully to acknowledge the extent to which women's situation has changed does she escape confronting her theory's inability to explain it.
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