Equality: Still Illusive after All These Years

SOCIAL CITIZENSHIP AND GENDER, Joanna Grossman & Linda McClain, eds., Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming

Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 09-62

30 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2009  

Martha Albertson Fineman

Emory University School of Law

Abstract

This essay will be a chapter in Social Citizenship and Gender, edited by Joanna Grossman and Linda McClain (Cambridge University Press 2009). It addresses the anomaly that after four decades of using the ideal of equality to confront gender-skewed distributions of power we, still we find a politics of gender subordination and domination embedded in society and its ideological and structural institutions, including law. Why is it that the realization of gender equality - even after all these years of theorizing, arguing, and strategizing - remains strangely illusive? Part of the answer is found in the fact that in our ongoing struggle for gender equality we have been constrained by philosophical and jurisprudential concepts shaped and handed down to us by our forefathers. This chapter proposes that one way to render equality less illusive is to move beyond gender and build a more comprehensive framework on the concept of universal human vulnerability. This new theoretical investigation will focus on privilege, as well as discrimination, and reflects on the benefits allocated through the organization of society and its institutional structures. Such an approach could move us closer to securing substantive equality and social rights in the United States.

Keywords: equality, gender, feminist theory, family, dependency, vulnerablity, critical theory

Suggested Citation

Fineman, Martha Albertson, Equality: Still Illusive after All These Years. SOCIAL CITIZENSHIP AND GENDER, Joanna Grossman & Linda McClain, eds., Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming; Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 09-62. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1424966

Martha Albertson Fineman (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-712-2421 (Phone)

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