Feminism Versus Multiculturalism

40 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2002 Last revised: 10 Aug 2012

See all articles by Leti Volpp

Leti Volpp

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Date Written: August 9, 2012

Abstract

To posit feminism and multiculturalism as oppositional is to assume that minority women are victims of their cultures. This assumption is achieved by a discursive strategy that constructs gender subordination as integral only to certain cultures. This essay traces the origins of the ubiquitous claim that minority and Third World cultures are more subordinating than culture in the West to the history of colonialism, the origins of liberalism, depictions of the feminist subject, and the use of binary logic. Pitting feminism against multiculturalism has certain consequences: It obscures the influences that in fact shape cultural practices, hides the forces besides culture that affect women's lives, elides the way women exercise agency within patriarchy, and masks the level of violence within the United States. The piece concludes by suggesting a basis for a constructive dialogue beyond the discourse of feminism versus multiculturalism.

Suggested Citation

Volpp, Leti, Feminism Versus Multiculturalism (August 9, 2012). Columbia Law Review, Vol. 101, June 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=277712

Leti Volpp (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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