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'It's Snowing Down South': How to Help Mothers and Avoid Recycling the Sameness/Difference Debate

Posted: 21 Nov 2003  

Joan Chalmers Williams

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

Professor Williams argues that by understanding their history feminists can avoid repeating it. The key disagreement in the destructive sameness/difference debate is not over whether women are the same or different from men, but over whether to empower women in their traditional caregiving role (the 'femme strategy'), or to shift them into socially valued masculine gender performances such as melding personal identity with paid work and off-loading care work (the 'tomboy strategy'). Professor Williams argues that, given the profound importance of care work to the identities of the 85% of women who become mothers, and the structural linkage of motherhood and economic inequality, we need to accept as a given that empowering women requires ending the economic marginalization of mothers. She proposes a 'listening tour,' informed by an epistemology that respects all truths as partial, flawed, and situated - all forged in an arena of constraint. The law professor's role is not to pronounce the 'One True Way' but to seek points of respectful coalition among people whose truths differ.

Suggested Citation

Chalmers Williams, Joan, 'It's Snowing Down South': How to Help Mothers and Avoid Recycling the Sameness/Difference Debate. Columbia Law Revew, Vol. 102, No. 3, April 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=310702

Joan Chalmers Williams (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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