Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More Feminism 101

Just to continue what we started, y'all might check out Martha Nussbaum's excoriation of Mansfield's recent book, "Manliness". She gives a pretty good account of a lot of basic feminism (and a pretty good account of Socratic method, while she's at it).

Among the things Nussbaum (who is something of a controversial figure as a feminist, at times, is this:
Where to begin? Since in Mansfield all roads lead back to the bogey of feminism, let us begin there. Modern feminism is a hugely diverse set of positions and arguments, but almost nobody has seriously suggested that gender distinctions ought to be completely eradicated. Indeed, much of the effort of legal feminism has been to get the law to take them seriously enough. Thus feminists have urged that rape law take cognizance of women's unequal and asymmetrical physical vulnerability. Some courts had refused to convict men of rape if the woman did not fight her attacker. In one recent Illinois case, the conviction was tossed out because the woman, about five feet tall and less than one hundred pounds, did not resist a two-hundred-pound attacker in a solitary forest preserve. But in a situation of great physical asymmetry, feminists have urged, fighting is actually a stupid thing to do, and in the Illinois case even crying out "No!" would have been stupid, given the extreme solitude of the place and the likelihood that shouting would provoke the attacker to violence. (I take this example from the feminist legal scholar Stephen Schulhofer. Mansfield utterly ignores the existence of male feminists, though they are many. Feminism is a concern with justice, not an exercise in identity politics.)
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