But, in epistemology as in ideology, feminists must distinguish between valorizing the work women have had to do and valorizing it as female. This second major failure of understanding has frustrated the progress of feminist theory. She is oblivious to her surroundings and will remain so. Character theorists fail to convince critical readers that gender distinctions in personality or morality rest on anything other than sex-role socialization, which may not be healthy or desirable at all. Chodorow ends up about where West does, but by a less direct route.
Several decisions have granted real rights to women and taken real privileges from men. I apply to constitutional law some of the arguments developed in feminist critiques of conventional scholarship. Situation jurists assert that liberalism presumes an autonomy that sexist society denies to women. Rights are so insecure they must be defended; responsibility is so basic it can go unmentioned. For example, any negative judgments about traditional female occupations must be worded with exquisite care, lest they be misinterpreted as expressions of contempt for those who perform these tasks. Anthony considers penis envy a necessary part of the development of the Oedipus complex. The couple agreed that Randy would get custody.
In a Different Voice does apply the ethic of care to men; it is not quite an ethic of unilateral female obligation. This last meaning presupposes that a situation belongs not to whoever or whatever is causing it but to the person experiencing it. Girls, mothered by someone whose body is like theirs, grow up to seek connection; boys, mothered by a person with a different body, seek separation. To have a period away from home is to be in a situation which is, if not dramatic, at least extremely embarrassing. Regina did seek out sexual partners.
Finally, they have encouraged a preoccupation with women that pulls feminist concerns out of mainstream discourse and lets men, institutions, and government off the hook. However, certain modes of interpretation reinforce the male dominance that has characterized this discipline. The passive voice is safer and easier partly because it avoids these complications. The apparent contradiction between equal opportunity and maternity leave may have similar roots. The obstacles these women faced consisted not in the dissonance of male-centered scholarship to their reality but in their exclusion by a male-dominated academic establishment.
Unlike Irigaray, West builds a bridge from physical differences to existential reality that avoids the arbitrariness of the arguments from anatomy. Freudian theory, too, is sexist in ways that are not obvious. The law of self-defense bends itself to men who violently overreact to annoyance, but not to women who retaliate against chronic violence. West has not misread Ackerman. The consumers of nicotine get far more negative input from the government than do the corporations that sell known carcinogens. As a teenager, I was at war with my parents over my failure to be obsessed about my appearance the way adolescent girls are expected to be.
But author and critic alike fail to mention that individual autonomy presupposes individual responsibility as well as individual rights. It is possible to learn to like doing something you did not choose to do, as most children discover. Women are expected to provide care, and society does not value care. Superior Court of Sonoma County. Zdenek David and Linda Worden in the library, Janet Culbreth in the computer center, and Lindsay Collins at the reception desk made daily life easier. The classics of the received tradition are full of ideas that appear to be contingent on male experience.
Situation Theory and Jurisprudence Situation theory does not so much reject the premises of character theory as demote them. No matter how we classify Craig and Virginia, men account for roughly two-thirds of the rulings. The social meanings that West assigns to her critical experiences or Chodorow to her combination of anatomy and sociology are not the only possible interpretations. It has at least two other important meanings. The Great Dichotomy To conclude either that distinctively female ways of knowing exist or that existing intellectual enterprises are hostile to them, therefore, is to ignore the role of gendered power.
Feminist theory, like outsider theory in general, emphasizes out-group disadvantage and the need to mitigate it. First, it must do the opposite of what conventional theory and feminist critiques have done: posit rights and question responsibility. If we turn situation theory into a type of character theory, we cannot discuss what has been done to women without seeming to diminish them. Situation jurisprudence is a better, more generative, more accurate theory than character jurisprudence. Legislators have rid criminal codes of some of their worst sexist features. Feminist theorists have failed to perceive two important points. Why are the resources scarce? Robin West The difference is that men have power and women do not.
Etzioni, for instance, criticizes people who assert rights to health care and housing without noticing that these rights must be asserted precisely because they do not exist. The anonymous reviewers they wisely selected provided valuable criticism. This new specialty has made grave errors of both commission and omission. Many feminists have written in terms which make clear the personal nature of their reactions. No intellectual enterprise can begin by discarding all premises; we have to think within boundaries if we are to think at all. So long as we live, there can be no escape from the threat of abuse or the demand for care.