First, it might be useful to identify a certain kind of feminism. Here’s a quote from Karl Popper:
“…and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important that equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree.”
Some branches of feminism are openly socialist and Marxist, while others like postmodern feminism aren’t. All are mostly hostile to free-market capitalism…the family and its rational defense (not merely on religious grounds)…as well as the legal and philosophical traditions that provide many of the individual liberties and freedoms they possess. Generally, I would place them out on the extreme left where I think they belong.
There are also women who identify with feminism yet find the idea of equality much more defensible when attached to classically liberal thinking, and the libertarian principles of individual liberty and personal responsibility. J.S. Mill’s “The Subjection Of Women” is an interesting read and a good place to start. His and Bentham’s utilitarianism also contains ideas in which we all have a stake.
These are a few women I’ve written about in the past.
1. Here is an interview (transcript) with Martha Nussbaum (wikipedia). She’s a deep and largely pragmatic thinker. Her influence will likely be felt long after her death. While I have doubts about the efficacy of some of her assumptions, (has she really moved beyond Western thought in her economic/democratic work with Amartya Sen?) she is an important voice.
“…so that’s why I think the feminist movement couldn’t have much role for philosophy until it had already progressed a certain distance through a kind of radical evangelizing and consciousness raising. But then once that happens, it’s good to lay it out more systematically and say, “Where are we now? How can we be fully fair and inclusive and get the best out of our convictions?”
2. Here is Camille Paglia’s recent article in Arion pointing out the Christian roots of Susan B. Anthony and the debt feminism owes to the “patriarchy” it attacks. I’m wary of her deep Nietzschean aestheticism especially when she gets outside the realm of aesthetics. I’m also a little wary of her sometimes lack of reasonable, clear arguments for her positions, but she has continually pushed the envelope and attempted to poke holes in feminist ideology.
3. Christina Hoff Sommers (wikipedia) is trying to replacing gender feminism with equity feminism. She also wrote The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men. As a more current thinker, sometimes I wonder if she isn’t more concerned with pursuing her ideas or attacking the totalitarian/gender feminists with those ideas in policy and education debates?
Thanks for reading, your comments are welcome.