Alchemy or Fool’s Gold?

Alchemy or Fool’s Gold?

Should rights play an important role in feminist theory and practice? The answer to this question is not as simple as it first appears, for contemporary feminism has a profoundly ambiguous relationship to rights. On the one hand, so many feminist goals have been and continue to be expressed as demands for rights that their central role seems assured. Women claim rights, for example, to full participation in political, professional, and economic life; to control over their reproductive lives; and to gender equality within marriage. Rights have figured prominently in the rhetoric of the women’s movement from the beginning, even if the line of descent has not been smooth: feminists have had to rebel against the Fathers of rights theory, who preached the equal dignity of all while systematically denying it to most. Nevertheless, struggles by women to vindicate rights have changed the social world, altering relationships, practices, and institutions, and affecting the way innumerable

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Duggan | University of California Press Gardels