Equity and gender feminism


Equity feminism and gender feminism are terms coined by scholar Christina Hoff Sommers in her 1992 book Who Stole Feminism?,[1] which she uses to distinguish between what she describes as two ideologically distinct branches of modern feminism.

Sommers describes equity feminism as an ideology rooted in classical liberalism, and that aims for full civil and legal equality for women. Experimental psychologistSteven Pinker[2] expands on Sommers to write, "Equity feminism is a moral doctrine about equal treatment that makes no commitments regarding open empirical issues in psychology or biology."

Equity feminism

Sommers contends that "Most American women subscribe philosophically to the older 'First Wave' kind of feminism whose main goal is equity, especially in politics and education".[1] However, Sommers also argues that equity feminism is a minority position in academia, formalized feminist theory, and the organized feminist movement as a whole, who tend to embrace gender feminism.

Feminists who identify themselves with equity feminism include Jean Bethke ElshtainElizabeth Fox-GenoveseNoretta KoertgeDonna LaframboiseMary LefkowitzWendy McElroyCamille PagliaDaphne PataiVirginia PostrelAlice RossiNadine StrossenJoan Kennedy TaylorCathy Young, and evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker.[2]

Gender feminism

In contrast to equity feminism, Sommers coined the term "Gender feminism" to describe what she contends is a gynocentric and misandric branch of feminism. Gender feminists typically criticize contemporary gender roles and aim to eliminate them altogether.[1] In current usage, "gender feminism" may also describe feminism which seeks to use legal means to give preference to women in such areas as domestic violencechild custodysexual harassmentdivorce proceedings, and pay equity. Psychologist Steven Pinker[2] described three defining pillars of gender feminism:

Gender feminism is an empirical doctrine committed to three claims about human nature. The first is that the differences between men and women have nothing to do with biology but are socially constructed in their entirety. The second is that humans possess a single social motive -- power -- and that social life can be understood only in terms of how it is exercised. The third is that human interactions arise not from the motives of people dealing with each other as individuals but from the motives of groups dealing with other groups -- in this case, the male gender dominating the female gender.

Sommers argues that gender feminism characterizes most of the body of modern feminist theory, and is the prevailing ideology in academia. She argues that while the feminists she designates as gender feminists advocate preferential treatment and portraying "all women as victims", equity feminism provides a viable alternative form of feminism to those who object to elements of gender feminist ideology.

Similarly, Nathanson and Young[3] use the term "ideological feminism" to describe a dualist school of thought rooted in Marxist theory. Marxism's concept of perpetual conflict between working-class proletariat and capitalist Bourgeoisie has been replaced with feminist theory that posits perpetual exploitation of women by men, or by a patriarchal power structure. "In short, the names have been changed but not the ideology." Additionally, Nathanson and Young contend that ideological feminism is "profoundly anti-intellectual" and furthermore that:

Directly or indirectly, many ideological feminists have repeatedly argued that women are psychologically, morally, spiritually, intellectually and biologically superior to men. This was more explicitly expressed in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth than it was gain in the 1980s. That mentality is now pervasive -- not only in academic circles but in popular culture as well, where it will no doubt endure far longer.

Sommers claims WellesleyMount HolyokeSmithMills and the University of Minnesota are "extreme" examples of U.S. colleges where gender feminists exert a major influence on curricula.[4]

See also


  1. a b c Hoff Sommers, Christina, Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 1995), p. 22
  2. a b c Pinker, Steven, Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Viking, 2002), ISBN 9780670031511
  3. ^ Nathanson, Paul and Kathleen Young. 2001. Spreading misandry: the teaching of contempt for men in popular culture. McGill-Queen's Press, ISBN 0773522727.
  4. ^ Sommers, Christina Hoff (1994). Who Stole Feminism?. Simon & Schuster (Touchstone). p. 91. ISBN 0-684-80156-6.

External links

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Napoleon Bonaparte's call for Jews to establish sovereign state in Palestine - April 20, 1799


In 1799, the French armies under Napoleon were camped outside of Acre. Napoleon issued a letter offering Palestine as a homeland to the Jews under French protection. The project was stillborn because Napoleon was defeated and was forced to withdraw from the Near East. The letter is remarkable because it marks the coming of age of enlightenment philosophy, making it respectable at last to integrate Jews as equal citizens in Europe and because it marked the beginning of nineteenth century projects for Jewish autonomy in Palestine under a colonial protectorate. After the defeat of Napoleon, it was largely the British who carried forward these projects, which have in hindsight been given the somewhat misleading name of "British Zionism."

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Letter to the Jewish Nation from the French Commander-in-Chief Buonaparte
(translated from the Original, 1799)

General Headquarters, Jerusalem 1st Floreal, April 20th, 1799, 
in the year of 7 of the French Republic


Israelites, unique nation, whom, in thousands of years, lust of conquest and tyranny have been able to be deprived of their ancestral lands, but not of name and national existence !

Attentive and impartial observers of the destinies of nations, even though not endowed with the gifts of seers like Isaiah and Joel, have long since also felt what these, with beautiful and uplifting faith, have foretold when they saw the approaching destruction of their kingdom and fatherland: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35,10)

Arise then, with gladness, ye exiled ! A war unexampled In the annals of history, waged in self-defense by a nation whose hereditary lands were regarded by its enemies as plunder to be divided, arbitrarily and at their convenience, by a stroke of the pen of Cabinets, avenges its own shame and the shame of the remotest nations, long forgotten under the yoke of slavery, and also, the almost two-thousand-year-old ignominy put upon you; and, while time and circumstances would seem to be least favourable to a restatement of your claims or even to their expression ,and indeed to be compelling their complet abandonment, it offers to you at this very time, and contrary to all expectations, Israel's patrimony !

The young army with which Providence has sent me hither, let by justice and accompanied by victory, has made Jerusalem my head-quarters and will, within a few days, transfer them to Damascus, a proximity which is no longer terrifying to David's city.

Rightful heirs of Palestine !

The great nation which does not trade in men and countries as did those which sold your ancestors unto all people (Joel,4,6) herewith calls on you not indeed to conquer your patrimony ;nay, only to take over that which has been conquered and, with that nation's warranty and support, to remain master of it to maintain it against all comers.

Arise ! Show that the former overwhelming might of your oppressors has but repressed the courage of the descendants of those heroes who alliance of brothers would have done honour even to Sparta and Rome (Maccabees 12, 15) but that the two thousand years of treatment as slaves have not succeeded in stifling it.

Hasten !, Now is the moment, which may not return for thousands of years, to claim the restoration of civic rights among the population of the universe which had been shamefully withheld from you for thousands of years, your political existence as a nation among the nations, and the unlimited natural right to worship Jehovah in accordance with your faith, publicly and most probably forever (JoeI 4,20).

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