In this book, the eminent feminist Susan Moller Okin and fifteen of the world's leading thinkers about feminism and multiculturalism explore these unsettling questions in a provocative, passionate, and illuminating debate. A very nice collection of essays - the central essay by Okin is great, insightful and thought-provoking - her reply to her critics ditto. It is especially important to consider inequalities between the sexes, since they are likely to be less public, and less easily discernible. Her focus on the way in which minority group rights allow certain injustices and violences against women to persist makes for an interesting and important issue to be discussed. Susan Moller Okin is Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society and Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. Learning about al-Hibri is probably the most valuable thing I'm taking away from the book. These incisive and accessible essays--expanded from their original publication in Boston Review and including four new contributions--are indispensable reading for anyone interested in one of the most contentious social and political issues today.
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In either case, the degree to which each culture is patriarchal and its willingness to become less so should be crucial factors in considering justifications for group rights—once we take women's equality seriously. Susan Moller Okin Copyright c 1999 Princeton University Press. The inherent danger here being that, while the violences within the minority cultures Okin describes may cease if completely assimilated into Western liberal culture, but these cultures will be receiving a new group of ideologies and damaging mainstream beliefs about women that could influence more violence against women. Some emphasize more than Okin does the plasticity of cultures and religions, and conclude with Okin that they can fairly be expected to adapt to minimal demands of political morality—for example, that women are to be treated as equals. To the extent that their culture is patriarchal, in both these respects the healthy development of girls is endangered. These groups, it is argued, have their own societal cultures which—as Will Kymlicka, the foremost contemporary defender of cultural group rights, says—provide members with meaningful ways of life across the full range of human activities, including social, educational, religious, recreational, and economic life, encompassing both public and private spheres.
Others quarrel with Okin's focus on gender, or argue that we should be careful about which group rights we permit, but not reject the category of group rights altogether. But some defenders of multiculturalism largely confine their defense of group rights to groups that are internally liberal. But once reporters finally got around to interviewing the wives, they discovered what the government could have learned years earlier: that the women affected by polygamy regarded it as an inescapable and barely tolerable institution in their African countries of origin, and an unbearable imposition in the French context. First, the sphere of personal, sexual, and reproductive life functions as a central focus of most cultures, a dominant theme in cultural practices and rules. The appropriate policies vary with context: countries such as England, with established churches or state-supported religious education, find it difficult to resist demands to extend state support to minority religious schools; countries such as France, with traditions of strictly secular public education, struggle over whether the clothing required by minority religions may be worn in the public schools. From it, one discovers that there is an inherent tension to these two schools of liberal philosophy although there are some very good critics of Okin's ideas.
But the book is worth reading in its entirety, since it collects reactions ranging from assent, through intelligent qualifications, mild criticism, to the bat-shit in s ane. Some of the most persuasive liberal defenses of group rights urge that individuals need a culture of their own, and that only within such a culture can people develop a sense of self-esteem or self-respect, as well as the capacity to decide what kind of life is good for them. Summary Polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, punishing women for being raped, differential access for men and women to health care and education, unequal rights of ownership, assembly, and political participation, unequal vulnerability to violence. Though some are much better than others, almost all of them are worth a read. Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995 , pp. Will Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1990 , pp.
The diverse contributors, in addition to Okin, are Azizah al-Hibri, Abdullahi An-Na'im, Homi Bhabha, Sander Gilman, Janet Halley, Bonnie Honig, Will Kymlicka, Martha Nussbaum, Bhikhu Parekh, Katha Pollitt, Robert Post, Joseph Raz, Saskia Sassen, Cass Sunstein, and Yael Tamir. The diverse contributors, in addition to Okin, are , , , , Janet Halley, , , , , , , , , , and. The first essay asserts that the goals of multiculturalism and feminism are not compatible and that by protecting one, the other is sacrificed. When they located her, they charged the father with child abuse, and the two husbands and boyfriend with statutory rape. Feminist theorist and Stanford political science professor Okin assesses what adhering to sanctioned cultural practices such as female genital mutilation, polygamy, child marriage and forced illiteracy can and does mean for women. These practices and conditions are standard in some parts of the world. Suppose, then, that a culture endorses and facilitates the control of men over women in various ways even if informally, in the private sphere of domestic life.
First, they tend to treat cultural groups as monoliths—to pay more attention to differences between and among groups than to differences within them. The rest of the pieces are commentaries on Okin's original work - some supportive, others critical. Thus understood, multiculturalism condemns intolerance of other ways of life, finds the human in what might seem Other, and encourages cultural diversity. In other cases, groups have claimed rights to govern themselves, to have guaranteed political representation, or to be exempt from certain generally applicable laws. Special rights, in short, put minorities on a footing of equality with the majority. A long list of influential people in the field of multiculturalism, feminism and filosophy gave their intelligent views, arguments and opionions related to the title's question. But the book is worth reading in its entirety, since it collects reactions ranging from assent, through intelligent qualifications, mild criticism, to the bat-shit in s ane.
For instance, Okin cites examples of clitoridectomy and forced marriages of young women 14. These practices and conditions are standard in some parts of the world. However, the number of collaborators leads to a lack of depth and some of the pieces end up being more polemical than enlightening. Okin argues that if we agree that women should not be disadvantaged because of their sex, we should not accept group rights that permit oppressive practices on the grounds that they are fundamental to minority cultures whose existence may otherwise be threatened. Okin argues that if we agree that women should not be disadvantaged because of their sex, we should not accept group rights that permit oppressive practices on the grounds that they are fundamental to minority cultures whose existence may otherwise be threatened. And such sex discrimination—whether severe or more mild—often has very powerful cultural roots. Bibliography Includes bibliographical references p.
Furthermore, a number of the pieces have rather un-academic way of arguing points, drawing on newspaper articles to make broad statements, etc. For surely self-respect and self-esteem require more than simple membership in a viable culture. Okin concludes with a rebuttal, clarifying, adjusting, and extending her original position. Okin claims that these cultures basically make their women into a minority within the minority, and therefore further take away the rights and concerns for women in these minority cultures. Kymlicka, Liberalism, Community, and Culture, p. However, she then argues that, in light of the rest of the world, these problems are not as bad as what other women across the globe are subjected to.
Religious or cultural groups often are particularly concerned with personal law—the laws of marriage, divorce, child custody, division and control of family property, and inheritance. The hinge of Okin's argument is that feminism is universalist in intent, arguing that all women, by virtue of their being women or being human , are entitled to certain rights and freedoms; multiculturalism, on the other hand, is often used to support cultural difference, and is local in scope. Originally published in the issue of Boston Review. She tends to essentialize other cultures by their patriarchal public face without delving into the heterodox or dissident voices within those cultures. Her central point that multiculturalism and the idea of minority group rights allows for violences against women to persist in minority cultures is especially compelling and certainly in need of critical discussion.