GENDER JUSTICE by David L.; Mark G. Yudof & Marlene Strong Franks Kirp


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In a just society men and women would be considered equal before the law. But is this desired state most directly achieved by treating men and women the same in terms of law and policy? Simple justice says yes, but the authors are more reflective. They ask that we reconsider the accepted paradigm that ""equality"" directly results from treating women indistinguishably from men. Instead, they fluently argue that the paradigm more applicable to true gender justice is liberty. The distinction is not a mere matter of semantics. The authors reject, for example, government policies aimed at producing particular outcomes in favor of the ""superior standard"" of liberty that would encourage choice. By opening up public processes to both men and women ""who are better able to make determinations about their own lives,"" the authors believe that the resulting emphasis ""holds choice paramount and results irrelevant, except when those results suggest that choices are being skewed by what the government does."" This is a feisty proposition that challenges the stances of both right and left. While the authors are abundantly aware that present law and policy remains embedded with traditional notions of men and women, they contend that equal liberty would end such bias while allowing both sexes to more freely choose their own path in life. And, if women still choose to emphasize their domestic lives and men their careers, government, they argue, has neither the right nor the responsibility to influence those choices otherwise. In sum, a challenging book, complex and disturbing, with little appeal to the casual reader in search of popular wisdom or quick cultural fixes. But for those deeply interested in the politics of public policy pertaining to sexual equality, it will open radically new avenues of thought.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago Press