My Body, Myself: The Right to Protection
There are some rights that need continuous feminist concern. When it comes to her own body and her own sexuality, woman has always been at a disadvantage. Of course, no one, man or woman, has a right to take any action he or she pleases that might violate the rights of others, but women have been particularly restricted. The fact that women produce children has historically led society to exert control over women's lives.
In this country, even after women had entered the workplace in a major way, their ability to use their talents to compete with men was limited by law. The Supreme Court decision Muller v. Oregon, which permitted so-called protective laws (which Richard Epstein has called the equivalent of Jim Crow laws for women) to be instituted in every state, prohibiting certain jobs to women and limiting the hours (including overtime hours) they could work, the weights they could lift, and the special conditions of employment that must apply to them—based its rationale on the fact that women bear children: "Woman's physical structure and the performance of the maternal functions place her at a disadvantage. . . . woman becomes an object of public interest and care in order to preserve the strength and vigor of the race." 1
Of course, this "public interest and care" has not only controlled the economic activities of women, but as far back in history as we go it has controlled the sexual lives of women in various ways.It has also often failed to protect women adequately from sex-related violence: from being battered by the men in their lives or from sexual assault.
What kind of personal bodily control does the contemporary woman want? The watchword is choice. And choice is not, as it is sometimes used, a code word for abortion. Choice means the right to say "no"—or "yes"— under any circumstances she pleases and to have that right protected, not violated, by the legal system.Choice includes reproductive choice, but there's
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Publication information: Book title: Reclaiming the Mainstream:Individualist Feminism Rediscovered. Contributors: Joan Kennedy Taylor - Author. Publisher: Prometheus Books. Place of publication: Buffalo, NY. Publication year: 1992. Page number: Not available.
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