Theorizing Feminism: Parallel Trends in the Humanities and Social Sciences

By Anne C. Herrmann; Abigail J. Stewart | Go to book overview

CONCEPTUALIZING DIFFERENCE

Sex Equality

On Difference and Dominance

CATHARINE A. MACKINNON

There is one thing of which one can say neither that it is one meter
long nor that it is not one meter long, and that is the standard
meter in Paris
.

—Ludwig Wittgenstein

The measure of man is man.

—Pythagoras

[Men] think themselves superior to women, but they mingle that
with the notion of equality between men and women. It's very odd.

—Jean-Paul Sartre

Inequality because of sex defines and situates women as women. If the sexes were equal, women would not be sexually subjected. Sexual force would be exceptional, consent to sex could be commonly real, and sexually violated women would be believed. If the sexes were equal, women would not be economically subjected, their desperation and marginality cultivated, their enforced dependency exploited sexually or economically. Women would have speech, privacy, authority, respect, and more resources than they have now. Rape and pornography would be recognized as violations, and abortion would be both rare and actually guaranteed.

In the United States, it is acknowledged that the state is capitalist; it is not acknowledged that it is male. The law of sex equality, constitutional by interpretation and statutory by joke, erupts through this fissure, exposing the sex equality that the state purports to guarantee. 1 If gender hierarchy and sexuality are reciprocally constituting—gender hierarchy providing the eroticism of sexuality and sexuality providing an enforcement

-232-

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