Reasons for Feminism
It is often said that human beings are complex creatures, who are inevitably betrayed by any attempt to comprehend them in simple terms. Indeed, much of the force of Drucilla Cornell's argument stems from its endorsement of the view, shared by many, that a failure to appreciate the complexity and diversity of human existence is responsible for the predicament that women now find themselves in. According to this view, Western society fails to appreciate diversity sufficiently, and so fails to appreciate fully the difference that women represent. Or, as it is sometimes more skeptically put, Western society denies many of the differences between human beings, including many of the differences between women and men, in order to avoid having to come to terms with those differences. For those who share this view of human complexity and diversity, the release of women from their present predicament is dependent on an escape from the straitjacket of masculine values, and a consequent recognition of and respect for the distinctive meaning of women's existence as women, as one element, if perhaps the most significant element, in a general acknowledgment of human diversity.
This understanding of feminism bears a strong relationship to that offered by Cornell herself. Like Cornell, its adherents are committed to recognizing difference for its own sake. Unlike Cornell, however, they are unidealistic, nonutopian. The differences they seek to honour are those that are already present in the world, not those that never have been and in a very real sense never could be. Their concern is with the many different ways of being that our society has neglected, overlooked, undervalued, and sought to suppress in its ongoing construction of what is normal and what is valuable. Their claim is that society should respect women as it should respect all ways of being, and for the same reason.
This is a distinctive and, on the face of it, somewhat surprising view of sex discrimination. Many if not most women hold an understanding of the