Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook

By Jennifer Scanlon | Go to book overview

CATHARINE MACKINNON
(1946-)

Eileen Bresnahan

Little has been reported about Catharine Alice MacKinnon's personal life, though it is known that she was named Catharine for her maternal grandmother Alice Davis' best friend, Radcliffe College fine arts professor Catharine Pierce (from whom MacKinnon also acquired her nickname, "Kitty"). Like her mother, Elizabeth Davis MacKinnon, she attended her grandmother's alma mater, Smith College, from which she received a B.A. magna cum laude with distinction in government in 1969. Then she was on to Yale, earning a J.D. in 1977 (she was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1978) and a Ph.D. in political science in 1987. She presently lives in Ann Arbor with Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, a former psychoanalyst well known for his own legal battles with writer Janet Malcolm.

Because, while she was growing up, MacKinnon's father was an activist in the Republican Party, it might be assumed that the roots of her political activism lie at least partly in his example. George E. MacKinnon not only advised the presidential campaigns of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon but also served one term as a U.S. Congressman from Minnesota and made a run for the governorship as Republican standard-bearer. The reward for his loyalty (and ultimate lack of electoral success) was presidential appointment to the lifetime employment of a federal appellate judgeship for the District of Columbia circuit, a plum prize indicative of influence in high places. MacKinnon herself, however, discounts her father's contribution to her particular brand of activism, marked as it is by a commitment to using the law as an instrument of social change. She said, "[T]hat politics is about change is--to put it mildly--not what I was brought up with" ( Strebeigh 1991, 1044).

MacKinnon attributes the origins of her intellectual and political commitments to her days in New Haven (where she spent most of the 1970s) and especially to the women's movement, from which, she says, "I learned everything I know" ( Strebeigh 1991, 1042). In New Haven, MacKinnon became a radical, working against the Vietnam War and becoming involved with the Black Pan-

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Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Bella Abzug (1920-1998) 1
  • Paula Gunn Allen (1939-) 8
  • Gloria AnzaldÚa (1942-) 14
  • Frances Beale (1940-) 22
  • Rita Mae Brown (1944-) 28
  • Charlotte Bunch (1944-) 36
  • Pat Califia (1954-) 44
  • Judy Chicago (1939-) 51
  • Shirley Chisholm (1924-) 55
  • Esther Ngan-Ling Chow (1943-) 60
  • Pearl Cleage (1948-) 66
  • Kate Clinton (1945- ) 73
  • Mary Daly (1928- ) 79
  • Angela Davis (1944-) 86
  • Shulamith Firestone (1945-) 98
  • Jo Freeman (1945-) 104
  • Betty Friedan (1921-) 111
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-) 118
  • Bell Hooks (1952- ) 125
  • Dolores Huerta (1930-) 133
  • June Jordan (1936-) 138
  • Evelyn Fox Keller (1936-) 145
  • Florynce Kennedy (1916-) 150
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992) 156
  • Catharine Mackinnon (1946-) 163
  • Olga Madar (1915-1996) 174
  • Wilma Mankiller (1945-) 181
  • Del Martin (1921-) 188
  • Kate Millett (1934- ) 194
  • CherrÍe Moraga (1952- ) 201
  • Robin Morgan (1941-) 206
  • Pauli Murray (1910-1985) 213
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-) 218
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) 223
  • Anna Quindlen (1952-) 231
  • Adrienne Rich (1929-) 238
  • Faith Ringgold (1930-) 245
  • Rosemary Ruether (1936-) 251
  • Joanna Russ (1937-) 257
  • Patricia Schroeder (1940-) 264
  • Eleanor Smeal (1939-) 271
  • Barbara Smith (1946-) 279
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-) 283
  • Margo St. James (1937-) 290
  • Alice Walker (1944- ) 297
  • Rebecca Walker (1969-) 305
  • Michele Wallace (1952-) 311
  • Sarah Weddington (1945-) 317
  • Ellen Willis (1941-) 327
  • Selected Bibliography 335
  • Index 341
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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