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Sex Equality
University of Illinois School of Law
Burkstrand-Reid, Beth

SBD OUTLINE
 
Introduction
What is equality between the sexes? (CB 1-9)
Equality:
“formal equality”: equality of opportunity; level playing field under the law
“substantive equality”: equality of outcome
“assimilationist”: being a man/woman has no legal significance
“anti-assimilationist”: being a man/woman has legal significance
 
Feminist theory: (Packet, Chamallas, Introduction to Feminist Theory, 1-22)*
Three stages of feminist legal theory
1970s Equality stage: emphasis on women’s similarity to men
·         concentration on dismantling intricate system of sex-based legal distinctions which were purportedly established to protect women
·         Because women were same as men in all relevant respects, they deserved access to all public institutions, benefits and opportunities on the same terms as men. 
·         Gender should be irrelevant to distribution of legal benefits and burdens; persons should be treated as individuals, not as members of a class
·         CTRPT: liberal feminists have been called “assimilationists” as their arguments tend not to challenge the standards, rules, or structures themselves, but focus instead on equal access w/in their framework. Liberal feminism translated into legal reform, requiring only incremental changes/expansion of current structures to make room for women.
 
1980s Difference stage: Legal reform along equality lines gave way to realization that this effort wouldn’t cure substantive inequalities that best most women’s lives
·         E.g.: feminization of poverty, gender gap in politics, “glass ceiling,” etc.
·         Feminists questioned idea that gender was irrelevant and ideal of gender-blind society; recognizing differences did not mean accepting those differences as inherent or inalterable
·         Revising “equality” to mean something other than “identical treatment.” Because men and women didn’t start from same position, then identical treatment of each group might never produce meaningful equality
·         Cultural feminism: recognized/celebrated women’s differences from men; women’s “different voice” finding expression in law (women as nurturing)
 
1990s Diversity stage: less preoccupation with differences b/w men and women and new focus on diversity among women
·         Emphasized dangers of essentialism – assumption that there’s only one voice among all women
·         Replace goal of devising one overreaching feminist strategy with less grand objective of considering legal policies from perspectives of difference groups of women
·         Less theoretical, grounded in recognition of dismal material situation of women worldwide and an urgent desire to address violence against women on a global basis
 
“ 5 opening moves”
1. Women’s experience: the personal is important
Q: Why is it important to tell personal stories? 
A: Gives women a voice; abstract discussions generally come from male norm. Also, for a very long time, women’s voice weren’t heard.
·         Stories are what got Title IX passed (equal opportunity of education).
·         Legal claim grounded in women’s experience: sexual harassment. From women’s perspective, sexual behavior as disturbing and serious as opposed to pleasurable/inconsequential from harasser’s viewpoint.
 
2. Implicit male bias
Women are subordinate even though majo

“How do you define choice?”
Many who would endorse gender equality as an ideal nevertheless resist the idea that discrimination is the principal cause of women’s inequality. Instead, women’s subordinate status ascribed to women’s own choices, and women held responsible/blamed for their own disadvantages. 
·         “Choice” implies that actor has alternatives; suggests actor’s authentic preference.
o   Feminists who resist emphasis on choice point to role institutional structures and culture play in shaping women’s choices
 
Masculinities theory
·         Masculinity v. femininity (Pres. Obama)
o   Masculinity is privileged in our society
·         Men essentialized
o   Men only want to have sex, make money, never help around the house. Men not looked at as multi-faceted creatures.
·         Men are disadvantaged by the existing gender system
o   Feminists have traditionally only looked at how existing gender system disfavors women
·         Socially construction v. biological
·         Men and powerlessness and anxiety (v. other men)
o   men have constant need to prove to other men that they posses normative masculinity
o   need to denigrate others as imperative of hegemonic form of masculinity (to prove superiority/conquest)
o   these norms to masculinity constrain men’s performances of their self-IDs