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Do you believe that the future of feminism lies in downplaying our differences instead of "celebrating" and emphasizing them? It seems to me that bar physical differences, male and female gender roles are largely social constructs, and the marginalization of women is as much due to their own awareness of their "difference" compared with men. A major example of this is the fact that we have a Minister for Women in this country. Is that not basically admitting that to be female is to deviate from a normative male standard, and that issues concerning therefore requires special attention? That is tantamount to admitting, accepting or condoning the fact that female interest is not present in all the affairs dealt with by other ministers (Finance, Health, Education), and it seems a contradiction in terms. It's more than positive discrimination - it's willful marginalization. On the part of women, obviously. It seems by seeking to put ourselves on an equal level with men we have overshot and are now seeking to...

You ask a powerful and intriguing question. From where I sit, feminism ought to work towards a delicate balance of celebrating diversity and downplaying difference. Diversity should continue to be celebrated in the name of liberty so that our society is able to support maximal forms of human self-expression. Diversity should also be celbrated as a sort of vaccination against the oppressive potential of sameness. It's often the case that sameness--or the downplaying of difference--is achieved by repressing some people towards the end of re-making them in the image of other people. On the other hand, the very ideas of woman and man (feminine/masculine) need to be undermined or at least loosened up a bit. Celebrating women (as a category opposed or differentiated in its contrast to men) can also constrain people by establishing confining norms about what it means to be a 'real' woman. Part of loosening the idea of woman will mean expanding it to include a diversity of woman, but part of it also...

Is "Patriarchy" as a corrupting force in society that oppresses women an unfalsifiable theory? I can measure sexism. I can measure bigotry. I can describe a society without sexism. I don't know how to measure patriarchy. I don't know how to describe a society without patriarchy that is just not a description of society without sexism. And yet, I am told that patriarchy is not merely sexism.

As is so often the case in philosophy, so much depends upon how one defines the relevant terms. "Sexism," like racism, is a rather vague concept, or at least a concept with a fairly large number of meanings. So, with any interlocutor you're dealing with, it would be important to acknowledge the definitions in play. I take it that those with whom you've been discussing the issue have claimed something like, "Some patriarchy is not objectionable" or "Some patriarchy is benign." Certainly. as a term of social science, "patriarchy" should remain as free of moral judgment as possible. In that scientific sense, a society might be described as "patriarchal" without implying a moral judgment about that society. In such a case, however, "patriarchy" is not sexism at all. (Here I'm using "sexism" as a term that carries moral judgment and is not a scientific term.) Rather, patriarchy in a scientific sense is just a certain kind of social structure, one where, let's say, men rule women. Or perhaps...

I am impressed by the attempt of some pro-sex thinkers to bring together anarchism and feminism, particularly with regard to the controversial issue of pornography. Since I agree with them that freedom is the guiding principle, I also agree that pornography, like any other form of sexual expression, should be considered morally and legally permissible as long as it is consensual. However, given that anarchism is libertarian socialism, it seems that this principle of liberty should be extended to embrace the ideal of a society (or a network of communities) acceptable to all, including those who wish to be free from pornography, or certain types of it. When, for example, women are involuntarily exposed to men's pornography in the workplace, or on a mass scale in popular culture, can the argument not be made that pornography is then transformed from a private consensual activity into sexual harassment or forced sexist propaganda which violates women's own freedom and sexual autonomy? Could we not, then,...

Yes, in short, I think you're right about restricting the display of pornography while preserving the liberty of those who wish access to it. And isn't that just the kind of balance that is often sought. Pornographic materials are sold from separate rooms of shops, encased in opaque wrappings, excluded from billboards--but access to them for those who wish to acquire them is often in many parts of the U.S., anyway, nevertheless not unreasonably difficult to obtain. It's a tricky thing to figure, however, this balance. On the one hand, there is the liberty interest of those who choose to acquire pornography; and clearly many people find it enjoyable. Arguably, there is also a general political value to pornographic materials insofar as they are part of the conversation about what proper sexual morality and proper sexual expression should be. On the other hand those who find pornography obnoxious have an interest in not being harmed in the sense of embarrassed or annoyed or grossed out by...