Chapter 5 of Martha Nussbaum’s Sex and Social Justice is titled “American Women” and it’s basically about the idea that there is sane normal sensible feminism and then there is crazy extremist radical feminism, with the first being sensibly in favor of equality before the law, which we now have, so that’s that, and the second being about crazy wild stuff like distorted preferences and asymmetrical power. Nussbaum addresses Christina Hoff Sommers as the clearest source of this notion (and as a fellow philosopher), but she says the idea is widespread.
Nussbaum points out that the feminists Sommers sees as “radical” are the very people who brought about the changes that Sommers applauds.
It is not only women in the academic elite who wish to be able to call the police when battered in the home; who wish to be able to bring a charge of rape without testifying to their prior sexual history; who wish to avoid sexual harassment in the workplace…If Sommers holds that a woman such as Mary J. Carr, who successfully brought charges of harassment against General Motors (GM) after a five-year campaign of threats and obscenities, is not an “equity feminist” but a supporter of a suspect radical agenda, it would appear to be Sommers who has lost touch with what American women want. And yet, the concept of asymmetry of power, which Sommers apparently rejects, was a crucial part of Judge Richard Posner’s reasoning when he decided in favor of Carr and against GM. [p 133]
Posner is a Reagan appointee, by the way.
To be continued.