Somebody who believes that feminism is a harmful ideology might argue that complying with feminist’s beliefs would produce less happiness than rejecting them. S/he may argue that forcing equality by, for example, requiring fire departments to establish less demanding physical examinations for women, or requiring corporations to exercise gender quotas may cause more discontent.Taken another step, if a fire-fighter’s effectiveness is depending to a certain extent on his physical strength, then would it be so fictional to suggest that without doubt lives will be lost because of the incapability of certain fire-women to carry an unconscious person up from the basement of a burning house? According to this reason, somebody may view feminism as a harmful ideology. A scholar who deals with feminism seeks primary moral rules of particular acts, and judges their morality by finding which rules produce the most utility.
In the issue of whether feminism is a harmful ideology or not, a scholar would find the underlying moral rules on each side of the debate. S/he may feel that the underlying moral rules in feminism are: -One should not infringe upon individual liberty -One should not discriminate based on sex. The scholar may feel that there is more usefulness to be gained by following the first rule. This is a value judgement that may not be held by all scientists who deal with morality, but in this particular point of view, it is the rule that produces the most happiness11.There is also the Kantian view12: The Kantian theory of ethics maintains that there is a universal moral principle of duty. The moral duty performed is what is judged, not the consequence of carrying out the duty. For example, a Kantian theorist may believe that stealing is wrong. For him/her, this is a definite imperative to be followed at all times by everyone; even if what is being stolen is a piece of bread to feed a starving child.
Kantian theory applied to the question of feminism may produce the view that securing individual freedom is the most important value, and since feminism infringes upon freedom, it is the Kantian’s duty to stand up for individual freedom by rejecting feminism. It would be irrelevant to a Kantian that everyone would be happier if feminism was universally adapted. On the other hand, a Kantian may believe that it is one’s moral duty to treat everyone as an equal.Additionally, s/he may believe that supporting feminism is standing up for women’s freedom. It all depends on how feminism is interpreted. Another theory is the theory of Natural Law13: Natural law theorists believe that morally right acts are ones that are in accordance with nature. The theorist who believes that feminism is a movement to force compliance with the conception that males and females are the same, may feel that there is an implication to ignore native sex differences. S/he may, therefore, find that the feminist movement is immoral.
In other words, s/he may believe that there are innate sex differences, and that by enacting laws to match the playing field, feminists are not acting in accordance with nature. (Of course, another natural law theorist may feel that feminism is in accord with nature as far as social advancement goes. ) Apart from that there is the theory of natural rights14 which holds liberty as the most important moral value.
It maintains that every human has an equal right to life, liberty, and honestly acquired property, and that infringements upon those rights are immoral.Consequently, a natural law theorist may take the position that laws created to help women gain entry into male occupations are infringing upon individual liberty by creating quotas, and are discriminating against men by requiring more challenging examinations as in the example of the Fire Department. At the same time, a natural rights theorist might argue the opposite. S/he might say that as it is, women are not enjoying the same amount of liberty as men are and, consequently are morally justified in enacting laws to force compliance with equality and freedom.
S/he must evaluate the two positions with reference to which infringes on liberty the least. The theories are distinguishable from each other on a basic level in one or two ways; what the theory values (freedom, nature, etc. ), and whether it is a consequentialist (utilitarianism) or nonconsequentialist (Kantian theory) theory. In dissecting the two arguments, the result is that by applying the theories the values involved are identified in an easier way. The application also illustrates the complexity of the issues. Utilization of the theories is not nearly enough to come to a conclusion on either point of view.
Most of the work in finding an answer to these questions lies in carefully examining every detail in each issue, and mentally following the cause and effects of various conditions. The theories merely give one the tools to make this easier. Carol Smart15 indicates that “feminist legal scholarship faces two main tasks at the beginning of the 1990s. The first is to deal with the situation that law is not just a simple set of tools or rules which we can bend into a more favourable shape. Although we have known this for a long time, it is not certain that many things have been done with this knowledge.
The desire to be political has been confused with the desire to be practical, and thus law has continued to occupy a theoretical space in our thinking which encourages us to deal with the legalization of everyday life. We must therefore remain critical of this tendency without abandoning law as a site of struggle. The second is to recognize the power of law as a technology of gender, but not to be silenced by this realization. Therefore we should see the power of law as more than that negative sanction that prevents women from acting.Law is also productive of gender difference and identity, yet this law is not impenetrable and unitary”. The issues mentioned are only a portion of the feminists’ attempt to renovate the legal system. Their attack on “the masculine voice of rights, autonomy and abstraction” is bound to cause harm in a liberal society.
Leslie Bender16 of the Syracuse University College of Law writes that “the feminine voice can design a tort system that is caring . . . and responsive to others’ needs or hurts” instead of “protect[ing] efficiency and profit. “Mary Jo Frug17 of the New England School of Law suggested that a woman should not be bound by a contract if her failure to read it before signing stemmed from concern for others’ feelings.
(“She was acting like a reasonable woman. “) It is often said that today’s radical feminists are trying to roll back the clock to an era when fragile women had to be protected from the cruel world and the natural predatory tendencies of men. That is only partly true. What the radical feminists want is the traditional special protections women had in more paternalistic days plus all the rights that they have gained in the quest for equality with men.Their effort to abolish male privilege while preserving and expanding female privilege is likely to create the very reaction feminists fear18. Furthermore, most women do not want their brothers, husbands, or sons to live under a legal system that presumes them guilty; nor do they believe that sex is rape, freedom is a male plot, and an abused woman can be her own judge, jury, and executioner.
Yet because a small and speaking minority has been widely perceived as acting on behalf of all women, it has managed, in less than two decades, to achieve spectacular successes.Some of their positions have been embraced by the supreme courts and to some extent by many voters of several countries. They have commitment and time. If their win-loss average continues at its current pace, the day may soon arrive when sexual and political repression to fight sexual and political repression, gender hostility to fight gender hostility, and arbitrary laws to fight arbitrary laws become the order of the day19. The feminist approach enhances women’s jurisprudence with a useful and reflexive perspective to find out ‘what’s going on’ within the social contexts.These make contributions to the design of future legal policies because it is believed that policies that ignore the different life experience of men and women may continue in willfully blind adherence to normal practices.
Furthermore, it is suggested that promoting single-sex organisations or women-only leisure institutions may make women feel much safer and more assessable to legal activities20. As Katherine T. Bartlett21 says: “Feminist legal methods are ends in themselves. Although partial objectivity is possible, it is in-between, and therefore must be continually subject to the effort to reappraise, deconstruct and transform.
That effort, and the hope that must underlie it, constitute the optimistic version of feminism. Under this version feminists can find a way of doing law that expresses who they are and who they wish to become. This is a goal central to feminism: to be engaged, with others, in a critical, transformative process of seeking further partial knowledges from one’s admittedly limited habitat. This goal is the grounding of feminism, a grounding that combines the search for further understandings and sustained criticism toward those understandings.