Essay Catharine MacKinnon's Book Feminism Unmodified

Essay Catharine MacKinnon's Book Feminism Unmodified

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Catharine MacKinnon's Book Feminism Unmodified


Catharine MacKinnon, in her book Feminism Unmodified, takes a unique approach to the problem of gender inequality in America. She claims that pornography defines the way in which America’s patriarchal society perpetuates male dominance, and attacks traditional liberal methods that defend pornography on the basis of the first amendment’s right to free speech. According to MacKinnon, pornography is not an example of speech but rather an act. She proposes that this act discriminates against women as a class, and therefore violates their civil rights and should be outlawed. MacKinnon’s critics may think her argument is excessively radical, and contemporary society may not embrace the changes she suggests. However, even if she is deliberately provocative Catharine MacKinnon’s message is worthwhile: The American male power structure dominates women and must be changed. Establishing sexual equity in this power structure would be a major step in the struggle for gender equality within American communities.

For a long time traditional liberal legal theory has struggled to win gender equality through the courts, but has not made the necessary gains. This theory advises women to change their relationship to the male power structure, and offers two ways in which women can do this to attain equity: the “sameness” approach and the “difference” approach. The first approach, “sameness,” suggests that women should stress male-female similarities. Traditional theory justifies this approach by saying, “to the extent that women are no different from men they deserve what (men) have” (33). Traditional theory advises women who feel different to from men use the second approach, and stress t...


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...pornography often objectify women and force them into submissive positions in movies and society. But pornography has a detrimental affect on men as well, in that it “hurts men’s capacity to relate to women” (189). Generally, men consider it is better to have power, and do not recognize the need for men and women to work together. Pornography is one of the largest obstacles that prevents men from seeing this truth, and the practice should be banned. Even according to MacKinnon’s definition of pornography, sexually explicit material could remain legal if it portrayed both sexes equally. However, this can not happen until men and women are equal in society. If this is accomplished, the male need to view pornography would drastically decrease. Women could become part of the power structure and world on their own terms. Gender equality would be a victory for both sexes.

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