chapter  9
30 Pages

The End of Sexual Difference?

I am not sure that the millennium is a significant way to marktime or, indeed, to mark the time of feminism. But it is always important to take stock of where feminism is, even as that effort at reflection is necessarily marred. No one stands in the perspective that might afford a global view of feminism. No one stands within a definition of feminism that would remain uncontested. I think it is fair to say that feminists everywhere seek a more substantial equality for women, and that they seek a more just arrangement of social and political institutions. But as we enter any room to consider what we mean, and how we might act, we are confronted quite quickly with the difficulty of the terms that we need to use. Differences emerge over whether equality means that men and women ought to be treated interchangeably. The Parity movement in France has argued that that is not an appropriate notion of equality, given the social disadvantages that women suffer under current political circumstances. We will surely argue as well over justice, and by what means it ought to be achieved. Is it the same as “fair treatment”? Is it distinct from the conception of equality? What is its relation to freedom? And which freedoms are desired, how are they valued, and what do we make of serious disagreements among women on the question of how sexual freedom is to be defined, and whether it can receive a meaningful international formulation?