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Toward a Feminist Theory of the State Reprint Edition

2.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674896468
ISBN-10: 0674896467
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Toward a Feminist Theory of the State
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  • Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law
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  • Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge Classics)
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A theoretical legal treatise from activist attorney MacKinnon ( Sexual Harrassment of Working Women, LJ 6/1/79; Feminism Unmodified, LJ 5/15/87), co-author of the controversial Dworkin-MacKinnon anti-pornography civil rights ordinance. She begins with a discussion of feminism and Marxism, because (as she explains) the latter is the only contemporary political tradition to confront organized social dominance as a dynamic. She goes on to analyze feminist method (consciousness-raising) and the knowledge it reveals; and what she calls feminism unmodified (radical feminism) as a post-Marxist methodology. She explores issues of sexuality/gender and how they contribute to women's oppression and the role of the liberal state in promoting it. Revealing, closely reasoned, densely written, this is not easy reading, but sure to be hotly debated among academicians and intellectuals. For university libraries.
- Beverly Miller, Boise State Univ. Lib., Id.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

The single most important book in the new jurisprudence...It is, in my opinion, the only book in legal theory produced in the twentieth century which can rank with H. L. A. Hart's The Concept of Law (1961). Both change the framework arid transform the paradigm of the theoretical debate. All discourse within the framework of liberal legal theory has had to place itself in relationship to the ideas and theories of Hart. All feminist legal theory, likewise, must place itself in reference to the writings of MacKinnon. Her work, however, is much more significant than that of Hart, because her perspective has the potential of social revolution. (Canadian Bar Review)

Looking at the female and male halves of the world equally transforms everything--and Toward a Feminist Theory of the State makes that clear with scholarship, courage, and wit. By exposing and correcting the patriarchal values underlying nationalism and justice, Catharine MacKinnon causes an earthquake of thinking that rearranges every part of our intellectual landscape. This book is a "must read." (Gloria Steinem)

[MacKinnon] convincingly links sexuality and violence. But what I value in this book is the leap of faith to a search for practical remedies for women's situation. (Naomi Black Toronto Globe and Mail)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (September 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674896467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674896468
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
MacKinnon's work on social constructionist radical feminist is the most eloquent, powerful, persuasive articulation of the field to date. "Postmodernism" could learn a lot by looking back to MacKinnon and REALLY understanding what she has to say instead of dismissing her work as 'essentialist.' MacKinnon continues to be a brilliant, important voice in feminism despite its energies being tapped by unfortunate new movements in academic that have distracted young scholars' attention. A Must Read.
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The writing of Catharine MacKinnon is the most thorough and conclusive explanations of male domination in our society that I have had the pleasure of exploring. It refutes many other feminist theories and then gives a solid base for her own explanation of feminism. I highly recomend this writing to anyone interested in feminism or political theory.
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MacKinnon's most noteworthy contribution to jurisprudential thought has been to point out the patriarchal assumptions of the U.S. Constitution, in light of modern feminist theory. In Towards a Feminist Theory..., MacKinnon writes an almost Foucaultian analysis of current constitutional jurisprudence -- the post-modern assessment of individual thought censorship as perpetrated by the male-dominated forum of political discourse is prevalent in many of her works but particularly, in this one.
She is a compelling and dramatic writer and while her arguments run the gamut -- from the distastefully provocative to rigorously logical to total raving rants, it is impossible to dismiss her entirely. I recommend that those interested in her writings read the law review articles she has written on similar issues. It should be taken with the grain of salt, however, that her biases against men in general are profound and even disturbing.
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This woman is absolutely brilliant. Note, for example:

p. 184: "Most women who seek abortions became pregnant while having sexual intercourse with men."

One wonders how many women become pregnant while having intercourse with other women.

On p. 162 she writes: "Formally, the state is male in that objectivity is its norm."

I guess she means that women are not, or cannot or should not be, objective. She goes on to say that the entire structure of laws guaranteeing freedom of speech, equality under the law, etc., the rule of law itself, are artifacts of male domination and should therefore be eliminated.

Her definition of rape covers all acts of sexual intercourse where the woman is not the actual initiator, then she argues, p.149: "...the truly interesting question becomes how and why sexuality in women is ever other than masochistic." On other pages she argues that a woman's sexual desire is nothing more than an artifact of submission to male dominance.

Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!

[Nota Bene: contrary to the automatically generated heading, which I have been unable to edit, this review is of the hardcover edition, which may make a difference in the page numbers.]
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To start off. As a response to other reviewers referring to Marx's work, it is neither "simple minded" nor "myopic" any more than modern economic theory espoused by the Austrian and Chicago schools, even though Marx's historical insights may be naive at times. If you read anything past "The Communist Manifesto" (which was a political propaganda pamphlet and should be seen as such) this would become more obvious.
Turning to MacKinnon. She is a perfect example of how Marxism (I'm not talking about Marx here) got a bad name. From reading many of her law review articles I noticed an underlying tone of anger and hatred toward males (note how similar her arguments are to those of racists and mysogynistic men). This combined with her legislative attempts to severely limit 1st amendment rights through a pornography ban in a moral crusade to "save women from themselves" makes one think that perhaps MacKinnon should have been born a 19th century man, where many of her arguments would hold more weight. Although she may claim to be "Marxist" or "Freudian" or whatever convienient label she identifies herself with to prop up her bankrupt theories , she is one of the most conservative and unenlightened thinkers in feminism today. Read forget about MacKinnon and read Simone De Beauvoir
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