Feminism on State (Polity) - Dictionary of Arguments
Gaus I 278
State/feminism/Mottier: For a long time, feminist theory paid scant attention to the role of the state in gender relations. There are obvious historical reasons for this initial 'state-blindness' of gender analysis. At its inception in the 1970s, the new women's movement was deeply suspicious of mainstream politics and the state, which were seen as fundamentally patriarchic in
nature. Many feminists intended to avoid conventional strategies and power games in favour of anti-hierarchical action within new social movements outside of the formal political arena (...).
Politics: At the level of practical political action, this critical stance was nevertheless often
combined with an appeal to the state, in key areas of feminist struggles such as abortion, pornography, or anti-rape legislation (Petchesky, 1986(1); Randall 1998(2)).
Theory: The analytical consequence of the movement's distrust of mainstream politics was an
under-theorization of the role of the state. Since the mid 1980s, there has been a revaluation of the central role of the state in the structuration and institutionalization of relations between men and women, and in establishing and policing the frontiers between public and private spheres. Somewhat paradoxically, at a time when the importance of the state itself is eroded by supranational processes, the state has been brought back into feminist theory.
>State/Gender theory, >State/MacKinnon, >Welfare state/Gender Theory, >State/Poststructuralism.
1. Petchesky, Rosalind (1986) Abortion and Woman's Choice: The State, Sexuality and Reproductive Freedom. London: Verso.
2. Randall, Vicky (1998) 'Gender and power: women engage the state'. In Vicky Randall and Georgina Waylen, eds, Gende'; Politics and the State. London: Routledge, 185-205.
Véronique Mottier 2004. „Feminism and Gender Theory: The Return of the State“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gerald F. Gaus
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004