Feminist theory provides more than just a discourse on the interactions of the male and female, within the public and private sphere. In fact feminist theory has considered the core problems in the legal and political systems, resulting in a discourse on the inherent inequalities of these systems that favor men over women . Therefore this discussion will consider two key areas of feminist theory which are; equality of rights; and the equality in the law. In order to understand the contributions that feminism has made to political and legal theory the inequalities and injustices that feminists are aiming to eliminate must be considered. The main area of feminist theory that this discussion will consider is liberalist and Western feminism; however it is important to note that there are non-liberalist and Eastern theories of feminism but to explore these feminisms is beyond the scope of this essay. This essay will discuss the theory provided by theorists such as MacKinnon , Scales and Stanley . It will consider radical feminism and the concept of rape; and the next section will discuss the use of women’s bodies either through rape law or visual norms as a way to control women. It will then consider the case study of feminist theory and the blurred distinction between the public and the private in general and then consider whether the approach taken by radical feminists goes too far and reduces the accountability of feminist theory. The following section will consider an alternative approach within feminist theory to ensure that equality and accountability is brought into the theory and then the approach to legal, social and political problems such as the state’s approach to rape as a means of control is taken seriously. Finally this discussion will conclude in answering the title question – does radical feminism theory offer an explanation and solution to women’s inherent inequality in the political and legal systems, in areas such as rape?
MacKinnon approaches feminism from a standpoint that the laws that evoke equality between men and women are not enough, because they rely on the sameness principle between men and women and tries to compensate women by saying that men and women should be treated the same. However this is not enough because of the physical and biological differences which causes a problem, because the social construction of these differences that have caused an inherent inequality between men and women in the current social, cultural, political and legal system. Mackinnon also indicates the current theoretical approaches to equality and rights are not sufficient enough because they fail to recognize that the legal and judicial system is entrenched in a male domination. Hence trying to make women the same as men, rather than recognizing that men and women are different but should have basic rights that protect this difference. MacKinnon also supports leveling the playing field by giving women advantages over men in order to counter the male dominated system .
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