Recovering Socialism for Feminist Legal Theory in the 21st Century

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This Article argues that a significant strand of feminist theory in the 1970s and 1 9 80s-socialistfeminism-has largely been ignored by feminist jurisprudence in the United States and explores potential contributions to legal theory of recapturing the insights of socialist feminism. It describes both the context out of which that theory grew, in the civil rights, anti-war, and anti-imperialist struggles ofthe 1960s, and the contents ofthe theory as developed in the writings ofcertain authors such as Heidi Hartmann, Zillah Eisenstein, and Iris Young, as well as their predecessors in the UK, and in the practice ofsocialist feminist groups in the United States during the same period. Although many American feminist legal theorists themselves participated in or were influenced by the progressive movements of the 1960s and 1970s, socialist feminism is virtually absent from their writings, except for those of Catharine MacKinnon, who, despite sympathy with the approach, disagreed with it and went on to develop her own version of feminist equality theory. The author argues that the time is now ripe to recapture this strand offeminism and explore what it would add to the study and pursuit of women's equality.

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