\\The list below is just my overview of each of the theories, and my abbreviations for each one. This is mainly to provide context for my entry. Feel free to just skip down to the good stuff after the list.
Feminist Legal Theories
A. Equal Treatment Theory (ETT)
The main underlying point is that men and women should not be legally treated different, solely due to gender. The article cites Ruth Ginsburg as the driving force behind this theory, and states that she held the belief that many differences between gender are constructed by society and not inherited from genes (17).
The article then goes over a couple of faults in this theory. The main issue seems to be twofold. First, men are used as the standard for legal rights, of which women can meet but not exceed. Similarly related but slightly different, women do require some different rights because they are biologically different (18).
B. Cultural Feminism (CF)
This theory seems to try to rectify the problems in ETT. CF believes that there are biological and cultural differences that need to be recognized by the courts and society. Furthermore, CF states that men and women are brought up differently in terms of ethics and values, but that does not mean that men's values and ethics are better or worse than women's and vice versa (19-20). Overall, society should embrace these differences as strengths.
Then the issue that arises is that by noting and acting on these differences is that stereotypes and the status quo can be reinforced. The article ends on a question posed by Martha Minow, "When does treating people differently emphasize their difference (Note: Copy kinda faded out on that last word, assumed that it is "difference") and stigmatize and hinder them on that basis, and when does treating people the same become insensitive to their differences and likely to stigmatize or hinder them on that basis?" (22)
C. Dominance Theory (DT)
DT rejects the driving forces of ETT and CF, which believe that equality is achieved through obtaining rights equivalent to or the same as men. DT has a much more Freudian/Marxist stance of (essentially) class warfare between men and women. DT stresses that the patriarchy controls all aspects of society and maintains itself by making being a woman a second class (24).
The flaws in this theory are that it generalizes all women and makes it seem like women are incapable of controlling their own lives (or maybe evens goes as far as to deny them freewill) (25-26).
D. Critical Race Feminism (CRF)
CRF has a lot of stuff going on, which I'll try to address later on, but the gist of it relies upon the ideas of "multiple consciousness" and the "fringe minority" (26-27). These two ideas together rely less on traditional rhetoric, but instead upon storytelling as a means of conveying social context through the implications of the subtext.
E. Lesbian Feminism (LF)
LF is related to CRF through the idea of "antiessentialism" (Defined as in opposition to essentialism, the belief that there is an defining "thing" between women, regardless of race, class, sexual orientation, etc. (26)) (29). LF sees GLBT life as inherently different from heterosexual life and requires different rights.
F. Ecofeminism (Ef)
Is a long and complicated movement that cannot be easily summed up in a few sentences. The best that can be hoped to describe Ef is that the way that humanity treats the environment and the way that humanity treats minorities are closely related (31). The way to solve this problem is through raising awareness and activism. Again, there are a many different branches of Ef that it is really hard to describe it as a singular movement with similar practices.
G. Pragmatic Feminism (PF)
The theory that ascribes to no theory. Like philosophical pragmatism, PF goes with what is most likely to produce results, and denies overly abstract ideas. Universality is an impossible pipe dream that leads other theories astray, and away from what they desire (34-35).
H. Postmodern Feminism (PmF)
PmF rides high in the land of the abstract. Piggybacking on 60's French philosopher Derrida, PmF overindulges in the sub context of society. PmF looks past face value, to the point of denying it, and tries to sift through to find the value of the words (or actions) underneath (36).
\\End of Overview
So what to make of all these different theories?
Straight off the bat, I disagree with ETT, DT, and PmF. ETT seems too simplistic a model, but its heart is in the right place. I understand using the dominant power as a gauge for disparity in power, but I'm inclined to agree with the view that what is best for men is not best for women. That is not to say that women are not entitled to any of the rights that men have (and in fact all civil liberties should be the same), but there are going to be areas which by necessity have to differ slightly (E.G. Maternity/Paternity leave). Furthermore, some of the rights that are in existence are almost an overreach of power, and probably should be limited (E.G. Some laws of self-defense in Texas or Florida which can be used to justify the murder of a home invader with little provocation). So it does not seem to me that it is right to just want to let women have all the rights that are conferred onto men, because there are both "good" and "bad" laws that are inherited through history.
DT willingly dives into conflict and is too confrontational for my taste. Also, as stated above, DT seems to share Freudian and Marxist ideas that are questionable. It is hard to deny the existence of a patriarchy, however it should not be confused with a Patriarchy (I.E. A conscious, malevolent movement with a will of its own). It should always be kept in mind that while government the government is primarily made up of men and is predisposed towards siding with men and heterosexuality, that the government is still made up of people and not an entity of its own. I feel that more can be done by creating awareness than by declaring cultural war, or by seeding distrust amongst men and women.
PmF is just upsettingly abstract. As a philosophy major, I've always had this belief that ever since Descartes (and more so, really we can blame Plato, but that's a whole 'nother thing), philosophy and theory has become too abstract for the majority of people. It absolutely does not serve any practical purpose, and knowledge that exists as knowledge is fine and dandy, but a theory that is either too subjective or elevates itself by denying other theories through skepticism and abstraction is pretentious up to the point of intellectual masturbation (that is to say, completely self-serving (and within the context of this discussion brings a delightful new way to understand "Ivory Tower")). Theory must be able to influence practice in order to justify its existence, or perhaps it would be better said to improve quality of life across the board.
On the flipside, PF delights me, but is a little too shortsighted. It is refreshing to see change in such an immediate way. However, the only way to be "egalitarian" is to have a game plan. Like chess, legal moves should be made with the endgame in mind and not for quick victories.
So we look to Ef on how to play to "win". While enjoyable in its longterm objectives, it does not have any solidarity. Ef seems to be very inclusive and covers topics of spirituality, ecocentrism, care ethics, feminism, etc. In order to try to appease all of these view points, there is a striving towards universality. Needless to say, the minorities of the minorities are neglected in this process.
Which finally brings this blog to end with CF, CRF, and LF. I group these together, because they all seem similar to me. They all focus on different groups, but they look at protecting or helping these groups in much the same way. By breaking away from trying to make everyone the same, there is recognition that individuals are different from one another, because we all exist in relationship to one another, and not as static entities. The reading provided the example of the woman who was a Latina, Breast Cancer survivor, mother, etc. Depending on the context of a situation she may be in, she could be more or less than other people in the room. For example, within her neighborhood she could be a community leader, and if there are public officials around trying to campaign or raise awareness, she wields a lot of power. On the other hand, she could go to the state capitol to protest, and be just another person in the crowd. These three theories recognize that at different points, she is in need of different rights than from the campaigners or the government officials, even though they are all considered, as citizens, at the same "power level" (for lack of a better term) in the eyes of the law.