Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law Symbols, Allegory and Motifs
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Sexual harassment cases as an analogue for misogyny
MacKinnon's argument for feminism is nicely wrapped up in her narrative account of the development of our current legal system around the issue of sexual misconduct against women. The account tells of a legal system whose very laws were not enough to protect women's rights or to ensure their just treatment. Instead, the law was interpreted through the narrow point of view of someone who already had decided through prejudice that the woman's right to a happy, fair life was somehow less than a man's rights to a happy and fair life—even if he is a sex offender.
Pornography as a symbol for feminism
Perhaps one of the reasons that MacKinnon comes down so hard on pornography is because she expresses the market for pornography as an expression of the misogyny she advocates against. In MacKinnon's perspective, pornography is only harmful since it depends on the coercion and abuse of women, and since it implicitly supports a misogynistic view of the world.
The Marxist motif
MacKinnon's feminism is shaped around Marx's understanding of class struggle and systemic injustice. She also finds the theory helpful in describing the currency around women's treatment, and the forms of objectified value that the culture assigns to women.
Prostitution as a symbol for inequality
There are several issues around prostitution that all fall within MacKinnon's feminism, and what's even more important is that prostitution is also an expression of the prejudice against women, in a few ways. Firstly, prostitution is often the product of difficult social environments in an economy where men are willing to pay for sex. Secondly, there is the issue of shame. The majority of Westerners (although hopefully less these days) naturally assign shame to prostitutes instead of offering the benefit of the doubt, and yet, the same shame is rarely attached to men, even when their actions are egregious.
Legal opposition to pornography as an allegory for revolution
Instead of advocating violence, MacKinnon shows an example of the kind of legal fervor she believes necessary if we are to change our suppositions about women. This isn't to say her passion against pornography is just for show, it seems perfectly sincere, but it is a Marxist reaction to inequality, as many of her critics noted when this book was received.
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Study Guide for Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law
Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law study guide contains a biography of Catharine A. MacKinnon, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.