ERIC Number: ED314328
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Sep-3
Reference Count: N/A
Gender Neutrality: Women's Friend or Foe?
Gender neutral public policies are those that are either silent on the question of the existence of significant gender differences or incorporate a perspective which mandates that such differences be ignored. Prominent voices today contend that gender neutrality favors males and have held the male standard as the one for which women should aspire. Others argue that gender neutrality has denied the role of the family in women's lives and ignores the needs of women who reject the feminist movement. Historically, feminism has been of two types: (1) individualist, which ignores gender and makes no attempt to favor the mothering role over any other; and (2) relational, which defines women in terms of childbearing and/or nurturing capacities. One must keep in mind that the apparent dichotomy is not shaped by innate distinctions in how people think about women's lives or in how women live their lives, but by the manner in which the U.S. public policy system operates, forcing people to choose one or the other side in a fight that is not of feminism's own making. It is the system itself that has been silent on gender. Women have pushed for reforms that have given women rights equal to men and now have been challenged to use that system to provide special treatment so that women can exercise those rights. The equity and equality dichotomy threatens feminism's future cohesiveness. This need not be the case. The social construction of gender is changing, and the feminist movement must take care to guide this change. (JB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (85th, Atlanta, GA, August 31-September 3, 1989).