The Rights of Women
Reclaiming a Lost Vision
Catholic Ideas for a Secular World
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
410 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm, 21 b&w illustrations
- ISBN: 9780268200824
- Published: July 2021
Erika Bachiochi offers an original look at the development of feminism in the United States, advancing a vision of rights that rests upon our responsibilities to others.
In The Rights of Women, Erika Bachiochi explores the development of feminist thought in the United States. Inspired by the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, Bachiochi recovers an all but forgotten intellectual history that asserts a moral vision of women’s rights and argues for a reawakening of this tradition as an alternative to modern feminism’s focus on autonomy.
Bachiochi proposes a philosophical and legal framework for rights that stems from political theory, women’s studies, and constitutional law and builds on the communitarian tradition of feminist thought as seen in the work of Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Jean Bethke Elshtain. Drawing on the insight of prominent figures such as Sarah Grimké, Frances Willard, Florence Kelley, Betty Friedan, Pauli Murray, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Mary Ann Glendon, this book is unique in its treatment of the moral roots of women’s rights in America and its critique of the movement’s current trajectory. In addition to exploring how Glendon’s dignitarian vision is particularly reminiscent of Wollstonecraft’s, Bachiochi offers a crucial corrective to the irreconcilable tensions that exist in Justice Ginsburg’s deeply influential autonomy-focused approach.
This smart and sophisticated application of Wollstonecraft’s thought will serve as a guide for how we might better value the culturally essential work of the home and thereby promote authentic personal and political freedom. The Rights of Women will interest students and scholars of political theory, gender and women’s studies, feminist legal theory, and all readers interested in women’s rights.
1. Mary Wollstonecraft’s Moral Vision
2. Men, Marriage, Law, and Government
3. The Young Republic and the Unequal Virtues of the Agrarian Home
4. Women’s Suffrage, Rational Souls, Sexed Bodies, And the Ties that Bind
5. The Industrial Revolution and the Debate Between Abstract Rights and Concrete Duties
6. The “Feminine Mystique” and Human Work
7. Sex Role Stereotypes and the Successful Quest for Equal Citizenship Status
8. Caring for Dependency in the Logic of the Market
9. Sexual Asymmetry, American Law, and the Call for a Renewed Family Ecology
10. Reimagining Feminism Today in Search of Human Excellence
“The Rights of Women brilliantly articulates what should be a central concern and debate for feminists today.” —Helen M. Alvaré, author of Putting Children’s Interests First in U.S. Family Law and Policy
"Bachiochi flips effortlessly from legal analysis to philosophical arguments to sociological observations to characters from classic literature in a way that is almost invisible to the reader . . . in a work that I would describe as, in many places, almost achingly beautiful." —Elizabeth R. Schiltz, co-editor of Feminism, Law, and Religion
“Erika Bachiochi recovers a tradition of thought about women’s rights that, with Mary Wollstonecraft at one end and Mary Ann Glendon at the other, straddles the accustomed divide between the secular Enlightenment and Roman Catholic thought. The Rights of Women offers an important, salutary correction, not only to libertarian feminism in particular, but also to contemporary rights-talk in general.” —Nigel Biggar, author of What’s Wrong with Rights?