The Rights of Women

The Rights of Women

Reclaiming a Lost Vision

Catholic Ideas for a Secular World

by Erika Bachiochi

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.