In Susan Moller Okin’s essay, “Toward a Humanist Justice,” she makes a case for gendered division of labor as a vehicle for oppression of women. In this essay, I wish to agree with Okin that gendered division of labor has a basis in the suffering that many women experience, however distinct male and female species require appropriate roles. I wish to address the vulnerability of women and arrive at principles of justice to map out a clear platform. Justice for women may not be achieved with a purely egalitarian direction.
Okin highlighted several issues in regards to appropriate roles for men and women including: the disappearance of social differentiation, division of labor resulting in injustice, paid and unpaid work, primary parental roles and sex role expectations. All of the above issues are significant but may be remedied with social and cultural change.
Alternatives that may be catalyst for the alleviation of women’s oppression are: self-supporting income, land allocation, rights and responsibilities, presence of children in the workplace, an independent place for children, education, flexible work hours and signing on and off and various protections.
Toward a Humanist Justice in theory sounds attractive, with common mantras like “equal work, for equal pay,” but may not be the solution. The solution may lay deep in culture and government. The solution may be birthright income or even the independence of children who can be free to have their own income and parts of town.
Okin argues for a shared parental responsibility which is common sense. Okin argues to protect the vulnerable and to increase justice for women. A humanist platform is meaningful and may have deeper resonance when juxtaposed with terms such as “humanitarianism.” Okin may have been looking for neutralization of gender roles, however a humanist root aligned with “humanitarianism” may include public service or community or “social” as a paradigm.
Cudd, Ann E. & Andresen, Robin O., Feminist Theory: A Philosophical Anthology, Blackwell Publishing, 2005
Eastern Michigan University, Philosophy Department, Feminist Theory with Professor Higgins, spring term 2015