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PSCI 2014 Carole Pateman: The Sexual Contract

by: windwalkerr

PSCI 2014 Carole Pateman: The Sexual Contract PSCI 2014

Virginia Tech
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About this Document

These notes cover the lecture on Carole Pateman: The Sexual Contract from Tuesday, March 15th. We only had one class period this week.
Introduction to Political Theory
Rohan Kalyan
Class Notes
political science, PoliSci, psci 2014, intro to political theory, Political Theory, carole pateman




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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by windwalkerr on Friday March 18, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSCI 2014 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University taught by Rohan Kalyan in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 40 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Political Theory in Political Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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Date Created: 03/18/16
Carole Pateman: The Sexual Contract 3.15.16 She looks at the social contract and views how it affects inequality between genders. Her piece is called  Women & Consent. Context: feminist critiques of liberalism  Pateman is responding to a dilemma that feminists call a “double bind” o Should women attempt to seek to obtain absolute equality with men?   Does this mean women should become more like men?  Does this not reproduce inherently male standards of evaluation & qualification  for positions of power/authority/respectability?  Does this not accept social devaluation of practices, characteristics & value that  societies label as “feminine”? o Should women instead celebrate their “femininity”, their “difference” from men?  This perspective celebrates the distinct views, achievements & dispositions  which supposedly characterize women, & aims to give them larger social spaces  in which to function  But since women’s differences have been created under conditions of oppression  (historical male domination), the difference in perspective and practice affirms  characteristics which bear the marks of adaptation & resignation to oppression, & thereby encourages women to opt out of activities that challenge men’s  domination.  When we look at liberal societies, there is a fundamental difference between men & women that we  cannot escape.   The social contract has always been first a sexual contract that authorizes domination of men over women  All the major social contract theorists allow for inequality between men & women even as they  rely on concept of consent to establish equality of citizens under liberal gov’t  paradox of consent: women both can & cannot consent to domination (i.e. marriage contract) o Hobbes: assumes strict equality between m & w; conquest becomes consent o Rousseau: assumes inequality; women are inferior & incapable of political participation o Locke: women are (partially) equal but it is rational for them to consent to subjection to  men  This is the paradox: how can it be rational for equal citizens to submit to  domination unless they are in reality unequal?   Public vs private life  Consent for Hobbes & Locke  Hobbes (express & inferred consent)  Locke (express & tacit consent)  Liberalism & Consent  Who consents to liberal contract?  Can we ever choose not to consent?  Liberal democratic theory needs consent to ground its larger voluntarist theory of society o But in Locke & Hobbes, everything, even force & threats of violence count as consent Carole Pateman: The Sexual Contract 3.15.16 o Consent merely reinterprets fact of power & domination o This places women in an inherently vulnerable & disempowered position w/in social  contract theory o Marital rape  Rousseau & rape  Rousseau: “why do you consult their words when it is not their mouths that speak? The lips  always say “no”, and rightly so; but the tone is not always the same, & that cannot lie… Must her  modesty condemn her to misery? Does she not require a means of indicating her inclinations w/o  open expression?” Rape culture  No means yes ­> even resistance as consent  Consent of women to sex is presupposed by marriage contract  Marital rape is semi­legal in 8 states Patriarchy & liberalism  Today women have formal, legal equality w/ men, “but their formal legal status is contradicted by social beliefs & practices” o Burden of proving rape falls on victim of rape o “reasonable fear” of woman that she is being threatened o “reasonable belief” of man that woman is consenting   In liberal legal discourse, both rape & racism are treated as extreme/exceptional cases, rather than as structural or foundational to liberal society o Liberalism acts of if legal realities precede social realities  Rape is not about lust/desire but about power (structural) o Language of consent reproduces relationship of sexual domination: women (passively)  consent to (active) men o “an egalitarian sexual relationship cannot rest on this basis; it cannot be grounded in  “consent”  o Consent is meaningless where gender inequality prevails  Persisting gender inequality 1. Norms of femininity tend to socialize women as individuals who don’t conceive of themselves as  aggressive, self­seeking bargainers, & who hence aren’t motivated to act on such a self­ conception 2. Norms of heterosexual relationships: a man who gives up career advantages in order to take up  equal responsibilities for housework & childrearing has made great sacrifice relative to his peers  & has thus earned gratitude of his wife that he doesn’t owe to her, for this arrangement makes her a gainer relative to her peers 3. Norms of heterosexual relationship also construe the very acts of offer &acceptance  asymmetrically. When these norms prescribe that the man initiates all proposals, or when  submission to greater power is counted as acceptance & women are trained in submission, sexual  agreements btw men & women can hardly be expected to make them equals 


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