Document Type


Publication Title

Women's Rights Law Reporter

Publication Date

Summer 1990


As opposition to oppression and the effort to replace self-centeredness with generosity seem self-evidently and equally impressive, the impulse that underlies Bartlett's article merits respect. Unfortunately, however, her argument is not adequate to the impulse, being ultimately unpersuasive for three basic and related reasons. First, Bartlett fails to situate her analysis of current law in an historical context and thus fails to recognize the ideological roots of the socio-legal complex upon which she focuses. Second, and in consequence, she misinterprets the ideological basis of current law, failing to recognize within it fundamental contradictions and tensions. The most fundamental of these contradictions is that between status and contract; between a world based on set roles and biological certainties and one based on negotiation and choice. Third, and once again in consequence, she offers a program of change not only amorphous and vague, but undermined by an essential danger to her deepest commitments-a danger she apparently fails to comprehend, the danger of invoking biological inexorabilities to serve specific ends without recognizing that invocation ultimately supports the forms of oppression she hopes to obliterate.



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