Volume 36

The Inadequacy of Objectivity for a Feminist Movement: How the Pro-Choice Movement Failed Women of Color and Its Own Agenda

by Sophia Arbess

Objectivity, as a virtue and methodology, has been touted as the gold-standard for sound reasoning and argumentation, particularly in the legal domain. Because objectivity, as Catharine MacKinnon describes, can be interpreted as a neutralized description of the male point of view, this valuation has created a false binary which positions male subjectivity as authoritative, and female subjectivity as incredulous.1 This Note seeks to explore the ways in which this binary has influenced pro-choice and anti-abortion rhetoric—an area which, especially in the pro-choice camp, has been particularly shaped by female voices. Specifically, I argue that the mainstream feminist abortion-rights movement, in consistently appealing to neutral arguments and insisting on a single, universalized voice, has responded to anti-abortion advocates’ use of emotionally salient rhetoric in ways that reflect and reinforce the false binary, undermining all women. The result has been a shallow movement that excludes women of color and, as such, embraces a misguided feminist vision.


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