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Freedom and Feminism

Anno XXXIII, n. 147, novembre-dicembre 1998
Centro Einaudi


This essay seeks to explain the strength of nineteenth-century arguments in favour of legal reform of the status of women and why the same arguments are against the demand for reform forwarded by the feminist movement today. At the beginning, Women’s Lib and the abolitionist movement sought to knock down the formal and legal barriers which prevented groups discriminated against from participating fully in the economic and political arena. Not that equal opportunity ensures equal results. The present feminist position, instead, deduces that discrimination exists from the fact that men and women achieve different results at work, and invokes public intervention to change this state of affairs. In reality, once formal barriers have been removed, market results are the effect of the free play of individual preferences and choices and should be respected as such.