Volume 16, 1991
Susan Leigh Anderson
Equal Opportunity, Freedom and Sex-Stereotyping
Michael Levin, in Feminism and Freedom, argues that sex-stereotyping is inevitable and legitimate since there are innate non-anatomical differences between the sexes. He, further, believes that sex-stereotyping is compatible with members of both sexes acting freely and having equal opportunity in the job market and other areas of life. I will attack both claims, but I will particularly concentrate on the second one. I believe that Levin is only able to make his view sound plausible because of his minimal definitions of “freedom” and “equal opportunity” which I shall argue are not acceptable. The result of his mistake is that he presents us with a false dilemma: We must choose between either a Libertarian ideal---which includes freedom, equal opportunity, the inevitable sex-stereotyping and resulting patriarchal society (since it cannot be eliminated voluntarily)---and Feminism---which denies the legitimacy of sex-stereotyping, insists that unequal outcome means inequality of opportunity and so supports a quota system, and attempts to accomplish its aims, at great cost, by depriving people of freedom.