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Are Women Human?

Are Women Human?

And Other International Dialogues

Catharine A. MacKinnon

ISBN 9780674025554

Publication date: 11/30/2007

More than half a century after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights defined what a human being is and is entitled to, Catharine MacKinnon asks: Are women human yet? If women were regarded as human, would they be sold into sexual slavery worldwide; veiled, silenced, and imprisoned in homes; bred, and worked as menials for little or no pay; stoned for sex outside marriage or burned within it; mutilated genitally, impoverished economically, and mired in illiteracy--all as a matter of course and without effective recourse?

The cutting edge is where law and culture hurts, which is where MacKinnon operates in these essays on the transnational status and treatment of women. Taking her gendered critique of the state to the international plane, ranging widely intellectually and concretely, she exposes the consequences and significance of the systematic maltreatment of women and its systemic condonation. And she points toward fresh ways--social, legal, and political--of targeting its toxic orthodoxies.

MacKinnon takes us inside the workings of nation-states, where the oppression of women defines community life and distributes power in society and government. She takes us to Bosnia-Herzogovina for a harrowing look at how the wholesale rape and murder of women and girls there was an act of genocide, not a side effect of war. She takes us into the heart of the international law of conflict to ask--and reveal--why the international community can rally against terrorists' violence, but not against violence against women. A critique of the transnational status quo that also envisions the transforming possibilities of human rights, this bracing book makes us look as never before at an ongoing war too long undeclared.


  • Why does the war on terrorism after 9/11 offer lessons for struggles against domestic violence? As Catharine MacKinnon explores this and other international legal questions about genocide, rape, and women's status, these essays supply ample evidence for her stature as one of the most original and provocative legal theorists of our age. The essays gathered here are quintessential MacKinnon and reflect her journeys to Bosnia, Canada, Sweden, and across the terrains of international law, and gender politics, and the injustices that lie beyond the power of any single nation.

    —Martha Minow, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor, Harvard Law School and author of Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History after Genocide and Mass Violence


  • Catharine A. MacKinnon is Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School and the James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law (Long-Term) at Harvard Law School.

Book Details

  • 432 pages
  • 6-1/4 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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