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Okin, Susan Moller, , . Is multiculturalism bad for women?
1999, Princeton University Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, punishing women for being raped, differential access for men and women to health care and education, unequal rights of ownership, assembly, and political participation, unequal vulnerability to violence. These practices and conditions are standard in some parts of the world. Do demands for multiculturalism — and certain minority group rights in particular — make them more likely to continue and to spread to liberal democracies? Are there fundamental conflicts between our commitment to gender equity and our increasing desire to respect the customs of minority cultures or religions? In this book, the eminent feminist Susan Moller Okin and fifteen of the world’s leading thinkers about feminism and multiculturalism explore these unsettling questions in a provocative, passionate, and illuminating debate.

Okin opens by arguing that some group rights can, in fact, endanger women. She points, for example, to the French government’s giving thousands of male immigrants special permission to bring multiple wives into the country, despite French laws against polygamy and the wives’ own bitter opposition to the practice. Okin argues that if we agree that women should not be disadvantaged because of their sex, we should not accept group rights that permit oppressive practices on the grounds that they are fundamental to minority cultures whose existence may otherwise be threatened.

In reply, some respondents reject Okin’s position outright, contending that her views are rooted in a moral universalism that is blind to cultural difference. Others quarrel with Okin’s focus on gender, or argue that we should be careful about which group rights we permit, but not reject the category of group rights altogether. Okin concludes with a rebuttal, clarifying, adjusting, and extending her original position. These incisive and accessible essays — expanded from their original publication in Boston Review and including four new contributions — are indispensable reading for anyone interested in one of the most contentious social and political issues today.

The diverse contributors, in addition to Okin, are Azizah al-Hibri, Abdullahi An-Na’im, Homi Bhabha, Sander Gilman, Janet Halley, Bonnie Honig, Will Kymlicka, Martha Nussbaum, Bhikhu Parekh, Katha Pollitt, Robert Post, Joseph Raz, Saskia Sassen, Cass Sunstein, and Yael Tamir.

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Song, Sarah, , . Justice, Gender, and the Politics of Multiculturalism
2007, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Sarah Song

Publisher’s Note: Justice, Gender and the Politics of Multiculturalism explores the tensions that arise when culturally diverse democratic states pursue both justice for religious and cultural minorities and justice for women. Sarah Song provides a distinctive argument about the circumstances under which egalitarian justice requires special accommodations for cultural minorities while emphasizing the value of gender equality as an important limit on cultural accommodation. Drawing on detailed case studies of gendered cultural conflicts, including conflicts over the ‘cultural defense’ in criminal law, aboriginal membership rules and polygamy, Song offers a fresh perspective on multicultural politics by examining the role of intercultural interactions in shaping such conflicts. In particular, she demonstrates the different ways that majority institutions have reinforced gender inequality in minority communities and, in light of this, argues in favour of resolving gendered cultural dilemmas through intercultural democratic dialogue.

Comment: The book combines political philosophy with case studies exploring conflicts between gender equality and multiculturalism. It could be used in graduate or undergraduate courses on the topic of gender and multiculturalism, paired with Susan Okin’s ‘Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?’

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