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Are Feminism and Competition Compatible?

Cawston A (2016) Are Feminism and Competition Compatible?, Hypatia, 31 (1), pp. 204-220.

Contemporary feminist interest in the persistent underrepresentation of women in top professions suggests an implicit approval of the competition required to achieve these posts. Competition, however, seems to be in tension with feminist opposition to domination and oppression. This paper outlines the dimensions of this tension and examines three attempts to resolve the incompatibility. The first two try to separate the undesirable elements of competition from the positive by way of the competitiveness/competition and the challenge/scarcity distinctions. I argue that these distinctions fail to alleviate worries about competition, particularly in the context of the professions. Meanwhile the third reconciliatory attempt offers a pragmatic argument for compatibilism based on the value of women’s participation in the professions (and their associated competitions). While this pragmatic argument has some merit, I argue it significantly overestimates the amount of competition acceptable for feminist participation. The end result is that, within the context of the professions, competition remains fundamentally in tension with feminism.

feminism; competition

AuthorsCawston Amanda
Publication date25/01/2016
Publication date online05/11/2015
Date accepted by journal09/07/2015
ISSN 0887-5367

Hypatia: Volume 31, Issue 1

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