NEGATIVE - CRITIQUE - FEMINIST CRITIQUE OF PRIVACY 129
A EXTPRIVACY LAW LINKSPRIVACY LAW MASKS PATRIARCHY
PRIVACY LAW MASKS AND MYSTIFIES THE PATRIARCHAL STATE AND LEGITIMIZES IT
Zillah R. Eisenstein, Prof. at Northeastern University, 1981; THE RADICAL FUTURE OF LIBERAL FEMINISM, EE2001-hxm p. 2 2 3
The major purpose of patriarchy, besides actualizing its system of power, is mystifying the basis of this power so that it cannot be recognized by the oppressed. Although this is true of capitalism as an economic system, it is more complex in patriarchy in that patriarchy initially structures the contours of political life. This mystification process presents the ideology of public and private life as part of bourgeois life and as an aspect of the liberal state, rather than as a patriarchal distinction between male and female domains, which is preliberal. Today, in bourgeois society, the distinction has been further developed through the political differentiation of the state as public and the family as private. At the same time that the state's activity reaches into all spheres of people's everyday lives, the state makes concrete the distinction between public and private life.3 The state sets itself up as the public sphere, and life within the family is then defined as private in relation to the state. Nicos Poulantzas states this clearly: "For it is not the 'external' space of the modern family which shuts itself off from the state, but rather the state which, at the very time that it set itself up as the public space, traces and assigns the site of the family . . . . This ideological structuring of the public and private worlds by the state opens up private life to the encroachment by the state by supposedly closing off this realm from state power, which, in actuality, leaves it vulnerable to state interference.
PRIVACY LAW PERPETUATES THE NOTION THAT THE STATE IS NEUTRAL IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE WHICH LEGITIMIZES WOMEN'S EXCLUSION AND PATRIARCHY
Zillah R. Eisenstein, Prof. at Northeastern University, 1981; THE
RADICAL FUTURE OF LIBERAL FEMINISM, EE2001-hxm p. 2 6
Patriarchy enforced as a Political system appears to exist nowhere. As I argue in the final chapter of this book, the state mystifies its patriarchal base by not only constructing but also manipulating the ideology describing public and private life. The state is said to be public (by definition) and therefore divorced from the private realm, which is the area of women's lives. The state can appear, through its own ideology, to be Unrelated to the family as the private sphere, when in actuality this sphere is both defined and regulated in relation to the state realm. As such, patriarchy becomes mystified on the state level whereas it is at this level that patriarchy, in fact, becomes institutionalized. Unable to see how patriarchy has set itself into motion, we are left with explanations of male supremacy as natural and/or inevitable. Rather than depend on a biogenetic inevitability, the state institutionalizes patriarchy by establishing the public and private domains of sexual hierarchy between men and women as an ideology at the same time that the ideology erases the existence of patriarchy. Part of the power of patriarchy is this capacity to mystify itself. Its ideology masks its political base.
PRIVACY LAWS ARE BASED ON THE NOTION OF GENDER BLINDNESS, BUT THEY ARE EXCLUSIONARY AND REIFY WOMEN'S OPPRESSION IN THE DOMESTIC SPHERE
Seyla Benhabib, Prof. of Government at Harvard University, 1998; FEMINISM, THE PUBLIC AND THE PRIVATE, "Models of Public Space: Hannah Arendt, the Liberal Tradition, and Jurgen Habermas," EE2001-hxm p. 87
To be sure, with the emergence of autonomous women, movements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with women's massive entry into the labour force in this century, and their gain of the right to vote, this picture has been transformed. Contem porary moral and political theory, however, continues to neglect these issues, and ignores the transformations of the private sphere resulting from massive changes in women's and men's lives. While conceptually matters of justice and those of the good life are dis tinct from the sociological distinction between the public and private spheres, the frequent conflation of religious and economic freedoms with the freedom of intimacy, under the one title of 'privacy' or of 'private questions of the good life' has had two consequences: first, contemporary normative moral 'and political theory, Habermas's discourse ethics not excluded, has been 'gender-blind' that is, these theories have ignored the issue of 'difference', the, difference in the experiences of male versus female subjects in all domains of life. Second, power relations in the 'intimate sphere' have been treated as though they did not even exist. The idealizing lens Of concepts like 'intimacy' does not allow one to see that women's work in the Private sphere, like care for the young and the running of the household, has been unremunerated. Consequently, the rules governing the sexual division of labour in the family have been placed beyond the scope of justice. As with any modern liberation movement, the contemporary women's move ment is making what were hitherto considered 'private' matters of the good life into 'public, issues of justice by thematizing the asymmetrical power relations on which the sexual division of labour between the genders has rested. In this process, the line between the private and the public, between issues of justice and matters of the good life, is being renegotiated.