by Anca Gheaus
I propose, defend and illustrate a principle of gender justice meant to capture the nature of a variety of injustices based on gender:
A society is gender just only if the costs of a gender-neutral lifestyle are, all other things being equal, lower than, or at most equal to, the costs of gendered lifestyles.
The principle is meant to account for the entire range of gender injustice: violence against women, economic and legal discrimination, domestic exploitation, the gendered division of labor and gendered socialization. The sense of “costs” employed is similarly wide. Costs can be material (such as financial, time or effort), psychological (such as self-respect, a good relationship with one’s body and emotions) and social (such as reputation, social acceptance and valuable social relationships).
I defend the principle by appeal to the values at the core of liberal egalitarian justice: equality of access and the good of individual choice. I illustrate my case through a discussion of the injustice of a gendered division of labor. Some feminists doubt that liberal egalitarianism has the theoretical resources to recognize the unjust nature of the gendered division of labor. I argue that it does.
If the principle advanced here is correct, then gender injustice is pervasive. At the same, it does not affect only women but also men. Liberal egalitarianism is capable of acknowledging this fact without denying that, overall, gender norms oppress women more than they oppress men: Arguably, women who wish to lead a gender-neutral lifestyle have to pay higher costs that men who wish to do the same.
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