by Deborah L. Rhode, the Director of the Center on the Legal Profession, the E.W. McFarland Professor of Law, and the Director of the Program on Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University
In a New Yorker cartoon, a woman frostily informs her obviously skeptical husband, “Yes, Harold, I do speak for all women.” This is not a claim any contemporary feminist will readily make. Women do not speak with one voice on women’s issues. But to build a powerful political movement, we have to be prepared to generalize about the interests of women as a group. What would most women want if they were fully informed and free to choose, and the goal was true equality between the sexes?
A central problem in securing such gender equality is the “no problem” problem: the lack of consensus that there still is a serious problem, or one that they have any capacity or responsibility to address. Yet on virtually every major dimension of social status, financial well-being, and physical safety, women still fare worse than men. Sexual violence remains common, and reproductive rights are by no means secure. Women assume disproportionate burdens in the home and pay a price in the world outside it. But these issues are not cultural priorities. What Women Want (Oxford University Press, 2014), argues that this has to change and sets forth a compelling agenda for the women’s movement.