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More than half a century after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights defined what a human being is and is entitled to, Catharine MacKinnon asks: Are women human yet? If women were regarded as human, would they be sold into sexual slavery worldwide; veiled, silenced, and imprisoned in homes; bred, and worked as menials for little or no pay; stoned for sex outside marriage or burned within it; mutilated genitally, impoverished economically, and mired in illiteracy--all as a matter of course and without effective recourse?
The cutting edge is where law and culture hurts, which is where MacKinnon operates in these essays on the transnational status and treatment of women. Taking her gendered critique of the state to the international plane, ranging widely intellectually and concretely, she exposes the consequences and significance of the systematic maltreatment of women and its systemic condonation. And she points toward fresh ways--social, legal, and political--of targeting its toxic orthodoxies.
MacKinnon takes us inside the workings of nation-states, where the oppression of women defines community life and distributes power in society and government. She takes us to Bosnia-Herzogovina for a harrowing look at how the wholesale rape and murder of women and girls there was an act of genocide, not a side effect of war. She takes us into the heart of the international law of conflict to ask--and reveal--why the international community can rally against terrorists' violence, but not against violence against women. A critique of the transnational status quo that also envisions the transforming possibilities of human rights, this bracing book makes us look as never before at an ongoing war too long undeclared.
[MacKinnon] is undeniably one of feminism's most significant figures, a ferociously tough-minded lawyer and academic who has sought to use the law to clamp down on sexual harassment and pornography.
— Stuart Jeffries
Catharine A. MacKinnon is the world's leading feminist legal theorist, and her work over the past three decades has helped create an entire field of theorizing about gender, the State, and law. Along with the late Andrea Dworkin, MacKinnon has also become one of the major thinkers and activists on the issue of women's rights in the global arena, particularly regarding the way in which enduring distinctions between the public and the private spheres (in areas such as pornography, for example) sustain a matrix of inequality and exploitation. In this collection of previously published essays and public lectures, MacKinnon focuses on the international legal dimensions of feminist theory. She asks how international law, specifically international human rights protections, might be structured to take account of the uniqueness of crimes against women.
— Charles King
Ms. MacKinnon provides numerous vivid and intensely disturbing examples of governments, through overt action or callous indifference, treating women as less than human and, thus, denying women their human rights...She is seeking to effect legal change on a global scale.
— Kay E. Wilde
A sparkling book, perhaps her finest. Unsettling in the best sort of way, Are Women Human? shows [MacKinnon] to be not only a prodigiously creative feminist thinker who can see the world from a fresh angle like nobody else (and I mean the angle of reality, as opposed to the usual one of half-reality) but also one of our most creative thinkers about international law. As elsewhere in MacKinnon's work, we find plenty of trenchant and eloquent writing; but we also find more systematic analysis and more extensive scholarship than we sometimes get, and the book is the richer for it. MacKinnon's central theme, repeatedly and convincingly mined, is the hypocrisy of the international system when it faces up to some crimes against humanity but fails to confront similar harms when they happen to women, often on a daily basis...Are Women Human? is a major contribution both to feminism and to international law...By casting herself as a peace-builder, MacKinnon issues a pointed challenge to her adversaries, who boringly stereotype her as a fierce amazon on the warpath against male liberties. This book is indeed fierce, unrelenting in its naming of abuse and hypocrisy. In a world where women pervasively suffer violence, however, it takes the fierceness of good theory to move us a little closer to peace.
— Martha Nussbaum
Over the past 25 years, Catharine MacKinnon has changed the face of feminist legal theory. A law professor at the University of Michigan, she is, as one reviewer notes, 'a famously polarizing figure'...A new collection of MacKinnon's speeches and writings, Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues takes note of the political work she has done in Canada, the U.S., and abroad, and asserts her recent approach to accountability in the global human rights arena. Discussing ritualized forms of violence conducted by military forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina and other regions, she argues that international human rights measures can be applied to halt such forms of violence against women.
— Susan G. Cole
To refer to Catharine A. MacKinnon—the author of 11 brilliant and theoretically rigorous books, professor of law at the University of Michigan, and a fellow at the Centre for Advanced Study at Stanford—as a feminist scholar is somewhat like describing her as a bookish blonde: accurate, but also a little ridiculous. MacKinnon is a towering figure on the world stage, far beyond categorisations that in application, trigger derision or marginalisation. The leitmotif of her work is the correction of social injustice, and her role in shaping perception of quotidian iniquities, incalculable...She has dedicated her life to creating a world in which we all accept, or are made to accept, responsibility for the dignity and wellbeing of our fellows. Are Women Human? only furthers her success.
— Antonella Gambotto-Burke
MacKinnon's writing is astonishingly powerful, combining a compelling air of authority and outrage with a sense of despair at the enormity of women's domination by men. It is hard to disagree with her central thesis that much violence against women has the severity of a human rights violation. Moreover, MacKinnon provides a compelling critique of the doctrine that only states can violate international law, and that only transborder atrocities merit international intervention...Are Women Human? is a book that deserves to be widely read. It contains important empirical and legal analysis of particular conflicts...It develops MacKinnon's own feminist philosophy, building on the approach developed in her earlier works and demonstrating how feminism should respond to international issues. And it engages directly with contemporary debates about culture, global justice, human rights, international law, and the demands of equality.
— Clare Chambers
Introduction: Women's Status, Men's States
I. THEORY VERSUS REALITY
1. On Torture
2. Human Rights and Global Violence against Women
3. Theory Is Not a Luxury
4. Are Women Human?
5. Postmodernism and Human Rights
6. The Promise of CEDAW's Optional Protocol
II. STRUGGLES WITHIN STATES
7. Making Sex Equality Real
8. Misogyny's Cold Heart
9. On Sex and Violence: Introducing the Antipornography Ordinance in Sweden
10. Nationbuilding in Canada
11. Equality Remade: Violence against Women
12. Pornography's Empire
13. Sex Equality under the Constitution of India: Problems, Prospects, and "Personal Laws"
III. THROUGH THE BOSNIAN LENS
14. Crimes of War, Crimes of Peace
15. Turning Rape into Pornography: Postmodern Genocide
16. Rape as Nationbuilding
17. From Auschwitz to Omarska, Nuremberg to the Hague
18. Rape, Genocide, and Women's Human Rights
19. Gender-Based Crimes in Humanitarian Law
20. War Crimes Remedies at the National Level
21. Collective Harms under the Alien Tort Statute: A Cautionary Note on Class Actions
22. Genocide's Sexuality
IV. ON THE CUTTING EDGE
23. Defining Rape Internationally: A Commentary on Akayesu
24. Pornography as Trafficking
25. Women's September 11th: Rethinking the International Law of Conflict