Are Feminism and Competition Compatible?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

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). Although this pragmatic argument has some merit, I argue that 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204
Number of pages220
JournalHypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy
Volume31
Issue number1
Early online date5 Nov 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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feminism
profession
pragmatics
participation
incompatibility
oppression
domination
competitiveness
opposition
Values

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title = "Are Feminism and Competition Compatible?",
abstract = "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). Although this pragmatic argument has some merit, I argue that 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.",
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Are Feminism and Competition Compatible? / Cawston, Amanda.

In: Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2016, p. 204.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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