Introduction Feminist Perspectives on Gender and Thought: Paradox and Potential

  • Margaret Gentry


“Equality” has been the preeminent value in American culture since our first self-evident truth declared that “all men are created equal.” Although equality and difference are not necessarily antithetical, equality within our culture has been taken to depend on sameness: that is, historically equality has evolved in favor of standardized rules that demand the same qualifications, afford the same opportunities, and offer the same rewards to all. Generally, standardization of criteria dominates diversity, which is considered irrelevant when equality is applied as a principle. This operationalization of equality as sameness cuts right to the heart of the paradoxical status of gender in the United States. For although we base equality primarily on sameness, our ideology of gender is based on the idea that men and women are fundamentally different. Consequently, we expect women to be different from men (e.g., in traits, values, and skills), and yet to obtain equality women must be the same as men.


Gender Difference Affirmative Action Gender Discrimination Feminist Scholarship Feminist Perspective 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

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  • Margaret Gentry

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