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Sexual Equality and Socialism In her article, “Sexual Equality and Socialism”, Anne Phillips proposes a number of changes in our society necessary for sexual equality to be fully realized. Phillips draws these ideas from a collaboration of socialist and liberal theories, creating a socialist democratic critique. She does not believe that inequality between men and women can be attributed to anything “natural”, rather to a failure in how our society operates. Women are given the short end of the stick from birth and so it is inevitable that they lag in the “free” market. Phillips calls for a political initiative to equalize the starting positions of men and women in combination with “lifelong learning” and support for women. This will create opportunities for women by equalizing the initial distribution of capabilities and skills. Not only will women have an equal right to enter the political arena, but a possibility of competing in the market with men on an equal level. Phillips believes that sexual equity is impossible in a capitalist structure. She provides suggestions as to how the capitalist market can be dramatically altered to create a society conducive to equality. Phillips asserts that it is women’s role as the primary caretakers of children, the sick, and the elderly that will prevent them from having an equal position in the capitalist market. Women’s primary role is in the private sphere and the capitalist market as it is presently structured makes success in the public sphere unattainable for women. The hours and conditions of work need to make it possible for men and women to share work in the private sphere equally. It is important to note that she pushes for men’s role in the capitalist market must be altered in addition to women’s so that equality is at all possible in the private sphere. It is impossible for women to have equal job opportunities when the sexes are so different in their domestic lives. Capitalism needs to be altered so that production is tailored to social need, and care work takes equal priority alongside producing marketable goods and services. I agree with Anne Phillips that women’s primary role as homemakers makes it difficult for women to compete in a capitalist market because they carry a double work-load. Because money determines who has power in our society, I think that it is crucial for women to gain a stronghold in the market for men to even begin to look upon them as equals. I think that Anne Phillips’ call for the equalizing of starting positions is somewhat feasible. I strongly support Head Start programs that try to help children get their foot in the door in education. I also believe that affirmative action programs are successful in trying to level the playing field. But these programs are not enough; they need to be instituted in combination with education programs for men and women on gender relations. It is important for equalization attempts to be both on the legislative and personal level, afterall, what use will legislative changes be if people’s attitudes are not transformed. I think that Anne Phillips’ ideas for sexual equality are attainable and should be worked towards.


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