Feminism Versus Multiculturalism


Volpp, Leti. 2001. “Feminism Versus Multiculturalism.” Columbia Law Review 101 (5): 1181–1218.

Author: Leti Volpp


To posit feminism and multiculturalism as oppositional is to assume that minority women are victims of their cultures. This assumption, as Professor Volpp illustrates in this Essay, is achieved by a discursive strategy that constructs gender subordination as integral only to certain cultures. She traces the origins of the ubiquitous claim that minority and Third World cultures are more subordinating than culture in the West to the history of colonialism, the origins of liberalism, depictions of the feminist subject, and the use of binary logic. Pitting feminism against multiculturalism has certain consequences: It obscures the influences that in fact shape cultural practices, hides the forces besides culture that affect women's lives, elides the way women exercise agency within patriarchy, and masks the level of violence within the United States. Professor Volpp concludes by suggesting a basis for a constructive dialogue beyond the discourse of feminism versus multiculturalism.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Violence Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2001

© 2023 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.