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\"Can you hear me now . . . Good!\": Feminism(s), the public/private divide, and Citizens United v. FEC

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  • Introduction: An important goal identified by early feminists was to challenge and even eliminate the distinction between the public and private spheres. Though by no means uniformly, these feminists rejected the liberal notion-broadly stated-that the public sphere (including governmental power) should not impinge on the private realm where \"individuals are the final arbiters of their decisions.\" The private sphere -idealized by the notions of hearth and home -denigrated and endangered women in part by isolating them and rendering them subject to male control, including by way of domestic violence. According to Raia Prokhovnik, feminist critiques regarded the public/private divide as \"the source of women's oppression, not only because the private realm is exempt from liberal principles and political accountability, but also because activity and work in the private realm are not valued like that in civil society.\" Under the slogan that \"the personal is the political,\"' certain feminists called for the end to a sharply defined public/private distinction with the goal of ending the contemptuous, brutal treatment of women by men. As Carole Pateman famously declared in 1983, \"[t]he dichotomy between the private and the public is central to almost two centuries of feminist writing and political struggle it is, ultimately, what the feminist movement is about.\"

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    © 2013 Shannon O'Byrne et al. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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    • O'Byrne, S., & Cohen, R. (2013). \"Can you hear me now . . . Good!\": Feminism(s), the public/private divide, and Citizens United v. FEC. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 20(1), 39-70. Retrieved from
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