Feminism and liberalism need each other, argues Judith Baer. Her provocative book, Feminist Post-Liberalism, refutes both conservative and radical critiques . To make her case, she rejects classical liberalism in favor of a welfare—and possibly socialist—post-liberalism that will prevent capitalism and a concentration of power that reinforces male supremacy. Together, feminism and liberalism can better elucidate controversies in American politics, law, and society.
Baer emphasizes that tolerance and self-examination are virtues, but within both feminist and liberal thought these virtues have been carried to extremes. Feminist theory needs liberalism's respect for reason, while liberal theory needs to incorporate emotion. Liberalism focuses too narrowly on the individual, while feminism needs a dose of individualism.
Feminist Post-Liberalism includes anthropological foundations of male dominance to explore topics ranging from crime to cultural appropriation. Baer develops a theory that is true to the principles of both feminist and liberal ideologies.
“This is a very important, very readable book by the most distinguished feminist theorist in political science. Baer details how feminism has advanced liberal causes, how liberalism has too often failed feminist causes, but why feminism and liberalism must remain in conversation. If women are to enjoy actual equality with men, liberalism will have to be recast, but not abandoned.”
—Mark A. Graber, Regents Professor of Government at the University of Maryland College Park, and author of A New Introduction to American Constitutionalism
“ In breezy and trenchant prose, this extended meditation on combining modern liberal critiques with feminist critiques ranges over an extraordinarily broad array of topics—from anthropological and social theory, to Aristotle, Plato, and Rousseau on female human nature, to Anthony Kennedy’s abortion jurisprudence, to the impact of crime on women, to the Me Too movement, to contemporary transformations of family structures, to issues of guilt and shame, to transsexualism, to condemnations of cultural appropriation, and more. It does so with the intellectual rigor and open-minded interest in considering opposed arguments that characterizes the work of Judith Baer. It is a welcome addition to the Judith Baer oeuvre.”
—Leslie F. Goldstein, Judge Hugh M. Morris Professor Emerita, University of Delaware Political Science Department and author of The U.S. Supreme Court and Racial Minorities: Two Centuries of Judicial Review on Trial
"The assault on liberal democratic institutions and ideals and the specific targeting of feminist politics from the Right has required a recalibration of our political compass and a reconsideration of the entangled fates and futures of the liberal and feminist projects. Judith Baer’s Feminist Post-Liberalism enters this debate with neither a radical overhaul nor a rejection of the liberal democratic project but with a suggestion that a robust feminist liberalism, animated by a spirit of pragmatism, offers a modest path forward not in spite of, but because of, some of its failures in the past."
—Perspectives on Politics
"Arguing that liberalism gave birth to feminism but has ultimately both failed yet continues to be necessary to the feminist impulse, the author presents evidence from various standpoints, situating the book at the intersection of political science, philosophy, legal analytics, and feminist theory.... Meant to appeal to both general and scholarly audiences, this clearly written book contains much interesting information about changing ideas of women’s rights and obligations.... (I)n the end, the author delivers much in the way of possibilities. Summing Up: Recommended."