Liberalism has only one overriding aim: to secure the political conditions that are necessary for the exercise of personal freedom . This is why liberal theory has been constructed around a dichotomy between the public and the private sphere: securing individual freedom. Freedom is indeed secured when constraints placed upon the individual are limited. On the contrary, The limits of coercion begin, according to liberal theory and as Shklar explains, with a prohibition upon invading the private realm. This is why a very strict separation between the public and the private is done and must under no circumstances be ignored or forgotten . This distinction is the one between the State which is equated with politics: this is the public realm and civil society which is the sphere of life in which individuals can pursue their own conception of the good in free association with others: this is the private sphere. Civil society is considered as private because it is not governed by the public power of the State .
[...] At least, I will focus on the feminist critiques of this public/private distinction to better understand patriarchy. It has been seen in the first part that classic liberals refuse to intervene in the family even to advance liberal goals of equal opportunity or autonomy because they are committed to a public/private distinction which cannot be ignored and where the family belongs to the private sphere. But the failure to confront gender inequalities in the family could also be seen as a defeat of liberal principles of equal opportunity or autonomy. [...]
[...] Her claim is that the social contract that establishes the political freedom of individuals simultaneously entails the sexual subordination of women in marriage. In her opinion, the social contract would require a sexual contract to accommodate patriarchal that predates liberalism. Her idea is that the distinction between the State and civil society has been contractually established to make the masculine right over women non political and then to allow patriarchy in relocating it into the private sphere. The third one is the idea that liberal states have enforced patriarchal power relations within the family in denying their responsibility on the grounds that the private has to be preserved from state intervention. [...]
[...] To sum up, liberals “have neglected the role of family in structuring both public and private life.” Women's interests are harmed by the failure of political philosophy to analyse the family in either its public or private components since the public/private dichotomy is a division, as Pateman says, “within the world of men”. The gender roles implied by the public/private dichotomy are in conflicts on one hand with public ideals of equal rights and on the other hand with the liberal understanding of values of privacy. [...]
[...] Carole Pateman, “Feminist Critiques of the Public/Private Dichotomy” in The Disorder of Women, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989). Judith Squires, Gender in political theory, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999), pp. 24-32. Judith Shlar in The liberalism of Fear p cited by Judith Squires in Gender in political theory, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999), p 25. Judith Shlar in The liberalism of Fear p Judith Shlar in The liberalism of Fear p Judith Squires in Gender in political theory, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999), p 25. [...]
[...] Challenging this dichotomy means considering every action as potentially infused with public meaning, recognising that the power which constitutes politics reaches into and begins with the smallest gesture of everyday in interpersonal domination, understanding that the reason is touched by assumptions, emotional connotations and linguistic patterns formed in the most private of relations. It means considering that what goes on between a man and a woman is created by and in turn creates what goes on in legislatures and on battlefields. [...]
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