Feminists view modern anthropology as hypermasculine. Joan Tronto has said that “The conception of rational, autonomous man has been a fiction constructed to fit with liberal theories” (quoted in Mumford, Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A phenomenological critique , 116). Seyla Benhabib claims that “the ideal of moral autonomy . . . in universalistic, contractarian theories from Hobbes to Rawls has only been able to retain its unassailable position by ensuring historically the privatisation of women’s experience and the exclusion of its consideration from a moral point of view.”

The feminists have a point, especially when we consider that social contract theory often represents “liberal humanity” as fully grown, apparently springing to birth in a way that bypasses pregnancy and childbirth.

But if this is so, how can feminists defend abortion, which rests precisely on this modern, masculinist, contractarian anthropology? Once they recognize that autonomy is a myth and that dependence is not a flaw, how can they turn around to defend “choice”? Isn’t that a reversion to the very masculinist outlooks they attack? Does liberalism finally trump feminism?

Despite their protests, feminists are also among the liberals.

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