In order to understand the contributions that feminism has made to political and legal theory the inequalities and injustices that feminists are aiming to eliminate must be considered. The main area of feminist theory that this discussion will consider is liberalist and Western feminism; however it is important to note that there are non-liberalist and Eastern theories of feminism but to explore these feminisms is beyond the scope of this essay.
It will then consider the case study of feminist theory and the blurred distinction between the public and the private in general and then consider whether the approach taken by radical feminists goes too far and reduces the accountability of feminist theory. The following section will consider an alternative approach within feminist theory to ensure that equality and accountability is brought into the theory and then the approach to legal, social and political problems such as the state's approach to rape as a means of control is taken seriously.
In Patriarchal Societies feminists argue that the body and its traditional assignations of wife and body have become a form of control. Western feminists, such as Rich argues that rape and violence against women are central to the control of women and their bodies, especially when the advancement of women in the public sphere is de-stabilizing this power base:
Patriarchy is a familial-social, ...
It does not necessarily imply that no woman has power, or all women in a given culture may not have certain powers.3
Therefore history and structure is formulates to control women, Stoler and Foucault argue that violence and paternalism is also mirrored in the approach to colonialist rule:
People ... whose lives cut unfamiliar paths across the distinctions of rule suggest still other structures of feeling in formation, other sites of power to identify, a wider range of sources to consider, and, not least, other kinds of memories to call on and stories to tell.4
When considering other theories of power, especially in relation to sexuality and race depends upon violence and control over the body, which is an indicator that there is inherent discrimination in the legal, social and political system. However, there is a lot of similarities in Western and Eastern cultures in respect to control and power over women's bodies. Carla Rice states that [w]henever we as women look at ourselves through the lens of culture, we end up engaged in a war with our bodies, one that we cannot win. Society has inhibited our bodies and we have absorbed into our skin and bones (1999, 317)
Stoler introduces an interesting connection between women's bodies and culture; however the modern restraints on women and the body are not new, i.e. history has restrained the body in differing ways. The modern era has heralded freedom in the sense of the mind; however culture has enslaved women using their body again, i.e. the reproductive functions were the prison of the past, superficial beauty is the prison of today. This imprisoning of the mind by using the body is a very old weapon used by the dominating