Jane Mansbridge

Jane Mansbridge is the author of Beyong Advesary Democracy and Why We Lost the ERA.

Recent Articles

How Did Feminism Get to Be

JM: Why do people keep making the mistake of thinking that feminism is white? African-American women have historically supported the movement in greater numbers than white women have. BS: Black feminism is very much alive among the activists I know. But its organizations are not visible in mainstream politics. It faces resistance in the African-American community. And white feminists are often not sensitive to black women's approaches to abortion, rape, work outside the home, and many other issues. But what makes you think that African-American women generally support the feminist movement? I would have said that although most black women support feminist issues --such as equal pay--they consider feminism itself a white thing. JM: The survey data originally surprised me too. But the point's clear. The surveys show that in the early days, almost twice as many black women as white supported the women's movement. And the support continues. Louis Harris had the very first polls: In 1971,...

Feminism and Democracy

Models drawn from women's experience and feminist thought now put one of the most enduring themes of democratic theory—and hottest topics of current controversy—into a different light (and a different voice).

For centuries, while men ran governments and wrote political philosophy, the experience of women had little influence on democratic practice or thought. Recently, however, feminist ideas have been at the center of an emerging debate about the nature of democratic politics. The dominant tradition in political science sees democracy primarily as a method of summing up individual desires rooted in self-interest. The tradition's critics emphasize that any workable democracy requires that its citizens and representatives think not only as "I," but also as "we." Democracy involves public discussion of common problems, not just a silent counting of individual hands. And when people talk together, the discussion can sometimes lead the participants to see their own stake in the broader interests of the community. Indeed, at its best, the democratic process resolves conflict not only by majority will, but by discovering answers that integrate the interests of minorities. Thus a "deliberative...