Book review: Catharine A. MacKinnon (2017) Butterfly Politics

2020-04-08T16:03:00Z (GMT) by Kimberley Brayson
Butterfly politicsis not only the title of this comprehensive collection of the works of Catharine A MacKinnon, which charts her political and legal inter- ventions on the inequality between men and women from 1976 to 2016. ‘Butterfly politics’is also the organizing metaphor of the collection and what MacKinnon herself refers to as the‘central conceit’motivating the book (1). In reflecting upon her work, MacKinnon draws on the notion of the‘butterfly effect’, the idea that seemingly simple but focused actions can have significant and complex outcomes. Herein lies the self-confessed conceit, the claim that the focused interventions that constitute this collection have precipitated ‘storms’or even‘tornados’in gender relations through the instrumental use of law. This bold claim is unsurprising given the highly ambitious starting point of Mackinnon’s earliest work as set out in the first chapter: to change the world for women through law.

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