Binders or not, there are no women voters. Period. There is, we mean, no unique demographic of women, whose vote former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney supposedly lost and whose vote President Barack Obama reportedly won. Nor is there a "gender gap" problem for Republicans.

In the second presidential debate, when Romney described his process for hiring qualified women for his cabinet, he did not confuse and frustrate women voters, but any prospective voter. Nor did his description prompt the abortion debate or any other issue that allegedly concerns only women voters because there are no "women's" issues.

Consider this noteworthy term "women." As philosophers, we of course feel compelled to ask, "Do women even exist?" A recent consideration of the history of Western thought by Denise Riley shows the use of the label "women" to be, well, erratic at best: At some points in history it suggests equality to men in terms of passion, at others superiority in terms of social morality, and at others inferiority in terms of intellect. In other words, historically society has never been able to agree on an unequivocal definition of "women." Even present attempts grounded on an alleged "feminine conscience" become too complex to be satisfying. This is not to suggest we enter a post-gender society, where concepts and practices of gender play no role. But it does make us wonder who is using the term "women"—and why.

Let's look at a clear example. "Equal pay for women" is, we claim, not a "women's" issue. Men whose female partners work may feel deep concern with this issue. So, too, might men whose passion for justice and the common good heartily disapprove of such inequality within any modern society. And women with more traditional ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags: