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5 Val. U. L. Rev. 237 (1970-1971)
Economic and Educational Inequality Based on Sex: An Overview

handle is hein.journals/valur5 and id is 247 raw text is: ECONOMIC AND EDUCATIONAL INEQUALITY BASED ON
SEX: AN OVERVIEW
PAULI MURRAY*
INTRODUCTION
Sexual inequality is the oldest and most intransigent form of
discrimination in human culture; indeed, it has provided models for
the subordination of other oppressed groups.' As in the case of racial
bias, the individual's status is defined at birth, and legal and social
disabilities are imposed by virtue of visible, permaent physical char-
acteristics which identify one's sex. For many purposes, laws and social
customs treat all women as a separate class inferior to that of men. At
the same time, however, unlike a racial or ethnic minority, women are
distributed evenly with men throughout the entire population and share
the class characteristics of the men with whom they are closely associated
as wives, mothers or daughters. This duality of status partly obscures the
pervasiveness of discriminatory treatment which cuts across all classes
and affects more than half of the population. Notwithstanding a total
impact which is far more extensive than other forms of bias, there is a
strong tendency to minimize sex discrimination, to avoid the moral
implications of so vast a social injustice and to afford it greater immunity
from public condemnation
The most demonstrable inequality to which millions of working
women are subjected is economic discrimination. It lends particular
force to the argument that women are an oppressed group because it
contributes to the powerlessness to deal adequately with other in-
equalities. As one writer has put it, [w]omen have less economic
power than men and in a money society personal power is directly
related to economic power.'
The case for national action in this area was summarized in the
report of President Nixon's Task Force on Women's Rights and Re-
sponsibilities in April, 1970. The Task Force pointed out that the
* Professor of American Studies, Brandeis University.
1. See, e.g., Freeman, The Legal Basis of the Sexual Caste System, 5 VAL. U.L.
REv. 203 (1971).
2. For a discussion of the unique characteristics of sex inequality see Rossi,
Sex Equality: The Beginnings of Ideology, in VoIcEs OF THE NEW FEMINISM 59 (M.
Thompson ed. 1970).
3. Note, A Little Dearer Than His Horse: Legal Stereotypes and the Feminine
Personality, 6 HARV. Civ. RiGHTs-CIv. LIB. L. REV. 269 (1971).

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