Hélie & Ashe law review writing raises and responds to a reformulated and broadened version of Susan Okin’s 1999 inquiry, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? It identifies social and political developments, as well as legal and theoretical developments, that have occurred in the 21st century and that demand that reformulation.
Not limiting itself (as did Okin’s question) to interrogating the relationship between women’s equality interests and interests in “religious freedom” advanced by minority-religious groups, Hélie & Ashe is the broader inquiry, critical for liberal theory of the 21st century which has been greatly affected by the “ethos of multiculturalism,” – How should civil government treat any culture- or religion-based claims of rights that clash with the norm of women’s equality?
Section I includes an introduction to this question as well as a Timeline manifesting the recent global history of controversy about veiling, which is the phenomenon through which Hélie & Ashe approach their inquiry. In Section II Hélie & Ashe review several recent contributions to theory about veiling and its meanings for women and for religions, including, most notably, contributions by: Martha Nussbaum, Joan Wallach Scott, Leila Ahmed, Marnia Lazreg, Nadia Geerts, and Karima Bennoune. In Section III, the authors identify what they see as strengths and limitations of each of these contributors, and build upon these writings with their own urging that liberalism re-commit to the values of women’s equality, anti-racism, and (also and necessarily) secularism in order to escape the confusions and inadequacies in which it has become entangled by the influence of multiculturalist theory.