Catharine MacKinnon is an American feminist, scholar, lawyer, teacher and activist. Her ideas may be divided into three central—though overlapping and ongoing—areas of focus: (1) sexual harassment, (2) pornography, and (3) international work. She has also devoted attention to social and political theory and methodology.
She published “Sexual Harassment of WorkingWomen”, arguing that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and any other sex discrimination prohibition. While working on “Sexual Harassment”, MacKinnon shared draft copies with attorneys litigating early sexual harassment cases, including Nadine Taub, who represented Yale undergraduates in Alexander v. Yale, the first test case of MacKinnon’s legal theory.
She has been active in attempting to change legal postures towards pornography by framing it as a form of sex discrimination and, more recently, a form of human trafficking.
MacKinnon has also worked to change laws, or their interpretation and application in Mexico, Japan, Israel, and India. In 2001 MacKinnon was named co-director of the Lawyers Alliance for Women (LAW) Project, an initiative of Equality Now, an international non-governmental organization.
MacKinnon’s work largely focuses on the difference between quality of social and economic conditions for women in both the private and public spheres of life. MacKinnon believes that society fails to recognize the existing hierarchies present within it that have subordinated women in particular for such a long time that they have been perceived as natural.“Men’s forms of dominance over women have been accomplished socially as well as economically, prior to the operation of law, without express state acts, often in intimate contexts, as everyday life”.