Sex and Secularism

Sex and Secularism

Joan Wallach Scott

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780691197227

Publisher: Princeton University Press


The author's acclaimed writings have been foundational for the field of gender history. In this book, the author challenges one of the central claims of the “clash of civilizations” polemic—that secularism guarantees gender equality. The book shows that the gender equality invoked today as an enduring principle was not originally associated with the term “secularism” when it first entered the nineteenth-century lexicon. In fact, the inequality of the sexes was fundamental to the separation of church and state that inaugurated Western modernity. The book reveals how the assertion that secularism has been synonymous with equality between the sexes has distracted our attention from difficulties related to gender difference—ones shared by Western and non-Western cultures alike.