Document Type

Article

Abstract

Part I of this article examines Parity's strangeness to United States observers. United States sex discrimination law ignores political representation issues. United States voting rights law contains no provisions for gender inequality. Most importantly, leading United States thinkers of all stripes roundly reject quotas. Part II details the Parity debate and its relationship to French democracy. The democracies of the United States and of France share Eighteenth Century Enlightenment origins. They also share some form of universalism (labeled “neutrality” in the United States by Cass Sunstein) establishing the equality of all citizens before the law. Parity serves as a good counterpoint to the United States because of similarities between the French and U.S. democracies. Parity aims to reflect a gendered democracy, not institute a quota. France's universalism refuses even the acknowledgement of the existence of racial, ethnic, or religious minorities, even at the cost of inflaming ethnic inequalities. These elements of France's conceptualization of the relationship between democracy and identity (gender or racial), stimulate a revisiting of the quota debate here. Part III turns back to the United States. The United States and France share a fundamental respect for the neutrality of the state with regard to group rights. Parity affords a fresh perspective on the relationship between remedies for group inequality and the neutrality of the state. Inserting fluidity into quotas provides an anti-essentialist method to situate remedies for group inequality within the context of the neutral state. United States jurisprudence already incorporates some fluidity. Reviewing electoral gender inequality in light of these arguments allows us to revisit descriptive representation, based on the identity of the voter, and interest representation, based on the ideas of the voter. Revisiting descriptive representation suggests that remedies for electoral gender inequality may not foster essentialism or violate neutrality. Parity may not be the right remedy for the United States, but some remedy is required. Instead of relying on dualistic notions that men and women should possess equal political power, remedies should address the gendered nature of electoral power, including the political, as well as cultural, exclusion of women.