The Sceptical Feminist

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The Sceptical Feminist: A Philosophical Enquiry
The Sceptical Feminist, 1980 edition.jpg
Cover of the first edition
Author Janet Radcliffe Richards
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Penguin Women's Studies
Subject Feminism
Published 1980 (Penguin Books)
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 456 (1994 edition)
ISBN 978-0140174878

The Sceptical Feminist: A Philosophical Enquiry (1980; second edition 1994) is a book about feminism by the English philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards.[1]


Richards defends liberal feminism against both anti-feminists and radical feminists. She argues that feminism should not be concerned with benefiting a particular group of people (women) but with removing a particular kind of injustice.[2]

Scholarly reception[edit]

The Sceptical Feminist has been influential, but it has been criticized for being "too unworldly in its understanding of women's oppression, and insufficiently radical in the remedies it proposes." Susan Mendus writes that Richards provides little discussion of inequalities of power which perpetuate injustice, and accepts that "women's work" is less fulfilling and valuable than work outside the home, commenting, "Richards's feminism is logical rather than ideological, cerebral rather than celebratory."[2] The book was controversial within and outside feminism, in regard to standards of rationality,[3] fashion and style, and Richard's liberal stance.[4]

The philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers expressed agreement with some of Richard's arguments in Who Stole Feminism? (1994).[5]



  1. ^ Richards 1994. p. 4.
  2. ^ a b Mendus 2005. p. 781.
  3. ^ Battersby 1991. p. 200.
  4. ^ Whelehan 1995. pp. 39-40.
  5. ^ Sommers 1994. pp. 27, 278.


  • Mendus, Susan (2005). Honderich, Ted, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926479-1. 
  • Richards, Janet Radcliffe (1994). The Sceptical Feminist: A Philosophical Enquiry. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-017487-7. 
  • Sommers, Christina Hoff (1994). Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80156-6. 
  • Whelehan, Imelda (1995). Modern feminist thought: from the second wave to "post-feminism". Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0814793002. 
  • Battersby, Christine (1991). "Philosophical Books 1991, 32:4".