Oregon Law Review
social contract theory, welfare reform, Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA)
In this article, Cherry argues that the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) is ultimately a politically undesirable and thinly veiled attack on the reproductive and sexual activities of poor women. In Part I, Cherry examines the development of social contract theory and analyzes social contract theory as a justification for material inequality. Part II examines social contract theory as a justification for the subordination of women. With this theoretical background established, in Part III, Cherry evaluates the current welfare reform proposals as social contract. This section examines the social contractarian language found in the current welfare reform debates and argues that this "new" social contract reinforces the male sex-right and the subordination of women. In doing so, the new social contract replaces the male sex-right of husbands to control the sexuality of their wives in exchange for subsistence with the sex-right of the state to control the sexuality of poor, single women in exchange for subsistence.
Cherry, April L., "Social Contract Theory, Welfare Reform, Race, and the Male Sex-Right" (1996). Law Faculty Articles and Essays. 994.