No law gives men the right to rape women. This has not been necessary, since no rape law has ever seriously undermined the terms of men’s entitlement to sexual access to women.
No government is, yet, in the pornography business. This has not been necessary, since no man who wants pornography encounters serious trouble getting it, regardless of obscenity laws.
No law gives fathers the right to abuse their daughters sexually. This has not been necessary, since no state has ever systematically intervened in their social possession of and access to them.
No law gives husbands the right to batter their wives. This has not been necessary, since there is nothing to stop them.
No law silences women. This has not been necessary, for women are previously silenced in society—by sexual abuse, by not being heard, by not being believed, by poverty, by illiteracy, by a language that provides only unspeakable vocabulary for their most formative traumas, by a publishing industry that virtually guarantees that if they ever find a voice it leaves no trace in the world.
No law takes away women’s privacy. Most women do not have any to take, and no law gives them what they do not already have.
No law guarantees that women will forever remain the social unequals of men. This is not necessary, because the law guaranteeing sex equality requires, in an unequal society, that before one can be equal legally, one must be equal socially.
Catharine A. MacKinnon, Towards a Feminist Theory of State