This author follows the logic of "pure contractarianism" to its theoretical conclusion: which is that the assumptions built into Rousseau's, Locke's and Hobbes' original "Social contract" is either a "reciprocal agreement about rights and obligations between equals;" or (turning it on its head) is "a political fiction about one group (males) right to dominate another (females)."
First exposing this flaw and then following its implications to their philosophical and logical endpoints, Ms. Pateman shows that trying to ignore the flaws and contradictions implicit in existing "social contracts" used as the primary vehicle to frame Western concepts of freedom and equality (i.e., the U.S. Constitution, etc.) by giving them an "after-the-fact" progressive twist, or worse by glossing over their deeper meanings and implications, is to render them meaningful only to members of the dominating group (men), and their socially adjusted willingly duped females.
According to her, if we take at face value what demonstrably is recognizable as modern patriarchy and allow its implied exploitative meanings of dominance to act as a "stand-in" for reality, that is, as "the extant social contract," we are engaging in a dangerous and unnecessary form of self-delusion, a form that denies the rights and genuine freedoms of more than half the human population.
She shows how when women "go along-to-get-along," allowing the poisonous implications of the flawed model of human freedom to get played out in everyday American society and social experience, we end up with the societal contradictions that we see everyday, in which marriage arrangements, sexist employment contracts, etc. amount to little more than the "contracts" that exist between pimps and their street whores.
The upshot of the book is that by exposing the flaws, delusions and self-contradictory sexist implications built into the flawed versions of the "social contract" (as her compatriot Dr. Charles Mill's did with respect to race, in his "The Racial Contract"), Ms. Pateman is able to reset the parameters for the fundamental theoretical vehicle that frames Western social and political experience.
This treatise is cleanly if not always clearly written and is without a doubt the work of a seasoned Philosopher going about her daily business. I should have read it first before having read Charles Mill's the "Racial Contract" for it is clear that much of his work leans heavily on her work. But since I only learned about it through Mill's book, I had no choice but to read them in the order I received them. 1000 stars