Following the works of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Simone de Beauvoir, to name a few of the major figures in this tradition, phenomenology operates on both the ontological and epistemological level to insist that all contact with the world occurs through a layer of living experience. Phenomenology attends to both what is being observed, the givenness of what is being observed, and the intentions of the one doing the observing while conditioned as being-in-the-world. In other words, phenomenology commences with the belief that initial contact with the world is not already clearly distinguishable as subjective or objective. Refusing the constraints of reducing the world to either that which exists out there or to the projections of the inner self, phenomenology understands the lived world as an open-ended framework with meaning complexes. Because of the open-ended nature of experience and of meaning, knowledge is always unfinished and incomplete.
As the study of the phenomenal constraints of living in the world, feminist phenomenology holds the position that being-in-the-world is not an abstract condition--without sex or gender. At the most obvious level, this leads to a focus on gendered embodiment and its impact on subjectivity. From these beginnings, feminist phenomenology clarifies how sex and gender impacts one’s experiences and understandings of the world, broadening to explore the social political consequences.
Alcoff, Linda Martin (2000). “Merleau-Ponty and Feminist Theory on Experience.”. Chiasm, Merleau-Ponty's Notion of Flesh, Fred Evans Leonard Lawlor (ed.), (New York: SUNY Press.
Butler, Judith (1989). Butler, “Sexual Ideology and Phenomenological Description: A Feminist Critique of Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception,” The Thinking Muse: Feminism and Modern French Philosophy., eds. Jeffner Allen&Iris Marion Young (eds.). (Bloomington: Indiana University Press).
Weiss, Gail (1999). Body Images: embodiment as intercorporeality (New York: Routledge).
Young, Iris Marion (2005). On Female Body Experience: "Throwing Like a Girl" and Other Essays. (New York: Oxford University Press).
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