In this article I will revisit the question of what I term the continuum of heteronormative sexual interactions, that is, the idea that purportedly ethically acceptable heterosexual interactions are conceptually, ethically, and politically associated with instances of sexual violence. Spurred by recent work by psychologist Nicola , I conclude that some of my earlier critiques of Catharine MacKinnon's theoretical linkages between sexual violence and normative heterosex are wanting. In addition, neither MacKinnon's theory nor my critique of it seem up to (...) the task of providing an ethical account of the examples of “unjust sex” that Gavey has described. I come to the conclusion that an ethical analysis of sexual interactions requires a focus on sexual desire, but that desire cannot take on the by now heavily criticized role of consent. Rather than looking for the presence or absence of sexual desire prior to sexual encounters as a kind of ethical certification of them, we ought instead to focus on the efficacy of that sexual desire, that is, its ability (or lack thereof) to shape an encounter in substantial and meaningful ways. (shrink)
In this paper, we offer a method of teaching argumentation that consists of students working through a series of cumulative, progressive steps at their own individual pace—a method inspired by martial arts pedagogy. We ground the pedagogy in two key concepts from the scholarship of teaching and learning: “deliberate practice” and “deep approaches to learning.” The step-by-step method, as well as the challenges it presents, is explained in detail. We also suggest ways that this method might be adapted for other (...) classes. (shrink)
Some feminist theorists have argued that emphasizing women's self-defense mistakenly emphasizes women's behavior and choices rather than male aggression as a cause of sexual violence. I argue here that such critiques of self-defense are misguided, and do not sufficiently take into account the ways in which feminist self-defense courses can constitute embodied transformations of the meanings of femininity and rape. While certainly not sufficient to counter a rape culture by themselves, self-defense courses should remain a crucial element in feminist anti-rape (...) activism. (shrink)
Objectification is a foundational concept in feminist theory, used to analyze such disparate social phenomena as sex work, representation of women's bodies, and sexual harassment. However, there has been an increasing trend among scholars of rejecting and re-evaluating the philosophical assumptions which underpin it. In this work, Cahill suggests an abandonment of the notion of objectification, on the basis of its dependence on a Kantian ideal of personhood. Such an ideal fails to recognize sufficiently the role the body plays in (...) personhood, and thus results in an implicit vilification of the body and sexuality. The problem with the phenomena associated with objectification is not that they render women objects, and therefore not-persons, but rather that they construct feminine subjectivity and sexuality as wholly derivative of masculine subjectivity and sexuality. Women, in other words, are not objectified as much as they are derivatized, turned into a mere reflection or projection of the other. Cahill argues for an ethics of materiality based upon a recognition of difference, thus working toward an ethics of sexuality that is decidedly and simultaneously incarnate and intersubjective. (shrink)
Although at times criticized for its philosophical density, French cultural theory remains a flourishing, if highly contested, area of academic study. Four feminist thinkers in this tradition continue to be especially prominent: Simone de Beauvoir, Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, and Luce Irigaray. This new collection from Routledge gathers together the very best secondary literature on these thinkers to provide an indispensable conspectus of their works. Each of the four thinkers is represented by an individual volume, and each volume includes a (...) newly written introduction to that thinker’s work and her philosophical relevance. (shrink)
: This paper explores the conditions under which feminine beautification constitutes a feminist practice. Distinguishing between the process and product of beautification allows us to isolate those aesthetic, inter-subjective, and embodied elements that empower rather than disempower women. The empowering characteristics of beautification, however, are difficult and perhaps impossible to represent in a sexist context; therefore, while beautifying may be a positive experience for women, being viewed as a beautified object in current Western society is almost always opposed to women's (...) equality and autonomy. (shrink)
Rape, claims Ann J. Cahill, affects not only those women who are raped, but all women who experience their bodies as rapable and adjust their actions and self-images accordingly. Rethinking Rape counters legal and feminist definitions of rape as mere assault and decisively emphasizes the centrality of the body and sexuality in a crime which plays a crucial role in the continuing oppression of women.
: In 1977, Michel Foucault suggested that legal approaches to rape define it as merely an act of violence, not of sexuality, and therefore not distinct from other types of assaults. I argue that rape can not be considered merely an act of violence because it is instrumental in the construction of the distinctly feminine body. Insofar as the threat of rape is ineluctably, although not determinately, associated with the development of feminine bodily comportment, rape itself holds a host of (...) bodily and sexually specific meanings. (shrink)