Renaturalizing the Body (With the Help of Merleau-Ponty)

Hypatia 6 (3):54 - 73 (1991)
Some poststructuralist feminist theorists hold that the body is merely the product of cultural determinants and that gender is a free-floating artifice. I discuss how this "denaturalization" of gender and the body entrenches us yet deeper in the nature/culture dichotomy. The body, I maintain, needs to be "renaturalized" so that its earthy significance is recognized. Through a feminist reappropriation of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of the body, I develop a noncausal linkage between gender and the body. I present the body as an indeterminate constancy that is culturally and historically contextualized, on the one hand, yet part of our embodied givenness on the other. Interspersed throughout the paper are passages that describe my own bodily condition as I wrote the paper.
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