Feminist Theory 12 (1):23-37 (2011)
|Abstract||Against influential strands of feminist theory, I argue that there is nothing essentialist or homogenising about the category ‘women’. I show that both intersectional claims that it is impossible to separate out the ‘woman part’ of women, and deconstructionist contentions that the category ‘women’ is a fiction, rest on untenable meta-theoretical assumptions. I posit that a more fruitful way of approaching this disputed category is to treat it as an abstraction. Drawing on the philosophical framework of critical realism I elucidate the nature of the vital and inevitable process of abstraction, as a means of finding a way out of the theoretical and methodological impasse that the ‘ban’ on the category ‘women’ has caused. Contrary to many contemporary feminist theorists, I contend that, although the category ‘women’ does not reflect the whole reality of concrete and particular women, it nevertheless refers to something real, namely the structural position as woman.|
|Keywords||abstraction Judith Butler critical realism essentialism feminism intersectionality Chandra Talpade Mohanty social structure women|
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