Asymmetrical genders: Phenomenological reflections on sexual difference

Hypatia 20 (2):7-26 (2005)
Abstract
: One of the most fundamental premises of feminist philosophy is the assumption of an invidious asymmetry between the genders that has to be overcome. Parallel to this negative account of asymmetry we also find a positive account, developed in particular within the context of so-called feminist philosophies of difference. I explore both notions of gender asymmetry. The goal is a clarification of the notion of asymmetry as it can presently be found in feminist philosophy. Drawing upon phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty, Levinas) as well as feminist difference theory (Irigaray), I argue that a gender asymmetry does exist that cannot—as in the first assumption—be transformed into symmetry
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