This paper highlights John Stuart Mill’s views on the problem of gender equality as expressed in The Subjection of Women, which is commonly regarded as one of the core texts of Enlightenment liberal feminism of the 19th century. In this paper, the author outlines the historical context of both Mill’s views and his personal biography, which influenced his argumentation for the emancipation of women, and considers Mill’s utilitarianism and liberalism, as the main philosophical background for his criticism of social (...) conditions that subordinated women. She reflects on some of the philosopher’s ideas and arguments for equality and friendship between women and men which may still be considered noteworthy and relevant. Attention is also given to the main lines of contemporary reception of Mill’s liberal feminism from the perspective of current feminist philosophy, within which certain critical views predominate. Despite some problematic points in Mill’s considerations, his essay on women’s subjection may be regarded as one of the philosophically most interesting conceptions of liberal feminist thinking. (shrink)
In Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism, Brooke Ackerly demonstrates the shortcomings of contemporary deliberative democratic theory, relativism and essentialism for guiding the practice of social criticism in the real, imperfect world. Drawing theoretical implications from the activism of Third World feminists who help bring to public audiences the voices of women silenced by coercion, Brooke Ackerly provides a practicable model of social criticism. She argues that feminist critics have managed to achieve in practice what (...) other theorists do only incompletely in theory. Complemented by Third World feminist social criticism, deliberative democratic theory becomes critical theory - actionable, coherent, and self-reflective. While a complement to democratic theory, Third World feminist social criticism also addresses the problem in feminist theory associated with attempts to deal with identity politics. Third World feminist social criticism thus takes feminist theory beyond the critical impasse of the tension between anti-relativist and anti-essentialist feminist theory. (shrink)
This paper is situated in the context of feminist poststructuralist debates around identity. In it, I argue that anti-essentialist accounts of identity, while they may displace, or at least call into question, the foundations of subjectivity, are no less likely to invoke a series of presuppositions with respect to the self than those who seek to maintain them in some form. In particular, these presuppositions often cohere around the materiality of the body. And yet, paradoxically, this accent on materiality (...) refers to a very particular kind of body - one that seems to have very little relation to the biological body. Using psychopharmacology as an example, I suggest that the Gilles Deleuze's ethology offers one way through which both to engage seriously with the 'biological' body while at the same time resisting either an essentialist or biological determinist position. (shrink)
By the turn of the twenty-first century, women writing about electing to share their lives with female canines directly confront a strange sort of backlash. Even as their extensions of the feminist forms of personal criticism contribute to significant developments in theories of sex, gender, and species, they become targets of criticism as “indulgent” for focusing on their dogs. Comparing these elements in and around popular memoirs like Caroline Knapp's Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond between People (...) and Dogs (1998) and Deirdre McCloskey's Crossing: A Memoir (1999), as well as academic studies like Alice Kuzniar's Melancholia's Dog: Reflections on Our Animal Kinship (2006) and Donna Haraway's When Species Meet (2007), this essay elaborates the ways in which living with and writing about female canine companions informs poststructuralist and feminist questions about the embodiment and performance of structures of authority, including those of academic writers, “dog-mom” stereotypes, and reproductively silenced bodies. Situating these texts amid discussions of form in and around feminist/dog-writing, I argue that together they move narrative beyond the abstract model of the lone “authoritative” human individual, reframing feminist politics as intra-active, even trans-species, from the ground up. (shrink)
Feminist philosophers and social theorists have engaged in an extensive critique of the project of modernity during the past three decades. However, many feminists seem to assume that the critique of religion essential to this project remains valid. Radical criticism of religion in the European tradition presupposes a theory of religion that is highly ethnocentric, and Marx's theory of religion serves as a case in point.
"An eloquent work. Somer Brodribb not only gives us a feminist critique of postmodernism with its masculinist predeterminants in existentialism, its Freudian footholdings and its Sadean values, but in the very form and texture of the critique, she literally creates new discourse in feminist theory. Brodribb has transcended not only postmodernism but its requirement that we speak in its voice even when criticizing it. She creates a language that is at once poetic and powerfully analytical. Her insistent and (...) compelling radical critique refuses essentialism-from both masculinist thinkers and their women followers. She demystifies postmodernism to reveal that it and its antecedents represent yet another mundane version of patriarchal politics. Ultimately Brodribb returns us to feminist theory with the message that we must refuse to be derivative and continue to originate theory and politics from the condition of women under male domination." -Kathleen Barry, author of Female Sexual Slavery An iconoclastic work brilliantly undertaken . . . Nothing Mat(T)ers magnificently shows that postmodernism is the cultural capital of late patriarchy. It is the art of self- display, the conceit of masculine self and the science of reproductive and genetic engineering in an ecstatic Nietzschean cycle of statis." -Andre Michel Nothing Mat(T)ers encapsulates in its title the valuelessness of the current academic fad of postmodernism. Somer Brodribb has written a brave and witty book demolishing the gods and goddesses of postmodernism by deconstructing their method and de-centering their subjects and, in the process, has deconstructed deconstructionism and decentered decentering! This is a long-awaited and much-needed book from a tough- minded, embodied, and unflinching scholar." -Janice Raymond. (shrink)
A book of tremendous influence when it first appeared, A Mind of One's Own reminded readers that the tradition of Western philosophy-- in particular, the ideals of reason and objectivity-- has come down to us from white males, nearly all of whom are demonstrably sexist, even misogynist. In this second edition, the original authors continue to ask, What are the implications of this fact for contemporary feminists working within this tradition? The second edition pursues this question about the value of (...) reason and objectivity in new directions using the fresh perspectives and diverse viewpoints of the new generation of feminist philosophers. A Mind of One's Own is essential reading and an essential reference for philosophers and for all scholars and students concerned about the nature of knowledge and our pursuit of it. (shrink)
"...No mere collection, but a wonderful synthesis of some of the best and most representative works of modern feminist scholarship, reflecting the richness and diversity of contemporary women's studies. It provides an informative and empowering perspective on feminist scholarly achievements of the last decades." -Dale Spender, Founding member of WITS (Women, Information, Technology, and Scholarship), is author of more than 30 books, including Feminist Theorists: Three Centuries of Key Women Thinkers and For The Record: the Making and (...) Meaning of Feminist Knowledge. "A stimulating introduction to women's studies and a really useful teaching tool." -Mary Ellen Brown, Television and Women's Culture Women's Studies: Essential Readings provides a wide range of readers with an entirely comprehensive selection of ever 140 readings on women's studies, representing the entire diversity of current feminist thinking. The book is a divided into fourteen sections that reflect primary topics within women's studies, covering theory and perspectives, including: feminist social theory; psychological and psychoanalytic theory; cross-cultural perspectives and historical perspectives, as well as themes such as: education and work; marriage and motherhood; sexuality; the law; crime and deviance; politics and the state; science, medicine and reproductive technology; language and gender; feminist literary criticism; and the media tool Features: Introductions to each section provide an overview of the main issues and debates. Commentaries on each extract locate the work of individual authors within wider debates and identify the perspective from which they are writing. Each section contains a guide to further reading. (shrink)
This important text introduces students to both feminism and other social and political theories via an examination of the inter-relationship between different feminist positions and key contemporary debates. The book takes each debate in turn, outlines the main themes, discusses different feminist responses and evaluates the implications for real-life political and social issues. This user-friendly structure effectively redraws the map of contemporary feminist thought, offering a fresh and succinct summary of an extensive range of material and graphically (...) demonstrating the ongoing relevance and value of a feminist perspective. (shrink)
Are we in a post-feminist era? Has the term, feminist, grown out of its resisted stance? What from today's standpoint is an appropriate concept of feminist philosophy? And is it not the case that all people thinking democratically must share its central concern? In Feminist Philosophy , internationally acclaimed philosopher Herta Nagl-Docekal discusses and critiques the theories of today. Her study ranges across philosophical anthropology, aesthetics, philosophy of science, the critique of reason, political theory, and philosophy (...) of law. Feminist Philosophy confronts the entire field with the problem of the hierarchical relations of the sexes. Throughout her work, Nagl-Docekal affirms the importance of feminist thought as she presses for new approaches to common problems. (shrink)
This paper dialogues with the contributions included in Francesco Fiorentino and Domenico Firomonte’s edited volumes and Massimo Riva’s book from the point of view of feminist literary criticism. This diverse positioning in relation to the work of women writers has allowed feministcriticism to develop a path that has deconstructed the Italian literary canon and the promotion of critical stances that are no longer abstract or monologic, but rather situated in the point of view of the (...) subject and its relational component. Works by Italian women writers present themselves as a body of texts of high material density that transfer questions of textual mobility both within digital and print culture onto the subject and its style of enunciation. L’intervento dialoga con i contributi dei volumi a cura di Francesco Fiorentino e Domenico Fiormonte e con il libro di Massimo Riva a partire dall’esperienza della critica letteraria femminista italiana. Il suo diverso posizionamento rispetto alle opere delle scrittrici ha permesso l’articolarsi di un percorso che ha decostruito il canone della tradizione letteraria italiana e l’affermarsi di posizioni critiche non più astratte e monologiche, ma situate a partire dal soggetto e dalla sua componente relazionale. Le opere delle scrittrici italiane si rappresentano infatti come un corpo testuale dall’alta densità materica, che sposta sul soggetto e sul suo stile dell’enunciazione le questioni di mobilità del testo, sia esso virtuale o cartaceo. (shrink)
Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium. FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse explores the roles of stories, figures, dreams, theories, facts, delusions, advertising, institutions, economic arrangements, publishing practices, scientific advances, and politics in twentieth- century technoscience. The book's title is an e-mail address. With it, Haraway locates herself and her readers in a sprawling net of associations more far-flung than the Internet. The address is not a cozy home. There is no innocent place to stand in the world where the book's author figure, FemaleMan, encounters DuPont's controversial laboratory rodent, OncoMouse. (...) Haraway sees the world of contemporary technoscience as a drama. Information sciences and life sciences are at the center of the dramatic action. Scenes are set in landscapes where maps of human genetic differences are stored in databases, racialized bodies are reconfigured by morphing for photographs in popular magazines, and transgenic mice important to breast cancer research are patented intellectual property. The actors are many, and not all are human. Beginning with the Modest Witness, the key figure in the Science Revolution, Haraway shows us the trouble lurking in race and gender- marked practices for attesting to matters of fact. In later scenes, Haraway explores the kinship relations among the many cyborg creatures produced in the late twentieth-century--in nuclear research, genetic engineering, reproductive technologies, computer-mediated representational practices, and mutations in biological approaches to "race.". (shrink)
Rosemary Hennessy confronts some of the impasses in materialist feminist work on rethinking `woman' as a discursively constructed subject. She argues for a theory of discourse as ideology taking into account the work of Kristeva, Foucault and Laclau.
This "open letter" examines Agnes Heller's seemingly ambivilent position on feminism, as well as her pedegogy, her reading of Plato, her "ethics of personality," and her positions on critique and on "everyday life.".
At a time when the political left have watched the apparent decline of socialism, and with it the cynical rejection of political hope, the question of how to rethink political transformation has become a pressing question. In Transformations Drucilla Cornell offers us a unique conception of recollective imagination which allows us to preserve and re-articulate the tradition of critical social theory. Cornell argues that psychoanalysis must play a role in social theory because we need to understand the connection between our (...) constitution as gendered subjects and social, political and legal transformation. We cannot avoid the question of how the subject is constituted if we are to provide a new conception of radical change. A remarkable work combining the insights of recent feminist and critical theory with the concerns for social change. (shrink)
"I experience language as an intensely physical process," writes Donna Haraway. "I cannot not think through metaphor... Biochemistry and language just don't feel that different to me." Since the appearance of her monumental Primate Visions and the now classic essay "A Manifesto for Cyborgs," feminist historian of science Donna Haraway has created a way of thinking about culture, science, and the production of knowledge that has made her one of the most highly regarded theorists in America. She is admired (...) for her passion and rigor, her wicked ironies, and her deep commitment to issues of gender and race, as well as species. The author of four seminal works on science and culture, Donna Haraway here speaks for the first time in a direct and non-academic voice. Thyrza Nichols Goodeve leads her subject through conversation about Haraway's intellectual development, theories and influences, the role of Catholicism in her thinking, and how her ethical stands have mirrored issues in her personal life. For readers who have admired and struggled with the rich and complex performances of her earlier works, How Like a Leaf will be a welcome inside view of the author's thought. At the same time, this work makes Haraway's contribution to modern thought available to a much wider audience who cares about the issues she addresses. This is a highly personal introduction to a major thinker's body of work. (shrink)
Donna Haraway's work has transformed the fields of cyberculture, feminist studies, and the history of science and technology. Her subjects range from animal dioramas in the American Museum of Natural History to research in transgenic mice, from gender in the laboratory to the nature of the cyborg. Trained as an historian of science, she has produced a series of books and essays that have become essential reading in cultural studies, gender studies, and the history of science. The Haraway Reader (...) brings together a generous selection of Donna Haraway's work. Included is her "Manifesto for Cyborgs," in which she famously wrote that she "would rather be a cyborg than a goddess." Other selections are taken from her three major works, Primate Visions, Modest Witness , and Simians, Cyborgs and Women , as well as some of her more recent writing on animals. For readers in cultural studies, feminist theory, science studies, and cyberculture, Donna Haraway is one of our keenest observers of nature, science, and the social world. This volume is the best introduction to her thought. (shrink)
Yielding Gender explores and reconsiders the tensions that deconstruction poses for feminist philosophy. Emphasizing the important role of deconstruction in revealing the ambiguity and unstable nature of gender, Penelope Deutscher asks the crucial question: does the very instability of gender mean that we can no longer talk of a man or a woman of reason in the history of philosophy? Using the work of Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida and Luce Irigaray, Deutscher explores this question by examining the issue of (...) gender as "trouble", deconstruction and feministcriticism of the history of philosophy. She then considers and challenges feminist interpretations of some key figures in the history of philosophy. Deutscher sketches how Rousseau, St. Augustine and Simone de Beauvoir have described gender and argues that their readings of gender are in fact empowered by gender's own contradiction and instability rather than limited by it. (shrink)
Feministcriticism of health care and ofbioethics has become increasingly rich andsophisticated in the last years of thetwentieth century. Nonetheless, this body ofwork remains quite marginalized. I believe thatthere are (at least) two reasons for this.First, many people are still confused aboutfeminism. Second, many people are unconvincedthat significant sexism still exists and aretherefore unreceptive to arguments that itshould be remedied if there is no largerbenefit. In this essay I argue for a thin,``core'' conception of feminism that is easy (...) tounderstand and difficult to reject. Corefeminism would render debate within feminismmore fruitful, clear the way for appropriaterecognition of differences among women andtheir circumstances, provide intellectuallycompelling reasons for current non-feminists toadopt a feminist outlook, and facilitatemutually beneficial cooperation betweenfeminism and other progressive socialmovements. This conception of feminism alsomakes it clear that feminism is part of alarger egalitarian moral and political agenda,and adopting it would help bioethics focus onthe most urgent moral priorities. In addition,integrating core feminism into bioethics wouldopen a gateway to the more speculative parts offeminist work where a wealth of creativethinking is occurring. Engaging with thisfeminist work would challenge and strengthenmainstream approaches; it should also motivatemainstream bioethicists to explore othercurrently marginalized parts of bioethics. (shrink)
This essay offers an overview of the diversity of women’s prose writing that emerged on the Czech cultural scene in the post-communist era. To that end it briefly characterizes the work of eight Czech women authors who were born within the first two decades after World War II and began to create during the post-1968 era of ‘normalization’. In this broad sense they belong to a single generation. With rare exception their work was not officially published in their homeland until (...) the 1990s. The writers included are: Lenka Procházková, Tereza Boučková, Alexandra Berková, Zuzana Brabcová, Daniela Hodrová, Sylvie Richterová, Iva Pekárková, and Eva Hauserová. The overview is followed by a concise comparative analysis of texts by three very different writers (Procházková, Pekárková, and Hodrová), using a feminist critical approach. There is also an appendix of works by these writers available in English translation. (shrink)
Is it possible for one and the same person to be a feminist and a logician, or does this entail a psychic rift of such proportions that one is plunged into an endless cycle of self-contradiction? Andrea Nye's book, Words of Power (1990), is an eloquent affirmation of the psychic rift position. Although eloquent, I believe it is mistaken in certain serious ways, which I shall address in this paper.Nye advances this position in her concluding essay to Words of (...) Power (Ibid.). In brief, her position is that the logical enterprise is inherently self-contradictory for feminist thinkers. Feminists who attempt to use logic to demonstrate its shortcomings are doomed to failure; arguing against logical claims is self-defeating, for the critic will be sucked into the maelstrom of logical tradition. Hydra-headed, the logical monster will thrive rather than perish under the sharpened edge of argument; hence the critic succeeds only in strengthening the very endeavour whose shortcomings she attempts to expose. This is guaranteed to happen, according to Nye, because in entering the debate, one is thereby committed to the terms of the debate. The critic herself will be devoured in the process, for logic was constructed to eliminate the voices and concerns of women. ‘The feminist logician speaks from a script in which the master always wins' (Ibid., p. 180).If feminists cannot use logic itself to attack the arrogant and unsupportable assumptions of logic, what are our alternatives? Nye sketches two alternatives - one is to simply turn our backs on logic, ignoring it in all of its masculine arrogance, and talk among ourselves in our own women's language about our own concerns. Nye does not recommend this alternative, for although it escapes the criticism of arrogance, it does so at the price of impotence. What she does recommend is the second alternative, that as feminists we direct our energy towards reading other people's work, including that of the logicians, and responding to it in ways ‘that can mortally wound’ (Ibid., p. 184) the authors; women, Nye believes, are particularly adept at reading. ‘It is a skill we have perfected’ (Ibid.) in the course of our oppression.In what follows, I shall discuss Nye's proscription of logic as well as her perceived alternatives of a woman's language and reading. This will be followed by a discussion more sharply focused on Nye's feminist response to logic, namely, her claim that feminism and logic are incompatible. I will end by offering a sketch of a class in the life of a feminist teaching logic, a sketch which is both a response to Nye (in Nye's sense of the word) and a counter-example to her thesis that logic is necessarily destructive to any genuine feminist enterprise. (shrink)