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Feminist Challenges: Social and Political Theory

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Ba Also in The Series in Also in The Northeastern Northeastern Series in Feminist Feminist Theory Theory

Us Q7Z/R

Evelyn Fox Fox Keller, Keller, Editor, Editor, Evelyn and Nicole Nicole Benevento, Benevento, Consulting Consulting Editor Editor and






f§EEMINIST “FEMINIST CHALLENGES CHALLENGES Social Theory Social and and Political Political Theory 1

Edited by Edited by Carole Pateman Pateman and and Elizabeth Elizabeth Gross Gross Carole

Theory Feminist Theory in Feminist Series in Northeastern Series The Northeastern The Press University Press Northeastern Northeastern University N BOSTO BOSTON

© 1986 1986 by Pateman and and Elizabeth Elizabeth Gross © by Carole Carole Pateman Gross Published in in North by Northeastern Northeastern University University Published North America America by Press, 1987 1987 Press, Published in in Australia Allen 86 & Unwin Unwin Australia, Australia, Published Australia by by Allen 1986 1986 All reserved. This This book, book, or parts thereof, may not not All rights rights reserved. or parts thereof, may be reproduced reproduced in in any any form or by by any any means, means, electronic electronic be form or or mechanical, mechanical, including photocopying, recording, recording, or or including photocopying, or any information information storage retrieval system system now now any storage and and retrieval known or to be be invented, invented, without without written written permission permission known or to from the publisher. from the publisher. Library of of Congress Congress Cataloging Cataloging in in Publication Publication Data Library Data Feminist Challenges. Challenges. Feminist A (The Northeastern in feminist feminist theory) (The Northeastern series series in theory) Bibliography: Bibliography: p. p. 1. 1. Feminism—Philosophy. Feminism—Philosophy. 2. 2. Feminism. Feminism. I. Pateman, Carole. Gross, Elizabeth. Series. I. Pateman, Carole. II. IJ. Gross, Elizabeth. III. III. Series. HQ1154.F4455 1986 305.4'2'O1 HQ1154.F4455 1986 305.4'2'01 8 6 — 85 12 86-8512 ISBN —55553—003-6 ISBN 11—55553-—003-6 ISBN -555.53-O04-4 (pbk.) (pbk.) ISBN 11—55553—004—4

Composed Graphicraft Typesetters Composed in in Sabon Sabon by by Graphicraft Typesetters Ltd, Ltd, Hong Kong Kong I-long Printed in Hong Kong Printed in Hong Kong 919089888786 91 90: $9 88:87 “86

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Contents Contents

Acknowledgements Acknowledgements Contributors Contributors 11

vii Vil viii Vill

Introduction: The theoretical theoretical subversiveness Introduction: The subversiveness of feminism feminism Carole Pateman Carole Pateman

Part Part! I



Feminism, philosophy and and riddles answers Feminism, philosophy riddles without without answers Moira Gatens Moira Gatens


Vanishing and political Vanishing acts acts in in social social and political thought: thought: Tricks Tricks of of the the trade trade Beverly Thiele Beverly Thiele Ethics and/in philosophy Ethics revisited: revisited: Women Women and/in philosophy Rosi Braidotti Rosi Braidotti



THE CHALLENGE TO LIBERALISM LIBERALISM THE CHALLENGE TO 55 Selfhood, Selfhood, war masculinity war and and masculinity Genevieve Lloyd Genevieve Lloyd 66 Sex equality is is not not enough enough for Sex equality for feminism feminism Merle Thornton Merle Thornton Women and and political rationality 77 Women political rationality Janna Thompson Thompson janna Desire, consent consent and and liberal theory 88 Desire, liberal theory Lenore Lenore Coltheart Coltheart

13 13

30 30 44 44

Part II Part II


63 63 ve 77 99 99 112 112


Part IJ THE CHALLENGE CHALLENGE TO TO ACADEMIA ACADEMIA Part III THE Philosophy, subjectivity subjectivity and and the the body: body: Kristeva Irigaray 99 Philosophy, Kristeva and and Irigaray Elizabeth Gross Gross rete Elizabeth ‘A/V‘/\'/\"" 10 Beauvoir: Philosophy and/or the 10 Simone Simone de de Beauvoir: Philosophy and/or the female female body body Catriona Mackenzie Catriona Mackenzie 11 Women, domestic life and and sociology 11 Women, domestic life sociology Anna Yeatman Anna Yeatman 12 Evidence Feminism and and the of history 12 Evidence and and silence: silence: Feminism the limits limits of history Judith To Co judith Allen Allen i'A'TT\"/-T/\'T\"TT"A 13 Conclusion: What What is is feminist feminist theory? 13 Conclusion: theory? Elizabeth Gross Elizabeth Gross Bibliography Bibliography

vi vi

125 144 LS7 173 190 205

Acknowledgements Acknowledgements

This book conceived in in part as aa response response to This book was was conceived part as to an an absence absence of of feminist analyses conventional or or ‘male-stream’ ‘male-stream’ political political and and social social feminist analyses of of conventional theory; in part part as as aa response response to to aa call call for for feminist feminist writing writing made by aa theory; in made by newly and book-packaging book-packaging collective, collective, newly formed formed feminist feminist publishing publishing and Redress Press. While While this in preparation, preparation, because because of of the the Redress Press. this book book was was in usual financial problems problems that confront cooperative cooperative projects, projects, Redress usual financial that confront Redress Press was was forced forced to to scale scale down down its and to Press its commitments commitments and to concentrate concentrate mainly on literature. mainly on literature. We to acknowledge here the enthusiasm and We would would like like to acknowledge here the enthusiasm and cooperation cooperation of the the Redress Redress Press Press collective. collective. Thanks Thanks must must also also go go to to John of ]ohn Iremonger lremonger for his and support, and to to Venetia Venetia Nelson Nelson for for his encouragement encouragement and support, and for carefully checking checking all manuscripts and making useful useful suggestions. suggestions. Our Our carefully all manuscripts and making greatest appreciation must go to to our our contributors, who have have all all been been greatest appreciation must go contributors, who both in their gracious in in persevering persevering with with the the usual usual both efficient efficient in their work work and and gracious delays. Last but but not not least least our our thanks thanks go go to to our families and and friends friends delays. Last our families who put put up up with with us during the book’s production. production. who us during the book’s

Vil vii

Contributors Contributors

JUDITH ALLEN ALLEN is research on on the the history history of ]UDITH is aa historian historian who who does does research of feminist masculinist thought, and women’s women’s social history. She feminist and and masculinist thought, and social history. She completed on Women, Women, Crimes and Policing Policing in in New New South South completed her her PhD PhD on Crimes and Wales 1880-1939 1880—1939 in 1983, and and has published widely widely on on this this subject. subject. Wales in 1983, has published At working on on aa book book on the history history of of Australian Australian At present present she she is is working on the government and politics politics from feminist perspective, perspective, and on aa history government and from aa feminist and on history of feminist thought, thought, 1875—1925. teaches women’s in the the of feminist 1875—1925. She She teaches women’s studies studies in School of of Humanities at Griffith Griffith University. University. School Humanities at ROSI BRAIDOTTI BRAIDOTTI has BA from from the Australian National National University University ROSI has aa BA the Australian and aa PhD She lives lives in Paris and teaches and PhD from from the the Sorbonne. Sorbonne. She in Paris and teaches philosophy the Paris Programme of of the the University University of of Columbia Columbia as as philosophy in in the Paris Programme well at the the College Collége International International de Philosophie. She has published well as as at de Philosophie. She has published on issues issues related feminism and on related to to feminism and philosophy philosophy and and is is the the author author of of aa forthcoming book the subject. subject. She editorial forthcoming book on on the She is is aa member member of of the the editorial board of the feminist journal Les board of the feminist journal Les Cahiers Cahiers du du Grif. Grif. LENORE COLTHEART the University University of of Queensland LENORE COLTHEART has has aa BA BA from from the Queensland and aa PhD PhD from from Griffith Griffith University. politics at the and University. She She was was aa lecturer lecturer in in politics at the University of New 1984 and. has been the University of New England England from from 1981 1981 to to 1984 and has been the principal Mary White White College at the the university since 1983. She is at principal of of Mary College at university since 1983. She is at present aa consultant to the South present consultant to the Public Public Works Works Department, Department, New New South Wales. She She has has seven children, aged twenty-three. Wales. seven children, aged fourteen fourteen to to twenty-three. MOIRA GATENS is is aa tutor tutor in the Department General Philosophy Philosophy MOIRA GATENS in the Department of of General at Sydney University. She is is at at present at Sydney University. She present completing completing aa PhD PhD on on the the gendering and body, reason and and gendering of of the the mind mind and body, reason and passion, passion, culture culture and nature, philosophy from from Descartes nature, in in modern modern philosophy Descartes to to Sartre. Sartre. Her Her current current vill viii


interests interests include include philosophy philosophy of of the body and emotions and contemporthe body and emotions and contemporary feminist feminist theory. theory. ary ELIZABETH ELIZABETH GROSS GROSS is is aa lecturer lecturer in the the Department Department of General General Philosophy Philosophy at at Sydney Sydney University, where she she completed completed a PhD 1980. University, where PhD in 1980. She teaches teaches in the the areas areas of feminism, theory, semiotics, semiotics, psychoanalytic theory, feminism, psychoanalytic She and recent French philosophy, and is at present translating and writing writing translating and philosophy, and at present recent French and about Luce Irigaray (with C. Sheaffer-jones be to be P. Barker), Barker), to Luce Irigaray and P. about Sheaffer-Jones and (with C. published as Body-to-Body Body-to-Body Against Against the volume and editing editing aa volume Mother, and the Mother, published as called ~Futur’* Excursions into into Post-Modernity ThreadFutur* Fall: called (with T. Fall: Excursions Post-Modernity (with T. Threadgold and and D. D. Kelly), and doing the areas areas of of feminist research in the doing research feminist Kelly), and gold philosophy, deconstruction and Michel Michel Foucault. deconstruction and philosophy, Foucault. GENEVIEVE is aa graduate Sydney University, GENEVIEVE LLOYD LLOYD is graduate of of Sydney University, with with postgraduate degrees from the University of of Oxford. senior postgraduate degrees from the University Oxford. She She is is aa senior lecturer in in philosophy philosophy at the Australian National University. is the the lecturer at the Australian National University. She She is author of of The The Man ‘Female’ in author Man of of Reason: Reason: ‘Male’ ‘Male’ and and ‘Female’ in Western Western Philosophy (London: (London: Methuen, Methuen, 1984 of Philosophy 1984 and and Minneapolis: Minneapolis: University University of Minnesota Press, Press, 1985). 1985). She articles in Australasian Journal journal of of Minnesota She has has articles in Australasian Philosophy, Metaphilosophy, Mind, Mind, Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy Philosophy, Metaphilosophy, Philosophy and and Literature, Social Social Research, Research, and and Critical Critical Philosophy. Philosophy. Literature, CATRIONA MACKENZIE candidate in in the the Department CATRIONA MACKENZIE is is aa PhD PhD candidate Department of of Philosophy at the the Australian Her philosophical Philosophy at Australian National National University. University. Her philosophical areas of interest include Hegel, Hegel, contemporary French philosophy, areas of interest include contemporary French philosophy, and and methodological issues issues concerning feminism and and philosophy. philosophy. She methodological concerning feminism She is is also theory. also interested interested in in feminist feminist literary literary theory. CAROLE is aa reader Sydney University CAROLE PATEMAN PATEMAN is reader in in government government at at Sydney University and of the of Social Social Sciences Sciences in in Australia. In and aa fellow fellow of the Academy Academy of Australia. In 1984-85 she she was was aa fellow fellow at at the 1984-85 the Center Center for for Advanced Advanced Study Study in in the the Behavioral Sciences, Sciences, Stanford, and in in 1985-86 1985-86 is is visiting professor of of Behavioral Stanford, and visiting professor politics at Princeton Princeton University. University. She She is is author author of Participation and and politics at of Participation Democratic Theory Theory (Cambridge (Cambridge University University Press, 1970) and and The The Democratic Press, 1970) Problem Political Obligation Obligation (Cambridge: (Cambridge: Polity Polity Press, Press, 1985) Problem of of Political 1985) and and has contributed contributed to and philosophy journals. In 1985 she she has to politics politics and philosophy journals. In 1985 presented the the Jefferson at the of CaliforCaliforpresented Jefferson Memorial Memorial Lectures Lectures at the University University of nia, Berkeley, Women and and Democratic Democratic Citizenship. Citizenship. nia, Berkeley, on on the the subject subject of of Women BEVERLY THIELE is senior tutor Murdoch University. She BEVERLY THIELE is aa senior tutor at at Murdoch University. She graduated in in sociology sociology from from Flinders University in in 1976, 1976, then moved graduated Flinders University then moved to Western Australia to work in women’s both as as tutor to Western Australia to work in women's studies, studies, both tutor and and research assistant. She is now writing writing her her PhD PhD thesis Reproduction research assistant. She is now thesis on on Reproduction in Socialist the Woman Question, Britain Britain 1880-1900. 1880-1900. in Socialist Accounts Accounts of of the Woman Question, JANNA THOMPSON is is aa senior lecturer in in the the Philosophy Philosophy Depart_]ANNA THOMPSON senior lecturer Department, Latrobe University, University, where lectures on on feminism, ment, Latrobe where she she lectures feminism, political political theory and and marxism, marxism, among She has widely theory among other other materials. materials. She has published published widely 1x ix


on issues and is editing editing aa special special issue issue of of the the Australasian Australasian on feminist feminist issues and is Journal of on the the theme theme of Philosophy. journal of Philosophy Philosophy on of Women Women and and Philosophy. MERLE THORNTON THORNTON taught politics and for several several MERLE taught politics and philosophy philosophy for years the University University of and began the teaching teaching of of years at at the of Queensland, Queensland, and began the women’s there at when it not been been previously previously women’s studies studies there at aa time time when it had had not taught Australia. She She has has been been active active in movement and taught in in Australia. in the the women’s women’s movement and was associated with the successful successful campaigns to remove the was especially especially associated with the campaigns to remove the marriage bar bar for for women women in in the the Commonwealth Commonwealth public public service and to marriage service and to end women’s bar bar drinking drinking in Queensland. She has end the the outlawing outlawing of of women’s in Queensland. She has published numerous articles, on on the the social and political political theory theory of of published numerous articles, social and gender, on on Marx and on education. She She is is at present aa full-time full-time writer writer gender, Marx and on education. at present of fiction, including including original original work for film television. She She is of fiction, work for film and and television. is aa member the committee appointed to to advise member of of the committee appointed advise the the government government on on the the future of the the National Film and future of National Film and Sound Sound Archive. Archive. ANNA lecturer in in Sociology Sociology at ANNA YEATMAN YEATMAN is is aa senior senior lecturer at the the Flinders Flinders University of South Australia, and and is is also University of South Australia, also involved involved in in the the Master’s Master’s of of Policy and Administration Administration program Policy and program at at Flinders. Flinders. Current Current research research interests include: include: the history of with reference to procesprocesinterests the history of ‘personhood’ ‘personhood’ with reference to ses of women’s women’s admission admission to citizenship; children ses of to modern modern structures structures of of citizenship; children and policy; and and changing changing models state bureaucracy and social social policy; models of of state bureaucracy and and administration. administration.



1 1

Introduction Intro duction The theoretical The theoretical subversiveness subve of feminism rsiveness offeminism

Over the the past an impressive original body Over past decade decade an impressive and and original body of of feminist feminist criticism of social and political theory has has been The essays criticism of social and political theory been created. created. The essays in in the present present volume volume illustrate of Australian Australian feminist the illustrate the the work work of feminist scholars scholars in this field, field, and they have have been specially written for Feminist in this and they been specially written for Feminist Challenges.” The The contributors contributors come come from academic disciplines Challenges.* from various various academic disciplines —-philosophy, politics, politics, sociology, sociology, and and history—and —philosophy, history—and both both young young and and established scholars scholars are are represented. represented. Not all have have tenured established Not all tenured positions, positions, and aa glance glance at at the the biographical reveals aa pattern and biographical sketches sketches reveals pattern of of institutional affiliation institutional affiliation typical typical of of women’s women’s relationship relationship to to academia. academia. The essays provide an excellent illustration illustration of of some some of of the the major major issues issues The essays provide an excellent and theory in the past past few years. The The editors and approaches approaches in in feminist feminist theory in the few years. editors issued only only the the most general guidelines, so that that it it is is striking striking how how issued most general guidelines, so common themes have surfaced, surfaced, notably notably the very difficult difficult common themes and and concerns concerns have the very and complex complex questions questions of of the the theoretical and practical of and theoretical and practical significance significance of sexual difference, difference, and what it it means to be woman and sexual and what means to be aa woman and aa feminist feminist engaged in theoretical engaged in theoretical inquiry. inquiry. The most important important feature feature of the book book is that all the contributors contributors The most of the is that all the raise some extremely questions about about the the conventional conventional raise some extremely far-reaching far-reaching questions assumptions methods of contemporary social social and and political political theory. assumptions and and methods of contemporary theory. They show show very how feminist feminist theorists challenging the the They very clearly clearly how theorists are are now now challenging most fundamental presuppositions and and categories categories of of what what Mary Mary most fundamental presuppositions O’Brien (1981) (1981) has has aptly theory. Virtually Virtually all all the O’Brien aptly called called male-stream male—stream theory. the An early Moira Gatens’ Gatens’ chapter chapter was was given given as paper to to the the Women Women and and ’** An early version version of of Moira as aa paper Philosophy Conference August 1983; 1983; Beverly Thiele’s chapter chapter was was Philosophy Conference in in Adelaide, Adelaide, August Beverly Thiele’s presented at the the Australasian Studies Association Association and and Conference Conference in in presented at Australasian Political Political Studies Adelaide, Adelaide, August August 1985. 1985.



and works and classic works the classic in the enshrined in is enshrined that is theory that political theory and political social and social contemporary textbooks, as well textbooks, radical radical as is maleas conservative, conservative, is contemporary well as malestream an exposed feminist theorists theorists are are in exposed stream thought. thought. This This means means that that feminist in an of convensubversive of convenas potentially arguments are position. Their position. Their arguments are as potentially subversive radical theory, tionally radical marxism, as as of other theories, of other theories, and tionally theory, including including marxism, and those radicals radicals who who might might be be expected feminist allies of those expected to to be be the the allies of feminist scholars are as as often as not To ask indifferent. To scholars are often as not hostile hostile or, or, at at best, best, indifferent. ask and men, between women men, relation between women and embarrassing embarrassing questions questions about about the the relation to, though and domination is to argue argue that and to that sexual sexual domination is central central to, though unacknowunacknowsocial and some touch on on some ledged in, in, modern and political to touch ledged modern social political theory, theory, is is to privileges very those emotions, interests, very different from those emotions, interests, and and privileges different from arguments about disturbed by about class. class. disturbed by arguments Feminist theory taken aa variety variety of its long long history, Feminist theory has has taken of forms forms during during its history, and there are continuities in in the the arguments arguments of of present-day and there are many many continuities present-day feminists and their the past past three three centuries. centuries. The The new new feminists and their predecessors predecessors of of the development is that that contemporary contemporary work work is is distinguished distinguished development in in feminism feminism is by radical challenge to the the most of existing existing by aa radical challenge to most fundamental fundamental aspects aspects of social theory. One One of of the the first first undertakings undertakings of of the the present social and and political political theory. present generation of theorists was was to to reread reread and reinterpret the generation of feminist feminist theorists and reinterpret the classic (largely political political theory theory texts) texts) to to establish establish what what the the great great classic texts texts (largely writers said about about women, women, and and what what place place was was allotted allotted to to them in writers had had said them in their theories theories (see especially Moller-Okin, Moller-Okin, 1979b; 1979b; Clark Clark and and Lange, Lange, their (see especially 1979; 1981; Pitkin, Pitkin, 1984; 1984). Such Such work work is is 1979; Elshtain, Elshtain, 1981; 1984; Lloyd, Lloyd, 1984). essential commentaries and textbooks usually usually essential because because the the standard standard commentaries and textbooks either the (often (often very very lengthy) lengthy) discussions women and and the the either pass pass over over the discussions of of women relation between the sexes in the classic texts texts as to the relation between the sexes in the classic as peripheral peripheral to the real real concerns of of the authors, or or offer offer an of patriarchal patriarchal arguarguconcerns the authors, an exposition exposition of ments that assumes their is self-evident. self-evident. Nor the standard standard ments that assumes their validity validity is Nor do do the works of the the way classic theories works show show any any awareness awareness of way in in which which classic theories are are bound up masculinity against baund up with with aa defence defence of of masculinity against the the dangers dangers of of femininity (Pitkin, 1984). 1984). Feminist Feminist scholars succeeded in throwfemininity (Pitkin, scholars have have succeeded in throwing aa great ing great deal deal of of new new light light onto onto the the theoretical theoretical fathers fathers and and the the manner and have thus manner in in which which their their theories theories are are constructed, constructed, and have thus illuminated the the basic basic presuppositions of the conventional understandilluminated presuppositions of the conventional understanding of of ‘political’, and ‘historical’ of us ing ‘political’, ‘social’ ‘social’ and ‘historical’ inquiry. inquiry. For For many many of us at at least, the the classics can no no longer be read as we taught to least, classics can longer be read as we were were taught to read read them. them. The manner in in which which the the theorists theorists and works included included in in the the The manner and the the works ‘Western Tradition’ of social and also ‘Western Tradition’ of social and political political thought thought are are chosen chosen has has also been questioned: why do standard standard discussions ].S. Mill’s been questioned: why do discussions ignore ignore J.S. Mill’s ‘The ‘The Subjection Paine’s reply to Burke’s Subjection of of Women’? Women’? Why Why is is Paine’s reply to Burke’s polemic polemic against French revolution but not not Mary against the the French revolution studied, studied, but Mary Wollstonecraft’s Wollstonecraft’s earlier reply? reply? Why earlier Why have have the the early early socialists, socialists, who who were were concerned concerned with with relations between the sexes new modes relations between the sexes and and new modes of of household household organisation, organisation, been why, more more generally, are none the been dismissed dismissed as as ‘utopian’? ‘utopian’? why, generally, are none of the 22


feminist theorists’ writing writing from the seventeenth feminist theorists’ from the seventeenth century century onward onward disdiscussed, when when the the most figures are are given their due? due? Classic Classic cussed, most minor minor male male figures given their writers are are discussed discussed in this book book in the chapters chapters by writers in this in the by Genevieve Genevieve Lloyd, Lloyd, Merle Thornton, Lenore Coltheart, and Janna janna Thompson, Merle Thornton, Lenore Coltheart, and Thompson, and and Beverly Beverly Thiele analyses by which women have have been Thiele analyses the the strategies strategies by which women been rendered rendered invisible social and and political 3 invisible in in social political theory. theory. Some of of the of social political theory have Some the central central concepts concepts of social and and political theory have come under under feminist feminist scrutiny and aa wide come scrutiny too, too, and wide range range of of traditional traditional problems have been such as as consent, power, equality problems have been discussed, discussed, such consent, power, equality of of opportunity, and and justice. opportunity, justice. The The revival revival of of the the organised organised feminist feminist movemovement has also led to appearance of new problems on the ment has also led to the the appearance of new problems on the theoretical as sexuality, sexuality, abortion, abortion, motherhood theoretical agenda, agenda, such such as motherhood and and housework. of these these new new problems, problems, notably been housework. Some Some of notably abortion, abortion, have have been much discussed in conventional theoretical much discussed in conventional theoretical circles, circles, and and the the way way in in which certain certain problems, problems, but but not not others, others, have into the which have been been carried carried into the male-stream, together together with with the the manner which they they have male-stream, manner in in which have been been defined and and discussed, question. The The defined discussed, raises raises aa larger larger and and difficult difficult question. question is recent attempts by some to question is also also highlighted highlighted by by recent attempts by some scholars scholars to look at at the history of of political political thought thought from look the history from aa specifically specifically feminist feminist perspective (see especially Hartsock, 1983; perspective (see especially O’Brien, O’Brien, 1981; 1981; Hartsock, 1983; Eisenstein, Eisenstein, 1981), and is ‘male-stream’ thought. 1981), and is suggested suggested by by the the phrase phrase ‘male-stream’ thought. The The question, is: is: what what is, is, and and should the relationship question should be, be, the relationship of of feminist feminist theorists to the classics and theoretical methods? methods? theorists to the classics and to to conventional conventional theoretical When contemporary feminists feminists first began to discover the full extent extent When contemporary first began to discover the full and the the outspokenness outspokenness of of the the misogyny in many many of of the the texts, texts, and and and misogyny in began to to appreciate that the the classic classic theorists theorists were were patriarchalists, patriarchalists, began appreciate fully fully that almost to to aa man, man, one immediate response response was was to to declare declare that that the almost one immediate the whole tainted heritage heritage must and that that feminist whole tainted must be be rejected rejected and feminist theorists theorists must when faced faced with recent must make make aa new new start. start. Similarly, Similarly, when with numerous numerous recent philosophical examples examples of of methodologically philosophical methodologically impeccable impeccable discussions discussions of of abortion that that conspicuously to acknowledge acknowledge that that only only women women can can abortion conspicuously fail fail to become pregnant, there is strong temptation temptation to insist that that feminism feminism become pregnant, there is aa strong to insist and philosophy philosophy should should go go their separate ways. is impossiimpossiand their separate ways. However, However, it it is ble completely turn our backs on on contemporary contemporary ble completely to to turn our backs on the the classics classics or or on methodology, modes of reflect and and are implimethodology, because because all all modes of discourse discourse reflect are implicated in the past to to aa greater or lesser degree. Moreover, there are are cated in the past greater or lesser degree. Moreover, there valuable and lessons to be be learned from valuable insights insights to to be be gained gained and lessons to learned from male-stream theory. This is not not to to say say that that the is to to put put women women on on male-stream theory. This is the task task is an theoretical footing men in in existing existing theory. theory. Okin’s Okin’s an equal equal theoretical footing with with men pathbreaking study that such such aa goal goal was recent pathbreaking study showed showed that was illusory. illusory. More More recent investigations have how the the understanding understanding of of: investigations have been been uncovering uncovering further further how ‘theory’ is dependent on on an an opposition opposition to and all all that that is ‘theory’ is dependent to women women and is symbolised by women’s bodies, and why, why, traditionaltraditionalsymbolised by the the feminine feminine and and women’s bodies, and ly, intuition and in rationality have been presented ly, women’s women’s intuition and deficiency deficiency in rationality have been presented as the antithesis of the the logic, logic, order and reason required of of theorists. theorists. as the antithesis of order and reason required 33


The then, is not how how feminists to create create theory theory ab ab initio, initio, The question, question, then, is not feminists are are to

but how are to most appropriate appropriate forms forms of criticism and and but how we we are to develop develop the the most of criticism our in order order to and transform transform our own, own, distinctive distinctive approaches, approaches, in to dismantle dismantle and social and and political political theory. social theory. AA variety to the of the relationship of of variety of of responses responses to the problem ‘problem of the relationship feminism to to theory below, and and various various suggestions are feminism theory are are presented presented below, suggestions are made about ways in in which feminists can can make make (cautious) (cautious) use use of of the made about the the ways which feminists the theories and and methods along in in the the male-stream. male-stream. The opening theories methods carried carried along The opening chapter by Gatens presents chapter by Moira Moira Gatens presents aa clear, clear, general general discussion discussion of of three three major approaches approaches to to the the relationship relationship of of feminism feminism to to orthodox orthodox philophilomajor sophical theory, theory, and Rosi Braidotti Braidotti looks looks at the relationship of sophical and Rosi at the relationship of feminists to to ethical theory. Catriona Catriona Mackenzie’s feminists ethical theory. Mackenzie’s analysis analysis of of Simone Simone de Beauvoir Beauvoir provides provides aa specific specific case study of of the the problems problems arising arising de case study when feminist makes of aa male-stream theory, in this when aa feminist makes direct direct use use of male-stream theory, in this instance, existentialism. existentialism. The chapter by by Elizabeth Elizabeth Gross Gross shows shows how how instance, The chapter two French feminists, Kristeva and and Irigaray Irigaray working working in very different different two French feminists, Kristeva in a a very tradition from from the theory familiar familiar to Australian tradition the Anglo-American Anglo-American theory to most most Australian students of political theory, theory, are are confronting problem. students of social social and and political confronting the the problem. ‘History’, too, rests on on the same dichotomies and divisons divisons as as the the ‘History’, too, rests the same dichotomies and ‘social’ and the ‘political’, ‘political’, and so feminist historians, as as ]udith Judith Allen ‘social’ and the and so feminist historians, Allen demonstrates, are of the same theoretical problems. demonstrates, are faced faced with with many many of the same theoretical problems. rln chapter, Elizabeth Eli abeth Gross question head-on: head-on: In the the final final chapter, Gross tackles tackles the the question what is feminist theoryfi cheese what is feminist More generally, generally, the also show that although although feminist feminist More the discussions discussions also show that scholarship deals with the social position of of women, women, not not all all theoretical theoretical scholarship deals with the social position work that that discusses women and and women’s women’s problems feminist. This This is is work discusses women problems is is feminist. not to say say that that feminist feminist theorists theorists all all argue the same not to argue in in the same way way or or agree agree with each each other; the contrary, contrary, as as the the contributions contributions to book with other; quite quite the to this this book illustrate. To the difference between discussions illustrate. To appreciate appreciate the difference between discussions of of ‘women’s issues’ and and distinctively distinctively feminist feminist argument, argument, it is necessary ‘women’s issues’ it is necessary to to distinguish two forms forms of On the the one one hand, hand, there there is work distinguish two of inquiry. inquiry. On is work which new topics topics for which draws draws on on the the rich rich source source of of new for theoretical theoretical discussion discussion provided by which treats these merely provided by the the women’s women’s movement, movement, but but which treats these merely as as additional additional problems problems to to be be investigated investigated through through existing existing analytical analytical techniques and perspectives. On other hand, there is techniques and theoretical theoretical perspectives. On the the other hand, there is work which proceeds from distinctive feminist feminist theoretical theoretical standstandwork which proceeds from aa distinctive point, and and so so asks kinds of and uses particular forms forms point, asks specific specific kinds of questions questions and uses particular of argument. of argument. It is an indication feminism—and work It is perhaps perhaps an indication of of the the impact impact that that feminism—and work falling into the the second already made falling into second category--has category—has already made on on social social and and political theory, recent discussions discussions have have insisted insisted that political theory, that that several several recent that feminist is nothing nothing more more than the feminist theory theory is than the the inclusion inclusion of of women women and and the relation the sexes into existing existing theories. theories. Feminist relation between between the sexes into Feminist criticism criticism is is thus blunted and made safe theory. Two Two recent thus blunted and feminism feminism made safe for for academic academic theory. recent l es ooff such examp such domestication inism can be found examples domestication ofo fe feminism can be found in in Richards Richards




(1982) Charvet (1982). (1982). Richards into (1982) and and Charvet Richards incorporates incorporates feminism feminism into individualist liberalism feminism is individualist liberalism and and argues argues that that feminism is not not aa movement movement of of women for women, but is the injustice women or or for women, but is about about aa type type of of injustice, injustice, the injustice suffered women because sex. Thus, suffered by by women because of of their their sex. Thus, there there is is nothing nothing distinctive about feminism; it is merely merely one distinctive about feminism; it is one type type of of response response to to injustice that, in this this case, case, happens concern women. This allows injustice that, in happens to to concern women. This allows Richards bring feminism feminism within boundaries of Rawls’s Richards to to bring within the the boundaries of John John Rawls’s influential, and patriarchal, theory theory of justice justice (see Kearns, 1983; influential, and patriarchal, Kearns, 1983; Moller-Okin, 1984). Similarly, Charvet claims that Moller-Okin, 1984). Similarly, Charvet claims that feminism feminism is is the the application of of aa general theory of of freedom application general theory freedom to to relations relations between between men men and women, women, and and he he incorporates theory and incorporates feminism feminism into into aa conservative conservative theory that is little more than than aa restatement the that is little more restatement of of Hegel’s Hegel’s claim claim that that the subordination of rational. subordination of women women within within the the family family is is rational. Domesticated seems neither to be Domesticated feminism feminism seems neither to be theoretically theoretically innovative innovative nor that have albeit in in nor to to be be raising raising questions questions that have not not already already been been asked, asked, albeit different contexts, social and theorists. This This different contexts, by by conventional conventional social and political political theorists. is is inevitable, inevitable, because’ because domesticated domesticated feminism feminism denies _denies that that sexual sexual domination is is at or th lem domination at issue, issue, or that feminism raises a problem,,the the pro problem Of patriarchy, that is is ROOT BER re amin re times, times, o t repressedfiofher Theories. Frdm ancient theorists have Rave struggled the question how the the rule rule of some theorists struggled over over the question of of how of some people others could but in in all all the the long long controversy people over over others could be be justified, justified, but controversy over rule elites, by by representarepresentaover rule by by slave-masters, slave—masters, by by kings, kings, by by lords, lords, by by elites, tives, by by the the ruling ruling class, by the the vanguard vanguard party, party, sexual sexual domination domination tives, class, by has remained remained virtually unquestioned. Men’s domination of of women women has virtually unquestioned. Men’s domination has formed the the taken-for-granted natural basis basis for social and and political political has formed taken-for-granted natural for social life, even in in the the most theorists. If If life, even the visions visions of of the most revolutionary revolutionary theorists. domesticated feminism recognise power, it it is taken domesticated versions versions of of feminism recognise sexual sexual power, is taken to no special or to have no no special special status, status, since since it it is is to pose pose no special problems problems or to have assumed that relations between women can can be be analysed in assumed that relations between men men and and women analysed in the the same between any any the same same way, way, using using the same categories, categories, as as relations relations between other other superiors superiors and and subordinates. subordinates. Feminists reject and this this not not only only sets sets them them apart Feminists reject this this assumption, assumption, and apart from theorists busily busily domesticating domesticating feminism, feminism, but brings them from theorists but also also brings them into direct conflict with liberals and socialists. socialists. The The conflict conflict with with into direct conflict with liberals and liberalism as soon soon as feminist arguments liberalism began began as as feminist arguments appeared appeared in in the the seventeenth century, when the the fundamental and categorcategorseventeenth century, when fundamental assumptions assumptions and ies of modern social and were first first developed. developed. Strictly, Strictly, ies of modern social and political political theory theory were it is anachronistic to refer to these early writings as feminist; the term it is anachronistic to refer to these early writings as feminist; the é , , , _ . . . . term feminism CO1 e in rance d1 not come into general use un ll the end ofo thet enineteenth (Offen, 1985). . owever, However, the the arguments arguments en nineteenth century century Of en, 98 of seventeenth-(see-Goreau, 1985) 1985) and of and eighteenth-century eighteenth-century writers, writers, such Mary Astell (1668—1731) and and the the much better known known Mary such as as Mary Astell (1668-1731) much better Mary Wollstonecraft, establish establish aa long of argument, relevant Wollstonecraft, long tradition tradition of argument, still still relevant and heard heard today, is unequivocably unequivocably ‘feminist’ 1985). and today, that that is feminist (see (see Goreau, Goreau, 1985). Moreover, anachronism anachronism notwithstanding, notwithstanding, if if this this tradition tradition is is not not Moreover,

‘feminism’ (coined ipKrancs, Bo00kcone oo Ba aseat




named, it can easily disappear disappear from from view view once once again. named, it can all all too too easily again. never existence, never subterranean existence, led aa subterranean always led has always theory has Feminist theory Feminist theoretical the theoretical of the most of by most (or by theorists (or academic theorists by academic acknowledged by acknowledged mere neglect mere the neglect is the political movements). and political social and of social leaders of leaders movements). Nor Nor is the full If oversight. history ever of 300 of years theory is feminist oversight. If the full history of 300 years of feminist theory is ever body criticised aa body have persistently written, it will reveal written, it will reveal how how feminists feminists have persistently criticised thought, liberal not just liberal and socialist, that that has has not of radical to of radical thought, and socialist, just happened happened to could be within the be remedied the that could exclude women—an exclude women—an omission omission that remedied within constructed from from within within aa theories as as they they stand—but which is theories stand-—but which is constructed the public division between between the public (the the (the social, political, history) and the division social, the the political, history) and the domestic, private (the domestic, the which is the familial), is also also aa familial), which private (the personal, personal, the Lloyd’s between the division between The classic Genevieve Lloyd’s as Genevieve theorists, as division the sexes. sexes. The classic theorists, chapter shows, the shows, are of the women’s lack lack of chapter are explicit explicit enough enough about about women’s capacities required by the take ‘individuals’ who who can equal ‘individuals’ free and capacities required by the free and equal can take Brennan and their place place in (see also and Pateman, Pateman, 1979; 1979; their in the the public public realm realm (see also Brennan 1983b). The masculine, public 1980b; 1983b). public world, Pateman, 1980b; world, the the universal Pateman, The masculine, universal equality, freedom, equality, contract, reason, world of rights, contract, individualism, rights, world of individualism, reason, freedom, citizenship, is the proper impartial law, law, and be the proper concern concern of of impartial and citizenship, is taken taken to to be the within the social and political constructed within theory. ‘Theory’ has been been constructed political theory. social and ‘Theory’ has division between sexual between the and public public spheres, spheres, and and theorists private and sexual division the private theorists public sphere. But the public the latter latter sphere. they cannot cannot acknowledge acknowledge that look to the look to But they that the its meaning gains its with, and sphere and significance significance only and in in sphere gains meaning and only in in contrast contrast with, the private to, the natural subjection, subjection, private world of particularity, opposition world of particularity, natural opposition to, emotion, love, inequality, emotion, women and and femininity; if femininity; if inequality, love, partiality—and partiality-—and women to question have to conception of theoretheir conception so, they did so, they would they they did would have question their of theoretical inquiry. The patriarchal the two separation of and the the of the two spheres spheres and tical inquiry. The patriarchal separation the private private repressed in and the therefore repressed in contemporary contemporary theory, is therefore sexes is sexes theory, and no requires no foundation of of civil that requires natural foundation sphere is treated as sphere is treated as the the natural civil life life that critical theoretical Anna Yeatman Yeatman shows this volume, shows how how critical theoretical scrutiny. scrutiny. In In this volume, Anna theoretical rejection private, womanly rejection of world has has impoverished of the impoverished theoretical the private, womanly world sociological ]udith Allen truncated the the sociological theory, Allen shows how this has truncated theory, and and Judith shows how this has study of history. ultimate irony i ony is that feminists is that feminists are The ultimate are now history. The now accused study of accused women separation between of introducing ard harmful separation an inrelevany of introducing an irre rmful between women and theoretical inquiry. and men men into into theoretical inquiry. There about the the relationship relationship of of feminism feminism and and There are are few few problems problems about conservatism, which theory of and subjection. subjection. The The conservatism, which is is aa theory of inequality inequality and difficulties arise with and socialism. like femindifficulties arise with liberalism liberalism and socialism. The The latter, latter, like feminism, are specifically specifically modern common origins origins in the ism, are modern doctrines, doctrines, sharing sharing common in the proclamation equality of proclamation of of the the natural natural freedom freedom and and equality of individuals. individuals. Liberalism are presented individual Liberalism and and socialism socialism are presented as as theories theories of of individual freedom equality—interpreted very course, by freedom and and equality—interpreted very differently, differently, of of course, by liberals their scope. scope. It It is all too liberals and and socialists—that socialists—that are are universal universal in in their is all too easy of universalism face value, easy to to take take the the claim claim of universalism at at face value, and and so so suppose suppose that that feminism feminism is is no no more more than than aa generalisation generalisation of of liberal liberal or or socialist socialist assumptions and arguments to women. Appearances assumptions and arguments to women. Appearances are are misleading misleading 66


here. Both theories theories are patriarchal, which apparently here. Both are patriarchal, which means means that that their their apparently universal categories, categories, such such as as the universal the ‘individual’, ‘individual’, the the ‘worker’, ‘worker’, the the ‘social’, ‘social’, or the the ‘political’, ‘political’, are are sexually sexually particular, on the or particular, constructed constructed on the basis basis of of male attributes, attributes, capacities capacities and and modes Despite the the long long male modes of of activity. activity. Despite history of of liberalism, critics rarely rarely questioned questioned its history of leftist leftist criticism criticism of liberalism, the the critics its patriarchalism. It that the patriarchalism. It is is therefore therefore not not surprising surprising that the problem problem of of men’s men’s domination of of women is absent absent from social and and political domination women is from modern modern social political theory; if it it is is admitted, admitted, fundamental fundamental theoretical thrown theory; if theoretical principles principles are are thrown into into question. question. One of the most important and legacies of of the One of the most important and complex complex legacies the past past for for feminism is the construction of the ostensibly feminism is the construction of the ostensibly universal universal ‘individual’ ‘individual’ within the the division division between between private and public. public. The The sexually sexually particular within private and particular character of the individual is is at the heart heart of the problem character of the individual at the of the problem of of equality equality and sexual difference, difference, which and sexual which is is aa major major concern concern of of contributors contributors to to this this book. The ‘individual’ ‘individual’ is masculine, but, because he book. The is masculine, but, because he appears appears universal universal and the categories of liberalism liberalism and appear to to hold and because because the categories of and socialism socialism appear hold out aa universal it seems seems either (for liberals) out universal promise, promise, it either (for liberals) that that the the task task of of feminism is to make good this promise and incorporate women women into feminism is to make good this promise and incorporate into existing institutions as equals, or or (for (for socialists) socialists) to to carry carry out the class class existing institutions as equals, out the revolution which will bring bring true true universalism universalism into The difficulty, revolution which will into being. being. The difficulty, in both both cases, seen as as aa matter matter of of fitting women into into in cases, is is that that feminism feminism is is seen fitting women aa unitary, unitary, undifferentiated framework that that assumes assumes that there is is only only undifferentiated framework that there one—universal—sex. Or, Or, to to put this another way, it is easy easy to to one—universal—sex. put this another way, it is suppose, the face face of of the the long long history history of assertion that women’s suppose, in in the of assertion that women’s capacities necessitate necessitate our our exclusion exclusion from public life, the only only capacities from public life, that that the appropriate response response is to insist insist that sexual difference difference is irrelevant. appropriate is to that sexual is irrelevant. However, of argument leaves intact However, this this line line of argument leaves intact the the sexually sexually particular particular characterisation of of the the public public world, and his his capacities. characterisation world, the the individual individual and capacities. Since the the seventeenth century, one one of the major major feminist Since seventeenth century, of the feminist arguments arguments has been that that women women possess possess the the same same capacities capacities and as men, men, has been and abilities abilities as and, if if only only educated educated properly, can do do everything do. and, properly, can everything that that men men can can do. The argument argument is is admirable, admirable, as as far far as as it it goes. goes. What What it it glosses glosses over The over is is that there there Sawomaaly capacity thatmen donorpossess, and and thus thus it that sess, it implicitly enies denies tthatat birth, birth, women women’s s obodies and the feminine passions implicitly ies an t e feminine passions inseparable from from their bodies and and bodily bodily processes processes have have any any political political inseparable their bodies relevance. Mary Mary O’Brien O’Brien (1981) (1981) has has explored explored some some of of the the reasons reasons why relevance. why our theoretical theoretical heritage lacks ‘a philosophy of birth’, and and other our heritage lacks ‘a philosophy of birth’, other feminist scholars scholars have drawn attention attention to to the which the the feminist have drawn the manner manner in in which conventional understanding of of the the ‘political’ ‘political’ is is built upon the rejection conventional understanding built upon the rejection of physical birth birth in in favour favour of of the the masculine masculine creation of (giving birth to) to) of physical creation of (giving birth social and political order (see (see also also Hartsock, Hartsock, 1983; Pitkin, 1984; 1984; social and political order 1983; Pitkin, Pateman, 1984). It is is thus thus hardly surprising that that much feminist Pateman, 1984). It hardly surprising much current current feminist theory, including that represented represented in in this this book, book, is is concerned concerned with theory, including that with women’s bodies. bodies. women’s ' When feminism feminism is is taken taken to to be be about about nothing nothing more more than than equality equality in in When 77



the sense sense of of women women attaining the same same status status as as individuals, individuals, workers workers the attaining the or citizens as men, it is difficult to find find aa convincing convincing defence against the the or citizens as men, it is difficult to defence against longstanding anti-feminist charge charge that to turn turn women women longstanding anti-feminist that feminists feminists want want to into men. The The ‘universal’ ‘universal’ standing standing that that is is to to be be won is that that of of aa being being into men. won is with masculine characteristics engaging engaging in masculine activities. activities. ExExwith masculine characteristics in masculine isting patriarchal theory has has no women as women, at best, isting patria chal theor no place place for for women as women, at best, women can be incorporated—as-pale reflections of men. In this collection addressed by Merle Merle cdllection the the problem pro em of of equality equality is is addressed irec yy by Thornton and Janna Thompson Thompson and, and, more more indirectly, indirectly, by other Thornton and Janna by several several other contributors. In the the final Elizabeth Gross Gross sets sets out out some some contributors. In final chapter, chapter, Elizabeth reasons why why feminists be more concerned with with autonomy autonomy than than reasons feminists should should be more concerned equality. The formal, liberal liberal civil civil and porpolitical equalities are imporequality. The formal, tant,of course, now that that women women have have attained attained aa large large measure i’a'i1'tT’of course, and and now measure of of formal equality with with men, men, and and legal reforms to to promote promote equality formal equality legal reforms equality of of opportunity are enacted, the in taking taking individualindividualopportunity are being being enacted, the contradictions contradictions in ism at face face value are being being revealed; revealed; equality equality of ism and and universalism universalism at value are of opportunity and and ‘gender-neutral’ policies and and language language all too opportunity ‘gender-neutral’ laws, laws, policies all too frequently result in work against against women. women. In USA, frequently result in absurdities, absurdities, or or work In the the USA, where these these trends developed, maternity maternity benefits, examwhere trends are are most most developed, benefits, for for example, have been defended defended as as ‘provided to help help the existence of of the the ple, have been ‘provided to the existence human race race ..... . If If aa man bear children he would would be be under under the the human man could could bear children he same law’. On the other hand, the the exclusion exclusion of of pregnancy pregnancy from same law’. On the other hand, from California California disability disability insurance insurance was was declared declared constitutional constitutional in in 1974 1974 because it it was based on on aa disability, upon sex; because was based disability, namely namely pregnancy, pregnancy, not not upon sex; the programme, was said, ‘divides potential the programme, it it was said, ‘divides potential recipients recipients into into two two groups—pregnant women and non-pregnant persons ...... The groups—pregnant women and non-pregnant persons The fiscal fiscal and actuarial accrue to members of and actuarial benefits benefits thus thus accrue to members of both both sexes’ sexes’ (quota(quotations from Midgley and Hughes, Hughes, 1983:160—61). 1983:160—61). The The very very difficult difficult tions are are from Midgley and question is is where, where, theoretically, theoretically, do go from question do we we go from these these kinds kinds of of absurdities? absurdities? There been many abstract character character of There have have been many famous famous critiques critiques of of the the abstract of liberal individualism, but none has ever the most liberal individualism, but none has ever questioned questioned the most funfundamental abstraction all: the damental abstraction of of all: the abstraction abstraction of of the the ‘individual’ ‘individual’ from from the body. In order liberal theory as aa the body. In order for for the the individual individual to to appear appear in in liberal theory as universal figure, anyone and individual universal figure, who who represents represents anyone and everyone, everyone, the the individual must be That is to say, say, aa natural fact of must be disembodied. disembodied. That is to natural fact of human human existence, that humankind has two bodies, and male, existence, that humankind has two bodies, female female and male, must must be be disre g arded . The ecognise ' d tthis h’IS ffact, act, w h et h er radical ra d’ica I disregarded. The theorists theorists who who rrecognised whether like Rousseau invariabl assumed like Rousseau or or conservative conservative like like Hegel, Hegel, invariably assumed that that women’s bod‘ S women’s bodies haduno place in the public worl e public public ‘in mascu1ne, yet, tthee same this figure figure was ‘individual’ was masculine, yet, same time, time, this was presented which means be presented as as universal, universal, which means that, that, for for universalism universalism to to be maintained, the the attributes attributes of individual are implicitly abstracted maintained, of the the individual are implicitly abstracted from the body. If they they were abstracted it it would become clear from the body. If were not not so so abstracted would become clear that ‘the’ ‘the’ individual body of one that individual has has the the body one sex. sex. Feminists Feminists are are thus thus

In this




bringing women’s bodies to the centre argument, but bringing women’s bodies to the centre of theoretical theoretical argument, but current discussions very different different from of the the classic current discussions are are very from those those of classic writers. writers. Nor should they they be be confused with the recent revival patriafbhal Nor should confused with the recent revival of of patriarchal argument by McMillan critique of argument McMillan (1982), (1982), who who assumes assumes that that a critique of abstract individualism individualism and and recognition abstract recognition of of the the social social relevance relevance of of sexual difference necessarily to complete identification sexual difference leads leads necessarily to aa complete identification of of women with the the private private sphere, sphere, maternity women with maternity and and childcare, childcare, and and who who rejects ‘artificial’ ‘artificial’ birth birth control, abortion and rejects control, abortion and pain pain relief relief in in childbirth. childbirth. The discussions discussions that that follow again from recent The follow are are also also different different again from the the recent work by work by American American feminists feminists on on motherhood motherhood and and maternal maternal thinking, thinking, which, far, has has few few counterparts Britain or which, so so far, counterparts in in Britain or Australia Australia (see, (see, for for example, Ruddick, Ruddick, 1982; 1982; Trebilcot, example, Trebilcot, 1984). 1984). Feminist theory, for the first time, opens up the the possibility of new Feminist theory, for the first time, opens up possibility of new approaches that until now, approaches that reject reject what, what, until now, have have been been seen seen as as the the only only alternatives; either either ‘gender-neutral’ ‘gender-neutral’ abstract alternatives; abstract individualism, individualism, or or aa social social individualism that prescribes prescribes that that women’s women’s bodies, bodily processes individualism that bodies, bodily processes and passions passions entail entail our our submission submission to to men’s This and men’s will will and and judgments. judgments. This collection some examples of these these new collection provides provides some examples of new perspectives. perspectives. The The chapter by by Anna one feminist the chapter Anna Yeatman Yeatman represents represents one feminist response response to to the general problem of difference. Yeatman Yeatman argues argues for for aa dedegeneral problem of sexual sexual difference. gendered personality and and the domestic gendered conception conception of of individual individual personality the domestic sphere, the the site where personality so that that we sphere, site where personality is is developed, developed, so we would would no no longer talk talk in in terms of the the familiar categories of ‘women’ and ‘men’ longer terms of familiar categories of ‘women’ and ‘men’ (see also also Levine, Levine, 1984). Thompson’s discussion the (see 1984). Janna Janna Thompson’s discussion points points in the same direction. different approach underlies Catriona Catriona MacMacsame direction. AA very very different approach underlies kenzie’s of de Beauvoir and and Lenore Judith kenzie’s analysis analysis of de Beauvoir Lenore Coltheart’s Coltheart’s and and Judith Allen’s chapters. chapters. Some of moving moving in in this direction AlIen’s Some of of the the implications implications of this direction are made explicit by Elizabeth Gross. Gross. They They draw draw on on are made explicit by Rosi Rosi Braidotti Braidotti and and Elizabeth the work French feminists, feminists, who have been been greatly greatly influenced by, but but the work of of French who have influenced by, are critical of, psychoanalytic theory and recent French French philosophilosoare also also critical of, psychoanal tic theory and recent phy, which reaches back raisein its deconstruction of idea phy, which reaches back to(N1ietzsche its dec_onst_ru_ction of the the idea of aa unified unified individual individual or self. . Braidotti also diiws draws OFYTHE on the worIZ work of of of or se Braidofti al7s7O’ Foucault who sees the body, and the disciplines imposed FolucauTt who §€esTl‘Te lfitlyfand the multiplicty multiplicty of of disciplines imposed on it, as central to to the modern political order. French French _fem,inisttheory feminist theory o’iTitT?1"s'central the modern political order. begins from from women’s and their their social meanings; it and begins women’s bodies bodies and social meafiings; it is, is, first first and forFmo?n€Fn foremost, embodied‘ory.7HBweverTi§'sfiIl_faTffom theory. However, itis still far trom Elear clear exactly exactly what feminist form the (feminine) and the body what fOrm a a"femin_i§F theory theory of of the (feminine) body body and the body politic will politic will take. take. It is, is, however, however, very very apparent apparent that distinctively feminist feminist theory theory It that distinctively begins from recognition that that individ_uals‘areWfemininegand individuals are feminine and ifiascumascubegins from the the recognition line, that that individu'a'Iiiy_i?i1ot individuality is not aa unitary unitary abstrlaction abstraction butian but an embodied embodied line, and sexually differenti d expression of the unity of humankind. To aElT§xuall exp“1ession‘;o:f,lhei;in1tydfifiumanlgfiidi To ed rig have avean mmautonomous aittonomous deveilop a theory in ifliifzh women and femininity place means that and the the public, social and the place means that the the private private and public, the the social and the political, also have have to to be reconceptualised; in short, it it political, also be completely completely reconceptualised; in short, A








means e d te.the t . Ion histo of s xuall particular theory that means an angad long particular theory that . history ofsexually _,-*\._//‘\_I/'\Y/\ . m . het er or not patriarcha theory masquerades as_universalism. Whether or not-patriarchal theory 1s is alimaisly Book, along along with other recent recent feminist feminist utimatey subverted, su verted, this t is book, with other theory, very rich rich and exciting beginning been made. made. theory, shows shows that that aa very and exciting beginning has has been

10 10

PARTI PART I The to Theory The Challenge Challenge to Theory

sich, Kebend


“xroodTt03 of 93005) -G

2 2


my Feminism, Feminism, philosophy philosophy and and riddles without answers riddles without answers

‘Would tell me, please, which ‘Would you you tell me, please, which way way II oughtip ought to go go from from here?’ here?’ ‘That on where you want to get to,” said Sé1idT ‘That depends depends aa good good deal deal on the Cat. Cat. ‘I don’t much where—’ ‘said Alice. ‘I don’t much care care where—’ said Alice.

‘Then ‘Then it itdoesn’t doesn’t ma,tter_which..way.you matter which way you go,’ go,’ said said the the Cat.‘ Cat. ‘—so long long as as II get get somewhere,’ somewhere,’ Alice as an an explanation. ‘—so Alice added added as explanation. ‘Oh, you’re ‘if only only you walk long ‘Oh, you’re sure sure to to do do that,’ that,’ said said the the Cat, Cat, ‘if you walk long enough.’ enoughf Alice that this denied, so so she she tried tried another question. Alice felt felt that this could could not not be be denied, another question. ‘What people l,ive;about live about here?’ ‘What sort sort of of people l'1CI;C.>’ ‘InYthat the Cat Cat said, said, waving waving its ‘In that direction,’ direction,’ the its right right paw paw around, around, ‘lives ‘lives aa Hatter: and in in that direction,’ waving waving the the other Hatter: and that direction,’ other paw, paw, ‘lives ‘lives aa March March Hare. Hare. Visit either you like: they’re they’re both both mad,’ mad.’ Visit either you like: ‘But II don’t want to go among people,’ Alice Alice remarked. remarked. ‘But don’t want tolgo among mad mad people,’ ‘Oh, you you can’t help that,’ said the the Cat: ‘we're all all mad mad herg, here, I’m mrnad. mad. ‘Oh, can’t help that,’ said Cat: ‘write Yo_u’re mad.’ I I ii You’re_mad.’ ‘How do you know I’m mad?’ Alice. ‘How do you kno_w__I:n_1 i_n_ad?’ said said Alice. ‘You must Cat, ‘or ‘or you you wouldn’t come here.’ ‘You must be,’ be,’ said said the the Cat, wouldn’t have hav_e:come,here.’ (Carroll 88 -— 89) (Carroll 1972: 1972:88-—89)

This quotation is to act, thematically, as as an an allegorical allegorical This quotation is intended intended to act, thematically, description of the the kind in this this paper paper concerning concerning description of kind of of argument argument presented presented in relationship between between feminism and theory, theory, or or more more -specifically, specifically, the relationship the feminism and feminists philosophy. Some Some readers may recall recall that that Alice Alice feminists working working in in philosophy. readers may opts for path in in the and thus, for the the March March Hare. Hare. However, However, opts for the the path the left, left, and thus, for regardless of of her her choice, choice, she into the the Mad Mad Hatter’s Hatter’s Tea Tea regardless she wanders wanders into Party—she meets both the the Hatter Hatter and the Hare, Hare, each each in in the company Party-—she meets both and the the company of the That the the company company Alice Alice consciously consciously seeks seeks has has little little to do of the other. other. That to do with company she herself in in is the present present concern concern with the the company she finds finds herself is relevant relevant to to the 13 I3


in the the following following way. way. It It will be central central to to my this in will be my argument argument throughout throughout this chapter, relations between between feminism feminism and philosophy, chapter, concerning concerning the the relations and philosophy, that discipline of of philosophy cannot that feminists feminists working working within within the the discipline philosophy cannot choose pursue and and create theory of of women’s women’s subjectivity, subjectivity, of of choose to to pursue create aa theory women’s existence, and and so so on, on, independently independently of of or or women’s social social and and political political existence, in tradition. Like Like the Mad Hatter, in spite spite of of the the Western Western philosophical philosophical tradition. the Mad Hatter, the and frameworks of traditional philosophy will will crop crop the assumptions assumptions and frameworks of traditional philosophy up the most unlikely places places and and in in aa most alarming manner. manner. up in in the most unlikely most alarming Traditional philosophy cannot, cannot, in view, simply simply be ignored, Traditional philosophy in my my view, be ignored, particularly by by those those who find themselves the Wonderland Wonderland of of particularly who find themselves in in the philosophy. But But perhaps perhaps II am am jumping jumping ahead ahead here here and and offering offering philosophy. solutions the riddle riddle before it has has been The riddle riddle is is “What solutions to to the before it been posed. posed. The ‘What is is the relation, if any, between between feminism and philosophy?’ philosophy?’ the relation, if any, feminism and An overview and present relations between feminist theory theory An overview of of past past and present relations between feminist and suggests three three dominant in which and philosophical philosophical discourse discourse suggests dominant ways ways in which this relation would like like to to examine, detail, this relation could could be be characterised. characterised. II would examine, in in detail, all three. Before doing so, so, however, of caution be struck. struck. all three. Before doing however, aa note note of caution should should be These three approaches approaches or or attitudes attitudes to by feminists, feminists, are are These three to philosophy, philosophy, by not easily separated separated or not easily or discrete, discrete, nor nor necessarily necessarily in in complete complete opposition opposition to each other. to each other. BELLEROPHON TIC LETTERS LETTERS BELLEROPHONTIC

The first way way in in which the relationship The first which the relationship between between feminist feminist theory theory and and philosophy of radical philosophy has has been been characterised characterised may may be be seen seen as as aa form form of radical feminism separatism. These present two two kinds kinds feminism or or theoretical theoretical separatism. These feminists feminists present of there is no relation of arguments. arguments. The The first first is is that that there is no relation between between feminism feminism and or more more generally theory. and philosophy philosophy or generally between between feminism feminism and and theory. Feminism, this view, theorising Feminism, on on this view, is is pure pure praxis, praxis, the the very very activity activity of of theorising being identified with maleness. Perhaps being somehow somehow identified with masculinity masculinity or or maleness. Perhaps the the view of of Solanas to quote view Solanas would would be be appropriate appropriate to quote here. here. She She writes: writes: The inability to or anything anything makes makes his The male’s male’s inability to relate relate to to anybody anybody or his life life pointless ultimate male that life is absurd), pointless and and meaningless meaningless (the ultimate male insight insight is that absurd), so philosophy ..... . Most Most men, men, utterly so he he invented invented philosophy utterly cowardly, cowardly, project project their their inherent onto women, women, label and inherent weaknesses weaknesses onto label them them female female weaknesses weaknesses and believe themselves to female strengths; quite believe themselves to have have female strengths; most most philosophers, philosophers, not not quite so face the in men, men, but so cowardly, cowardly, face the fact fact that that male male lacks lacks exist exist in but still still can’t can’t face face the fact fact that they exist exist in only. So the that they in men men only. So they they label label the the male male condition condition the the Human Condition, Condition, pose pose their their nothingness problem, which Human nothingness problem, which horrifies horrifies them, them, as dilemma, thereby to their as a philosophical philosophical dilemma, thereby giving giving stature stature to their animalism, animalism, grandiloquently label their nothingness Problem’, and grandiloquently label their nothingness their their ‘Identity ‘Identity Problem’, and proceed to on pompously pompously about about the the Individual’, proceed to prattle prattle on the ‘Crisis ‘Crisis of the Individual’, the the ‘Essence ‘Existence preceding ‘Essence of Being’, Being’, “Existence preceding Essence’, Essence’, ‘Existential ‘Existential Modes Modes of Being’ etc., etc. Being’ etc., etc. (Solanas, (Solanas, 1969:265) 1969:265)

14 14


These These problems problems are are described described by Solanas as specifically specifically male male probprobSolanas as lems. lems. The The female, female, on her account, account, exhibits exhibits no such perverse perverse relation relation to to on her no such her her being, being, which which she she grasps grasps intuitively without lack. lack. Philosophy, Philosophy, intuitively and and without or or theory, theory, on on this this view view is male enterprise, out of an is aa male enterprise, arising arising out an inherent inherent inadequacy of of the the male male sex. inadequacy sex. The The second second argument argument of of feminists, this first approach, is feminists, still within within this first approach, that that there there is is aa relation between feminism and philosophy but that that it is relation between feminism and philosophy but historically, historically, and and necessarily, necessarily, an an oppressive oppressive one. one. This This group group argues that argues that philosophy philosophy is, is, necessarily, necessarily, aa masculine masculine enterprise that owes existenterprise that owes its existence tothe to'the repression and as no such it is of no as such or exclusion exclusion of femininity ence femininity and repression or use to feminists or or their to feminists may be projects. In fact, their projects. be seen, philosophy may use fact, philosophy on seen, on this dangerous and ensnaring trap 1978:intro.). (Daly, 1978:intro.). trap (Daly, and ensnaring this view, view, as as aa dangerous Political action, if it is to dissociate itself Political action, be effective, to be effective, needs needs to to dissociate from itself from traditional as theory. What_ traditional theory. needed is not What. is needed but, as new theory not a new theory but, d’Eaubonne writes: She writes: argues, aa mutation. mutation. She d’Eaubonne argues, It today that the spirit spirit of of the accomplished go It is is essential essential today that the the revolution revolution to to be be accomplished go beyond what has has been called until spirit’, just as beyond what been called until now now the the ‘revolutionary ‘revolutionary spirit’, just as the went beyond it is longer aa revolution revolution the latter latter went beyond reformism. reformism. Ultimately, Ultimately, it is no no longer that need, but but aa mutation . . . (d’Eaubonne, 1980:66, emphasis that we we need, mutation ... (d’Eaubonne, 1980:66, emphasis added) added)

The history of of philosophy philosophy is, on this dying; we we The history is, on this view, view, obsolete, obsolete, dead dead or or dying; must scratch’, and and as as for for history, history, she she cries: Hegel!’ must ‘start ‘start from from scratch’, cries: ‘Spit ‘Spit on on Hegel!’ In first approach approach then, reply to In terms terms of of the the first then, the the reply to the the riddle riddle of of relation relation between feminism and and philosophy philosophy is is disjunctive. between feminism is that that the the relation relation is disjunctive. One chooses feminism feminism over over philosophy. philosophy. This This approach approach to philosophy One chooses to philosophy has several for its rationale on on an unspoken has several problems. problems. It It is is dependent dependent for its rationale an unspoken and unexamined unexamined proposition proposition that as aa discipline discipline or an and that philosophy, philosophy, as or an activity, coincides coincides with with its that philosophy philosophy is is and and will activity, its past. past. It It assumes assumes that will be it was. was. This This reification of philosophy philosophy misses the point point that that be what what it reification of misses the philosophy is, is, among among other other things, things, aa human human activity that is is ongoing. ongoing. philosophy activity that Some philosophers philosophers may have proposed proposed that that their their systems were closed, Some may have systems were closed, complete, and and able able to but this this is is no no reason reason for for us to complete, to transcend transcend history, history, but us to assent to to their their propositions. propositions. Since Since the of philosophical philosophical inquiry inquiry assent the objects objects of (that the human human being, its cultural, cultural, political, political, and and linguistic environ(that is, is, the being, its linguistic environment), not static philosophy is, is, necessarily, necessarily, ment), are are not static entities, entities, the the project project of of philosophy open-ended. The The conception system of that open-ended. conception of of philosophy philosophy as as aa system of truths truths that could, in in principle, be complete, true for all time, time, relies relies on could, principle, be complete, true for all on the the correlative claim claim that that nature or ontology and truth or epistemology epistemology correlative nature or ontology and truth or are static. In that that feminists the first first approach accept the the picture picture that that are static. In feminists in in the approach accept philosophy likes to of itself itself it this dominant dominant charactercharacterphilosophy likes to present present of it allows allows this isation free rein. rein. Moreover, Moreover, the the first isation free first approach, approach, if if presented presented as as aa practical and for feminism, than as limited practical and viable viable alternative alternative for feminism, rather rather than as aa limited strategy, have aa lesson lesson to learn from the story of Bellerophon. Bellerophon. strategy, may may have to learn from the story of Bellerophon, aa brave warrior from Greek mythology, mythology, travels travels to Bellerophon, brave warrior from Greek to aa 15 435


letter, of a form of the form in the person, in his person, on his carries on he carries that he unaware that land, unaware new new land, a letter, consciousfeminist consciousnot feminist or not Whether or execution. Whether own execution. his own for his orders for the orders the debate. great debate. of great matter of is aa matter fashion is analogous fashion in an ‘inscribed’ in is ‘inscribed’ ness ness is an analogous be would be question would this question to this person to particular person any particular of any response of The response The to commitment, to of commitment, lack of or lack commitment, or person’s commitment, that person’s by that influenced by influenced structuralist various structuralist to various unconscious, to the unconscious, of the view of psychoanalytic view the psychoanalytic the of construction of social construction the social concerning the claims concerning post-structuralist claims and and post-structuralist conscious one’s conscious that one’s is that view is own view My own on. My so on. and so consciousness, and consciousness, betheoretical beand theoretical practical and one’s practical with one’s do with less to have less intentions have intentions to do recalcitrant the recalcitrant is the It is think. It us think. have us would have feminists would some feminists than some haviour than haviour contheir conof their regardless of change, regardless social change, to social beings to human beings of human attitude of attitude and mid- and the midin the especially in feminists, especially many feminists, led many that led intentions, that scious intentions, scious the to the relation to its relation and its unconscious and the unconscious study the to study seventies, to late seventies, late That ideologies. That class ideologies. and class patriarchal and of patriarchal reproduction of and reproduction production and production those abandoned by some and by some this analysis this analysis has has been been abandoned and continues, continues, for for those still working who are difficult, does to prove within its prove difficult, does not parameters, to who are still working within its parameters, not the study to be mean Perhaps the needs to mean that that it it is, is, therefore, therefore, inessential. inessential. Perhaps study needs be tackled direction, aa question consider in in the the third tackled from from another another direction, question II will will consider third the that the than indicate now II shall part chapter. For part of of this this chapter. For now shall do do no no more more than indicate that first the question of the the relation relation between between feminism first approach approach towards towards the question of feminism and philosophy, philosophy, if and if presented presented as as aa long-term long-term programme, programme, is is utopian utopian risk of of reproducing, the serious elsewhere, the and runs the very and runs the serious risk reproducing, elsewhere, very relations relations leave behind. which which it it seeks seeks to to leave behind. THE OF EXTENSION EXTENSION THE PROJECT PRO]ECT OF

Whereas the the first first approach, in its its most most extreme form, sees sees both both the the Whereas approach, in extreme form, method or or framework framework of of philosophy and its its concrete content as as method philosophy and concrete content antithetical to to feminist feminist aims, the second approach is is characterised by antithetical aims, the second approach characterised by seeing the content content only to women. women. In words, seeing the only as as oppressive oppressive to In other other words, feminists in in the the second second category, that may may be be typified feminists category, aa category category that typified by, by, though not not limited limited to, to, the stance of of liberal liberal feminists, feminists, agree agree that that though the stance historically, philosophy has an oppressive oppressive relation relation to to women women (of (of historically, philosophy has had had an misogyny, relation is one. misogyny, of of omission) omission) but but that that this this relation is not not aa necessary necessary one. They assume that that philosophy philosophy as as aa discipline and as as aa method method They argue argue or or assume discipline and of inquiry is entirely entirely neutral with regard regard to to sex. sex. Researchers adopting of inquiry is neutral with Researchers adopting this approach of philosophy philosophy as as male-dominated, male-dominated, but but this approach view view the the history history of argue that women being able argue that women are are presently presently in in aa situation situation of of being able to to correct correct this then, the between feminist feminist theory this bias. bias. Here, Here, then, the relation relation between theory and and philosophy envisaged as complementary one, philosophy is is envisaged as aa complementary one, where where feminist feminist theory adds to, or completes, completes, traditional philosophy, by theory adds to, or traditional or or existing existing philosophy, by filling in political, moral moral and By adding filling in the the ‘gaps’ ‘gaps’ in in political, and social social theory. theory. By adding an an analysis of social, political experience of of analysis of the the specific specific social, political and and economic economic experience women, philosophy from malewomen, this this approach approach seeks seeks to to transform transform philosophy from aa maledominated into aa human human enterprise. dominated enterprise enterprise into enterprise. 16 16


In its more radical radical form form this approach may merely In its more this approach may do do more more than than merely add the lived lived experience of women; it may also purport purport to add the experience of women; it may also to offer offer the the means which that that experience be altered. means by by which experience may may be altered. Philosophy Philosophy may may be be seen, other words, more than than aa merely descriptive tool—it seen, in in other words, as as more merely descriptive tool—it may may also be seen seen as transformative activity capable not of also be as aa transformative activity which which is is capable not only only of analysing social social relations but also means whereby one analysing relations but also of of providing providing aa means whereby one may intervene intervene and and change relations. The may change those those relations. The answer answer of of these these feminists to to our for the the conjunction, conjunction, at least initially. feminists our riddle riddle is is to to opt opt for at least initially. II say initially implicit in say initially because because implicit in much much of of their their work work is is the the notion notion of of the the ‘inbuiltobsolescence’ they suppose, suppose, it will be ‘inbuilt obsolescence’ of of feminism. feminism. Eventually, Eventually, they it will be unnecessary retain aa specifically specifically feminist feminist perspective. perspective. Once Once the the goal goal unnecessary to to retain of equality is reached, feminism would of equality is reached, feminism would be be redundant. redundant. What is the the adoption What this this approach approach usually usually entails entails is adoption of of aa particular particular philosophical (for example liberalism, existentialism, philosophical theory theory (for example liberalism, existentialism, marxmarxism), as as aa method method of of analysis which then then takes as its object, ism), analysis which takes ‘woman’ ‘woman’ as its object, as Certainly, II think think that that this this is is what what as its its (philosophical) (philosophical) problem. problem. Certainly, Wollstonecraft attempts, vis-a-vis egalitarianism, egalitarianism, in in AA Vindication Vindication of of Wollstonecraft attempts, vis-a-vis the de Beauvoir Beauvoir attempts, attempts, vis-a-vis vis-a-vis existentialexistentialthe Rights Rights of of Woman; Woman; what what de ism, The Second Second Sex; Sex; and and what attempts, vis-a-vis vis-a-vis both both ism, in in The what Mitchell Mitchell attempts, psychoanalysis and and marxism, in Psychoanalysis Psychoanalysis and and Feminism. It is psychoanalysis marxism, in Feminism. It is for for this reason reason that not wish wish to second approach approach to liberal this that II do do not to reduce reduce this this second to liberal feminism work done the rubric rubric of this second second feminism alone. alone. It It is is work done under under the of this approach feminism and and approach that that epitomises epitomises the the dominant dominant relation relation between between feminism philosophy since is, for for that reason, worth worth exphilosophy since Wollstonecraft Wollstonecraft and and is, that reason, examining in detail. amining in detail. Consider de Beauvoir’s own contention concerning the the use use of of Consider de Beauvoir’s own contention concerning existentialism in in understanding the situation situation of of women: women: existentialism understanding the [I]t is of sex that the seeks self self justification justification through through [I]t is regardless regardless of sex that the existent existent seeks transcendence—the very submission submission of women is is proof proof of of that that statement. statement. transcendence—the very of women What they demand today to be be recognized by the same What they demand today is is to recognized as as existents existents by the same right as and not to subordinate subordinate existence existence to to life, human being being to to right as men men and not to life, the the human its animality. animality. its An existentialist existentialist perspective has enabled us, then, to understand understand how An perspective has enabled us, then, to how the and economic the primitive primitive horde horde must the biological biological and economic condition condition of of the must have have led to male supremacy. The female, to aa greater greater extent extent than the male, led to male supremacy. The female, to than the male, is is the prey species .. .. .. in in maternity remained closely closely bound to the prey of of the the species maternity woman woman remained bound to her body, like an 1975:97, emphasis added) her body, like an animal. animal. (de (de Beauvoir, Beauvoir, 1975:97, emphasis added)

For the the moment enough to to note de Beauvoir’s Beauvoir’s commitment commitment to to For moment it it is is enough note de Sartre’s view of the body and its relation, relation, for for Sartre, Sartre, to to Sartre’s view of the (female) (female) body and its immanence. |I will will be this point the section section where immanence. be picking picking up up this point later later in in the where I| will of the the necessary precommitments of of feminists feminists will consider consider the the effect effect of necessary precommitments who use existing existing philosophical philosophical systems systems to to explore explore the the existence existence and and who use experience women. experience of of women. Wollstonecraft’s views views on on the the education education of of women women reveal similar Wollstonecraft’s reveal aa similar precommitment, this time to egalitarianism. She She writes: writes: precommitment, this time to egalitarianism. 17 1)


the of the exercise of an exercise such an is such opinion, is my opinion, in my education, in perfect education, most perfect [T]he most [T]he the form the and form body and the body strengthen the to strengthen calculated to best calculated is best as is understanding as understanding of habits of such habits attain such to attain individual to the individual enable the to enable words, to other words, in other Or, in heart. Or, heart. being any being call any to call farce to is aa farce it is fact, it In fact, independent. In it independent. render it will render as will virtue as virtue reason. own reason. its own of its exercise of the exercise from the result from not result do not virtues do whose virtues virtuous whose virtuous to women it to extend it men; II extend respecting men; opinion respecting Rousseau’s opinion was Rousseau’s This was This women ..... . (Wollstonecraft, 1975:103, emphasis added) (Wollstonecraft, 1975 :103, emphasis added)

by employed by framework employed philosophical framework the philosophical theory, the the theory, that the we see So, see that So, we probthe probproblem, the The problem, unproblematic. The considered unproblematic. is considered feminists, is these feminists, these as seen as is seen women, is to women, relate to philosophical paradigms these philosophical how these of how lem of lem paradigms relate content the content while the intact while remains intact framework remains The framework content. The of content. problem of aa problem is extended, to include include women, women, to account theoretitheoretiis extended, sometimes sometimes altered, altered, to to account women and, to offer the means means of women offer the cally for for the the position cally position of and, possibly, possibly, to position may embe transformed. may be thus emwhereby transformed. Philosophy Philosophy is is thus whereby that that position feminism as or feminism as its its object of the method ployed ployed as as the method which which takes takes women women or object of inquiry. It seems to in this this are several inquiry. It seems to me me that that there there are several problems problems involved involved in connected to the critique to the of the these second nature of critique these second approach approach that that are are connected the nature Rousseau, offered feminists offer. offer. The offered by feminists The explicit explicit critique critique of of Rousseau, by WollWollstonecraft, for for example, internal to to his example, is his philosophy. philosophy stonecraft, is internal philosophy. The The philosophy Rousseau per rather, it it is its of per se for Wollstonecraft; Wollstonecraft; rather, is not problem for of Rousseau se is not aa problem is its exclusive application to males that is, the problem. males that exclusive application to is, for for her, her, the problem. The The see in treated in in turn. turn. difficulties will be be treated difficulties II see in this this approach approach will The neutral sexist content, claim The neutral framework, framework, sexist content, claim What to examine here is is the the claim that philosophy philosophy as as aa What II want want to examine here claim that discipline, that work of of any any particular particular philosopher, philosopher, taken taken as as aa discipline, that the the work method of neutral and and that the content content only, only, that that is, is, method of inquiry, inquiry, is is neutral that it it is is the what aa philosophical is ‘filled’ ‘filled’ with with that that is or what philosophical framework framework is is sexist sexist or inadequate in relation relation to to women. be clearer, clearer, II want investigate inadequate in women. To To be want to to investigate the that, for existentialism, as philosophy, is is sexthe claim claim that, for example, example, existentialism, as aa philosophy, sexneutral, investigate the claim that that the sexism of of Being Being and and neutral, to to investigate the claim the sexism Nothingness is limited to to its use of of misogynistic misogynistic metaphors metaphors and and Nothingness is limited its use sex-blind examples. II have the contention contention that that sex-blind examples. have no no quarrel quarrel with with the philosophy, statements that philosophy, from from Plato Plato to to the the present, present, is is riddled riddled with with statements that are anti-woman or or anti-feminist—this anti-feminist—this has has been demonstrated, by by are anti-woman been demonstrated, feminists, ad ad nauseum. to task task the the feminists, nauseum. Rather, Rather, I| am am interested interested in in taking taking to claim that it to this this extent extent only that philosophy philosophy has has denigrated denigrated claim that it is is to only that women in terms terms of an women or or generally generally been been inappropriate inappropriate in of offering offering an adequate If it were the misogyny or adequate analysis analysis of of women. women. If it were the case case that that the the misogyny or inadequacy (in relation to women) of inadequacy (in relation to women) of philosophy philosophy were were merely merely aa problem of of content content (that (that is, is, of problem of the the philosopher’s philosopher’s personal personal attitudes attitudes or or values infecting infecting his his otherwise neutral system) system) then then the the project project of of values otherwise neutral extension and inclusion would be viable. viable. II am extension and inclusion would be am no no longer longer convinced, convinced, however, metaphors, for example, are are incidental however, that that Sartre’s Sartre’s metaphors, for example, incidental or or accidental overall thesis. It is specific accidental to to his his overall thesis. It is not not only only aa matter matter of of the the specific 18 18


content, the the concrete concrete examples, offered by being inadequate as an an content, examples, offered by him him being inadequate as account of human being. being. II would argue that account of human would argue that his his philosophy philosophy is is inadequate in in general general outline outline too. words, the project of inadequate too. In In other other words, the project of extending philosophies, philosophies, which have excluded excluded or been oppressive extending which may may have or been oppressive to women women in in order that they to in the the past, past, in order that they may may include include women, women, non-oppressively, in only on non-oppressively, in the the future, future, is is viable viable only on condition condition that that the the general form form or or framework framework of of any any particular general particular philosophy philosophy is is sexsexneutral. to this claim that that II would like to of neutral. It It is is to this claim would like to turn, turn, again again by by way way of existentialism. existentialism. Consider Sartre’s account of the others, exemplified Consider Sartre’s account of the existence existence of of others, exemplified by by ‘the Look’. This is written in ‘the Look’. This entire entire section section of of Being Being and and Nothingness Nothingness is written in terms of of an individual man man encountering and in terms an individual encountering an an individual individual man man and in terms which which assume assume the the mutual of the intersubjective terms mutual apprehension apprehension of the intersubjective reciprocity of He writes: writes: ‘my Other reciprocity of subjecthood. subjecthood. He ‘my apprehension apprehension of of the the Other in the the world world as as probably man refers to my in probably being being aa man refers to my permanent permanent possibility of being-seen-by-him; that is, possibility of being-seen-by-him; that is, to to the the permanent permanent possibility possibility that who sees sees me me may may be for the object seen that aa subject subject who be substituted substituted for the object seen by by me’ (Sartre, 1977:257). Would robbed of of its me’ (Sartre, 1977:257). Would this this thesis, thesis, robbed its apparent apparent neutrality, convey the the same same meaning? Take aa concrete neutrality, convey meaning? Take concrete situation, situation, experienced by most, if not not all, all, women women at some time lives. The experienced by most, if at some time in in their their lives. The example is is supplied supplied by by M. M. Tax. example Tax. A young woman woman is is Walking downaa city street. She A young walking down city street. She is is excruciatingly excruciatingly aware aware of appearance and to it (imagined or or real) of every every of her her appearance and of of the the reaction reaction to it (imagined real) of

person she She walks walks through of construction person she meets. meets. She through aa group group of construction workers workers

who are the pavement. pavement. Her tightens who are eating eating lunch lunch in in aa line line along along the Her stomach stomach tightens with terror her face becomes contorted into aa grimace grimace of with terror and and revulsion; revulsion; her face becomes contorted into of self-control fake unawareness; her walk become stiff stiff self-control and and fake unawareness; her walk and and carriage carriage become and what they they say say to her, it it will will be unbearable. and dehumanized. dehumanized. No No matter matter what to her, be unbearable.

She knows knows that that they will not not physically assault her her or or hurt hurt her. her. They They will will She they will physically assault

only do What they will do is impinge impinge on will only do so so metaphorically. metaphorically. What they will do is on her. her. They They will

demand that that her her thoughts focussed on them. They They will use her her body body demand thoughts be be focussed on them. will use

with eyes. They evaluate her her market market price. price. They They will will comment comment with their their eyes. They will will evaluate on or compare them to those of of other other passers-by. They will will on her her defects, defects, or compare them to those passers-by. They make their fantasies if she she is is willing. willing. make her her aa participant participant in in their fantasies without without asking asking if They will will make her feel feel ridiculous, or grotesquely grotesquely sexual, sexual, or or hideously They make her ridiculous, or hideously ugly. Above Above all, all, they they will will make her feel feel like like aa thing. (Tax, 1973:28) 1973:28) ugly. make her thing. (Tax,

The question we must must ask ask is ‘Does this this situation reveal to to the the men men in in it it The question we is ‘Does situation reveal (in line with Sartre’s thesis) that that this this woman’s woman’s existence existence involves involves for for (in line with Sartre’s thesis) them the the possibility their objectification’, that the the woman, woman, them possibility of of their objectification?’, that that is, is, that as seeing seeing subject, woman, the the seen as subject, may may be be substituted substituted for for the the woman, seen object? object? II think not. What happened to to the the purported purported reciprocity reciprocity of of ‘the think not. What has has happened ‘the Look’? What, on reflection, reflection, does does this this situation Sartre’s Look’? What, on situation suggest suggest about about Sartre’s philosophy? It It suggests it is about men, men, about free philosophy? suggests that that it is aa philosophy philosophy about about free and that encounter encounter each each other situation of of and equal equal subjectivities subjectivities that other in in aa situation struggle for It is description that is inappropriate inappropriate for for some some struggle for mastery. mastery. It is aa description that is men some situations, and, II would would argue, argue, for for all all women women in in some some men in in some situations, and, 19 19


situations. point is is qualitatively different from the predominant predominant situations. This This point qualitatively different from the feminist criticism criticism of of philosophers throughout the the history feminist of the the sexism sexism of philosophers throughout history of Western Western thought. thought. It It is not aa point point directed content, at at what what is of is not directed at at content, is said said or what is is not not said about women, women, but rather, about can and and or what said about but rather, about what what can cannot about women women within within the the terms terms of of particular particular philophilocannot be be said said about sophical theories. sophical theories. What the limitations de Beauvoir Beauvoir can say, having having What are are the limitations to to what what de can say, adopted the method, about about women, women, their their adopted the existentialist existentialist method, their situation, situation, their character? What What precommitments entered into into by by feminists feminists when when character? precommitments are are entered they apply apply this this or or that philosophical view view to to the position of of women? they that philosophical the position women? What factors factors are preselected and hence predetermined predetermined to to rise to What are preselected and hence rise to prominence? What What will will be Some questions are foreclosed foreclosed by by prominence? be excluded? excluded? Some questions are the method, method, whether it be psychoanalysis, marxism or the whether it be existentialism, existentialism, psychoanalysis, marxism or liberalism. For feminists employing the problem of liberalism. For feminists employing existentialism, existentialism, the problem of women’s relation relation (or (or lack of it) it) to to transcendence, is seen seen as as crucial; crucial; for women’s lack of transcendence, is for feminists employing employing psychoanalysis, problem of of the social conconfeminists psychoanalysis, the the problem the social struction of of women as (symbolically) (symbolically) lacking, lacking, is is seen as crucial; crucial; for struction women as seen as for feminists employing employing marxism, marxism, the the problem problem of of women’s women’s relation relation (or (or feminists lack of of it) it) to to productive productive labour labour is seen as on. The The point lack is seen as crucial; crucial; and and so so on. point I’m making making is is that that the history of of philosophy philosophy is history of of man man I’m the history is the the history defining man man as as having particular relation relation to to some some essential essential faculty faculty defining having aa particular or power. power. This This faculty faculty or or power may be be rationality, rationality, transcendence, transcendence, or power may productive labour, labour, etc.; what is is important important is is that that man’s relation to to this this productive etc.; what man’s relation power or or his his capacity to embody is deemed crucial to to his his subjectivpower capacity to embody it it is deemed crucial subjectivity. many feminists in the ity. The The relation relation of of many feminists to to this this history history is is revealed revealed in the attempt to this analysis to include This attempt to extend extend this analysis of of man man to include woman. woman. This involves neutrality of essential power faculty involves assuming assuming the the neutrality of the the essential power or or faculty under with regard to sex sex and position and under consideration consideration with regard to and social social position and positing instead as as crucial crucial to tendency of positing it it instead to the the human human subject. subject. The The tendency of these extend this is encouraged the these feminists feminists to to extend this analysis analysis to to women women is encouraged by by the implicit assumption, analysis is implicit assumption, common common in in philosophy, philosophy, that that the the analysis is universally applicable. applicable. universally Where does this situate situate feminists within this On Where does this feminists who who work work within this mode? mode? On my does not, that they they are my view view it it does not, necessarily, necessarily, imply imply that are wasting wasting their their time time or that their contributions to to feminist the or that their contributions feminist theory theory are are minimal. minimal. On On the contrary, argue that many feminists feminists who themselves to contrary, II would would argue that many who believe believe themselves to be engaged engaged in this kind research are, quite be in this kind of of research are, in in fact, fact, doing doing something something quite different. doing it way that they make different. However, However, they they are are doing it in in such such aa way that they make their to philosophy philosophy invisible. their work, work, and and their their contributions contributions to invisible. This This leads leads me to of criticism criticism of me to the the second second point point of of this this second second way way of of conceptualisconceptualising the ing the relation relation between between feminism feminism and and philosophy. philosophy. Women, Women, philosophy philosophy and and invisibility invisibility Michele Le Doeuff remarked that area in which which Michele Le Doeuff (1977:10) (1977:10) has has remarked that one one area women women have have free free access access to to philosophy, philosophy, today, today, is in the the area area of 20 20


commentary commentary on ‘Great Classics’. Classics’. She She observes, this context, context, on the the ‘Great observes, in this ‘Who better than aa woman woman to respect and ‘Who rememand remembetter than fidelity, respect to show show fidelity, brance? A woman can be trusted trusted to to perpetuate words of A woman brance? the Great Great of the the words perpetuate the can be Discourse: she will add add none none of her her own.’ own.’ Le Doeuff’s point Discourse: she will Le Doeuff’s point is, II think, think, misplaced, the being not much that that woman, as philosophical philosophical the point point being misplaced, so much woman, as not so commentator, no words words of her she will add no commentator, will her own will add own but but that that she will claim claim none her own. will endeavour, as far make none as as possible, own. She to make She will as her far as possible, to endeavour, as herself, reconstructive work interand the to interthe reconstructive thought, and herself, her necessary to work necessary her thought, pretation, in terms this capacity—to It is of the exercise of invisible. It capacity—to is in terms of pretation, invisible. of this the exercise order was, what was, clarify what and clarify extract and to extract interfere; to order without to interfere; without appearing appearing to apparently, there all all along; expand; to to draw and expand; to extrapolate draw out extrapolate and out along; to apparently, there consequences and point of the repercussions of out repercussions point out of the the the thought thought of consequences and Master, as if these thoughts thoughts and text, and associations Master, as latent in the associations lie latent the text, if these expectantly the discerning are philophiloawaiting the expectantly awaiting women who eye—that women discerning eye—that who are sophers invisibility of the of the this invisibility It is is to to this invisible. It sophers often render themselves often render themselves invisible. work of who are women who are feminists, including women feminists, in philosophy, philosophy, including of women women in work that II would now like by that turn. In would now In the like to to turn. of the the context context of the employment, employment, by feminists, philosophies to the position position alter the explain and/or and/or alter to explain of existing existing philosophies feminists, of of women, women, the the following question arises: the describe the following question it accurate accurate to to describe Is it arises: Is of work of these as merely merely the feminists as the extension extension of of the these feminists work of the content content of of in fact, fact, offering are, in they are, offering or is that they it the is it case that philosophies, or existing existing philosophies, the case alternative that bear alternative frameworks only aa superficial frameworks that historical superficial or bear only or historical relation to to existing existing philosophies? In other other words, philosophies? In relation words, is the existentialism is the existentialism of de de Beauvoir same as of Beauvoir the the same the existentialism of Sartre? as the existentialism of Sartre? Is Mitchell’s Is Mitchell’s account of of psychoanalysis on. In In what what so on. Freud’s? and with Freud’s? account and so consistent with psychoanalysis consistent the to the their contribution contribution to and their themselves and make themselves these women way do way do these women make employ invisible? theory they theory they employ invisible? De Beauvoir Beauvoir states states clearly clearly in in The Second Sex Sex that that woman is the the De The Second woman is other, not only to to man but also also to Her explanation explanation of the other, not only man but to herself. herself. Her of the oppression of of women women is is partly partly in in terms terms of of the the problem problem of of female oppression female subjectivity, that is, that that woman is perceived perceived and and perceives perceives herself herself as as subjectivity, that is, woman is object. This This account already, clearly clearly at at odds odds with with Sartre’s Sartre’s account object. account is, is, already, account in Being Being and and Nothingness. Nothingness. For For Sartre, Sartre, at the Sartre Sartre of of Being in at least least the Being and and Nothingness, the the other other is is always always aa subject. His analysis of interpersoninterpersonNothingness, subject. His analysis of al and and social social relations, relations, in in 1943, 1943, has has little little to to offer terms of theory al offer in in terms of aa theory of oppression. His His analysis analysis revolves revolves around around individual of structural structural oppression. individual power relations individual consciousnesses. Coupled with with Sartre’s Sartre’s power relations and and individual consciousnesses. Coupled conception of ‘bad ‘bad faith’, faith’, this analysis can can offer offer little little more than an an conception of this analysis more than understanding oppression as as aa form form of of bad bad faith. faith. It It is is de understanding of of women’s women’s oppression de Beauvoir, in in 1949, 1949, who who offers offers this this theory of oppression, oppression, and—this and—this is is Beauvoir, theory of my point—in point—in aa way way that that obscures obscures her her contribution contribution to to the the viability viability of of my existentialism as as aa social social theory. theory. The The Sartre Sartre of of 195 19522 has has already already picked existentialism picked this up. In aa rare rare though though half-hearted half-hearted display of acknowledgement of this up. In display of acknowledgement of the role that that de Beauvoir had had played played in in forming forming his he the role de Beauvoir his philosophy, philosophy, he writes: is first first an an object—and object—and an an object object to to others Simone de writes: ‘Genet ‘Genet is others .. .. . . Simone de 21 21


Beauvoir has has pointed out that woman is is an an object object to other and and Beauvoir pointed out that ..... . woman to the the other to herself herself before before being subject’ (Sartre, 1964:37). II do not believe believe to being aa subject’ (Sartre, 1964:37). do not Sartre could could have have offered his ‘biography’ ‘biography’ of of Genet, Genet, nor nor the the view we Sartre offered his view we find on freedom, were it it not not for for de de Beauvoir’s Beauvoir’s contributions contributions to to find there there on freedom, were existentialism. Space Space does does not me to to offer offer similar similar examples examples of of existentialism. not permit permit me Mitchell’s relation to or of feminists’ relation relation to to Mitchell’s relation to psychoanalysis, psychoanalysis, or of other other feminists’ marxism. The The examples examples II have have chosen chosen are are those that II imagine to be be marxism. those that imagine to the most accessible and familiar. My point point is is not not to seek out past the most accessible and familiar. My to seek out past plagiarisms demand that the work work of of women women in the past past be plagiarisms or or even even to to demand that the in the be acknowledged—though both both projects projects are are worthy worthy of of investigation. investigation. My My acknowIedged—-though present concern is to make make visible and analyse analyse the the mechanisms mechanisms by present concern is to visible and by which women’s work philosophy has has been been rendered negligible in in which women’s work in in philosophy rendered negligible order those of of us us who are feminists, feminists, and work within within order that that those who are and who who work philosophy feminists, do do not duplicate this this history. history. philosophy as as feminists, not duplicate The point section concerning concerning the the process of The point II have have made made in in this this section process of rendering women’s invisible relates back to to the point rendering women’s work work invisible relates back the first first point concerning framework framework and The framework framework of of any concerning and content. content. The any particular particular philosophy, II have have argued, argued, is not sex-neutral. sex-neutral. Feminists Feminists who who have have philosophy, is not attempted to extend or alter alter the attempted to extend or the content content of of these these philosophies philosophies have have done more more than add and ‘tidy-up’. They have also, often, modified the done than add and ‘tidy-up’. They have also, often, modified the framework of the philosophy they employ, though in in aa way way that that is is not not framework of the philosophy they employ, though always readily have tried tried to to indicate indicate previously previously that this always readily visible. visible. II have that this problem of the of the the contributions contributions of of feminist philoproblem of the invisibility invisibility of feminist philosophers to philosophy is compounded by alleged neutrality neutrality of sophers to philosophy is compounded by the the alleged of the the framework regard to gender, on and its its framework with with regard to sex sex or or gender, on the the one one hand, hand, and patently inadequate the other. The patently inadequate applicability applicability to to both both sexes, sexes, on on the other. The inadequacy of any philosophy that to this inadequacy of any particular particular philosophy that is is being being put put to this feminist reflects then, because of of these factors, back onto feminist purpose purpose reflects then, because these factors, back onto ‘woman’. women’s existence as problematising problematising ‘woman’. That That is, is, women’s existence is is not not seen seen as existentialism or psychoanalysis or woman herself herself existentialism or psychoanalysis or marxism marxism but but rather rather woman is as the problem. Somehow Somehow she as defying is seen seen as the problem. she is is characterised characterised as defying theorisation. How many many times times have heard: from theorisation. How have we we heard: from marxists-—‘the marxists—‘the woman question’; from psychoanalysts-—‘woman, contiwoman question’; from psychoanalysts—‘woman, the the dark dark continent’; ‘woman the enigma’; and more recently other quarters, quarters, nent’; ‘woman the enigma’; and more recently from from other ‘Does exist?’. The The supposed supposed neutrality both the ‘Does woman woman exist?’. neutrality of of both the framework framework and particular faculty faculty or and the the particular or power power that that is is deemed deemed essentially essentially human human in the terms terms of of that framework contribute where the in the that framework contribute to to aa situation situation where the inadequacy of philosophical inadequacy of philosophical theory theory does does not not throw throw ‘philosophy’ ‘philosophy’ into into question but ‘woman’. ‘woman’. This me on third and and final question but This leads leads me on to to the the third final point point of of criticism relevant criticism relevant to to this second kind kind of relation between feminism feminism and and this second relation between philosophy, that is, the of legitimation. philosophy, that is, the question question of legitimation. Philosophy and and legitimation Philosophy legitimation Part of of the the initial any philosopher Part initial training training of of any philosopher involves involves grasping grasping and and being able able to reproduce an an appropriate being to reproduce appropriate philosophical philosophical style. style. Of Of course, course, te 22


this this style style varies varies historically historically and and according to the tradition according to the particular particular tradition one finds one finds oneself oneself within. However, aa PhD thesis in geometric form or or within. However, PhD thesis geometric form in the in the genre genre of of dialogue, though both both are are historically historically prevalent dialogue, though prevalent in philosophy, would suspect, be favourably received, at present, present, in received, at be favourably would not, not, II suspect, philosophy, any any tradition. tradition. What What is deemed an appropriate philosophic style by is deemed an appropriate philosophic style university authorities, by journal journal editors, and by houses publishing houses by publishing editors, and university authorities, appears to to have have aa consistency that is closely closely connected appears connected to to aa normative normative consistency that standard, decided, in part, by by tradition, no doubt, doubt, masking standard, decided, masking also, no in part, but also, tradition, but discursive power relations. relations. What What are the major that factors that major factors some of discursive power of the are some determine piece of of research is philosophical? Clearly it is it is research is philosophical? Clearly whether aa piece determine whether not subject matter matter but of presentation that also the of that but also the mode presentation of mode of the subject not merely merely the subject literature, Being Nothingness is philosomatter. Nausea is literature, Nausea is is philosoBeing and subject matter. and Nothingness phy. The is not text although with issues issues phy. The Idiot although it not aa philosophical philosophical text it deals deals with Idiot is common to the the philosophy of ethics. processes are texts are some By what some texts what processes ethics. By philosophy of common to considered legitimate, philosophically, and others considered legitimate, the present present not? At At the others not? philosophically, and time we could say say that it philosophical it considered philosophical time be considered we could to be for work work to that for should and logically rather than than ambiambiordered and logically ordered and argued argued rather be clear clear and should be guous, descriptive or merely persuasive. For work to as counted as be counted to be For work merely persuasive. descriptive or guous, philosophical be rational and objective, than emotive emotive rather than objective, rather philosophical it rational and it should should be or subjective. The presented should be evident, should be The view view presented or subjective. in principle, evident, in all principle, to to all rather on private private knowledge knowledge or exclusive lived experience. or exclusive lived experience. rather than relying on than relying Philosophy aims at at the the abstract, the stressing rationality, abstract, stressing rationality, the universal, the Philosophy aims the universal, creation mind, whereby universal may apprehended. of aa clear the universal creation of clear mind, whereby the may be be apprehended. It is not not concerned concerned with the particular, particular, with with the the contingent. It is contingent. Personal with the Personal opinion to be be transformed, possible, into if possible, transformed, if into public is to overcome or opinion is be overcome public or to to be and authorised knowledge. knowledge. and authorised These concerning the public legitimation of philosophy philosophy do do These criteria criteria concerning the public legitimation of not always sit sit comfortably with feminist feminist research. of the the effects effects of of not always comfortably with research. One One of this by which which work considered legitimate legitimate is that any any this process process by work is is considered is that research that displays overt political or or personal personal commitment or research that displays overt political commitment or involvement is considered, for that that reason, to be be illegitimate, illegitimate, to to be be involvement is considered, for reason, to not-philosophy. This places most, if not not all, feminist research research in not-philosophy. This places most, if all, feminist in aa difficult position its philosophical philosophical credentials. credentials. One One way way for for difficult position apropos apropos its feminists who who are are also philosophers to retain both both their their feminism feminists also philosophers to retain feminism and and their commitment to philosophy is use existing existing philosophical philosophical their commitment to philosophy is to to use theories women. The The benefits benefits attached this option option theories in in their their study study of of women. attached to to this are First, feminists feminists who work within this approach approach are are able, able, are obvious. obvious. First, who work within this by means, to both their their commitment to philosophy philosophy and by this this means, to retain retain both commitment to and their commitment commitment to feminism by by including feminist concerns in aa way way their to feminism including feminist concerns in that does does not disrupt the the preset and assumptions assumptions of of that not disrupt preset boundaries boundaries and philosophy. accounts and and findings findings of these feminist feminist philosophy. Second, Second, the the accounts of these philosophers more likely likely to to be be judged judged as as legitimate legitimate by by virtue virtue of of philosophers are are more their close close association past or or existing philosophies which, their association with with past existing philosophies which, after after all, do purport be concerned concerned with existence. Hence, Hence, it it is is all, do purport to to. be with human human existence. with this final point, the point point concerning concerning the which with this final point, the the process process by by which 23 23


legitiand legitiinquiry and of inquiry modes of other modes from other itself from philosophy separates philosophy separates itself this in this raised in have raised that II have points that three points all three that all separation, that this separation, mates this mates women’s content, women’s vs. content, framework vs. of framework questions of The questions converge. The section converge. section philosophy of philosophy processes of legitimising processes the legitimising and the philosophy, and in philosophy, invisibility invisibility in they how they of how investigation of The investigation interconnected. The all interconnected. seems to it -seems are, to me, me, all are, it are interconnected the third interconnected belongs third approach in are belongs properly properly to to the approach discussed discussed in the final section of of this however, that chapter. It that should be be said said here, the final section this chapter. It should here, however, is are planted second. The third is third approach approach are in the the second. The third the third seeds of the seeds the of the planted in being logically logically prior. not possible possible without without the second being not the second prior. THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS

The his eyes very wide wide on on hearing hearing this; this; but but all all he he said said The Hatter Hatter opened opened his eyes very was, ‘Why is is aa raven like aa writing writing desk?’. desk?’.... . was, ‘Why raven like ‘Have you you guessed the riddle the Hatter turning to to Alice Alice ‘Have guessed the riddle yet?’ yet?’ the I-latter said, said, turning aagain. am. Re it up,’ up,’ Alice replied, ‘What’s ‘What’s the the answer?’ g‘No, II give give it Alice replied, answer?’ ‘I haven’t the slightest the I-latter. Hatter. ‘I haven’t the slightest idea,’ idea,’ said said the ‘Nor I,’ I,’ said the March March Hare. Hare. ‘Nor said the Alice sighed wearily. ‘I ‘I think might do do something something better with the Alice sighed wearily. think you you might better with the time,’ she ‘than wasting wasting it asking riddles riddles that that have no answers.’ answers.’ time,’ she said, said, ‘than it in in asking have no (Carroll, 1972:94—97) (Carroll, 197Z:94-97)

The third third way which one could articulate articulate the the relation relation between between The way in in which one could feminist theory more in in common common with with the the first first feminist theory and and philosophy philosophy holds holds more approach than the second in terms of the the way in which which feminists feminists approach than with with the second in terms of way in working this third approach see see philosophy. philosophy. In In other other words, words, working within within this third approach the view view espoused by feminists feminists who who work work within within this this third third approach approach is is the espoused by that philosophy not neutral neutral in in character, character, that that the the that philosophy is is not the problem problem of of the relationship between women and philosophy, of how how women’s women’s relationship between women and philosophy, of subjectivity is put put into discourse, is is not merely aa subjectivity is into philosophical philosophical discourse, not merely problem content. The The difference difference between between the the first problem of of content. the third third and and the first lies lies not in in the the relation feminism and philonot the perception perception of of the relation between between feminism and philosophy but in the the response response to that situation. situation. Whereas feminists sophy but rather rather in to that Whereas feminists in the category argue should ignore ignore or or avoid in the first first category argue that that women women should avoid philosophical tradition, feminists feminists in the third that this philosophical tradition, in the third argue argue that this tradition tradition must in the the second must be be confronted. confronted. These These theorists theorists have have often often worked worked in second approach, and have arrived present view because of approach, and have arrived at at their their present view because of difficuldifficulties In aa sense, feminist philosophers working in ties encountered encountered there. there. In sense, feminist philosophers working in the third third approach invert the the method method of of feminist feminist philosophers philosophers the approach invert working in the the second. second. Whereas, second approach, approach, feminist working in Whereas, in in the the second feminist philosophers take philosophy as the method and and feminism feminism or or women philosophers take philosophy as the method women as of study, study, researchers in the third category category take take feminist as the the object object of researchers in the third feminist theory or or aa feminist point and and philosophy philosophy theory feminist perspective perspective as as their their starting starting point itself entails the of aa situation itself as as the the object object of of study. study. This This entails the creation creation of situation where can raise, meaningful, questions to philosophilosowhere one one can raise, as as meaningful, questions pertaining pertaining to 24 24


phical paradigms paradigms and and their their commitments, commitments, the the effects effects of women’s women’s phical interventions into interventions into philosophy, philosophy, and and the the processes processes whereby whereby some some discourses discourses are are judged judged legitimate, legitimate, philosophically, philosophically, and not. and others others not. These These questions questions are are all all put into crisis, the presence presence of of put into crisis, II believe, believe, by the feminist feminist discourses discourses in the philosophical field. They They are questions that that in the philosophical field. are questions many many philosophers philosophers would would prefer prefer to be left left -unasked. They are to be unmasked. They are questions questions that that threaten threaten the very fabric fabric and and constitution constitution of of contemthe very contemporary philosophy. philosophy. porary It is is at raised earlier, earlier, It at the the conjuncture conjuncture of of the the three three questions questions II raised concerning of philosophical philosophical frameworks, the invisibility concerning the the neutrality neutrality of frameworks, the invisibility of both as objects of and as as the of women women both as the the objects of philosophical philosophical discourse discourse and the subjects of philosophical philosophical discourse, and the the process which philososubjects of discourse, and process by by which philosophy legitimates the third it is phy legitimates itself, itself, that that the third approach approach lies. lies. And And it is this this third third approach only that that can how all By approach only can s-how show how all three three questions questions interconnect. interconnect. By self-consciously demonstrating demonstrating that philosophical paradigm paradigm is self-consciously that any any philosophical is not not neutral, these these feminists themselves, both as neutral, feminists make make themselves, both as as philosophers philosophers and and as women, By making themselves visible, visible, they turn throw throw into women, visible. visible. By making themselves they in in turn into question assumptions in in philosophy question the the legitimacy legitimacy of of claims claims and and assumptions philosophy that that have as axiomatic. axiomatic. In so far as this have been been taken taken as In so far as this approach approach questions questions the the very and status philosophy it it also reveals the very foundation foundation and status of of philosophy also reveals the investinvestments concerns of of philosophy. philosophy. It It does demonstrating not ments and and concerns does this this by by demonstrating not only is excluded excluded from from aa particular particular philosophy it is is only what what is philosophy but but also also why why it crucial, of that crucial, for for the the very very existence existence of that philosophy, philosophy, to to exclude exclude it. it. In In this this vein, at present present engaged in projects the vein, some some feminists feminists are are at engaged in projects involving involving the way body and in philosophy way in in which which the the human human body and sensation sensation are are treated treated in philosophy and of this treatment on on the and the the effects effects of this treatment the philosophical philosophical construction construction of of

femininity I984). femininity (Gross, (Gross, 1983; 1983; Lloyd, Lloyd, 1984). In history of of philosophy In examining examining the the history philosophy feminists feminists do do not not necessarily necessarily duplicate history. They They endeavour, hopes, to to understand understand its its duplicate that that history. endeavour, one one hopes, character, to listen not in order to reproduce it but in in character, to listen to to its its ‘reason’ ‘reason’ not in order to reproduce it but order to challenge the the undertones, silences of order to challenge undertones, the the silences of philosophy. philosophy. Both Both the the method or or framework content, and and the connections between between method framework and and the the content, the connections

them, are studied. They studied, not not always always for for what what is said but but them, are studied. They are are studied, is said also not said; said; for cannot be only also for for what what is is not for what what cannot be said; said; examined examined not not only in terms terms of the privileging privileging of, of, say, say, reason, also for for what is involved involved in of the reason, but but also what is in the the denigration of passion. Many feminists feminists involved in projects projects of of in denigration of passion. Many involved in this kind claim that philosophy philosophy may not be be able tell us us aa great deal this kind claim that may not able to to tell great deal about women women but but it it can us aa great great deal deal about about men men and and male about can tell tell us male desire. desire. The desire desire for objectivity, for for example, example, is is in in itself drive The for objectivity, itself aa subjective subjective drive and drive throws into question question the the objectivity objectivity that that and this this subjective subjective drive throws into many philosophers philosophers claim for their their accounts. accounts. The The desire, desire, which which underundermany claim for lies the work of Descartes, for for aa unified unified and and universally universally appropriate lies the work of Descartes, appropriate science, is is itself itself in need of of examination. examination. The The seventeenth-century seventeenth-century science, in need project of subordinating ontology and to aa certain certain and project of subordinating ontology and metaphysics metaphysics to and foundational epistemology is aa project project that that reflects reflects social needs and foundational epistemology is social needs and 25 20


the and the being and of being fixing of The fixing own. The our own. from our cry from far cry are aa far that are desires that desires mirroring conception that of access being’s knowto and the world mirroring conception of that being’s access to the world and knowor tenable or longer tenable no longer (1980), is Rorty (1980), by Rorty described by ably described so ably ledge, is no ledge, so shift in concern is needs today. today. This This shift evidenced by our needs appropriate to by to our appropriate in concern is evidenced in recent on becoming rather than the stress recent feminist feminist philosophy, becoming rather stress in the philosophy, on than or meaning or on possibilities possibilities rather rather than than certainty on meaning being, on certainty and and on being, significance rather rather than than truth. significance truth. AA common reaction of of some some feminists philosophers to to this common reaction feminists and and philosophers this cultivation of of aa philosophy philosophy of of ambiguity entailing, as as it it does, does, the cultivation ambiguity entailing, the rejection of of universal universal truths, to accuse accuse feminists who support support this rejection truths, is is to feminists who this developing philosophy being the the mistresses mistresses of of critique, of being being developing philosophy of of being critique, of merely reactive dominant traditions in philosophy and, in in this merely reactive to to dominant traditions in philosophy and, this sense, of being entirely kind of of response response is typified by sense, of being entirely negative. negative. This This kind is typified by the demand demand put theory to to show show what what it it has has to to offer the put to to feminist feminist theory offer independently of of critique, critique, that that is, to inspect the theorytheoryindependently is, aa demand demand to inspect the building capabilities feminism. Now it seems seems to to me me that that this this building capabilities of of feminism. Now it demand is based based on the investments, investments, demand is on aa misconception misconception concerning concerning the interests and and character of feminist feminist philosophy philosophy II have interests character of of the the kind kind of have outlined in in this far as as this this approach approach to to philosophy philosophy has has outlined this section. section. In In so so far involved itself extensively extensively in critique of of universal universal and and totalising totalising involved itself in aa critique forms is evident evident that that it it is to involve involve itself itself forms of of knowledge knowledge it it is is not not going going to with aa repetition repetition of of theory-building which aims at the the formation formation of of with theory-building which aims at unilateral predictive propositions. This This isn’t isn’t to to say say that that this third unilateral predictive propositions. this third approach is anti-theoretical. anti-theoretical. Rather, Rather, it approach of of feminists feminists to to philosophy philosophy is it indicates aa commitment practice and and indicates commitment to to aa conception conception of of theory, theory, practice strategy which refutes traditional theory/practice theory/practice split. split. The strategy which refutes the the traditional The feminfeminist challenge to dominant dominant philosophical philosophical pronouncements—concerning ist challenge to pronouncements—concerning the ‘man’, the lauding of universal and and singular singular rationalrationalthe equality equality of of ‘man’, the lauding of aa universal ity, and-so on—is offered offered from from an an acknowledged embeddedity, and -so on—is acknowledged necessary necessary embeddedness in in lived experience and and is result of ness lived experience is the the result of the the exploration exploration of of the the contradictions in that that experience. contradictions manifest manifest in experience. As feminist research and HinAs recent recent feminist research has has demonstrated demonstrated (Harding (Harding and Hintikka, 1983; 1983; Finn and Miles, contemporary tikka, Finn and Miles, 1982) 1982) the the predominant predominant contemporary treatment of ontology, epistemology, and politics separate treatment of ontology, epistemology, ethics ethics and politics as as separate disciplines with discrete concerns is not only unable to disciplines with discrete concerns is not only unable to withstand withstand critical such scrutiny, exposes the critical scrutiny scrutiny but but such scrutiny, additionally, additionally, exposes the political political nature of maintaining these spheres as separate (Flax, 1983:248ff). 1983:248ff). nature of maintaining these spheres as separate (Flax, It example, free free rein It allows, allows, for for example, rein to to the the notion notion that that aa writer writer can can be be entirely objective, can can transcend his political, political, social and sexual entirely objective, transcend his social and sexual identity and speak speak from identity and from utopia. utopia. Pointing Pointing out out the the necessary necessary interconinterconnections ontological, epistemological nections between between ontological, epistemological and and political political commitcommitments in philosophical discourses is akin to tapestry ments in philosophical discourses is akin to turning turning over over aa tapestry and examining of the and examining the the interconnections interconnections of the threads threads that that from from the the ‘right’ ‘right’ side the fabric fabric give give the the impression impression of discrete figures figures and and patterns. side of of the of discrete patterns. Understanding nature and formation of patterns and figures Understanding the the nature and formation of those those patterns and figures 26 26


and their their necessary and necessary interconnectedness interconnectedness is is crucial crucial if if feminists feminists are are to to grasp the the way in which which philosophy and continues grasp way in philosophy has has constructed, constructed, and continues to to construct, femininity and masculinity, reason reason and and nature. is essenconstruct, femininity and masculinity, nature. It It is essential, other words, words, that that feminists do not to take tial, in in other feminists do not continue continue to take philosophy philosophy and its at face have tried and its overt overt pronouncements pronouncements at face value. value. II have tried to to explain, explain, in in the preceding preceding section, in which which this this prima the section, the the ways ways in prima facie facie approach approach to to philosophy is inadequate. inadequate. The of the of philosophy philosophy is philosophy is The study study of the underside underside of is characteristic of this third kind of relation between characteristic of this third kind of relation between feminist feminist theory theory and philosophy. to be, explored is is the and philosophy. What What remains remains to be, briefly, briefly, explored the common common resistance to to following the insights insights of this approach through to resistance following the of this approach through to their their logical other words, words, there still aa large large leap to be be made logical conclusion. conclusion. In In other there is is still leap to made in the way in terms terms of of the way we we conceptualise conceptualise political political struggle struggle and and action. action. Many feminists who who would would agree agree with this Many feminists with the the sentiments sentiments expressed expressed in in this third section section still still ask “But when we begin to produce produce real real feminist third ask ‘But when do do we begin to feminist theory?’; is the step—how do beyond patriarchal theory?’; ‘What ‘What is the next next step—how do we we get get beyond patriarchal theory?’. It It is these kinds kinds of often heard heard at women’s theory?’. is to to these of questions, questions, so so often at women’s conferences seminars, that would like conferences and and seminars, that II would like to to turn. turn. It is in The The Principles Principles of of Philosophy Philosophy that that Descartes Descartes (1970:211) (1970:211) It is in described philosophy being like roots described philosophy as as being like aa tree: tree: metaphysics metaphysics being being the the roots that are visible but but essential, essential, physics physics being being the the trunk, trunk, and and the the that are not not visible branches aspects of branches being being all all the the other other aspects of philosophy, philosophy, including including ethics ethics and politics. His His point point in in using using this metaphor is is that the extremities extremities of and politics. this metaphor that the of the tree, be understood understood or or improved without the tree, including including its its fruit, fruit, cannot cannot be improved without knowledge of of the tree as complete organic organic system. system. The The aa thorough thorough knowledge the tree as aa complete ethico-political theory theory of of Descartes Descartes is is notoriously notoriously spare spare and, ethico-political and, according according to the the philosopher this is because ethics politics are, to philosopher himself, himself, this is because ethics and and politics are, necessarily, the objects of knowledge to to be be reached reached by Put necessarily, the last last objects of knowledge by reason. reason. Put another way, way, if if we we are are to to understand understand and and improve another improve human human social social and and political existence then then we first understand understand the the principles of political existence we must must first principles of human then in in relation relation to human nature, nature, initially, initially, as as aa particular particular and and then to the the regulative system of of nature as aa whole. whole. This This is is the the way way that that Hobbes, Hobbes, regulative system nature as Spinoza, Hume and and Rousseau all proceed. proceed. The answer to to the first Spinoza, Hume Rousseau all The answer the first query ‘What, essentially, is is aa human sets determining determining limits limits to to query ‘What, essentially, human being?’ being?’ sets what kind kind of social, political and ethical ethical organisation organisation is is thought thought to be what of social, political and to be suitable to to it. it. In In all all these these theorists’ human nature nature is is thought thought to suitable theorists’ work work human to have an and universal universal character character that is, in in differing differing have an essentially essentially constant constant and that is, degrees, considered considered to be mutable—improvable or corruptible. In degrees, to be mutable—improvable or corruptible. In other kind of and political political organisation organisation and and the the other words, words, the the kind of social social and ethical and legal legal principles principles that are to to govern that organisation organisation are are ethical and that are govern that deduced being is is thought thought to to be, be, what what its needs, deduced from from what what aa human human being its needs, desires, capabilities and limitations limitations are. are. Once Once this ontological problem problem desires, capabilities and this ontological is fathomed fathomed the management of groups of such beings is largely is the management of groups of such beings is largely aa matter of of deduction deduction from these first principles. What What must must be kept in in matter from these first principles. be kept mind here, here, however, that this this mode philosophising involves involves aa mind however, is is that mode of of philosophising formal conception of of human human nature or human human essence. essence. formal conception nature or 27 2)


The of the notion of The introduction introduction of the notion of aa socially socially constructed constructed subject, subject, which to feminist feminist theory, theory, completely which is is aa notion notion absolutely absolutely central central to completely undermines the of the traditional approach approach to to political undermines the coherence coherence of the traditional political philosophy naive mechanical organic metaphors metaphors that philosophy and and the the naive mechanical and and organic that accompany To change one’s conception of what what aa subject subject is accompany it. it. To change one’s conception of is changes, necessarily, the the conception of what what that that subject subject can can know know or or changes, necessarily, conception of become. This is one of important insights insights of of feminist feminist theory, theory, become. This is one of the the most most important yet is one that many many feminists feminists have have not not taken of in in relation relation yet it it is one that taken account account of to scant commitment commitment that that some to their their ethico-political ethico-political stance. stance. The The scant some feminists have concerning what what human being is, is, is is incompatible incompatible with feminists have concerning human being with the desire, of these these same feminists, to to have have and and to to pursue pursue aa definite the desire, of same feminists, definite ideal To view view human being as as aa social social product product devoid devoid of of ideal future. future. To human being determining universal characteristics to view view its its possibilities possibilities as as determining universal characteristics is is to open-ended. is not to say that human human being not constrained constrained by by open-ended. This This is not to say that being is is not historical context context or or by biological facts facts but but rather rather that that historical by rudimentary rudimentary biological these set the outer parameters parameters of of possibility possibility only. only. Within these factors factors set the outer Within these these constraints, if they they can can be be called that, there there is is an almost limitless limitless constraints, if called that, an almost variety possibilities. Social, Social, political and ethical ethical life, life, in in the the terms terms of of variety of of possibilities. political and this third feminist be acknowledged this third feminist philosophy, philosophy, must must be acknowledged as as ‘processes ‘processes involved in’ rather than beginning and and end end involved in’ rather than actions actions that that have have aa definite definite beginning and aa clear The blueprint is not not aa and clear ethos. ethos. The blueprint notion notion of of political political action action‘ is feminist is certainly or even feminist one one and and is certainly not not implicit implicit in, in, or even consistent consistent with, with, all all feminist theory. The feminist theory. The questions questions alluded alluded to to in in section section two two of of this this chapter—‘What is woman?’ woman?’ ‘Does distinctive in chapter—‘What is ‘Does woman woman exist?’—are exist?’—are distinctive in their desire captur an x woman being, woman’s They their desire to to-Capture and fix woman’ss being, woman’s desire. desire. They result ity of aa present result in in the the destruction ofthe productive ambiguity of present femininity that is in aa female historical and femininity that is lived lived out out in female body body that that for for historical and socio-political existence that simultaneously socio-political reasons reasons is is at at present present an an existence that is is simultaneously extremely rich rich and and painfully painfully contradictory. this extremely contradictory. To To investigate investigate how how this lived femininity has constructed involves with and and exexlived femininity has been been constructed involves living living with perimenting ambiguities. The The notorious perimenting with with these these ambiguities. notorious difficulty difficulty involved involved in capturing capturing and and defining femininity has been noted, in defining femininity has been noted, negatively, negatively, throughout history of from Aristotle Freud. throughout the the history of Western Western thought, thought, from Aristotle to to Freud. What is novel is is that What is relatively relatively novel that any any positivity positivity could could be be attached attached to to this this ambiguity that any any theoretically theoretically coherent ambiguity and and that coherent justification justification could could be be offered for for it. offered it. The reply reply of of the the third third approach The approach then then to to the the riddle riddle of of the the relationship relationship between feminism and and philosophy philosophy would neither disjunctive disjunctive not between feminism would be be neither nor conjunctive. Rather, these these feminists to shift terrain and conjunctive. Rather, feminists would would seek seek to shift the the terrain and say that the riddle is is Being ‘answer’. Both Both say that the riddle Being itself-—and itself—and as as such such it it has has no no ‘answer’. feminism and philosophy address this this riddle—each feminism and philosophy address riddle—each in their their own own way way and investments at at stake. stake. The point to to and each each with with their their own own investments The interesting interesting point make here, here, in this third section, that it is becoming make this third section, is that becoming increasingly increasingly clear clear that neither neither philosophy philosophy nor nor feminism feminism can can afford afford to continue to to ignore that to continue ignore each each other. other. This This may may involve, involve, for philosophy, that that it accepts accepts its for philosophy, 28 28

ce vi" ‘4 X

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ruptures, its gaps. close the the ruptures by feminist ruptures, its gaps. To To attempt attempt to to close ruptures created created by feminist discourses in in philosophy, philosophy, in order to ensure that remains discourses in order to ensure that philosophy philosophy remains intact, is not not only undesirable-—-it is is futile. should intact, is only undesirable—it futile. Theserupt These ruptures u res should rath widened and and be @s possibilitieaglxathef possibilities Father than feared rat€e.Lb_t%videned be welcomed welcomed 6% than feared as lacks’. Posing Posing riddles that have answer 1S riddles that have no no answer is something something the the Mad Mad Haatter Per and and philosophy philosoirlfy have have in in common. common. The The interrogation interrogation of of philosophilosophy, trial of Hatter, should should be be seen as providing providing the the phy, like like the the trial of the the Mad Mad Hatter, seen as means some riddlesgbut riddles but not not as as an an end end in itself—since means to to ‘move ‘move beyond’ beyond’ some in_i_tsel_f—sin,ce still ao riddles ie will sipose themselves. oe Tas derclopinc., still other This developing feminist feminist philosophy involves neither the the ‘death’ ‘death’ nor nor obsolescence obsolescence of of feminism philosophy involves neither feminism or philosophy, but rather the transformation transformation of of both. both. The The salient salient point point or philosophy, but ratherthe here is that there cannot cannot be be an an unadulterated feminist theory theory which which here is that there unadulterated feminist would arrival at at aa place we could could say say We we are are would announce announce our our arrival place where where we ‘beyond’ patriarchal theory and Nor can can there there ‘beyond’ patriarchal theory and patriarchal patriarchal experience. experience. Nor be aa philosophy which would neutral, universal or truly in be philosophy which would be be neutral, universal or truly human human in its character, rendering feminisnireduiidant. feminism redundant. Acfinowiedgfiiglthis Acknowledging this its character, thus thus rendering entails also commitment to to feminist feminist politics politics entails also acknowledging acknowledging that that aa commitment necessarily involves ceaseless critical critical engagement with and and interrogainterroganecessarily involves aa ceaseless engagement with tion of (theoretical/practical) existences. existences. tion of our our (theoretical/practical)

29 a9


iS 3

Vanishing acts social Vanishing acts in in social and political political thought: thought: and Tricks of of the the trade trade Tricks

It is common knowledge feminists that social and and political political It is common knowledge among among feminists that social theory was, and and for for the the most most part part still written by by men, men, for for men men and and theory was, still is, is, written about classic theorists of political political philosophy philosophy are are all all firmly firmly about men. men. The The classic theorists of within O’Brien (1981:5) (1981:5) calls calls the their subject subject within what what O’Brien the ‘male-stream’: ‘male-stream’: their matter reflects male concerns, deals deals with with male male activity and male male matter reflects male concerns, activity and ambitions and and is is directed directed away away from issues involving, involving, or of concern to, ambitions from issues or of concern to, women. As aa consequence, not appear as actors actors women. As consequence, women women themselves themselves do do not appear as in the of social she is present, in the realm realm of social and and political political thought. thought. Where Where she is present, woman is engaged in activities which which can can easily easily woman is either either aa partial partial figure figure engaged in activities be described described by by direct to men men (as (as with the Marxist Marxist worker—a be direct analogy analogy to with the worker--a sexless creature), creature), or or she is an an ideological ideological construction of the sexless she is construction of the male male theorist’s imagination—we see ‘Woman’ in all all her her glory glory rather than theorist’s imagination—we see ‘Woman’ in rather than real What is is missing political theory real women. women. What missing from from social social and and political theory is, is, to to use use Clark and and Lange’s phrase, Women Clark Lange’s (1979:viii) (1979:viii) phrase, Women qua qua women. women. What What women are, do and can can become women are, do and become are are not not the the central central concerns concerns of male-stream theory nor considered appropriate concerns for male-stream theory nor are are they they considered appropriate concerns for such theory. such theory. The legerdemain by by which women are are made disappear from The legerdemain which real real women made to to disappear from theories about human human society society and theories about and polity polity deserves deserves close close attention. attention. A A skilful magician magician contrives to draw skilful contrives to draw the the eye eye away away from from whatever whatever device device enables the lovely lady to to vanish critical mind can enables the lovely lady vanish from from view, view, but but aa critical mind can discover these these artifices acts for for what discover artifices and and help help expose expose magic magic acts what they they are—exercises in illusion. are—exercises in illusion. Artemis March March (1982) Artemis (1982) began began an an investigation investigation into into women’s women’s disdisappearance from male-stream scholarship scholarship by forms appearance from male-stream by identifying identifying the the forms their takes in in androcentric want to to extend their invisibility invisibility takes androcentric sociology. sociology. II want extend this this 30 30


analysis to to political political theory and go little further further by disclosing disclosing the the analysis theory and go aa little tricks tricks which which help help theorists theorists to to eliminate eliminate women women from from ‘the ‘the discourse’ discourse’ (D. (D. Smith, Smith, 1979:147). 1979:147). Neither Neither ‘elimination’ ‘elimination’ nor are used used nor ‘invisibility’ ‘invisibility’ are in in aa purely purely literal literal sense, sense, though though there there are literal examples within the the are literal examples within male-stream. Rather male-stream. the terms terms are intended to to include include the Rather the are intended the process process whereby whereby women women are are marginalised marginalised and and their their contribution society is contribution to to society trivialised: trivialised: they they are are ‘eliminated’ ‘eliminated’ from from the the central central focus focus of of the the theory theory and ‘invisible’ ‘invisible’ in as much they do do not appear as as subjects their and in as much as as they not appear subjects in their own right. right. own The schema at this chapter The schema at the the end end of this chapter summarises summarises its material. material. It is not intended as as aa classificatory classificatory schemadof and political not intended schema of social social and political theories theories but as aa guide sensitive feminist is, if but rather rather as guide for for sensitive feminist reading reading of of such such texts. texts. It It is, if nothing an early system for nothing else, an early warning warning system for patriarchal patriarchal scholarship. scholarship. Such an analysis analysis has implications for other debates current Such an has implications for two two other debates of current interest. of these these is the question of how is the the interest. The The first first of is the question of how subversive subversive is feminist critique of of social social and and political political philosophy Can feminist critique philosophy as as we we know know it? it? Can male-stream thought thought be be redeemed male-stream redeemed by by simply simply writing writing women women back back into into the does corrective the field field or or does corrective action action necessitate necessitate aa radical radical alteration alteration of of the the nature of the The second issue concerns concerns the the nature‘ nature of the discipline? discipline? The second issue nature of of feminist itself. What are the feminist scholarship scholarship itself. What are the implications implications of of our our critique critique of of male-stream our own practice as as scholars? male-stream thought thought for for our own practice scholars? These These concerns concerns will discussed towards of this this chapter. will be be discussed towards the the end end of chapter.


As noted earlier, earlier, Artemis Artemis March developed her As noted March developed her typology typology of of women’s women’s invisibility of androcentric androcentric sociological there invisibility from from aa study study of sociological theory, theory, but but there is extending it it to to political it is is equally is little little difficulty difficulty extending political theory theory and and it equally valuable for for both both disciplines. disciplines. The three forms valuable The three forms of of invisibility invisibility she she identified were exclusion, pseudo—inclusion and identified were exclusion, pseudo-inclusion and alienation. alienation.

Exclusion Exclusion

Invisibility of this women being completely ignored Invisibility of this form form involves involves women being completely ignored or or neglected subject of such theories male or neglected because because the the subject of such theories are are explicitly explicitly male or male-dominated Women are male-dominated institutions institutions and and activities. activities. Women are excluded excluded by by default; invisible by being disregarded. default; they they become become invisible by being disregarded. Typically Typically no no explanation is offered for of subject explanation is offered for the the selection selection of subject matter matter barring barring the the implicit presumption presumption that institutions and and activities activities are imporimplicit that these these institutions are impor-

tant. March March (1982:100) suggests that that Weber, for example, example, structurally structurally tant. (1982: I00) suggests Weber, for

excludes women women from his theory theory by by setting setting priorities priorities in in subject subject matter matter excludes from his and data which focus focus attention attention on social processes processes and and activities activities in in and data which on social which women are only marginally if at at all. all. which women are only marginally involved, involved, if There far less subtle form form of There is, is, however, however, another another far less subtle of exclusion exclusion practised in in political theory, and this is is when when women women are, for no no given practised political theory, and this are, for given 31 31


reason, simply dropped from the Their disappearance is reason, simply dropped from the discourse. discourse. Their disappearance is magical. In In this this second second form women may may in in fact fact get get mentioned mentioned but, magical. form women but, to to the extent extent that that theoretical theoretical propositions propositions about about women women bear bear any any the relation to to the they might might just just as as well well not not be be there there at at all. all. In In relation the main main thesis, thesis, they such the theory’s theory’s shortcomings frequently all all too too apparent. apparent. such cases cases the shortcomings are are frequently Hobbes is is an an initial initial State State of in which Hobbes an example. example. He I-Ie assumes assumes an of Nature Nature in which men and and women are explicitly explicitly equal which women women have have natural men women are equal and and in in which natural authority over over children, children, but he ends ends up Commonwealth entirely authority but he up with with aa Commonwealth entirely inhabited men. Women’s marked that Brennan and inhabited by by men. Women’s absence absence is is so so marked that Brennan and Pateman (1979:187) described the the Hobbesian Hobbesian family family in in civil civil Pateman (1979:187) have have described society parent family’ where that that parent father. Why Why society as as aa ‘one ‘one parent family’ where parent is is aa father. women never make it into into membership membership of the Commonwealth Commonwealth is is never never women never make it of the explained, to civil civil society society has has continued continued to to plague plague explained, and and their their relation relation to liberal and social ever since since (Brennan and Pateman, liberal and social contract contract theorists theorists ever (Brennan and Pateman, 1979; 1979; Pateman, Pateman, 1980a). 1980a).

It should should be though it it is is not not clear clear if also thinks thinks so, so, It be stressed, stressed, though if March March also that of women is an an active process rather than aa result of that the the exclusion exclusion of women is active process rather than result of passive neglect. neglect. It It is simple case case of of lapsed lapsed memory; these passive is not not aa simple memory; these theorists just forget talk about women; rather, rather, women women are theorists don’t don’t just forget to to talk about women; are structurally the realm of discourse or, for for the the sake sake of of structurally excluded excluded from from the realm of discourse or, theoretical preoccupations and and coherency, coherency, they they are deliberately theoretical preoccupations are deliberately dropped. This distinction important to what comes comes later later as dropped. This distinction is is important to what as the the implications forgetfulness for for aa truly truly universal, human political political implications of of forgetfulness universal, human theory are are quite quite different from those Moreover to theory different from those of of active active exclusion. exclusion. Moreover to speak of of these these theorists theorists as simply neglecting to describe speak as simply neglecting women women is is to describe aa process engaged in in as mistake they process they they are are engaged as aa forgivable forgivable mistake they make. make. The illusion illusion that that their their only sin is think, The only sin is one one of of omission omission is, is, II think, encouraged more in on the the classic than by encouraged more in commentaries commentaries on classic texts texts than by the the ‘great Clark and and Lange ‘great men’ men’ themselves. themselves. Clark Lange (l979:ix), (1979:ix), to to take take aa feminist feminist example, state state that to the the nineteenth example, that ‘most ‘most theory theory up up to nineteenth century century explicitly explicitly excludes as Carole Carole Pateman out, excludes females’, females’, and and yet, yet, as Pateman (1983c:4) (1983c:4) pointed pointed out, many of of these theorists had to say, many these pre-nineteenth-century pre-nineteenth-century theorists had something something to say, and in good deal problem is and in some some cases cases aa good deal to to say, say, about about women. women. The The problem is that much of this this material is ignored that much of material is ignored by by later later commentators commentators and, and, in in some cases, cases, has deleted by some has even even been been deleted by the the editors editors of of classic classic texts. texts. For For example, Book which Rousseau example, Book 55 of of Emile, Emile, in in which Rousseau draws draws his his picture picture of of Sophy, such an to his Sophy, has has proved proved such an embarrassment embarrassment to his admirers admirers that that in in several editions the work work it omitted (O’Brien, 1981:95). several editions of of the it is is simply simply omitted (O’Brien, 1981:95). The with which subsequent commentators The studied studied silences silences with which subsequent commentators have have passed passages on indicative of continuing efforts passed over over passages on women women is is indicative of continuing efforts by by our contemporaries to slam slam the on whatever our contemporaries to the door door on whatever meagre meagre foot foot we we happen to to have should make make the same happen have in in it. it. That That feminist feminist scholarship scholarship should the same presumption is more more dangerous, however, as these are are the the very presumption is dangerous, however, as these very passages which, among provide us passages which, among other other things, things, provide us with with our our insights insights into into the active active nature nature of of exclusion. exclusion. the 32 32


Pseudo-inclusion Pseudo-inclusion Pseudo-inclusion differs differs from from exclusion that the the theory appears to Pseudo-inclusion exclusion in in that theory appears to take into account but then then marginalises take women women into account but marginalises them. them. Women Women become become defined as as aa ‘special ‘special case’, as anomalies, anomalies, exceptions to the rule which defined case’, as exceptions to the rule which can be noted noted and and then then forgotten male. In can be forgotten about. about. What What is is normative normative is is male. In instances of pseudo—inclusion some excuse is usually instances of pseudo-inclusion some excuse is usually offered offered for for this this dismissal of women as dismissal of women as aa special special case, case, frequently, frequently, as as we we shall shall see see later, later, taking the the form of an an argument argument from from ‘Nature’. taking form of ‘Nature’. March’s Durkheim’s Suicide an excellent excellent one, March’s choice choice of of Durkheim’s Suicide is is an one, particuparticularly given his his treatment of the statistics on This data larly given treatment of the statistics on female female suicides. suicides. This data contradicts Durkheim’s Durkheim’s thesis about why why people but contradicts thesis about people commit commit suicide, suicide, but rather than change change the or admit universally rather than the theory theory or admit that that it it is is not not universally applicable, he he embarks embarks on the peculiarities peculiarities of of applicable, on aa long long explanation explanation of of the woman’s nature. quote March (1982:103), ‘too primitive woman’s nature. We We are, are, to to quote March (19i82:103), ‘too primitive to the niceties of male civilisation, too deeply to absorb absorb the niceties of male civilisation, too dense dense to to be be deeply affected by the unweavings unweavings and and reweavings reweavings of of the the social affected by the social fabric, fabric, too too self-contained to socially vulnerable’. these reasons self-contained to be be socially vulnerable’. For For these reasons we we become become unsuitable unsuitable subjects subjects for for Durkheim’s Durkheim’s study study and, and, as as Beth Beth Pengelly’s Pengelly’s (1981) careful careful analysis analysis of of Suicide Suicide reveals, (1981) reveals, he he actually actually deletes deletes the the statistical on women halfway through through the text. statistical data data on women halfway the text. Rousseau He is is one one of of those those social social and and Rousseau provides provides another another example. example. He political theorists who actually actually expends amount of political theorists who expends aa considerable considerable amount of effort on women them quite quite differently differently from from effort on women but, but, once once again, again, treats treats them men. In this case his primary human values—freedom and and equality— equality— men. In this case his primary human values--freedom are not just to women; women; they are, in in Rousseau’s Rousseau’s ideal are not just irrelevant irrelevant to they are, ideal republic, for women. women. Men Men are told in republic, necessarily necessarily inappropriate inappropriate values values for are told in The Social ‘To renounce one’s liberty liberty is is to to renounce renounce one’s The Social Contract, Contract, ‘To renounce one’s one’s quality as aa man, and also also the the duties duties of humanity’, while quality as man, the the rights rights and of humanity’, while women, according Emile, ‘must ‘must be trained to to bear bear the the women, according to to Book Book 55 of of Emile, be trained yoke from from the first so so that that they they may not feel feel it: it: to master their their own own yoke the first may not to master caprices and to the the will will of others’ (C. (C. Gould, Gould, caprices and submit submit themselves themselves to of others’ 1980:19). As Moller-Okin (1979a:401) commented, commented, ‘Emile ‘Emile is is edu1980:19). As Moller-Okin (1979a:401) educated to be his man and be his own woman’, woman’, and it is is cated to be his own own man and Sophie Sophie to to be his own and it with and the civil society they construct construct that that with the the Emiles Emiles of of this this world world and the civil society they Rousseau is Rousseau is primarily primarily concerned. concerned. Alienation Alienation The third form form of invisibility March March describes describes in in her refers to The third of invisibility her typology typology refers to those theories which Clark Clark and and Lange (1979:ix) call call ‘extensionally those theories which Lange (1979:ix) ‘extensionally male’. That is, they they include include women women as as subjects but they they do not speak speak male’. That is, subjects but do not of the the parameters women’s lives lives without without distortion. Women’s of parameters of of women’s distortion. Women’s experience is through male male categories categories because because the the methomethoexperience is interpreted interpreted through dology and theorists remain remain androcentric. androcentric. Despite Despite any any dology and values values of of the the theorists commitment these these scholars have to to the the subject subject of of women, women, their their commitment scholars have perspective interferes interferes with interpretation of women’s experience, experience, perspective with their their interpretation of women’s 25) 33


in particular particular by by underwriting selection of of that that part part of of women’s women’s in underwriting the the selection lives which which is significant. How else can education as as lives is deemed deemed significant. How else can Mill Mill see see education women’s to liberal liberal equality and freedom, freedom, and and fail fail to that women’s gateway gateway to equality and to see see that their continued responsibility for for childrearing both their their their continued responsibility childrearing constrains constrains both access education and, once they’ve they’ve got got it, they can can do do with with it it access to to education and, once it, what what they (for example example Pateman, Pateman, 1980b:31).‘ 1980b:31). (for Some of the the best examples of alienation in theory come Some of best examples of women’s women’s alienation in theory come from the the marxist marxist tradition, tradition, for for example, example, Engel’s Engel’s description description of of from women’s oppression as class oppression. Similarly Similarly marxist-feminist women’s oppression as class oppression. marxist-feminist attempts to to use use marxism marxism to understand women’s women’s oppression oppression have have attempts to understand often resulted invisibility for for their their subjects: subjects: our our domestic domestic often resulted in in this this type type of of invisibility labour, once as non-productive, non-productive, is to ‘produce ‘produce labour, once seen seen as is now now thought thought to use-values’ for for capitalism rather than service the need of of men men in in aa use-values’ capitalism rather than service the need patriarchy; procreation procreation is race regeneration regeneration but but ‘reproducing ‘reproducing the the patriarchy; is not not race labour-force’; and our position position within within the and relations with labour-force’; and our the family family and relations with other family members are only as of the ‘social other family members are significant significant only as part part of the ‘social relations of of production’ production’ not reproduction. These These efforts efforts at at incorporatincorporatrelations not reproduction. ing women women into are hardly ‘each of of these these ing into marxist marxist theory theory are hardly adequate adequate as as ‘each additions structurally structurally locates adjunctive to to the the main main focus focus additions locates women women as as adjunctive of men’s men’s relations relations with with men men through their relations relations to means of of of through their to the the means economic production’ (March, 1982:105). 1982:105). Women’s Women’s activity is still still economic production’ (March, activity is treated from from an an androcentric androcentric perspective perspective and and there there is is no no effort to shift shift treated effort to the grounding grounding of of the male ego ego and and experience, experience, and and the the analysis analysis away away from from male onto female female ego and experience. Women qua qua women women remain remain both onto ego and experience. Women both invisible and and eccentric. invisible eccentric. Not surprisingly, surprisingly, such seems strangely Not such theory theory seems strangely unable unable to to change change the the conditions of women’s lives. john on conditions of women’s lives. John Stuart Stuart Mill, Mill, for for all all his his efforts efforts on behalf rights, never never profoundly profoundly challenged structural behalf of of women’s women’s rights, challenged structural aspects of women’s women’s experience; experience; responsibility responsibility for and aspects of for childbearing childbearing and child-rearing, family domestic etc. He child-rearing, preoccupation preoccupation with with family domestic labour, labour, etc. He still still thought the traditional traditional division between men thought the division of of labour labour between men and and women women offered most women women the self-development. Only Only offered most the best best conditions conditions for for self-development. exceptional women needed needed to to seek seek fulfilment elsewhere and and then exceptional women fulfilment elsewhere then only only by that their neglected. Mill by ensuring ensuring that their natural natural duties duties were were not not neglected. Mill never never extended the home; women aa extended equal equal opportunity opportunity into into the home; he he simply simply gave gave women choice double burden: women choice of of traditional traditional role role or or aa double burden: while while he he ‘wanted ‘wanted women to the right any occupation did not to have have the right to to enter enter any occupation ... he he did not want, want, or or expect, exercise that that right’ right’ (Hughes, expect, them them to to exercise (Hughes, 1979:533). 1979:533). TRICKS OF THE THE TRADE ERICKS:OF DRA DE

Although March March does discuss the Although does not not discuss the mutual mutual exclusivity exclusivity of each each of these is fairly cannot be way. Marx these types types it it is fairly clear clear that that they they cannot be seen seen this this way. Marx in in the for example, pseudo-inclusion as as well the German German Ideology, Ideology, for example, exhibits exhibits pseudo-inclusion well as alienation. be gleaned gleaned from as alienation. It seems seems then then that that the the best best value value can can be from 34 34


March’s work March’s work if treated less less as classificatory scheme for for social social if it is treated as aa classificator y scheme and and political theorists and and more more as as aa typology typology of of possible possible approaches. approaches. political theorists This This is is even even truer truer of of the the second series of categories, categories, the the techniques techniques of second series invisibility. invisibility. These These are are invariably invariably used combination with with each each other other used in combination to to bring bring about about women’s exclusion, and are consistently consistently women’s exclusion, and in some some cases cases are paired. paired. Not Not only only is is this this second second list not not composed composed of mutually mutually exclusive exclusive items, items, it it is is also also far from exhaustive. techniques are are simply simply the the far from exhaustive. The The techniques ones ones II and and my my feminist feminist friends friends have have come come across across in our our forays forays into into social and and political political theory far. so far. theory so social Decontextualisation Decontextualisation By By decontextualisatio decontextualisation, am referring the practice in theorising theorising of n, II am referring to to the practice in abstracting abstracting from real activities activities and and events events in order order to from real real people, people, real to make generalisations about about ‘Man’, ‘Society’ and on. The ‘Man’, ‘Society’ make generalisations and so so on. The important important problem with with this that it it allows commonsense allows aa theorist’s problem theorist’s commonsense this process is that process is assumptions about the the world and reality reality to intervene between between the real the real world and assumptions about to intervene and particular/concrete and the the universal universal or or general. general. DeconDeconthe particular/concret and ideal, ideal, the e and textualisation contributes contributes to myth of objectivity by facilitating the the textualisation to the by facilitating of objectivity the myth subtle intervention systems, ideology into of value value systems, and consciousness consciousness into intervention of subtle ideology and the which determine determine things which is these these things It is of theory theory construction. the process process of construction. It what theorists consider important, essential essential and and relevant consider important, relevant to what theorists to their their theory, what they It determines which particular theory, and and what not. It experidetermines which do not. particular experithey do ences as common and which are are recognised ences are common and and generalised recognised as generalised and which are thought to exclude. reasonable to to exclude. and reasonable idiosyncratic and thought to be be idiosyncratic C. (1980:9) has the most C. Gould Gould (1980:9) has suggested suggested that that one one of of the most important important deletions which which takes between the concrete and abstract is deletions takes place place between the concrete and the the abstract is gender: that being being male male or irrelevant to gender: that or female female is is considered considered irrelevant to being being human. This may may be be so, but what traditionally occurred the human. This so, but what has has traditionally occurred is is that that the abstraction from gender gender difference difference to is truly what is is abstraction from to what what is truly human—to human—to what supposedly shared in in common both sexes—has supposedly shared common by by both sexes—has been been distorted distorted by by the intrusion intrusion of of male-stream male becomes the male-stream consciousness. consciousness. What What is is male becomes the the basis the Abstract, and the basis of the Abstract, the the Essential Essential and the Universal, Universal, while while what what is female becomes other. female becomes accidental, accidental, different, different, other. We see this this fairly fairly clearly clearly in in Weber’s where both both sexes are We can can see Weber’s work work where sexes are decontextualised—abstracted from from reality—but reality—but while man is is decontextualised—abstracted while abstract abstract man writ large in Weber’s theory, theory, abstract abstract woman is written off. Mollerwrit large in Weber’s woman is written off. MollerOkin (1980:10) makes aa similar point about intrusion of of commoncommonOkin (1980:10) makes similar point about the the intrusion sense, when she she observes observes that that political sense, value-laden value-laden assumptions assumptions when political philosophers have different questions of men men and and women: philosophers have asked asked different questions of women: ‘Philosophers who, the foundations foundations for for their their political political ‘Philosophers who, in in laying laying the theories, have are men men like?” like?” “What ‘“What is is man’s potential?” theories, have asked asked ‘““What “What are man’s potential?” have frequently, in turning to the the female female sex, sex, asked asked what what are are women women have frequently, in turning to for?’ for?’ Universalisms Unit/ersalisms Decontextualisation and and universalisms are closely closely linked because, just just Decontextualisation universalisms are linked because, 3S. 35


theorisof theorisnature of value-laden nature the value-laden obscures the objectivity obscures of objectivity claim of the claim as the as men of men treatment of different treatment the different disguises the universality disguises to universality claim to the claim ing, the ing, Decontextualisation political thought. and political social and in social women in and women and thought. Decontextualisation therefore and therefore unreflectively and mistake), unreflectively (or mistake), ‘take (or to ‘take theorist to enables aa theorist enables for the the universal particular for and part for the part uncritically, the uncritically, for the the whole, whole, the the particular universal and in and in (C. Gould, 1980:21), and present for essential, or essential, or the the present for the the external’ external’ (C. Gould, 1980:21), thought it it also the case case of of male-stream also enables the theorist take (or enables the theorist to (or the male-stream thought to take human. mistake) the for the mistake) the male male for the human. Language is aa great facilitator of of universalisms. universalisms. Terms such as Language is great facilitator Terms such as ‘man’ ‘man’ and ‘mankind’ were generic when in in effect are and ‘mankind’ are are used used as as if if they they were generic when effect they they are genderic. ‘He’ is the all-inclusive all-inclusive pronoun, pronoun, even even though though genderic. ‘He’ is assumed assumed to to be be the close examination examination of of the text makes makes it apparent that that the aa close the text it all all too too apparent the author literally literally means (1980:5) pointed pointed out, out, ‘the author means ‘he’. ‘he’. As As Moller-Okin Moller-Okin (1980:5) ‘the

dangerous ambiguity ambiguity of of such linguistic usage usage ... [is that] that] it enables dangerous such linguistic . . . [is it enables philosophers to as if if they they were were universally universally philosophers to enunciate enunciate principles principles as applicable, and exclude all all women women from from their applicable, and then then to to proceed proceed to to exclude their scope’. disguises the omission and denies the the exception exception scope’. Sexist Sexist language language disguises the omission and denies being made made of of women. women. being Naturalism Naturalism Perhaps the most the techniques techniques used used to to Perhaps the most common common and and persistent persistent of of the separate from men and exclude exclude the the former from the the central central separate women women from men and former from grounds of of theory recourse to to the the excuse proffered by by ‘Nature’. ‘Nature’. grounds theory is is the the recourse excuse proffered Underlying this is one many dualisms dualisms (nature/culture) (nature/culture) apparent Underlying this is one of of the the many apparent in male-stream thought. The significance dualisms will will be in male-stream thought. The significance of of dualisms be discussed discussed shortly, the natural/social natural/social dualism distinctive, and and shortly, but but what what makes makes the dualism distinctive, deserving of of closer closer scrutiny, is its the disappearing deserving scrutiny, is its efficacy efficacy in in the disappearing act. act. There reasons for this. In place, what There are are two two reasons for this. In the the first first place, what is is ‘natural’ ‘natural’ ceases to to require require aa social social or it is ceases or political political explanation; explanation; it is simply simply given, given, aa constant be taken taken for for granted. Marx, for uses this this constant which which can can be granted. Marx, for example, example, uses ploy to eliminate reproduction from dialectical dialectical materialism. Although ploy to eliminate reproduction from materialism. Although aa necessary condition for the ‘reproduction’ of capital, capital, the necessary condition for the ‘reproduction’ [sic] [sic] of the proppropagation of the the species, species, he he says, says, need concern the can agation of need not not concern the capitalist capitalist as as it it can be safely safely left left up to the the labourer’s labourer’s natural 1954). be up to natural instincts instincts (Marx, (Marx, 1954). When reproduction is ‘natural’ it When reproduction is conceptualised conceptualised as as ‘natural’ it becomes becomes incapable incapable of generating social change change and is written of generating social and is written out out of of historical historical materialmaterialism. Of ism. Of course, course, eliminating eliminating reproduction reproduction from from theory theory has has ramificaramifications beyond chucking out the the tions beyond chucking out the baby. baby. The The bathwater—women bathwater—women and and the sexual relations arising sexual and and social social relations arising from from reproduction reproduction (the (the family, family, etc.)—-are largely thrown out as well. Only the etc.)—are largely thrown out as well. Only the faintest faintest of of grimy grimy rings rings remains to to remind us that have some some relevance to human remains remind us that these these too too have relevance to human experience, society experience, society and and history. history. The this deletion reproduction was was nicely The irony irony in in this deletion of of reproduction nicely exposed exposed by by Mary O’Brien in The (1981). She She points points to Mary O’Brien in The Politics Politics of of Reproduction Reproduction (1981). to the selectivity selectivity of of such rationale: the such aa rationale: 36 36


Clearly, reproduction reproduction has been regarded regarded as as quite quite different different from other Clearly, has been from other

natural natural functions which, on on the the surface, surface, seem seem to be equally equally imbued imbued with functions which, to be with

necessity: necessity: eating, eating, sexuality sexuality and and dying, dying, for for example, example, share share with birth the the with birth status status of of biological biological necessities. necessities. Yet Yet it has has never been suggested suggested that these never been that these topics topics can can be be understood understood only only in in terms terms of natural science. all of natural science. They They have have all become the become the subject subject matter matter of rather rather impressive impressive bodies bodies of philosophical philosophical thought; thought; in in fact fact we have great theoretical systems based we have great modern modern theoretical systems firmly firmly based upon upon just just these these biological biological necessities necessities

. . . ...

[Dialectical Materialism, Materialism, [Dialectical

Psychoanalysi Psychoanalysis, and Existentialis Existentialism] and necessity necessity of of s, and m] ..... . The The inevitability inevitability and these biological biological events events has has quite quite clearly clearly not not exempted them from from these exempted them historical historical force and theoretical theoretical significance. (O’Brien, 1981:20) 1981:20) force and significance. (O’Brien,

And And yet yet it it has, has, in in the the eyes eyes of of the the male-stream, male-stream, for for reproduction and reproduction and women. women. This raises the second important feature of naturalisms This raises the second important feature of naturalisms in in social social and and political political thought; thought; the the considerable considerable ambiguity ambiguity in in the the implications implications and and significance significance of of what designated ‘natural’. and natural what is is designated ‘natural’. Natural Natural ‘men men and natural women imply quite to aa political political theorist, and women often often imply quite different different things things to theorist, and this very clearly related to his political this inconsistency inconsistency is very clearly related to his political intent. intent. When When Rousseau, for for example, example, Rousseau, refers the natural to the the natural he has distinct refers to to the natural man man and and to natural woman, woman, he has two two distinct reference mind. Natural man is is man of the reference points points in in mind. Natural man man of the original original state state of of nature; he is totally independent of his his fellows, nature; he is totally independent of fellows, devoid devoid of of selfishness, selfishness, and and equal to anyone anyone else. is defined accordance equal to else. Natural Natural women, women, however, however, is defined in in accordance

with the golden golden age patriarchal family; with her her role role in the age of the the patriarchal family; and and she she is, therefore, dependent, subordinate, and naturally therefore, dependent, subordinate, and naturally imbued imbued withcthose with those qualities of of shame and modesty will serve qualities shame and modesty that that will serve both both to to make make her her sexually sexually appealing to to her her husband, her chastity appealing husband, and and to to cause cause her her to to preserve preserve her chastity as as her her most possession. (Moller-Okin, 1979a:401—2) most precious precious possession. (Moller-Okin, 1979a:401—2)

Male nature is is independent, independent, active active and and truly female Male nature truly human human while while female

nature, for the her only nature, conveniently conveniently for the status status quo, quo, fits fits her only for for aa narrow narrow domestic role. The convenience is is on on man’s part: his his nature is such such domestic role. The convenience man’s part: nature is that he he may may transcend escaping into into the the human that transcend his his animality animality by by escaping human political realm civil society, society, but only because because women, women, trapped by political realm of of civil but only trapped by their into remaining sphere, oversee their biology biology into remaining in in the the private private sphere, oversee all all the the animal-like functions functions of defecation and He animal-like of mastication, mastication, defecation and copulation. copulation. He may to do do the one and two but she Wlll clean the loo. may still still have have to the number number one and two but she will clean the loo. Dualisms Dualisms As noted earlier ‘Nature’ is is based based on the opposition As noted earlier the the excuse excuse of of ‘Nature’ on the opposition between what is ‘natural’ and what what is is ‘social’. ‘social’. Such Such oppositions on between what is ‘natural’ and oppositions on dualisms are very very common motifs in in Western Western social social and and political dualisms are common motifs political thought—mind/body, thought—mind/body, nature/culture, nature/culture, emotion/reason, emotion/reason, subject/object, subject/object, public/private, individual/social, individual/social, concrete/abstract, concrete/abstract, and and so so on. on. All All of of public/private, them should should be with extreme extreme caution more often them be approached approached with caution because because more often than not with that male/female. than not they they line line up up with that fundamental fundamental dichotomy, dichotomy, male/female.

37 37


Women all body and no mind, closer to nature nature than culture, in in the the Women are are all body and no mind, closer to than culture, private realm not not the the public, public, emotional rational, etc. etc. private realm emotional rather rather than than rational, etc. etc. There are important points to recognise recognise about about dualisms. dualisms. In the There are two two important points to In the first place the dichotomous terms are commonly regarded regarded as as separate separate first place the dichotomous terms are commonly and opposed. (1981:44) noted that that instead instead of of being being viewed viewed and opposed. Nancy Nancy Jay ]ay (198 1:44) noted as mere mere contraries contraries (A/B), (A/B), which continuity between between the the as which can can recognise recognise continuity terms without without shattering the distinction distinction being drawn, most most dualisms dualisms terms shattering the being drawn, are regarded as logical contradictions (A/Not (A/Not A). A). One One can can be be either either are regarded as logical contradictions subject or or object, object, either rational or or emotional, emotional, never never both. subject either rational both. Whereas Whereas contrary distinctions are limited limited as dichotomies by by discourse— contrary distinctions are as dichotomies discourse— responsive to for expanded expanded distinctions distinctions (for example manl man/ responsive to any any need need for (for example woman/child) or for integrative concepts (for (for example example the subjectivity woman/child) or for integrative concepts the subjectivity of an an object object or or commitment commitment to to reason)—logical reason)—logical dichotomies dichotomies limit of limit discourse: ‘Such ‘Such distinctions are all-encompassing. They do not cover cover discourse: distinctions are all-encompassing. They do not every possible case of the which they are applied, applied, but but every possible case of the category category ..... . to to which they are they logically do, do, order order “the “‘the entire entire universe, universe, known known and and they are, are, and and logically knowable”’ 1981:44). The The fuzzy fuzzy middle ground between between male knowable”’ (Jay, (jay, 1981:44). middle ground male and female, female, nature nature and and private is lost lost to to view. and and culture, culture, public public and private is view. The second that they they The second important important feature feature of of logical logical contradictions contradictions is is that contain an judgment. One pole (A) (A) has has positive value, contain an implicit implicit value value judgment. One pole positive value, the A) is is negative: negative: the other other (Not (Not A) Dualism always poses an an ethical ethical choice, choice, an an either/or: one opposite opposite is is Dua-lism always poses either/or: one

always preferable the other. other. There There is is no no room room for for gradations gradations and and always preferable to to the levels, for paradox, for multi-focusing. multi-focusing. Dualities Dualities reinreinlevels, for for complexities, complexities, for paradox, for force Dualities have an force linear, linear, cause-and-effect, cause-and-effect, hierarchical hierarchical thinking thinking ..... . Dualities have an ethical base, base, each pair contains ethical each pair contains two two opposities, opposities, one one of of which which is is ‘good’ ‘good’ and and the other other ‘bad’. ‘bad’. Each pair is is aa binary, containing, in the Each pair binary, containing, in itself, itself, aa value value judgement. (Starrett, 1976:9) 1976:9) judgement. (Starrett,

We all know know which of the dualisms listed listed above to be We all which of the dualisms above are are intended intended to be regarded regarded positively. positively. For social and For the the feminist feminist critic critic of of social and political political thought, thought, dualisms dualisms provide useful ways of disclosing the male-stream nature nature of discourse. provide useful ways of disclosing the male-stream of discourse. Their appearance in aa text women’s oppression Their appearance in text frequently frequently embodies embodies women’s oppression and ].S. Mill outlines in in On (1972:75) the and exclusion. exclusion. When When J.S. Mill outlines On Liberty Liberty (1972:75) the relationships all his relationships between between public public and and private private realms realms he he reveals, reveals, for for all his undoubted male perspective. perspective. The an undoubted feminism, feminism, his his male The private private realm realm as as an arena autonomy, as comproarena of of freedom freedom and and autonomy, as compensation compensation for for the the compromises sphere, has meaning only only for men. Women Women exist exist mises of of the the public public sphere, has meaning for men. principally the private sphere, an arrangement which for Mill, principally in in the private sphere, an arrangement which is, is, for Mill, both normative and ideal. For For them private sphere both normative and ideal. them the the private sphere expresses expresses control not autonomy; realm in in control not not freedom, freedom, submission submission not autonomy; it it is is the the realm which to be be ruled ruled by the autonomy and which they they consent consent to the exercise exercise of male male autonomy and freewill. O’Brien (1981:93) the relationship freewill. As As Mary Mary O’Brien (1981:93) argued, argued, the relationship between between public and has the for reproductive reproductive public and private private spheres spheres has the same same significance significance for 38 38


relations as class struggle struggle has has for productive relations relations and, their use relations as class for productive and, in their use of dualistic dualistic concepts, of concepts, Mill Mill and and other other male-stream male-stream theorists theorists are are engaged engaged in male male praxis in praxis vis-a-vis vis-a-vis women’s women’s oppression. oppression. Appropriation reversal Appropriation and and reversal One, final tool tool of of patriarchal patriarchal scholarship scholarship is One final is what what Mary Mary Daly Daly (1978:8) (1978:8) has termed ‘reversals’. ‘reversals’. These has termed These are are images images and and symbols symbols of of womenwomencentred processes which, as of the centred processes which, as part part of the male male method method of of mystification, mystification, are ‘stolen, reversed, contorted and distorted distorted by the misogynist are ‘stolen, reversed, contorted and by the misogynist mix-masters’ (Daly, mix-masters’ (Daly, 1978:75). 1978:75). Reversals Reversals ensure ensure that that women’s women’s activiactivities and to society society and and life and trivialised, ties and contributions contributions to life are are denigrated denigrated and trivialised, and they do by appropriating appropriating the the imagery and they do so so by imagery and and symbolism symbolism of of those those women-centred processes for activities. Marx’s of the women-centred processes for male male activities. Marx’s use use of the term term reproduction—the reproduction daily life, reproduction—the reproduction of of daily life, the the reproduction reproduction of of the the labour force—is of reversal. reversal. It It is than mere mere analogy labour force—is an an example example of is more more than analogy because by by appropriating the symbolism symbolism for because appropriating the for male male process process the the original original activity (birth) is deprived of its its meaning meaning and for Marx, activity (birth) is deprived of and significance; significance; for Marx, men make history history and and themselves, women merely men make themselves, women merely make make babies. babies. Birth, not surprisingly, surprisingly, is the hands Birth, not is aa prime prime candidate candidate for for reversal reversal in in the hands of male theorists. theorists. Whatever activity of male Whatever is is considered considered the the primary primary male’ male activity becomes characterised characterised as as truly truly creative, creative, truly truly human. Marx it becomes human. In In Marx it is is production, Plato, rational rational thought: thought: Wisdom, Wisdom, argued Plato in in one production, in in Plato, argued Plato one of his dialogues on love, true life-force—a life-force—a meeting meeting of of minds minds is is of his dialogues on love, is is the the true necessary for the the birth of the the truly truly human. this meeting necessary for birth of human. Since Since this meeting of of minds minds is aa homosexual homosexual activity the components components of reproductive activity activity is activity the of real real reproductive (sexuality, pregnancy and and parturition) parturition) are are relegated relegated to to aa (sexuality, women, women, pregnancy lower and ethically inferior level level of Note the of this this lower and ethically inferior of existence. existence. Note the imagery imagery of passage from part of suggesting that that the the passage from part of the the dialogue: dialogue: Plato Plato is is suggesting immortality of of fame is superior superior to to the the immortality which comes comes from from immortality fame is immortality which having children. talking only having children. He He is is talking only about about men: men: so who are in body body turn to women women and and are enamoured in in so those those who are pregnant pregnant in turn to are enamoured this way, and thus, thus, by begetting children, children, secure for themselves, themselves, so so they they this way, and by begetting secure for

think, immortality and happiness, happiness, ‘providing ‘providing all all things things for for think, immortality and and memory memory and the time time to come’, but but those those who are pregnant pregnant in in the the soul, soul, for for there there are the to come’, who are are some who conceive conceive in soul more than in in the body, what proper for some who in the the soul more than the body, what is is proper for souls and bear. is proper?—wisdom virtue in in souls to to conceive conceive and bear. And And what what is proper?—wisdom and and virtue general—to this class belong belong all all creative creative poets, and those those artists artists and and general—to this class poets, and craftsmen who who are said to inventive. But But much of the the greater craftsmen are said to be be inventive. much of greater wisdom wisdom the most that which is concerned concerned with with the the ordering ordering . . .. and and the most beautiful, beautiful, is is that which is of cities homes, which call temperance temperance and and justice. justice. (Plato, of cities and and homes, which we we call (Plato, 1970:150) 1970:150)

Male politics wins out in the end. Male politics wins out in the end.

FEMINIST CRITICISM AND FEMINIST SCHOLARSHIP SCHOLARSHIP PEMINIST CRITICISM AND FEMINIST Let by way make aa few few observations on the Let me me by way of of conclusion conclusion make observations on the implications of this critique, critique, and thereby return to the raised implications of this and thereby return to the question question II raised ao 39




be may be bias may such aa bias how, such and how, whether, and about whether, beginning about the beginning at the at and what critique? and what lessons lessons corrected: is the profound is corrected: How How profound the feminist feminist critique? of feminist scholarship? development of feminist scholarship? it hold the development does it does hold for for the From what what we the practices practices of of male-stream From we have have seen seen about about the male-stream theorists the nature nature of theories about about women, women, two are theorists and and the of their their theories two things things are clear. of women from the the realm of discourse discourse is not clear. First, First, the the exclusion exclusion of women from realm of is not simply sin of of omission—a simple matter matter of of neglect or forgetfulness forgetfulness simply aa sin omission—-a simple neglect or which can be rectified rectified by putting women back in—because we’ve seen which can be by putting women back in—because we’ve seen that even even when when women do constitute part of subject matter of that women do constitute part of the the subject matter of political are still still rendered invisible by by the political theory theory they they are rendered invisible the orientation, orientation, techniques and methodology methodology used used by by the the theorists is, pseudopseudotechniques and theorists (that (that is, inclusion and and alienation). alienation). Presence, Presence, being being there, there, is is no no guarantee inclusion guarantee of of visibility, accurate or treatment by by the the discipline. discipline. visibility, of of accurate or appropriate appropriate treatment Second, is clear clear that cannot simply simply be be aa case case of of bias or Second, it it is that invisibility invisibility cannot bias or unexplored or simple (although undoubtedly undoubtedly unexplored assumptions assumptions or simple misogyny misogyny (although many theorists were were misogynists). this were were the the case case then then aa many of of these these theorists misogynists). If If this commitment to overcoming overcoming bias bias or or aa feminist feminist consciousness consciousness should be commitment to should be enough write integrated and yet, it isn’t. isn’t. Mill, Mill, in in enough to to write integrated political political theory, theory, and yet, it spite of his feminism, was unable unable to to write write into into liberal liberal theory spite of his feminism, was theory women women who and equal equal individuals; individuals; and and marxist-feminists marxist-feminists who were, were, like like men, men, free free and still produce theory in which women are alienated from themselves. still produce theory in which women are alienated from themselves. It countered that simply the the right sort It might might be be countered that EB w As s simply right sort of corrections, that that we we need, as McCormack (1981) suggests, suggests, ‘[jJust of corrections, need, as cC rmac (1981) ‘[j]ust theory’. This claim assumption that that the the ‘psychology ‘psychology of theory’. This claim rests rests on on the the assumption of knowledge’ may may reflect power structure structure in in science science and and society, knowledge’ reflect aa male male power society, but that that the of knowledge’ knowledge’ is is gender-free gender-free (McCormack, (McCormack, 1981 1981:4). but the ‘logic ‘logic of :4). It is doubtful, however, however, whether there is any real real value value to be gained gained by by It is doubtful, whether there is any to be the abstraction of of epistemology epistemology from from its is clear the abstraction its social social context. context. As As is clear from this analysis, and is is even more clear in the from this analysis, and even more clear in the closing closing chapters chapters of of Susan Western Political Political Thought Susan Moller-Okin’s Moller-Okin’s book book Women Women in in Western Thought (1980), relationships between between male-stream theories of human (1980), the the relationships male-stream theories of human society and polity, and the status quo society and polity, and the patriarchal patriarchal status quo is is fairly fairly straightforstraightforward. At the end end of book, Moller-Okin Moller-Okin tries to do do aa counterfactual ward. At the of her her book, tries to counterfactual experiment Mill by experiment on on Aristotle, Aristotle, Rousseau Rousseau and and Mill by putting putting women women back back into their respective respective theories theories as as the of men. She concludes that ‘it into their the equal equal of men. She concludes that ‘it is by by no means aa simple simple matter is no means matter to to integrate integrate the the female female half half of of the the human race into into aa tradition human race tradition of of political political theory theory which which has has ..... . defined defined them intrafamilial relationships, relationships, as as outside outside the of political’, political’, them and and intrafamilial the scope scope of and suggests they cannot be included ‘without challenging and suggests that that they cannot be included ‘without challenging age-old age-old assumptions about about the the family, family, its its relation relation assumptions its traditional traditional sex-roles, sex-roles, and and its to world of society’ (Moller-Okin, (Moller-Okin, 1980:286). to the the wider wider world of political political society’ 1980:286). Here Here Moller-Okin Moller-Okin is is revealing revealing two two facets facets of of traditional traditional androcentric androcentric political make the the difficulties of putting political theory theory which which make difficulties of putting women women back back in, in, and bias, particularly particularly acute. first is the exclusion and of of correcting correcting bias, acute. The The first is that that the exclusion of of women, nature on the one of women—the women—the opposition opposition of women, family family and and nature on the one 40 40


hand, hand, to to men, civil society society and and politics politics on other—is fundamental fundamental men, civil on the the other—is to to the the definition definition of of what what is is political, of what what is an an appropriate appropriate subject subject political, of for for political political theory. theory. To To include include women women requires requires aa fundamental fundamental change change of direction direction for discipline. Second, the discipline. Second, social for the political theory social and theory is and political part of the the praxis praxis of of men. men. It is both both indicative of, and an agent part of indicative of, It is in the agent in and an the oppression of By including including women the women alongside by men. alongside men men. By women by men the of women oppression traditional genderic genderic divisions divisions of of patriarchal society are profoundly traditional are profoundly patriarchal society challenged. Dorothy Dorothy Smith (1979:148), writing writing of of contemporary challenged. Smith (1979:148), contemporary efforts to to redress the balance balance in changing the the nature efforts redress the nature sociology without without changing in sociology theory itself, of the theory of the itself, noted: noted: The problem problem is is that that this this procedure is one it is is additive additive or or The procedure is one which, which, whether whether it truly ‘agenda’ of the discipline truly critical, critical, treats treats the the ‘agenda’ of the discipline as as given. given. But But this this agenda agenda grounded in the working men, whose . is is grounded in the working worlds worlds and and relations relations of of men, whose experience and interests interests arise arise in the course course of, in relation experience and in the of, and and in relation to, to, participation in the ruling ruling apparatus of society. society. participation in the apparatus of

We would appear then then to have grounds scepticism about about the the extent We would appear to have grounds for for scepticism extent to which which social social and and political philosophy may may be be redeemed. The to political philosophy redeemed. The exclusion of of women foundation stone must exclusion women is is aa foundation stone of of the the discipline discipline and and must therefore have have profound profound implications ‘logic of therefore implications for for its its ‘logic of knowledge’. knowledge’. So what what are are our our alternatives? alternatives? It It seems seems fairly if women’s So fairly obvious obvious that that if women’s lives cannot be adequately theorised about lives cannot be adequately theorised about by by androcentric androcentric thought thought then we we could in the instance try to write write theory theory from then could in the first first instance try to from aa gynocentric perspective, perspective, one one which of being being grounded in the gynocentric which instead instead of grounded in the experiences men has the surface surface this this experiences of of men has at at its its centre centre aa female female ego. ego. On On the would seem the question question of integrated, truly truly universal universal would seem to to beg beg the of an an integrated, political theory credence to to criticism criticism that that our our reading reading of of the the political theory and and lend lend credence tradition of thought is is negative, negative, accusatory accusatory and and tradition of Western Western political political thought narrow (Tenenbaum, Such aa view, think, is is both both narrow (Tenenbaum, 1982:137). 198Z:137). Such view, II think,

inaccurate and feminist ambitions. As Mary Mary O’Brien’s O’Brien’s inaccurate and misrepresents misrepresents feminist ambitions. As theorising in The of Reproduction (1981) illustrates illustrates so so well, well, theorising in The Politics Politics of Reproduction (1981) gynocentric theory is more than than aa mere not gynocentric theory is more mere counterbalance. counterbalance. It It should should not be as the the opposite opposite of of male-stream be conceived conceived of of as the complement complement to, to, or or the male-stream thought but, but, because off from the insights gained from from aa thought because it it takes takes off from the insights gained feminist perspective on the male-stream, can and and feminist perspective on the male-stream, it it can and does does transform transform and transcend androcentric As March March (1982:99) suggests, ‘a ‘a transcend androcentric theory. theory. As (198Z:99) suggests, gynocentric perspective perspective expands expands and and diversifies the domain of what gynocentric diversifies the domain of what theorists theorise. theorise. In In this this sense, sense, we argue that theorists we can can argue that aa female-centered female-centered theoretical can be objective, because because less less is is assumed assumed theoretical perspective perspective can be more more objective, and more of aa spiral, spiral, not not the the flip flip of and more is is examined’. examined’. It It is is aa turn turn of of aa coin. coin. More importantly for feminist feminist scholarship, gynocentric theory theory not More importantly for scholarship, gynocentric not only challenges and transforms transforms the content of of political philosophy; it it only challenges and the content political philosophy; also challenges and and transforms methodology. In In taking taking off from our our also challenges transforms its its methodology. off from critique of male-stream thought thought we to the uses critique of male-stream we are are sensitised sensitised to the political political uses of the and do do not not have have to on the the of the male-stream’s male-stream’s magic magic tricks tricks and to perform perform on 41 41






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43 43

4 4

ROSI BRAIDOTTI ROSIBRAIDOTTI g g Ethics Ethics revisited: revisited: philosophy andlin philosophy Women and/in Women

This chapter deals with the normative normative power of reason This chapter deals with the power of reason within within Western Western philosophy. premises on on which it rests rests is is that philosophy, philosophy. One One of of the the premises which it that philosophy, like so-called ‘human ‘human sciences’ sciences’ stands stands for for an an instrumental instrumental like all all the the so-called approach to to language. approach language. The main main issue shall raise raise in in the the first section involves involves the status of The issue II shall first section the status of philosophy as aa discipline, that is discursive model. model. My aim philosophy as discipline, that is to to say say as as aa discursive My aim is point out out and and to question the style of of enunciation is to to point to question the normative normative style enunciation as as the dominant mode mode of philosophical discourse, discourse, particularly particularly in far as the dominant of philosophical in so so far as it affects affects the binary opposition masculine and and feminine feminine values. values. it the binary opposition of of masculine Feminist theory theory and will provide the critical critical stand necessary Feminist and practice practice will provide the stand necessary to sustain sustain my my questioning of this this philosophical philosophical opposition. opposition. In In the the to questioning of second section section II shall try to define the different strategies second shall try to define the different strategies undertaken undertaken by philosophy and develop an specific by women women in in philosophy and to to develop an overview overview of of the the specific brand of known as as ‘feminist theory’. In In the the third third section section IJ shall brand of activity activity known ‘feminist theory’. shall turn to some some contemporary contemporary European philosophers’ reaction the turn to European philosophers’ reaction to to the presence of of and and the discursive impact impact made made by women in philosophy. presence the discursive by women in philosophy. In will ask feminism can lend itself itself to to the In this this respect respect II will ask whether whether feminism can lend the formulation of of non-hegemonic non-hegemonic types theoretical discourse. discourse. formulation types of of theoretical The all beginnings, can only ‘formless and empty’. It The beginning, beginning, like like all beginnings, can only be be ‘formless and empty’. It is not not towards towards the hallowed monuments of the the history of philosophy philosophy is the hallowed monuments of history of that II intend intend to to draw draw your your attention, attention, but but rather rather towards the least least that towards the philosophical of all all subject subject matter: as they are depicted depicted in in aa philosophical of matter: women, women, as they are novel Kinflicks (Alther, (Alther, 1975). 1975). novel called called Kinflicks It is is the the story story of of aa simple girl from from aa middle-class background who It simple girl middle-class background who ends up up in an ivy-league ivy-league college college in United States States of of America. America. ends in an in the the United Struggling with the intellectual intellectual requirements institution, she Struggling with the requirements of of this this institution, she

44 44


becomes becomes particularly particularly interested in philosophy, which is embodied in interested in philosophy, which embodied in her Miss Head. Head. The favourite teacher, teacher, Miss her favourite The rigorous intellectual discipline rigorous intellectual discipline of philosophy stands for order, self-control; farmony—quatities that that order, self-co‘ntroir,‘Harrn'6T1y-—TqTIa‘lit'i'es stands for of philosophy youn 'nny Kinfliflés sadly of as aa consequence consequence of almostas It isalmost lacks. Ginny of young sadlyIacks.‘It’is of Kinflicks thi lack 'tense case ' ' ntense case of fascination fascination for for the the great great ove i ievers who I the history of philosophy. overachievers written t,l’1‘€;l§1S,t0,11 have wffffen‘ who have Taking their their example exampie much literally, Ginny caricabecomes aa caricaGinny becomes too literally, much too Taking ture of the believesfiinz Elie ture of passionately believes the very so passionately very ideas she so in: ‘she she talks talks ideas she like aa eas Cartes ok, imitates imitates the the Spinozist and by Cartesian textbdok, Spinozist subject subject and by concentratconcentrating all her energies this game game of life of ing all her energies on on this of projection, projection, leads leads aa life of emotional emotional sterility. sterility. r I T I *” * re W * * " s ' 'T*Ie”r passionate quest quest for for knowledgeis directly eels proportional to Her passionate knowledgeis thus thus directly to her‘_fe_€lii1g a,cy. her’ feeling ofTu_ntlamentaI of fundamental inteliectuialifandiiemoo1To:n:‘aT’inagequ intellectual and em a


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learning—she is ostor. And yet this feeling of of illegitimacy illegitimacy learning—she is aa sort sort of of impostor. And yet this feeling feeds into into her her desire she does become Miss feeds desire to to feari"fiLz1ffer learn; after all, she does want want to to become Miss I-Iead’s favourite pupil, and the desire desire to dutiful daughter Head’s favourite pupil, and the to be be aa dutiful daughter spurs spurs her and better her on on to to bigger bigger and better things. things. Then, Ginny meets meets the the leftist leftist campus campus radical—Eddie—but radical—Eddie—but Then, one one day, day, Ginny refuses to to get refuses get involved, involved, saying: saying: You see, I’m agree with his You see, I’m apolitical. apolitical. I| agree with Descartes Descartes when when he he says says that that his maxim is ‘to himsel rather rather than than fortune, maxim is ‘to ' try alwayss tgconquer to conquer himself fortune, and and to to alter his his weajces desires Tathgflifian and generally generally alter athe Shan}v r’, ~ rs

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hn lpia een .-"'5 r"\?eaking stabte speaking subject,a stable stable discursive an agent be discursive product agent the West West institutions and of social unities, institutions practices. However, of social unities, and practices. However, while while the can accept the necessary necessary reliance it has law- and reliance it has on and rule-governed, rule-governed, can accept the on lawmeaningful, productive, masculine functioning, the symbolic, symbolic, functioning, on on the meaningful, productive, masculine Kristeva claims incapable of claims it of accepting accepting its its necessary necessary dependence dependence on Kristeva it is is incapable on energy. The feminine energy. feminine libidinal, feminine fragmented, chaotic, chaotic, bodily, bodily, libidinal, aa fragmented, The feminine or semiotic foundations of all social dissocial functioning must remain remain disfunctioning must or semiotic foundations of all unities to avowed, unspoken unspoken and and unrepresented unrepresented for for these to these social avowed, social unities as such. function as such. The The semiotic symbolic are thus ambiguously ambiguously and semiotic and are thus function and symbolic and located both strategically both ‘on7the on the tevels-of individual, psycho-sexual strategically located tevels ‘ofTfi1‘EIivi‘d:uaI,"psycho-sexiial s=that symptom, desire, of fantasy, dream, symW§§fe, is;-on the level oTTanta§y‘,“drearn: operation ope1'at_Trsio*——TIiiTtTS",T§TT the level the level of social, social, cultural and signifying signifying and so on—and anTI"’TT on—and on on the level of cultural and production of of all all social whether these operations—in the social objects, these are objects, whether are operations——in the production equated with texts, or commodities. images or commodities. Th with the The semiotic is the texts, images is equated energetic, rhythmic, bodily CO1'1t1'lI)Ut’I6TTSTOI rhythmic, bodily contributionsof the the prepre- or or anti-social anti-social energetic, individual--libido well as with as with bodily energies—as energies—as well individual—libido and unharnessed bodily and unharnessed the of the the usually contributions of phonic, graphic, graphic, corporeal usually neglected neglected phonic, corporeal the contributions not do not but do practices and rely upon social practices institutions rely texts, social supports texts, supports and institutions upon but admit to. T , by is the the admit to. The contrast, is the replacement replacement of symbolic, by contrast, of the anarchic, by their hierarchanarchic, perversejmpolymorphous their hierarchperverse, polymorphous libidinal libidinal impulses impulses by ised, primacy of of genitality—that genitality—that is, is, by ised, regulated, the primacy by regulated, subordination to the subordination to the subsum tion of plural jouissance by aa singular, the subsumption of aa feminine feminine plural singular, jouissance by regu' ‘s€>ZEaflfi)?The‘ domain of thedZ>?i£5f'n of regulated-order spmmbole isthe ofphallic sexuatiy-The symB6EeTs , social deliTnTte the social site definite posifiong positions anEIpfoposTfionsf site for for the the creation creation of and propositionsthe of unified texts, discourses, knowledges and constituting social social and practices practices constituting unified texts, discourses, knowledges life by subsuming energies into collec;__, subsuming individual, individual, and life by and sub-individual sub-individual energies into collec-_ tive, compromised, social put, the semiotic is the input is the input the semiotic Crudely put, tive, compromised, social forms. forms. Crudely of an undirected body, is the regulated use and the regulated use and body, while symbolic is an undirected while the of the symbolic organised operation operation of that body tasks. body in in socially recognised tasks. of that socially recognised organised 128 128



Both Kristeva and and Freud consider the the pre-oedipal semiotic phase Both Kristeva Freud consider pre-oedipal or or semiotic phase

as_ feminine and maternal, The mother is ‘is the of Iove aS The mother the primary primary object object oflfive

and libidinal libidinal attachment attachment for for the the child’s spasmodic, incipient incipient sexual sexual and child’s spasmodic, drives and She is is the the love-object ‘other’ for drives and ego ego boundaries. boundaries. She love-object and and ‘other’ for the the child, satisfying satisfying its needs and constituting its child, its needs and constituting its desires. desires. Freud Freud designates designates the pre-oedi overthe pre-oedipalal hase phase as as aa ‘feminine’, ‘feminine’, ‘dark’, ‘dark’, ‘shadtwv)rT‘77'i*’egiqn ‘shadowy’ tegion overlayed and and ‘whitewashed by time’. foundalayed = eae eran by time’. It It is is a‘Minoai"i-Myceriéan’ a ‘Minoan-Mycenean’ foundation of of ruins, masculine, paternal paternal or tion ruins, supporting supporting an an oedipal, oedipal, masculine, or Greek Greek civilisation, aa ‘dark to the the white, civilisation, ‘dark continent’, continent’, aa tribalised tribalised Africa Africa to white, civilised Europe! Europe! Given fragmentary nature civilised Given the the repressed repressed and and fragmentary nature of of this this period in in our or pre-oedipal can period our individual individual prehistories, prehistories, the the semiotic semiotic or pre-oedipal can only be be reconstructed reconstructed or from the ruptures, only or inferred inferred from the existence existence of of ruptures, symptoms, ‘flaws’ ‘flaws’ (parapraxes)-—the dissymptoms, (parapraxes)—the limits limits of of oedipal, oedipal, symbolic symbolic discourse. It It is is only only lhrough syi_nbplic_ that thg_i_t_ we have -any any course. through the the symbolic we can can_have post-0edip§Tac‘ only through through the the symbolic symbolic that post-oedipal access to the semiotic.. It is only that the semiotic is of gaining gaining any voice, aa mode the semiotic is capable capable of any expression, expression, aa voice, mode of of articulation, just be reconarticulation, just as as the the pre-oedipal pre-oedipal infantile infantile phases phases must must be reconstructed through the the analysis the post-oedipal adult. Kristeva Kristeva structed through analysis of of the post-oedipal adult. considers the the semiotic semiotic feminine maternal in in several several senses. an considers feminine and and maternal senses. It It is is an order or or phase predating the imposition of sexual (that (that is, oedipal) order phase predating the imposition of sexual is, oedipal) identity; is dominated by the at least least its its ‘parts’, identity; it it is dominated by the mother’s mother’s body, body, or or at ‘parts’, as as well as its symbiotic symbiotic relations relations with with the the child’s child’s body; body; it is pre-phallic, well as its it is pre-phallic, pre-paternal, existing existing before before the father is is regarded symbolic source source pre-paternal, the father regarded as as symbolic of authority; it is, moreover, active and and of authority; it is, moreover, ambiguously ambiguously and and undecidably undecidably active passive, subject subject and and object, object, self self and not passive, and other, other, distinctions distinctions which which are are not yet oppositions, nor yet equated with with the preferred characteristics of yet oppositions, nor yet equated the preferred characteristics of each sex (Freud suggests that the the child child is is socialised socialised so that subject, subject, each sex (Freud suggests that so that active and are aligned object, passive passive active and phallic phallic are aligned and, and, consequently, consequently, object, and castrated integrated with male and female development and castrated are are integrated with male and female development respectively. respec I ively.) The like the the pre-oedipal, pre-oedipal, can can be in two The semiotic se1@;_@like be located located in two distinct distinct processes or or sites: on fhe‘ the one one hand, hand, tlie“seiii'iofic the semiotic “as as—tive processes siteszj on *IiVed77mdd experienced in in the earliest phases phases of infantile life expefienced the earliest of infantile life constitutes constitutes the the unspoken raw raw materials repressed by symbolic on the unspoken materialsjrepressed symbolic functioning; fuiictioning; on the other hand, the the semiotic semiotic is capable of reappearing in thebreaches, the breaches, oTIier hand, is capable of reappearing___in ruptures OfIhesyTn5oTTc_brder, symbole oder, in inthe Theform‘ Tor of of an ruptures or or disturbances disturbaiicesTof’the an excessive, multiple overflow or or trangression norms (a excessive, niutfipie ovedlow trangressIon of of symbolic symbolic norms (a form of the ‘return of the the repres's‘ed").‘The repressed’). The semiofic"isThus‘both semiotic is thus~both the the form of the ‘return of precondition and excessive overflow overflow of of the the symbolic. symbolic. It is necesnecesprecondition and the the excessive It is sary for functioning, but but because because it it cannot as sary for symbolic symbolic functioning, cannot be be spoken spoken as such, it continues to exert aa possible possible resistance resistance to to and and subversion subversion such, it also also continues to exert of symbolic norms. norms. The semiotic, maternal, maternal, feminine feminine is is thus thus both both the the of symbolic The semiotic, unspecified prop or support support of of social social production, production, as as well well as site of of unspecified prop or as the the site its disruptive or or revolutionary its disruptive revolutionary supersession. supersession. The rhythmic, rhythmic, energetic, bodily force, and The energetic, dispersing dispersing bodily force, multiplying multiplying and 129 129



proliferating sounds, movements, movements, gestures—the gestures—the semiotic semiotic proliferating pleasures, pleasures, sounds, is thus, on understanding, the raw phonic gestural is thus, on Kristeva’s Kristeva’s understanding, the raw phonic and and gestural material Yet it renounced, sacrificed, repressed’or repressed’or material of of language. language. Yet it must must be be i¢n0un¢¢dj§51;iifi¢éd, censored order-that the pre-oedipal acquire aa stable stable social social censored in iniorder that the pre-oedipal child child acquire position through its its submission submission to to paternal, position and and identity identity through paternal, oedipal oedipal edicts. Yet, like the repressed itself, itself, the the semiotic semiotic can can return through, edicts. Yet,,liketherepressed return through, across or by by meaiis means of symbolic ruptures. Like the dream ortom, symptom, across or oTsymb‘ofic‘rup repressed iithealiscouise of consciousness, the semiotic semiotic a‘_re‘pre‘sse“d inraption irFiipti‘on in the‘dis"co‘urse'of consciousness, the threatens, at at certain certain privileged privileged moments, to transgress transgress its its subsubthreatens, moments, to ordinated, unacknowledged position, breaching the limits limits of of textual textual ordinated, unacknowledged position, breaching the intelligibility and destabilising destabilising symbolic intelligibility and symbolic efficacy. efficacy. These_privileged These privileged moments are witnessed witnessed by by the practices of of the the moments are the dispersive, dispersive, decentring decentring practices avant-garde, in whose whose texts texts and and creative practices Kristeva locates the avafif-flgarde, in creativé s Kristeva locates the emergence of the play play of of rhythms, forces and and matter matter overthe over the primacy the rhythms, forces primacy normally accordedto accorded to the or work of as a nofinally the text text ofwoik of art arfas a system system of of expressing expressing méaning. The symbolic is a superimposed order, ordering mea‘niiig.TI*hé7symbTolic‘ is “aTs‘uperimposecT order, regulating, regutmig, ordering and the fragmentary energie‘sTo‘f energies of semiotic in order order to 5511 stabilising stabilising iHe*fr5ghi¢n£5ry semidtic flows flows in to produce meaning, coherence, in language. language. produce meaning, coherence, identity identity in In short, the the sphere sphere of of the the symbolic, patriarchal modes modes of of In short, symbolic, oedipal oedipal or or patriarchal organisation owes aa debt debt of to an an unspeakable, unspeakable, preorganisation owes of existence existence to prelinguistic, repressed domain of semiotic, libidinal, libidinal, ‘feminine’, linguistic, repressed bodily bodily domain of semiotic, ‘feminine’, ‘maternal’ flows. This which cannot cannot even even be be acknowledged, acknowledged, ‘maternal’ flows. This is is aa debt debt which let alone alone repaid. It is significant that semiotic as as let repaid. It is significant that Kristeva Kristeva posits posits the the semiotic both feminine feminine and and maternal. maternal. It feminine in so far as‘itit is pre- or or both It is is feminine in so far as is preproto-patriarchal; it is maternal in as the mother, the the maternal maternal proifo-patriafch:TI;“it*ismaternal in so so far far as the mother, space and support of the child’s child’s desire, desire, is is the chora, space and material material support of the the semiotic semiotic chora, the space and receptacle its limits, boundaries of the space and receptacle defining defining its limits, the the boundaries of its its psycho-physical existence. existence. For Kristeva, however, however, there there can be no no psycho-physical For Kristeva, can be specific or or determinate relation between this powerful powerful semiotic, specific: determinate relation between this semiotic, maternal structuring structuring and women. maternal and structured structured space, space, and and women. On acknowledges this On the the one one hand, hand, Kristeva Kristeva acknowledges this patriarchal patriarchal symbolic symbolic debt debt to to maternity maternity andtemtnmiryttin and femininity; in this sense; sheis-anrongthe first first to to signaTflie‘uns*po’ken‘yet‘cruciaT‘role the development signal the unspoken yet crucial role of of both both in in the development of of speech all social/symbolic social/symbolic functioning, speech in in the the child child in in particular, particular, and and in in all functioning, more generally. Yet, on the hand, she she relies r n more generally. Yet, on the other other hand, uncritically on the the Fregdian/Lacgnfian an autonomous autonomous sex: sex: the Freydian/Lacanian effacement effacement of women women as as an the pre-oedipal mother the semiotic semiotic is is The pre-oedipal mother dominating dominating the the phallic phallic mofher, mother, the the mother as a ‘neuter’ or sexless subject. The The feminine paradoxmother as ‘neuter’ or sexless subject. feminine is also also paradoxically by her her as sexually indifferent—-distributed ically aa term term seen seen by as sexually indifferent—distributed indepenindependent of sexual sexual identity, predating the the sexually dent of identity, predating sexually distinguished distinguished positions positions of male, subject subject and passive, castrated, castrated, female, female, object. object. of phallic, phallic, active, active, male, and passive, She seeing them of the the She disembodies disembodies these these designations, designations, seeing them as as independent independent of female body, sexuality or subjectivity. subjectivity. As As she she sees sees it, is a female body, sexuality or it, face isa series of processes, series of processeslpositions and desires desires that that _are utable positions and are equaflygattri equally attributable to ‘male Ehildren. Pre-oedipaf to male andTemale and female children. Pre-oedipal sexuality, sexuality, predating predating ‘tlie the 130 130




child’s child’s psychical psychical recognition recognition of of sex sex differences, differences, is equally equally visible visible in children children of of both both sexes. sexes. Even Kristeva’s model model of Even more more ironically, ironically, Kristeva’s maternity maternity is is not not based based on on the the specificities specificities of of the subject, or or the female female subject, indeed, indeed, any any subject subject at all. For For her, her, maternity maternity is aa subjectless, at all. subjectless, fragfragmented mented and and fragmenting fragmenting series series of of bodily bodily processes, processes, splitting and fusing splitting and fusing cells, genes, genes, micro-parts. micro-parts. Becomipgg [_l_(_)tII'§_I.' isgin fact the the abnegation abnegation is in fact cells, Becoming a I'mother of being a_a woman: g?a"rT,T’fdonTitable, growing as a graft, the body, body, growinghalsia of being ‘Within the woman: ‘Within indomitable, the And no within that other. And one is present, simultaneously that simultaneously no one is aner. present, within there dual and alien alien space, space, to signify what going on. on. “It “It happens, but I’m I’m happens, but what is is going to signify dual and not can’t realize it goes Motherhood’s imppssiimp ssithere.” “I realize it, “I can’t not there.” it, but but it goes on.” on.” Motherhood’s ble (Kristeva, 1980:327). a syllogism’ (Kristeva, 1980:327). ,| pee) ble syllogism’ Kristeva that the the maternal and feminine Kristeva claims claims that maternal body, body, and feminine Penergies, ‘energies, cannot be be identified identified with with women’s Where women women have have an cannot women’s specificity. specificity. Where an access to the of the the semiotic, access to the subversive subversive forces forces of semiotic, in in their their experiences experiences of of ecstasy, jouissance, jouissance, women able to to articulate or to provide it ecstasy, women are are not not able articulate or to provide it with aa symbolic symbolic context. so far seen as as representative representative with context. In In so far as as woman woman is is seen of the feminine semiotic, semiotic, or or the the maternal maternal chora, confirms the the of the feminine chora, Kristeva Kristeva confirms psychoanalytic, especially especially Lacanian proposition that woman, in expsychoanalytic, Lacanian proposition that woman, in experiencing aa pleasure ‘beyond the (Lacan, 1982), yet can can periencing pleasure ‘beyond the phallus’ phallus’ (Lacan, 1982), yet know or or say accept know say nothing nothing about about it it (Lacan, (Lacan, 1982:146). 1982:146). She She seems seems to to accept without men alone without question question that that men alone can can represent, represent, speak, speak, symbolise symbolise the the subversive underside subversive underside of of social social unities: unities: ‘At ‘At the the intersection intersection of of sign sign and and rhythm, representation and and light, the symbolic symbolic and and the the semiotic, rhythm, of of representation light, of of the semiotic, the artist speaks from place where where she is not, not, where where she she knows not. the artist speaks from aa place she is knows not. He delineates what, in in her, her, is is aa body rejoicing’ (Kristeva, He delineates what, body rejoicing’ (Kristeva, 1980:242). 1980:242). The implication is that that the The implication is the poet, poet, artist, artist, theorist, theorist, avant-gardist, avant-gardist, the the trangressor of norms, is trangressor of social, social, artistic artistic and and representational representational norms, is necessarily necessarily male. Men alone occupy the position of both both speaking male. Men alone occupy the position of speaking subjects subjects with with stable positions of and transgressive transgressive subjects, stable positions of enunciation, enunciation, and subjects, whose whose discourses broach broach the tolerance. This This is discourses the limits limits of of cultural cultural tolerance. is because, because, given adherence to to the the psychoanalytic model, it it is is only only men given Kristeva’s Kristeva’s adherence psychoanalytic model, men who accede the symbolic, symbolic, in in order to be able to Sl.1,I)\{¢,I,',tglI; subvert it, It is only who _accede to to the ordergtpggbe ablegto It is only from within the the symbolic limits can can be be transgressed, from aa position position within symbolic that that its its“limits transgressed, if only only to to be be later later re-established re-established elsewhere. takes on on if elsewhere. The The male male writer writer takes the of the the unspoken and forces forces of the representation representation of unspoken energies energies and of the the feminine feminine and the maternal, thus thus always always risking of the stable position and the maternal, risking aa loss loss of the stable position of of identity assured for men men within within patriarchal patriarchal culture. (He risks, risks, on the identity assured for culture. (He on the one fetishism, the libidinal libidinal attachment maternity; or or on on one side, side , the attachment to to phallic phallic maternity; the the identification identification with the the phallic phallic mother mother [Kristeva, [Kristeva, the other, other, spsychosis, chosis,the with 1976-70}. Her argument is puzzling puzzling in the least: 1976 :70]. l’Her argument is in feminist feminist terms, terms, to to say say the least: her ideal ideal model of aa transgressive transgressive subjectivity subjectivity articulating is aa her model of articulating itself itself is male who has identified with and upon himself the representamale who has identified with and taken taken upon himself the representation of women can’t can’t speak: mimicking the the woman woman tion of aa femininity femininity women speak: man man mimicking who reproduces man!—man to accept accept his difference from, from, and and who reproduces man!—man unable unable to his difference his to the space which bore him. his debt debt to the maternal maternal space which bore him. 131 131




The avant-garde or or revolutionary male, it it can can be be claimed, is unable unable The avant-garde revolutionary male, claimed, is to accept his and separation separation from from the space, to accept his difference difference and the maternal maternal space, remaining in some some libidinal, libidinal, identificatory identificatory and and projective projective relation relation to remaining in to the (phallic) mother. He He cannot debt, for for he is unable unable to the (phallic) mother. cannot recognise recognise this this debt, he is to accept his from her. her. The The woman’s and creative creative accept his otherness otherness from woman’s body, body, speech speech and energies, into and and alienated from her her in (constricted, energies, channelled channelled into alienated from in aa (constricted, patriarchal) maternity, maternity, are are ‘transferred’ ‘transferred’ to to or articulated by by the the son son patriarchal) or articulated who to accept her femininity, femininity, remaining remaining thus thus attached attached to to aa who refuses refuses to accept her phallic, maternal maternal counterpart or doppleganger. doppleganger. The The male phallic, counterpart or male “representa‘representative’ turns out out to to be be the the male male unable unable to to accept tive’ of of femininity femininity turns accept women’s women’s differences, whether whether bodily, psychic or or social. differences, bodily, psychic social. The role and of women’s bodies_and,sub_je§tiyities, bodies and subjectivities seem to be The role and status status ofwomen’s seemsto be the cruc‘iaTpoints‘ crucial points oTTd'iFs‘agreeihentTliTetweEn of disagreement between Kristeva’s Kristeva’s understanding the understanding of thethe 'feminin‘e" feminine andIrifga’ray7sTThere*‘i§’“ah‘im‘p'l‘icit and Trigaray’s. There is an implicit desexualisatiomof of d€sexu‘afi‘s§i,f'ijQ__n‘of identity, subjectivity and social social practices practices in Kristeva’s description description of of identify,‘subjecdvityand in Kristeva"s the semiotic semiotic and“symbolic and symbolic registers, a reduction sexual, bodily bodily the reduction of of sexual, characteristics to to the features of of ‘gender’ ‘gender’ (cf. (cf. Gatens, her characteristics the features Gatens, 1983). 1983). Yet Yether simultaneous elevation of aa de-sexual ‘feminine’ and her acceptance simultaneous elevation of de-sexual ‘feminine’ and her acceptance of of the definition of of women as lack, lack, negative or castrated may the patriarchal patriarchal definition women as negative or castrated may themselves be symptoms broader problem in Kristeva’s Kristeva’s underunderthemselves be symptoms of of aa broader problem in standing of the her relation relation to to male systems of of representarepresentastanding of the feminine: feminine: her male systems tion, knowledge, reason reason and even revolution. revolution. In the work work tion, knowledge, and even In relation relation to to the of Lacan Lacan and Kristeva seems seems to to adopt adopt the the position of of and Derrida, Derrida, Kristeva position of protégé—accepting the fundamental fundamental framework framework and and ideals ideals of of LacaLacaprotégé——-accepting the nian and and Derridean Derridean projects ‘applying’, reorganising, contesting, nian projects while while ‘applying’, reorganising, contesting, adapting some of of their details. Her Her account the semiotic adapting some their details. account of of the semiotic and and symbolic, for example, example, involves involves taking taking over over the Freudian/Lacanian symbolic, for the Freudian/Lacanian categories of of pre-oedipal pre-oedipal and oedipal phases, phases, or or imaginary and categories and oedipal imaginary and symbolic orders, disputing disputing some some of of these these categories categories symbolic orders, of the the boundaries boundaries of (for example her notion notion of of the be located earlier than (for example her the semiotic semiotic can can be located earlier than Freudian primary (Freud, 1914b) 1914b) or or the Lacanian mirrorFreudian primary narcissism narcissism (Freud, the Lacanian mirrorstage imaginary order (Lacan, 1978a:chs 1978a:chs 1-2); her concept concept of stage or or imaginary order (Lacan, 1-2); her of the the symbolic at an than symbolic places places the the oedipal oedipal dynamic dynamic at an earlier earlier age age than psychoanalysis (Kristeva [1984] challenge the the duration psychoanalysis (Kristeva [1984] challenge duration of of these these psycho-sexual stages) stages) but but leaves broader, more more problematic issues psycho-sexual leaves the the broader, problematic issues and (for example, the problem and methods methods unquestioned unquestioned (for example, the problem of of the the female female oedipus complex, the derivation feminine oedipus complex, female female castration castration and and the derivation of of feminine characteristics by logical manipulation characteristics by the the logical manipulation of of masculine masculine characcharacteristics—if male male is is active, female is is passive, is phallic, female is teristics—if active, female passive, if if male male is phallic, female is castrated, Derrida’s work, castrated, etc.). etc.). While While relying relying less less explicitly explicitly on on Derrida’s work, Kristeva is nevertheless strongly influenced by/with Derrida’s invocaKristeva is nevertheless strongly influenced by/with Derrida’s invocation of of the the subversive, subversive , revolutionary rev o I u t’ionar potential ’ l ooff textua ' ' potentia practices in tion textual I practices in the face face of of aagme ap ysics oobidentity 1 entity or risteva takes the moCaphysns oFpresence. presence Kemteva takeson onthe the Derridean oFifi Derridean prdjeét project oftindoing the metaphysics of of identity, identity, with with none none of of the iron oof errida ‘I'fi_full recognition recognition of the the strategic strategic_irony Derrida himself. himself—th—full of the

L-. gr s-‘*5,-yj yar?oo 4 NP we or a Ws NI’) \,i“”9 k/MIA

132 132



impossibility of displacing identity with difference, difference, its impossibility of displacing identity with its subordinated subordinated counterpart, yet yet Tocatihng dominant assumpcounterpart, locating hTs‘ his 5haIIe‘nge‘s challenges to to fhifse those dominant assumptions and and methods methods of of philosophy, philosophy, Derrida Derrida recognises deconstruction tions recognises deconstruction as, best, aa provisional or tentative the opphsitional as, at at best, provisional or tentative untangling untangling of of the oppositional strands in Kfisteva uses usesthe Derridean challenge to strands in metaphysics. metaphysiccs. Kristeva the Derridean challenge to identity by by posing feminist or orwomen’s struggles for identity posing it it with with respect respect to to feminist women’s struggles for identity: identity: [Wjomen cannot cannot be: category woman that which which does not fit fit [W]omen be: the the category woman is is even even that does not to being. From there, w ;meom;1 heniegative, in to From there, women’s egative, in opposition to to that say that ‘this is is not’ ‘it is not yet’. opposition that which which exists, exists, to to say that ‘this not’ and and ‘it is not yer’.

What mean by is that out of What II mean by ‘‘woman’ woman’ is that which which is’ ig left left out of namings namings and and ideologies. Some of it ideologies. Some ‘men’ ‘men’ know know something something of it too too J..... . [C]ertain [C]ertain feminist feminist arguments seem anti ism, believing arguments seem to to resuscitate resuscitate aa naiveyromantitism, believing in in an an identity (the (the opposite opposite of of phallocratism), phallocratism), when when compared to that that of of Lidentity compared to experimentation with the dual boundari s of of sexual experimentation with each each of of the dual boundari¢s sexual difference difference which we find the dual discursive economy economy in Joyce, Artaud which we find in in the dual discursive in Joyce, Artaud ... (Kristeva, 1980:166) (Kristeva, 1980:166)

Feminist struggles for for aa discursive, discursive, theoretical theoretical space Feminist struggles for identity, identity, for space for for women’s self-recognition ‘naive’ compared compared to the subversion subversion of women’s self-recognition are are ‘naive’ to the of sexual identities identities achieved or Artaud! Artaud! The The feminine sexual achieved by by Joyce Joyce or feminine is, is, for for Kristeva, aa term term released only in the destruction de e Kristeva, released only in the ofidentity, male or or ee female. The The feminine experimentation with female. feminine is is ‘libefatedfby ‘liberated’ by men men’s s experimentation with

their (male) identity; dissolution Qf oes their (male) identity; yet yet the, the dissolution of female identity does not not 1/

have the the same or subversive subversive effect the subversion of male have same strategic strategic or effect as as the subversion ofgmale identity—the ruction destruction offhh‘identitj7‘th‘af‘women‘ of the identity that women have have not not yet yet ideLng achieved must must be be compared compared to to the the destruction of the identity of the QCITIEIECI destruction of the identity of the slave, which makes political political sense only when no longer longer aa slave, which makes sense only when the the slave slave is is no slave. is, in all other other respects for the the extermination extermination of of all slave. It It is, in all respects the the call call for all possibility group resistance resistance to to oppression--a oppression—a significant significant countercounterpossibility of of group move at precisely precisely the the first first moment moment in in Western history when when women women as move at Western history as an group are are agitating the right to construct an (international) (international) group agitating for for the right to construct an an identity for and and self-representations of women (cf. Gross, Gross, 1982). identity for self-representations of women (cf. 1982). IRIGARAY AND THE FEMININE FEMININE IRIGARAY AND THE

Although is also interested in in the of the the Although Irigaray Irigaray is also interested the contributions contributions of feminine to social and and individual individual existence, remains committed, committed, as feminine to social existence, she she remains as Kristeva does to affirming affirming the the intimate, intimate, necessary relation bebeKristeva does not, not, to necessary relation tween the repression repression of the feminine feminine and tween the of the and the the oppression oppression of of women. women. Irigaray’s Kristeva’s, is informed by by Lacan Lacan and and Derrida; yet, Irigaray’s work, work, like like Kristeva’s, is informed Derrida; yet, unlike Irigaray seems seems to to use use Lacan Lacan and and Derrida, Derrida, where where their unlike Kristeva, Kristeva, Irigaray their works are relevant, without reproducing their their works are tactically tactically relevant, without actively actively reproducing positions or or values. for example, example, Kristeva rely upon positions values. Where, Where, for Kristeva will will rely upon the the Derridean concept of différance in her her attempts attempts to to dissolve dissolve the Derridean concept of différance in the category of identity (both and female), Irigaray will use the term category of identity (both male male and female), Irigaray will use the term 133 133


as aa mark of women’s specificity, autonomy and independence from as mark of women’s specificity, autonomy and independence from men. Irigaray’s concern concern throughout throughout all all her the articulation articulation of men. Irigaray’s her works works is is the of femininity, an identity or or subjectivity subjectivity which is Women’s. women’s. Kristeva Kristeva aa femininity, an identity which is sees feminism as among many social ruptures upheavals sees feminism as one one among many social ruptures and and upheavals expressing general and and diffuse crisis in expressing aa more more general diffuse crisis in Western Western culture; culture; feminism, moreover, moreover, may may not as the: the: most most effective effective or feminism, not be be seen seen as or far-reaching of the of social social subversion, subversion, given given its its restricrestricfar-reaching of the movements movements of tion to a identity. Instead, Instead, the the avant-garde avant-garde experimentations experimentations tion to a politics politics of of identity. in representational representational forms forms and and signifying bring into doubt far far in signifying practices practices bring into doubt more efficiently efficiently the the principle principle of social cohesion. cohesion. Irigaray, by more of unity, unity, or or social Irigaray, by contrast, is is concerned above all all with the positions, experiences, the the contrast, concerned above with the positions, experiences, exclusions silencing of of women effected by exclusions and and silencing women effected by patrocentric patrocentric cultural cultural and theoretical norms. and theoretical norms. Irigaray’s work work can can be be situated situated at at the interstices of of the the concepts Irigaray’s the interstices concepts of of language relations, and bodies. It questions language or or representation, representation, power power relations, and bodies. It questions the and relevance relevance of histories of of thought, the adequacy adequacy and of our our received received histories thought, systems of knowledge knowledge and and modes modes of representation for for expressing expressing or or systems of of representation characterising the specificity specificity of of women. characterising the women. Her Her object object of of critical critical analysis analysis is the the system phallocentrism: the the network of images, representais system of of phallocentrism: network of images, representations, methods and and procedures procedures for for representing representing women women and tions, methods and the the feminine in in some some necessary necessary relation relation to men and masculinity, aa series of feminine to men and masculinity, series of presumptions about of one one sex from aa perspective presumptions about the the representation representation of sex from perspective deemed by the the other other sex. is thus thus an an attempt attempt to to deemed universal universal by sex. Her Her work work is reveal, challenge and the domination domination of reveal, challenge and undermine undermine the of phallocentric phallocentric conceptions conceptions submerge submerge feminine conceptions of of femininity. femininity. These These conceptions feminine perspectives, interests, experiences under under masculine masculine criteria criteria of of value value perspectives, interests, experiences and validity. At the same time thus attempting and validity. At the same time as as thus attempting aa deconstruction deconstruction of of phallocentrism, Irigaray Irigaray explores phallocentrism, explores aa new new theoretical theoretical space space and and forms forms of of language which women to to see and represent represent themselves language which enable enable women see and themselves in in positive, self-defined self-defined and and self-judging terms. In disentangling the the positive, self-judging terms. In disentangling reliance patriarchal patriarchal power maintain over over women’s women’s bodies, reliance power relations relations maintain bodies, sexualities and and experiences experiences through of sexualities through the the development development and and use use of systems of representation, systems of meaning inscribe the the female systems of representation, systems of meaning to to inscribe female body as negative, dependent, dependent, lacking lacking object, to body as aa negative, object, Irigaray Irigaray attempts attempts to explore some some of the possibilities different, positive positive representations explore of the possibilities of of different, representations contesting the the inscription inscription of bodies with meaning in contesting of women’s women’s bodies with meaning in chalchallenging patriarchal patriarchal power. lenging power. While Irigaray number of of elements elements of While Irigaray uses uses aa number of Derridean Derridean reading reading and deconstruction, she autonomous in and deconstruction, she remains remains autonomous in her her critical critical objects objects of of analysis and in analysis and in her her development development of of these these elements elements into into aa ‘style’ ‘style’ of of interrogation and and analysis analysis all her own. own. Deconstruction becomes one interrogation all her Deconstruction becomes one among number of to reread reread the key texts of among aa number of critical critical tools tools she she uses uses to the key texts of psychoanalytic in her hands, it it becomes psychoanalytic and and philosophical philosophical theory. theory. But But in her hands, becomes an directed to to the the politics politics of an openly openly political political weapon, weapon, directed of female female selfselfrepresentation—the difference. representation—the politics politics of of sexual sexual difference. 134 134


With respect respect to from attempting With to psychoanalytic psychoanalytic theory, theory, far far from attempting to to slot slot women into its categories for example, women into its predesignated predesignated masculine masculine categories for example, uncastrated women=masculinity women=masculinity complex; complex; normal femininity: uncastrated normal femininity= castration), nor psychoanalysis, Irigaray castration), nor simply simply ignoring ignoring psychoanalysis, Irigaray uses uses it. it. She She takes psychoanalytic theory as an critical object object of of interrogation, takes psychoanalytic theory as an critical interrogation, as as aa symptom of of aa broader broader phallocentric that infiltrates infiltrates all all its symptom phallocentric malaise malaise that its traditions of knowledge and she traditions of knowledge and forms forms of of representation; representation; moreover, moreover, she uses psychoanalytic psychoanalytic techniques—free the analysis of the uses techniques—free association, association, the analysis of the lapsus, parapraxes, parapraxes, ‘symptoms’, etc.—-as among among her her methods lapsus, ‘symptoms’, etc.—as methods of of interrogation, aa critical critical tool against itself. itself. In In short, interrogation, tool used used against short, she she demonsdemonstrates psychoanalytic points of elision, its its trates psychoanalytic theory’s theory’s internal internal ruptures, ruptures, points of elision, own repressions. She deconstructs psychoanalysis. own repressions. She deconstructs psychoanalysis. Like Derrida, her aim is provisionally overthrow overthrow the Like Derrida, her aim is to to undermine, undermine, provisionally the reign of of dichotomous define women, women, femininreign dichotomous oppositions, oppositions, those those that that define femininity and and the various qualities qualities and and properties properties associated with them ity the various associated with them in in some form form of of dichotomy masculinity. Yet Yet her aim is some dichotomy with with masculinity. her aim is not not merely merely the endless transgression transgression of boundaries, motivated by an interest in the the endless of boundaries, motivated by an interest in the play of of the an aim and Kristeva seem to share. Rather, Rather, play the text, text, an aim Derrida Derrida and Kristeva seem to share. Irigaray’s project is much clearly political political in in so Irigaray’s project is much more more clearly so far far as as it it is is directed intellectual or discursive space in which which directed to to providing providing an an intellectual or discursive space in women can explore, experiment experiment with go beyond the experiences women can explore, with and and go beyond the experiences that them as as oppressed patriarchal culture. culture. She She wishes wishes that distinguish distinguish them oppressed in in patriarchal to in the of aa speaking speaking position position (or (or many), many), aa to participate participate in the creation creation of conceptual and discursive discursive space can articuconceptual perspective perspective and space where where women women can articulate their their specific desires and and contributions. Clearly such such aa space late specific needs, needs, desires contributions. Clearly space does exist, or, or, if if it it does, then this this space now only does not not yet yet exist, does, then space exists exists now only as as marginalised, ‘private space’ outside the the scope scope of of publicly publicly validated validated marginalised, aa ‘private space’ outside interactions. The possibility of of carving carving out out such space depends depends on on interactions. The possibility such aa space clearing of the the domain domain of of representation representation that that men, clearing away away much much of men, who who claim to be universally, have constructed: ‘the of claim to be speaking speaking universally, have constructed: ‘the articulation articulation of the my sex sex is is impossible discourse, and for structural, structural, the reality reality of of my impossible in in discourse, and for eidetic My sex sex is is removed, as the property of of aa eidetic reasons. reasons. My removed, at at least least as the property subject, from the the predicative predicative mechanism that assures assures discursive discursive subject, from mechanism that coherence’ (Irigaray, 1985b:146). coherence’ (Irigaray, 1985b:146). Her project is ultimately impossible, but but necessary. Through her her Her project is ultimately impossible, necessary. Through deconstruction of of phallocentric phallocentric or or sexualised discourses, theories, theories, deconstruction sexualised discourses, images, representations, representations, she she demonstrates demonstrates their production from from and and images, their production reproduction sexual position, position, which which remains remains unreproduction of of aa specifically specifically sexual unacknowledged as such. such. In analysing how how the the right right acknowledged as In analysing the domination domination of of the to speak ‘universally’ has appropriated by men, Irigaray Irigaray suggests suggests to speak ‘universally’ has been been appropriated by men, the procedures by which the male male body body is from or or disthe procedures by which the is evacuated evacuated from disavowed by by phallocentric phallocentric discourses discourses and and signifying signifying practices. In so far avowed practices. In so far as phallocentrism phallocentrism represents as disembodied, or true, true, as represents itself itself as disembodied, universal universal or the specific specific attributes and interests interests of of men of being the attributes and men are are capable capable of being presented as if if they they were universal. To compensate for this absence absence of of presented as were universal. To compensate for this 135 £35


the male are considered considered the corporeal, bodily, material the male body, body, women women are the corporeal, bodily, material substratum supporting supporting male male intellect, structures— substratum intellect, reason, reason, theoretical theoretical structures—— male immateriality. immateriality. It is only only by by reinserting reinserting the the male male body body back male It is back into into the discourses from which it has has been that femininity femininity and the discourses from which it been expunged expunged that and women to establish.a establish.a discursive space or position from from women may may be be able able to discursive space or position which (of) their their sex. which to to speak speak (of) sex. Irigaray’s thus involves involves the the specification of aa kind kind of of sexual sexual Irigaray’s project project thus specification of difference that that has has no no place place in in Kristeva’s Kristeva abstracts abstracts the the difference Kristeva’s work. work. Kristeva concept of difference from from aa sexualised concept of sexual sexual difference sexualised and and sexed sexed body. body. Irigaray’s understanding of difference, difference, by by contrast, contrast, is is always always related related Irigaray’s understanding of to, and and inscribed inscribed upon the experiences experiences of sexed body. Irigaray to, upon the of the the sexed body. Irigaray specifies an an account of the the body’s body’s morphology; is not not specifies account of morphology; the the body body is considered an anatomical, biological biological or body—a considered an anatomical, or neuro-physiological neuro-physiological body--a body that the object object of biology. Rather, Rather, her her object body that is is the of the the sciences sciences of of biology. object of of analysis is the body as as it it is is lived, lived, the the body body which which is is marked, analysis is the body marked, inscribed, inscribed, made meaningful meaningful both both in social and idiosyncratic terms, made in social and familial familial and and idiosyncratic terms, the body socially and and discursively established: the body as as the body psychically, psychically, socially discursively established: the body socially and individually significant. significant. This is considered considered to to be be socially and individually This body body is built on biological raw raw materials materials out which are are produced produced meanings, meanings, built on biological out of of which sensations, desires, pleasures, by its interaction with sensations, desires, pleasures, by its interaction with systems systems of of social social meaning and practices. feminine from meaning and practices. To To separate separate the the feminine from aa female female morphology, while useful useful in is morphology, while in some some contexts contexts for for strategic strategic purposes, purposes, is misguided, politically misguided misguided, both both thoretically thoretically and and politically. politically. It It is is politically misguided in so far the phallocentric phallocentric privileging in so far as as it it enables enables the the reproduction reproduction of of the privileging of male representations of femininity, femininity, the the male male prerogative speaking of male representations of prerogative of of speaking on of women; it is is theoretically theoretically misguided as it it on behalf behalf of women; it misguided in in so so far far as presumes self, or or drives, drives, or of identification identification to presumes aa self, or forms forms of to function function independent of the particularity the bodies which they independent of the particularity of of the bodies in in which they arise. arise. Such account cannot explain why why femininity femininity inscribed inscribed on on aa female female Such an an account cannot explain body is from ‘femininity’ inscribed on male body is necessarily necessarily different different from ‘femininity’ inscribed on aa male body (see Gatens, body (see Gatens, 1983). 1983). Both Kristeva and Irigaray Irigaray affirm polyvocity, plurality Both Kristeva and affirm aa polyvocity, plurality and and multiplicity dormant or or repressed within prevailmultiplicity which which normally normally lies lies dormant repressed within prevailing uncontrolled, excessive, excessive, irruptive ing systems systems of representation—-an representation—an uncontrolled, irruptive textual force or or materiality. In opposition to Kristeva, regards textual force materiality. In opposition to Kristeva, Irigaray Irigaray regards this hitherto unoccupied by women. this plurality plurality as as aa productive productive site site hitherto unoccupied by women. Her Her aim is to to allow some place women within it, and aim allow women women some place as as women within it, and elsewhere, elsewhere, introducing into aa monosexual monosexual universe. introducing aa genuine genuine plurality plurality into universe. Irigaray’s masculine can can speak for the Irigaray’s claim claim is that that the the masculine speak of and and for the feminine because it it has has emptied emptied itself relation to feminine only only because itself of of any any relation to the the male male body, its specific existence, its morphology body, and and its specific modes modes of of material material existence, its morphology and social meaning. of ‘evacuation’ ‘evacuation’ creates or and social meaning. This This process process of creates aa virtual virtual or fantastical space of reflection and specula(risa)tion fantastical space, space, aa distancing distancing space reflection and specula(risa)tion in in which which the the male look at at itself itself and the world, world, as as it were, were, from from the the male can can look and the outside. space established masculine consciousness outside. This This space established between between masculine consciousness and and “

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reason and reason the male body is is precisely precisely the the kind kind of space space required for the and the male body required for the production production of of metalanguage metalanguage and and metadiscourse, metadiscourse, the the conceptual conceptual space space of of philosophy philosophy and and other other knowledges. knowledges. It is a hierarchically structured hierarchically structured space, space, involving involving distinct logical levels, whereby one one is able able to to govern govern distinct logical levels, whereby and and regulate regulate the the other. This space space is the the one required for for the other. This one required the creation creation of knowledges as in our our culture. culture. developed in of knowledges been developed have been as they they have Metalanguage functions functions to establish clear-cut clear-cut boundaries, boundaries, borders borders Metalanguage to establish and limits limits beyond beyond which object-language and which hierarchically hierarchically subordinated subordinated object-language is not ‘permitted’ ‘permitted’ to Metalanguage can remain on purified, is not to trespass. trespass. Metalanguage can remain on aa purified, uncontaminated level, judging being incapable uncontaminated level, judging but but itself itself being incapable of of being being judged. Irigaray’s Irigaray’s strategy strategy is to refuse refuse the existence of judged. is to the existence of such such lines lines of of demarcation dividing object and metalanguage. boundemarcation dividing object and metalanguage. Where Where such such boundaries of forms forms of fixation which which attempt daries occur, occur, they they are are aa result result of of fixation attempt to to regulate the inherently polyvocal, nature nature of The regulate the inherently ambiguous, ambiguous, polyvocal, of language. language. The products—-knowledges—of this this form male self-distance are thus products—knowledges—of form of of male self-distance are thus isomorphic male sexuality alien to femininity defined defined in in its isomorphic with with male sexuality and and alien to aa femininity its own terms. own terms. [A] feminine langauge would would undo unique meaning meaning of of [A] feminine langauge undo the the unique of words, words, of nouns: which which still regulates all all discourse. In order order for nouns: still regulates discourse. In for there there to to be be aa proper proper meaning, there there must indeed be be aa unity somewhere. But But if if feminine feminine meaning, must indeed unity somewhere. language cannot cannot be back to any unity, unity, it simply language be brought brought back to any it cannot cannot be be simply described or or defined: is no feminine metalanguage. metalanguage. (Irigaray, (Irigaray, described defined: there there is no feminine 1977b:65) 1977b:65)

The reign of the the ‘proper’—proper ‘proper’—proper names names (the (the Name of the The reign of Name of the Father), Father), proper nouns, nouns, with with their property, and proper their fixed fixed meanings, meanings, property, and propriety— propriety— regulates the domain of and images, images, with with the regulates the domain of male male self-representations self-representations and the effect women to to the the position position of of the improper, the the impure, impure, effect of of relegating relegating women the improper, the no proper proper names names of no property property properly properly the unclean, unclean, with with no of their their own, own, no theirs, produced and exchanged exchanged within within an an economy theirs, produced by by and economy not not regulated regulated by The proper-ness the masculine by the the phallic. phallic. The proper-ness of of the masculine can can only only be be conconstructed and and ensured if men’s men’s access is secured exclusion. structed ensured if access is secured by by women’s women’s exclusion. Women’s impropriety impropriety is guarantee of of men’s men’s proper proper reign over Women’s is the the guarantee reign over them. Irigaray seeks an adequate adequate language and modes of representarepresentathem. Irigaray seeks an language and modes of tion this ‘impropriety’ ‘impropriety’ may may be language beyond beyond tion by by which which this be expressed, expressed, aa language the of metadiscourse. metadiscourse. the hierarchical hierarchical regulation regulation of Instead of aa language which refuses refuses its its own materiality to Instead of language which own materiality to see see itself itself as pure neutral neutral medium, medium, Irigaray Irigaray asserts of the the text. text. as pure asserts the the materiality materiality of The text text has has been been regarded capable of of The regarded as as transparent, transparent, formalisable, formalisable, capable transliteration into into other other forms forms without loss of of meaning. meaning. It It is is aa transliteration without loss language seen seen on the model model of, isomorphic with phallic language on the of, or or as as isomorphic with oedipal, oedipal, phallic sexuality. In opposition to to this this prevailing prevailing conception conception of of knowledge as sexuality. In opposition knowledge as neutrally expressed information produced produced by by aa sexually sexually aa neutrally expressed body body of of information indifferent from an unspecifiable perspective, attempts indifferent subject subject from an unspecifiable perspective, Irigaray Irigaray attempts to space within within language language for for another another voice, voice, body, body, pleasure, pleasure, to clear clear aa space 137 137


other forms desire, other different other forms of of sexuality sexuality and and desire, other forms forms of of discourse, discourse, different forms reason can can be demonstrates the the forms of of reason be articulated. articulated. She She demonstrates violence to to which masculinity resorts resorts in in appropriating violence which masculinity appropriating discourse, discourse, meaning, sexuality and and desire desire to to itself. itself. This an unspoken meaning, sexuality This violence violence is is an unspoken feature of the persistent historical dominance of feature of the persistent historical dominance of particular particular styles, styles, modes, and procedures procedures of of knowledge rather than the many many others modes, and knowledge rather than the others possible. She wishes, not to reappropriate this this domain as ‘properly’ ‘properly’ possible. She wishes, not to reappropriate domain as feminine, but instead, to to create create discourses representations of of feminine, but instead, discourses and and representations women and that may may positively positively inscribe the female female body as women and femininity femininity that inscribe the body as an concrete materiality. materiality. To not only only the an autonomous autonomous concrete To demonstrate demonstrate not the existence of of alternative models of of women women and but the the existence alternative models and femininity, femininity, but seizure of power of definition by by some some models models bound to masculine masculine seizure of the the power of definition bound to forms, that that is, make explicit explicit what what phallocentric domination is is based based forms, is, to to make phallocentric domination upon, is is to limits of phallocentric thought, thought, the the impossibility upon, to reveal reveal the the limits of phallocentric impossibility of its its self-representation. language isomorphic isomorphic with female of self-representation. AA language with female sexual morphology both undo undo phallocentric phallocentric domination domination and and sexual morphology must must both assert which can assert positive positive alternatives alternatives which can show show women women in in women’s women’s terms. terms. Irigaray or represent Irigaray refuses refuses to to speculate speculate on on or represent what what aa feminine feminine (use (use of) of) language for other other women, language may may be. be. This This would would involve involve speaking speaking for women, which amounts to It is is aa tactic to evade which amounts to speaking speaking as as aa man. man. It tactic to evade or or refuse refuse difference 1985b:1S6). Nevertheless, Nevertheless, some some negative negative indications indications difference (cf. (cf. 1985b:156). about discursive regimes regimes may about aa feminine feminine subversion subversion of of discursive may be be extracted extracted from her work. Such language rather than than conform from her work. Such language would would challenge challenge rather conform to to patriarchal or It would would not organised accordpatriarchal or phallocentric phallocentric values. values. It not be be organised according norms or or ideals of knowledge today: it ing to to many many of of the the dominant dominant norms ideals of knowledge today: it may avoid aa singular, singular, hierarchical structuring either either syntactically or may avoid hierarchical structuring syntactically or semantically, the the subject-—predicate adherence to to aa normasemantically, subject—predicate correlation, correlation, adherence normative grammar, grammar, ideals ideals of of textual tive textual transparency transparency or or intertranslatability. intertranslatability. These phallocentric commitments are made made possible of These phallocentric commitments are possible only only because because of men’s capacity capacity for men’s for self-distance, self-distance, their their disavowal disavowal of of corporeality: corporeality: Nothing that is not also reversed reversed and and caught caught up up again Nothing is ever ever to to be be posited posited that not also again in the supplementarity of this reversal . . . we we need in the supplementarity of this reversal ... need to to proceed proceed in in such such aa way that a linear linear reading longer possible: retroactive way that reading is no no longer possible: that that is, the the retroactive impact at the the end utterance or sentence upon impact at end of each each word, word, utterance or sentence upon its beginning beginning must to undo undo the must be be taken taken into into consideration consideration in order order to the power power of of its teleological effect, deferred action. action. (Irigaray, (Irigaray, 1985b:79—80) 1985b:79-80) teleological effect, including including its deferred

To speak speak as, as, not not for itself to to begin begin to to undo the reign reign of the the To for women women is in itself undo the proper, proper, the the self-identical, self-identical, singular singular phallic phallic organisation. organisation. To To speak speak to to evoke rather rather than designate, to to signify signify rather rather than overburden evoke than designate, than refer, refer, to to overburden oppositional oppositional dichotomous dichotomous categories categories by refusing refusing their their boundaries boundaries or or borders is borders to occupy the impossible ‘middle ground’ ground’ excluded excluded by logic is to occupy the impossible ‘middle logic and reason and reason in in their their present This is not discourse present forms. forms. This not to to create create aa discourse without without meaning, meaning, but rather to to proliferate proliferate many many meanings, meanings, none of but rather none of which which could could hierarchically hierarchically unify the others. others. Irigaray’s Irigaray’s aim aim is not not to to unify the 138 138


specify or provide aa model such aa discourse, but rather, rather, to to create create aa specify or provide model for for such discourse, but space in in which which the many discourses discourses and many women’s space the exploration exploration of of many and many women’s voices themselves—and force others to voices can can articulate articulate themselves—and force others to listen. listen. DIFFERENT DIFFERENT FEMINISMS FEMINISMS

To return return now now to the question the relations relations between Irigaray and and To to the question of of the between Irigaray Kristeva, and and the of their for English-speaking Kristeva, the relevance relevance of their differences differences for English-speaking feminists. Their Their similarities points of of association association indicate indicate major feminists. similarities and and points major domains and political political interest that may may need further domains of of philosophical philosophical and interest that need further emphasis in in many texts. Both their projects projects emphasis many Anglo-American Anglo-American feminist feminist texts. Both their are located in of language, are located in the the relations relations between between the the networks networks of language, bodies bodies and power relations. concepts may be most most constructively and power relations. These These concepts may be constructively considered, not external ‘entities’ ‘entities’ but funconsidered, not as as independent, independent, external but as as ones ones fundamentally and inextricably inextricably bound in social social and damentally and bound together together in and political political existence. domains indicate key points of focus focus and contention existence. These These domains indicate key points of and contention around which most contemporary feminism revolves. Both Kristeva Kristeva around which most contemporary feminism revolves. Both and Irigaray Irigaray have indicated that utterances and have indicated that language, language, discourses, discourses, texts, texts, utterances are not not simply like all all other human actions, actions, but are simply empirical empirical acts, acts, like other human but serve serve to represent and to fundamentally fundamentally ground, ground, represent and make make social/natural social/natural life life meaningful. Neither Neither neutral neutral nor nor transparent transparent modes modes of reflection, they meaningful. of reflection, they are active agents of of inscription, inscription, ‘worlding’, categorisare active agents of the the processes processes of ‘worlding’, categorising and valuing the world. Kristeva Kristeva and Irigaray both the ing and valuing the world. and Irigaray both highlight highlight the complex between these these discursive discursive or or representarepresentacomplex mutual mutual interactions interactions between tional systems bodies, the the crucial neglected role role of of the the body body in in tional systems and and bodies, crucial but but neglected the lived structural reality reality of Kristeva, the the body body the lived and and structural of oppression. oppression. For For Kristeva, provides and resistant input for for the the functioning functioning provides the the unacknowledged unacknowledged and resistant input of all symbolic systems; its drives, drives, libidinal libidinal flows, flows, partial, partial, fragmented fragmented of all symbolic systems; its and spasmic processes, not not considered considered involved in the the processes processes of of and spasmic processes, involved in social production production but but in in fact the vital vital but ‘feminine’ social fact the but repressed repressed ‘feminine’ components are the foundations of social production production and and the the sites sites components are the foundations of all all social for radical upheaval upheaval and and undermining. The body, body, before it is is for its its radical undermining. The before it structured hierarchically unified unified under of aa single sex, structured and and hierarchically under the the category category of single sex, is the source source of of both social limits For Irigaray, is the both social limits and and their their transgression. transgression. For Irigaray, by contrast, there is no no ‘universal’ ‘universal’ or or sexually undifferentiated by contrast, there is sexually undifferentiated body. All bodies must be be male male or or female, body. All bodies must female, and and the the particularities, particularities, specificities and differences differences of of each each need need to to be recognised and represpecificities and be recognised and represented in in specific terms. The social and and patriarchal disavowal of of the the sented specific terms. The social patriarchal disavowal specificity of women’s bodies only of discriminatory specificity of women’s bodies is is aa function, function, not not only of discriminatory social invested social practices, practices, but, but, more more insidiously, insidiously, of of the the phallocentrism phallocentrism invested in the regimes of knowledge—-science, knowledge—science, philosophy, philosophy, the the arts—which in the regimes of arts—which function only because because and and with with the effect of of the the submersion women function only the effect submersion of of women under categories, values values and and norms. norms. For reinscripunder male male categories, For Irigaray, Irigaray, the the reinscription, through discourses, of of aa positive, autonomous body body for for women women is is tion, through discourses, positive, autonomous to render disfunctional disfunctional all forms of knowledge that that have have hitherto hitherto to render all forms of knowledge presented as neutral, neutral, objective objective or or perspective-less. Signipresented themselves themselves as perspective-less. Signi139 139


biologias aa biologithe body consider the Irigaray consider nor Irigaray Kristeva nor neither Kristeva ficantly, neither ficantly, body as that entail that both entail views both differing views Their differing object. Their natural object. anatomical or cal, anatomical cal, or natural maor bedrock, at best best aa foundation bedrock, ‘raw the foundation or provides at the biological biological provides ‘raw maproduced, constructed of aa as aa body constructed as terials’ overlaid, worked terials’ overlaid, worked upon, upon, produced, body of specific type, with with specific social values values and and positions specific type, specific capacities, capacities, skills, skills, social positions discursive, familial of discursive, familial and practices, both as result of socialisation practices, as aa result and socialisation both conscious and unconscious. conscious and unconscious. English-speaking feminists have have long long been been wary of affirming the English-speaking feminists wary of affirming the corporeality or materiality of women, or women’s bodies. bodies. The overly corporeality or materiality of women, or women’s The overly close association of women women with with their their (frail (frail and has close association of and limited) limited) bodies bodies has been aa tactic tactic of of patriarchal for many many centuries. been patriarchal oppression oppression for centuries. The The charges charges of biologism, biologism, naturalism are justifiably of naturalism or or essentialism essentialism are justifiably directed directed to to accounts which render render it it impervious impervious to social, political political accounts of of the the body body which to social, and individual transformation. transformation. However, both these these feminists feminists have have and individual However, both shown that that some concept of of the the body body is is essential to understanding understanding shown some concept essential to social resistance; and that the the body body need social production, production, oppression oppression and and resistance; and that need not, must not not be biological entity, entity, but but can can not, indeed indeed must be considered considered merely merely aa biological be seen as socially inscribed, inscribed, historically marked, psychically psychically and be seen as aa socially historically marked, and interpersonally significant product. product. Without thoroughgoing analysis interpersonally significant Without aa thoroughgoing analysis of interaction of of discursive systems and and the the psycho-physical psycho-physical sexed sexed of the the interaction discursive systems body, challenge prevailing prevailing practices practices with with only only limited limited body, feminists feminists may may challenge success. Until meaning and and signification signification are are understood understood and success. Until systems systems of of meaning and challenged, women will remain the objects of of male male definition definition and and challenged, women will remain the objects scrutiny. some challenge challenge to to those systems of of meaning meaning which scrutiny. Without Without some those systems which guarantee that ‘identical’ of the continue to to guarantee that ‘identical’ behaviour behaviour of the two two sexes sexes will will continue be valued unequally, any any struggles women for be valued differently, differently, unequally, struggles by by women for autonautonomy are are ultimately ultimately futile. Both Kristeva Kristeva and signal the omy futile. Both and Irigaray Irigaray signal the serious serious problems in women’s Both problems involved involved in women’s struggles struggles for for equality equality to to men. men. Both assert the the irreducible masculine and assert irreducible differences differences between between masculine and feminine feminine (for (for Kristeva) or male male and Kristeva) or and female female (Irigaray) (Irigaray) that that render render naive naive and and suspect suspect any to force their differences. any attempt attempt to force aa formal formal equality equality on on their differences. Such Such an an equality can can only be postulated postulated by by the the reduction of one one (or (or both) equality only be reduction of both) terms, one to to aa terms, subordinating subordinating one to the the other. other. Both Both feminists, feminists, in in contrast contrast to feminism of ‘sameness’ feminism or feminism of ‘sameness’ or or equality, equality, nominate nominate aa feminism or politics politics of of difference, difference, of of specificity——a specificity—a politics politics involving involving the the recognition recognition of of the the differences (or women women themselves, differences between between men men and and women, women, (or themselves, for for Irigaray) differences within within each woman (Kristeva). Irigaray) or or the the differences each man man and and woman (Kristeva). While these between the two French French feminists are While these similarities similarities between the two feminists are instructive general respects, the details details of instructive in in these these general respects, the of their their major major differences--the differences within within their difference—may differences—the differences their accounts accounts of of difference—may highlight within Anglo-American Anglo-American feminisms. highlight problem problem areas areas within feminisms. Above Above all, all, the strategic accounts difference the differences differences Within within their their strategic accounts of of sexual sexual difference locate the major major role not only only the locate the role that that not the body, body, but but the the specificity specificity of of the the female body play in of women’s women’s oppression female body must must play in the the understanding understanding of oppression within civilisations. within patriarchal patriarchal civilisations. 140 140



In the work Kristeva, because because sexual the In the work of of Kristeva, sexual difference difference is located located in the interior of of the the subject, subject, fracturing subject into interior fracturing the the subject into two two sites sites of of discourse, two modes of two kinds kinds of sexual attachment, discourse, two modes of organisation, organisation, two of sexual attachment, one feminine, plural, plural, multiple, material, the other, phallic, phallic, hierhierone feminine, multiple, material, the other, archised, singular, singular, unified, unified, law-abiding, law-abiding, it is aa sexual difference within within archised, sexual difference indifferent subject model of aa sexually sexually indifferent subject and and body. body. This This "androgynous androgynous model of human subjectivity subjectivity in in fact serves, as do all versions of of androgyny, human fact serves, as do all versions androgyny, to to cover over over and and deny deny any any specificity specificity that that might to women. cover might be be accorded accorded to women. It is is aa way recognition while It way of of accepting accepting women’s women’s demands demands for for recognition while neutralising to be women. Women’s Women’s universal neutralising the the desire desire to be recognised recognised as as women. universal co-mmonness, humanity, humanity, universal shared with commonness, universal species-existence species-existence shared with men men can be be accepted accepted by by her, those specificities, particularities of can her, but but not not those specificities, particularities of experience, position, morphological experience, social social position, morphological inscription inscription that that mark mark women different from from men. women as as different men. For For Kristeva, Kristeva, to to advocate advocate sexual sexual difference is to elevate elevate the the polymorphous, polymorphous, pre-oedipal difference is to pre-oedipal rhythms, rhythms, libidinal spasms—located in in all all subjects, independent of of libidinal flows flows and and spasms-—located subjects, independent sex—over more rigidly rigidly ordered norms of of symbolic symbolic functioning. functioning. sex—over the the more ordered norms She for the the dissolution of all all identities, identities, sexual, sexual, She proposes proposes aa project project for dissolution of social and discursive. Her conception of difference is simply simply that that social and discursive. Her conception of difference is which underlies underlies and and threatens threatens to all identity. identity. Thus any which to overwhelm overwhelm all Thus any affirmation of of difference involves asserting asserting the the heterogeneity heterogeneity latent in affirmation difference involves latent in male and female ‘identity’, diverse modes modes of of semiotic/feminine semiotic/feminine and and male and female ‘identity’, the the diverse symbolic/masculine fundamental irreducibility. irreducibility. This This disdissymbolic/masculine and and their their fundamental embodiment of the the female, female, the the affirmation of an an embodiment of the feminine feminine from from the affirmation of androgynous intra-subjective interplay, puts into into question androgynous intra-subjective interplay, puts question the the strugstruggles of women for the to an identity, or in culture culture as as gles of women for the right right to an identity, or position position in autonomous that women so bitterly bitterly so achieve. autonomous beings beings that women have have struggled struggled so so achieve. Written at the same same time time as as the of second-wave second-wave feminisms, Written at the the emergence emergence of feminisms, Kristeva’s work work functions functions to to strategically question and and undermine undermine its its Kristeva’s strategically question political raison raison d’étre. role that that men, men, and and only only political d’étre. In In signalling signalling the the crucial crucial role men, are able in subverting symbolic by by semiotic semiotic processes, men, are able to to play play in subverting symbolic processes, Kristeva guarantees the the maintenance of social and sexual Kristeva unwittingly unwittingly guarantees maintenance of social and sexual relations in their present, present, phallocentric phallocentric forms. forms. Ironically, she conrelations in their Ironically, she constructs aa ‘feminism’ that functions functions to to actively actively silence women and and structs ‘feminism’ that silence women devalue their forms of and discursive discursive intervention. intervention. As As aa devalue their forms of socio-symbolic socio-symbolic and consequence, men, at least those who some of of the the stability stability of of their consequence, men, at least those who risk risk some their masculine social positions, are are thus thus able to act as the the best best representarepresentamasculine social positions, able to act as tives of of aa ‘feminine’ ‘feminine’ mode mode of speech, aa feminine form of of subversion subversion of of tives of speech, feminine form the symbolic symbolic (cf. (cf. Gross, the Gross, 1982). 1982). she is, she sexually—that is, difference sexually—-that sexual difference locates sexual Irigaray locates contrast, Irigaray By contrast, By is It is specificity. It feminine specificity. articulate feminine to articulate attempts to her attempts in her concept in uses this concept uses this the that women of oppression the of result a as implication, by implication, as a result of the oppression of women that the only, by only, or social or disruptive social or disruptive radical or subversive, radical accorded aa subversive, be accorded feminine can be feminine can on inscription on familial inscription and familial social and of social processes of The processes effect. The conceptual effect. conceptual full, virile, full, as virile, body as male body the male construct the child construct the child of the body of sexed body the sexed the 141 141


unified and female body body as passive, castrated castrated or as the the unified and the the female as passive, or lacking lacking as necessary precondition of social relations, necessary precondition of patriarchal patriarchal social relations, ‘naturalising’ ‘naturalising’ and rationalising this historical domination. The categories categories ‘mascuand rationalising this historical domination. The ‘masculine’? ‘feminine’ are directly related related to these inscribed, sexed line’ and and ‘feminine’ are directly to these inscribed, sexed morphologies; their social positions positions of the two two morphologies; their dependence dependence, on on the the social of the sexes can can only neglected through political sexes only be be neglected through aa most most serious serious political oversight—one which effaces reality of of women’s individual and and oversight—one which effaces the the reality women’s individual social oppression. Yet, on on the the other other hand, hand, in Irigaray’s conception conception of of social oppression. Yet, in Irigaray’s male and subjectivities, there there is of aa male and female female bodies bodies and and subjectivities, is no no presumption presumption of biologically or naturally naturally given given body body or or identity for women women (or (or men). men). biologically or identity for The identities, bodies and and experiences experiences of of the the two two sexes sexes are inscribed, The identities, bodies are inscribed, in the on the the neonate’s neonate’s biological biological raw raw materials—but in the first first instance instance on materials-—but materials form, order, order, organisation organisation or or meaning materials which which possess possess no no form, meaning before processes of of social before the the processes social inscription. inscription. Psychical, social interpersonal meanings thus mark mark the the body, body, Psychical, social and and interpersonal meanings thus and through through it, identities or or interiority interiority of of sexed and it, the the identities sexed subjects. subjects. The The female body is inscribed inscribed socially, and most most often, often, individually female body is socially, and individually experiexperienced as body; this this body body internalenced as aa lacking, lacking, incomplete incomplete or or inadequate inadequate body; internalised in in the an image image (an (an imaginary) imaginary) forms forms the the limits limits or or ised the form form of of an boundaries of ego or or sense sense of of self. It is is ived, boundaries of the the subject’s subject’s ego self. It lived, experienced experienced and understood as body, as means of of these these traces traces and understood as aa body, as one’s one’s own, own, only only by by means of marked upon it. Women’s in part of meaning meaning marked upon it. Women’s oppression oppression is is generated generated in part by systems of of patriarchal morphological inscription—that inscription—that is, by these these systems patriarchal morphological is, by by patriarchal symbolic symbolic order—in order-—-in part part by repreaa patriarchal by internalised, internalised, psychic psychic representations inscribed body, body, and sentations of of this this inscribed and in in part part as as aa result result of of the the different different behaviours, norms that these different behaviours, values values and and norms that result result from from these different morphomorphologies and psychologies. interrogating systems logies and psychologies. Irigaray’s Irigaray’s aim aim in in interrogating systems of of philosophical norm of philosophical theory theory is is to to destabilise destabilise the the presumed presumed norm of masculinmasculinity, model or representations of ity, is is to to speak speak about about aa positive positive model or series series of of representations of femininity by by which body may positively marked, marked, which femininity which the the female female body may be be positively which in may help help establish the conditions for the the in its its turn turn may establish the conditions necessary necessary for production and production of of new new kinds kinds of of discourse, discourse, new new forms forms of of knowledge knowledge and new modes modes of of practice. practice. new Irigaray clearing aa space space in which these Irigaray embarks embarks on on the the task task of of clearing in which these images, practices This space images, practices and and positivity positivity can can come come about. about. This space can can only only be developed if feminists engage with the phallocentric be developed if feminists engage with the phallocentric system system of of thought which has so so actively in mastering mastering and thought which has actively subordinated subordinated women; women; in and going beyond beyond phallocentric methods, Irigaray going phallocentric norms norms and and methods, Irigaray suggests suggests that that women not be within the systems they women must must not be trapped trapped within the systems they must must subvert. subvert. Unlike seems to Unlike Kristeva, Kristeva, she she seems to have have aa firm firm grasp grasp of of the the commitments commitments that ‘Master these are that ‘Master Discourses’-—whether Discourses’-—whether these are Freudian, Freudian, Marxist Marxist or or Saussurian—imply for who undertake to work Saussurian—imply for those those who undertake to work within within their their frameworks. These These commitments within their frameworks. commitments involve involve an an immersion immersion within their phallocentric way in phallocentric norms, norms, unless unless there there is is aa way in which which they they can can be be harnessed not commit one to accept their underlying harnessed that that does does not commit one to accept their underlying 142 142




assumptions and and values. Kristeva’s work, spite of its many assumptions values. Kristeva’s work, in spite many insights, insights, is itself itself aa phallocentric phallocentric representation representation of women women and and femininity; femininity; her her dissolution of sexual identity posits aa universal or quasi-egalitarian quasi-egalitarian dissolution of sexual identity posits universal or concept of of subjectivity; her admiration admiration of of aa (male) concept subjectivity; her (male) avant-garde avant-garde over over the articulation of experiences is an oppositonal the articulation of women’s women’s specific specific experiences is an oppositonal model that is also phallocentric. Irigaray Irigaray makes these model that is also phallocentric. makes clear clear that that unless unless these basic models of representing the two two sexes are questioned, basic models of representing the sexes are questioned, all all disdiscourse, whether whether feminist feminist in the prevailing prevailing course, in intent intent or or not, not, will will reproduce reproduce the models of phallocentric phallocentric knowledge. models of knowledge. Irigaray suggests, not not aa pious, respectful or or subordinate role for for Irigaray suggests, pious, respectful subordinate role women in relation relation to male knowledges, more ‘excessive’ women in to male knowledges, but but aa more ‘excessive’ outlandish mimicry—to both both engage with and and outstrip outlandish one—parody, one—parody, mimicry—to engage with outstrip phallocentric models (cf. (cf. 1977b;1985 b). Mimesis Mimesis entails entails aa duplicitous phallocentric models 1977b;1985b). duplicitous process: on on the the one one hand, hand, to able to be process: to be be able to mime mime something, something, one one must must be able to to ‘go the motions’ signify it. philosophy able ‘go through through the motions’ which which signify it. To To mime mime philosophy entails the the production of philosophy philosophy according according to to the the accepted accepted norms norms entails production of and standards standards of the discipline; discipline; to is to to understand its and of the to mime mime aa system system is understand its principles, form, as would aa disciple; principles, be be able able to to reproduce reproduce its its form, as would disciple; yet yet it it also also implies going going beyond exceeding its its limits and norms, norms, implies beyond that that system, system, exceeding limits and overburdening it it with that consists in both both reproducing overburdening with the the ambiguity ambiguity that consists in reproducing and not it. To To mime to both both remain and and not reproducing reproducing it. mime is is to remain within within aa system system and also to to remain remain outside outside it. mime is is not not merely merely aa passive reproducalso it. To To mime passive reproduction, but an an active active process process of reinscribing and tion, but of reinscribing and recontextualising recontextualising the the mimicked ‘object’. ‘object’. It It is oneself both both within within and and outside the mimicked is to to position position oneself outside the system duplicated to produce something quite other other than than and and autonautonsystem duplicated to produce something quite omous from it, using recognisable recognisable actions actions for for new new purposes. purposes. omous from it, using Her work work is is thus thus both deconstruction of of phallocentric phallocentric systems systems of of Her both aa deconstruction philosophical and and psychoanalytic thought and and aa strategy strategy to to develop philosophical psychoanalytic thought develop points of of view, view, intellectual intellectual methods methods and to women’s women’s points and insights insights relevant relevant to definitions of self and and the the world—a reclamation of the domain domain of definitions of self world—a reclamation of the of theory in in which which women women have have participated either as as objects objects of male theory participated either of male project Kristeva’s project Unlike Kristeva’s men. Unlike surrogate men. themselves surrogate as themselves or as speculation, or speculation, of un-localising disconnecting the feminine from from women, Irigaray of un-localising and and disconnecting the feminine women, Irigaray does more than simply reproduce variations variations of the dominant dominant intellecdoes more than simply reproduce of the intellecby defined by is defined that is femininity that for aa femininity demands for Women’s demands paradigms. Women’s tual tual paradigms. also but also knowledge, but of knowledge, models of patriarchal models contests patriarchal only contests not only women women not underof undermodels of discursive models and discursive intellectual and of intellectual values of received values the received the and representations language, that show feminists Both feminists show that language, representations and standing. standing. Both and order and social order to social connected to incidentally connected not incidentally are not meaning are of meaning systems of systems directed is directed norms is prevailing norms to prevailing challenge to Irigaray’s challenge yet Irigaray’s its subversion; yet its subversion; autonomous of autonomous creation of the creation Kristeva, the in Kristeva, absent in goal absent political goal to to aa political femininity. and femininity. women and of women representations of and representations images models and images models

143 143

CATRIONA MACKENZIE CATRIONA MACKENZIE _ 100 Simone de Beauvoir: Beauvoir: 1 Simone de philosophy and/or andlor the philosophy the female female body body

Woman entertain the the positive belief that the truth is something Woman does does not not entertain positive belief that the truth is something other than men she recognizes, rather, that that there there is is not mot any fixed other than men claim; claim; she recognizes, rather, any fixed II .: ’,__,/\./\/\_/> truth. truth. (de (de Beauvoir) Beauvoir) --=-.._./"‘


Feminist philosophers, philosophers, including including Michele Le Doeuff Doeuff (1977), have Feminist Michele Le (1977), have opened up aa rich of speculation the different, different, but conopened up rich field field of speculation about about the but connected, the female’ and nected, conjunctions conjunctions ‘philosophy ‘philosophy and and the female’ and and ‘feminism ‘feminism and philosophy’. Through examination of de Beauvoir’s Beauvoir’s presentation philosophy’. Through an an examination of de presentation of the female body body in in The The Second to look look at at these these of the female Second Sex, Sex, I1 want want to conjunctions to map map out out the the dimensions dimensions of of some some methodological methodological conjunctions and and to questions are raised by them. them. questions that that are raised by Le analysis turns turns on the notion of metaphor. metaphor. She She argues Le Doeuff’s Doeuff’s analysis on the notion of argues that historically women women have have been been excluded excluded from from philosophy philosophy as that historically as aa foil foil to the the quest by philosophy philosophy to to be complete, self—enclosed self-enclosed discourse. to quest by be aa complete, discourse.

We have bssaslulasnasedasmsawrirv. as We have been characterised asnegativity, as atherngss.in8t 383k against which th 0P y is l TE


contrasted. his This historica historical exc exclusion as philosophers coplrgpjgd. ion oof women women as p ilosophers finds finds its the exclusion exclusion of of the ‘female’ from from the realm of its internal internal correlate correlate in in the the ‘female’ the realm of metaphysics. Philosophy Philosophy is metaphysics. is aa discourse discourse which which defines defines and and produces produces itself ‘through ‘through the that it excludes and (or itself the fact fact that it represses, represses, excludes and dissolves dissolves (or claims to dissolve) another another discourse, discourse, another another form form of claims to dissolve) of knowledge’. knowledge’. This ‘Other’ ‘Other’ of of philosophy, philosophy, its This its undefined, undefined, is is expressed expressed metaphorically, metaphorically, and understood and eRe le’, ee oe oe oe understood in the philosophical iso er ... . . . sphinx of in the philosophical imaginary imaginary as as ‘‘ aa power power o of disorder sphinx of dissolution, the depths ce of of the the underdissolution, the depths of of the the unint unintelligible, mouthpiece underworld gods, an who corrupts corrupts and without any any world gods, an internal internal enemy enemy who and perverts perverts without sign 1977:6; see see Morris, Morris, 1981-82). sign of of combat’ combat’ (Le (Le Doeuff, Doeuff, 1977:6; 1981—-82). In In


an-I—I-n_.,_., _


144 144


creating creating itself itself by by virtue virtue of of what thus simulsimulwhat it excludes, excludes, philosophy philosophy thus taneously creates creates that that ‘Other’. ‘Other’. The The philosophical philosophical understanding understanding of the taneously the ‘female’ ‘female’ comes comes into into being being with with philosophy philosophy itself. itself. The The ‘female’ ‘female’ is hence hence essential essential to to philosophy philosophy as internal negation, the ‘Other’ which gives as its its internal negation, the ‘Other’ which gives it being. being. it For Le Doeuff, Doeuff, the of feminist feminist__analysis the For Le the project project of analysis is is to to undo undo the operation this metaphor ofifhe ‘fem,a,‘:le’ in in _philosop’f_ii’c;zilfd'1'scoursae"I operation of of this metaphor of the ‘female’ philosophical discourse. Fe fhu§nvolvedTn the wiider pfoject of uiidoing philosophy’s traditional self-conception—as rational, self-defining, philosophy’s traditional self-conception—as rational, self-defining, self-present, complete. For For the the deconstruction deconstruction of self-present, complete. of the the metaphor metaphor of of the the ‘female’ occurs within role of ‘female’ occurs within the the context context of of an an examination examination of of the the role of the the imaginary philosophical discourse. discourse. In In turn, involves decondeconimaginary within within philosophical turn, this this involves struction the whole philosophical enterprise as it it has struction of of the whole philosophical enterprise as has so so far far existed. existed. Feminist analysis analysis thus with aa process already begun begun in Feminist thus converges converges with process already in philosophy, beginning beginning with Marx and and continuing in the work of of such philosophy, with Marx continuing in the work such thinkers as as Foucault, Derrida and and Deleuze—an internal crisis crisis brought thinkers Foucault, Derrida Deleuze—an internal brought about philosophical questioning about by by philosophical questioning of of the the discourse discourse of of rationality rationality in in Western Western thought. thought. The question avoided by Le is why The question avoided by Le Doeuff’s Doeuff’s analysis, analysis, however, however, is why this this metaphor in of the the metaphor in particular—that particular—that of the female—is female—is used used to to signify signify the ‘undefined’. In de Beauvoir Beauvoir suggests suggests one one ‘undefined’. In The The Second Second Sex Sex Simone Simone de possible when she possible explanation explanation when she says: says:

a aoe ce oh

Women have no no grasp the world of men because their their experience experience dpgs does Women have grasp on on the world of men because

not teach them them to to use use logic a d ttechnique; chni ue; inversely, not teach logic and inversely, masculine masculine apparatus apparatus Its powers powers at at tthee ront ner ofthefeminine feminine realm. realm. There There is I Ses ses its is aa whole whole region of the male male deliberately ignores because because region of human human experience experience which which the deliberately ignores

he fails to to think think it: lives. (1972:622) (1972:622) he fails it: this this experience experience woman woman lives.

In other other words, words, the the female female can can act act as as aa metaphor signifying the the In metaphor signifying ‘undefined’ because because at philosophy fails fails to to engage engage ‘undefined’ at aa conceptual conceptual level level philosophy with the the life life experience Philosophical discourse discourse creates creates aa with experience of of women. women. Philosophical male philosophical in which which women as philosophical philosophical subjects, subjects, male philosophical world world in women as that is is thinking thinking subjects, are in sense inconceivable. Philosophy fails that subjects, are in aa sense inconceivable. Philosophy fails to think think the the experience experience of women, either either because constitutes women women to of women, because it it constitutes as subjects incapable of of philosophical thought (which as subjects incapable philosophical or or conceptual conceptual thought (which is is itself constituted constituted in in this this process), or more more subtly because it claims that that itself process), or subtly because it claims sex is is irrelevant irrelevant to to our our status as subjects, subjects, that philosophy is is ‘universal’. ‘universal’. sex status as that philosophy It is not not just just the the ‘female’ as metaphor therefore that philosophy has It is ‘female’ as metaphor therefore that philosophy has created, but at at aa discursive level, female subjectivity itself. itself. created, but discursive level, female subjectivity My analysis of de de Beauvoir’s Beauvoir’s presentation presentation of of the the female female body body in in The My analysis of The Second Sex is in part an an attempt attempt to to show why it it is is necessary necessary for Second Sex is in part show why for feminist analysis analysis to not only only the the metaphor metaphor of of the the ‘female’ feminist to deconstruct deconstruct not ‘female’ M in philosophy, but also philosophy’s constitution of the female subject. philosophy, but also philosophy’s constitution of the female subject. Nese in suggest therefore that despite despite the the productivity productivity for feminism II hope hope to to suggest therefore that for feminism of dialogue with other critiques critiques of of philosophy, philosophy, the the specificity specificity of of its of aa dialogue with other its 145 14S)


— I


questions be allowed to disappear. disappear. questions should should not not be allowed to II also also want the problems inherent in the type type of of response want to to discuss discuss the problems inherent in the response to philosophy’s masculinism masculinism exemplified exemplified in de Beauvoir’s Beauvoir’s text. She to philosophy’s in de text. She attempts to counter counter the of philosophy philosophy by using certain certain attempts to the anti-feminism anti-feminism of by using philosophical concepts to think ‘woman’s experience’. Her text thus thus philosophical concepts to think ‘woman’s experience’. Her text works expand the the limits limits of of philosophy philosophy while while remaining remaining within within aa works to to expand specific problematic. At At the the same same time time The Second Sex Sex specific conceptual conceptual problematic. The Second undermines this this problematic problematic and and shows shows that it should be superseded. undermines that it should be superseded. De Beauvoir’s text is thus caught caught between between these these two impulses. Her Her De Beauvoir’s text is thus two impulses. account body is is symptomatic symptomatic of of this and of the account of of the the female female body this and of the difficulties creates. difficulties it it creates. The Second Second Sex as an an attempt understand and and expose expose The Sex presents presents itself itself as attempt to to understand the ‘scandal’ of woman’s woman’s s_i£uat_i_op situation through through aa pdescriptioiiof description of women’s women’s the ‘,scan_d__al’_of lived It raIZé§ takes oppression oppression as as the the given given of of this this description lived experience. experience. It descfiption while using to reveal dimensions and and the multiwhile tntng the the description description to reveal the the dimensions the multifarious nature nature of of woman’s woman’s oppression by man. man. The text is also farious oppression by The text is also however aa philosophical text in that de Beauvoir explicitly explicitly places however philosophical text in that de Beauvoir places her her endeavour within within the the context context of dualistic omenolo phenomenology y that that owes endeavour of aa dualispigpll owes much to ifwhich term terms such as wing the following much to Hegel He el and and Sartre, Sartre, and and inTw\l'fich are subjecTobyecr, immanence/transcendence, responsibility/ a re oOpposed: pp sed :su ]'ect ob jec t ,1mm ' a nence /t r a nscen d ence,responsi 'b'lit 1 y/ bad faith, faith, in-itself/for-itself, Other, speciesspeciesbad in-itself/for-itself, essential essential One/inessential One/inessential Other, life/individual. Further, she avows her description description is life/individual. Further, she avows that that her is informed informed by by the phenomenological phenomenological perspective of Sartre Sartre and that the perspective of and Merleau-Ponty Merleau-Ponty that ‘to be present in the the world world implies strictly that there exists body ‘to be present in implies strictly that there exists aa body which is is at at once once_aa material thing in the the world, world, and and aa poinT6fT/Té'w point of view which material thingin towards this this world’ world’ (197Z:39). (1972:39). a towards T Foflide this interpretation interpretation of experiential description description For Beauvoir de iieauvéir this of experiential through existential phenomenology, and through existential phenomenology, and vice vice versa, versa, results results in in the the claim claim that woman been denied denied the that woman has has been the opportunity opportunity of of becoming becoming the the meaning-giving subject subject of of phenomenology, both in terms of of her meaning-giving phenomenology, both in terms her bodily bodily experience and her existence as as aa cultural-historical cultural-historical individual. individual.-----—-—-1 Patexperience and her existence Pat1‘I21IlCI18.l oppression oppression robs robs woman,ofher riarchal woman of her subjectivity.and turns nt0 her into an object, incapable-ofbject. acting in the ld free subject. She She is is seen an seen as, th r who who never as, and and hence hence becomes, becomes, the inessential Other never becomes becomes the the essential One. Unable Unabl e ttoo create ' projects, ' h e never h’ieves crea t e hherself erse lf in projects, sshe never ac essential One. in achieves tran cendence _but but is is doomed doomed to to ‘immanence, st the transcendence ‘immanence, stagnation ... the .








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