Sex indeed extends no further than to the organs of generation. For Poullain, success in science required only reliable senses combined with right method. If sexual differences extend no further than reproductive organs, then everyone--both women and men--has equally reliable senses. Women have the same sense organs as men--their eyes see as clearly, their ears hear with the same degree of accuracy, their hands are as dextrous.
Francois Poullain de la Barre
And their heads are the same as men's. On this basis Poullain argued that women were capable of doing anatomy. For similar reasons women were capable of creative work in mathematics and logic, physics and engineering, metaphysics and astronomy, history and geography, medicine, theology and civil law; in short, there was 'nothing too high for women' " Schiebinger, The Mind has no Sex? Londa Schiebinger took the title of her book--The Mind has no Sex? Schiebinger chose to quote Poullain de la Barre at the head of three chapters in her book: Introduction p. More information about this seller Contact this seller 2.
Condition: Brand New. French language. In Stock. Seller Inventory x More information about this seller Contact this seller 3. Condition: New. Seller Inventory ING More information about this seller Contact this seller 4. Item added to your basket View basket. However, an 'H. Wyat' reputedly signed a first edition of the Essay in defence once owned by Philip Bliss A bibliography of Engliih character books, 16o,Oxford Bibliographical Society j , pp. Sheryl O'Donnell, 'Mr. Kinnaird, 'Mary Astell and the conservative contribution to English feminism', Journal of Blitish Studies, 19 , pp. John women: the use of revolutionary discourse in Mary Astell and Mary Wollstonecraft compared', History ofPolitical Thought, 14 1gg3 , pp.
Schwoerer, 'Women's public political voice in England', in Hilda L. Smith, ed. Such readings do not necessarily ensurc a crop of 'first English feminists'. Seventeenth-century pro-woman writings emerge less as declarations for female individualism, and more as manifestos for a national reformation in morals and manners. To comprehend fully the genres which preceded An essay in defence, one must first turn to the history of the Church of England.
The late seventeenth century was an uncomfortable era for Anglicans. Although the Church was reestablished at the Restoration, receiving massive legislative support from the 'Clarendon Code', and intellectual sustenance from the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, the Anglican victory increasingly appeared to be Pyrrhic. Nor were they exemplars of Anglican morality. Moreover, neither was the nation, many Anglican clergy and laity came to believe.
Indeed, it seemed to Anglicans that, after the seemingly providential deliver ; from anarchy in , the nation had rejected godliness. During the following decades several thousand places of worship for dissenters were licensed. In the face of such unbridledness by prince and people, the neglected Church of England's only option was to be good.
By the 16gos, Anglicans turned to philanthropy to ensure their survival, not only as the established church, but as the national orie too. At the core of Anglican pedagogical philosophy was a commitment to the education of girls as well as boys. Female pupils were admitted to charity schools. Some institutions were established specifically for girls. Additionally, Anglican writers called for changes in the education of young women from the social elite. Yet to hail such writers as enlightened reformers whose prime concern was to widen women's intellectual spheres would be anachronistic.
Anglicans were so concerned about female education since they saw women as vital to the continuation of the Church of England. For, although limited in their rights and opportunities, early rnodern women were far from being viewed by contemporaries as peripheral and powerless figures in the formation of society. The influence of women over their husbands, children, and servants within ;he domestic sphere was not only recognized but, in some areas, encouraged.
In particular, they were invested with a major pedagogical role concerning spiritual matters inside the household. It was thus hoped that, if trained as Anglicans, young women would 'bring up their own Children in a like Fear of the Lord', as White Kennett remarked in I Indeed, it is telling that the only late seventeenth-century tract concerning female schooling which placed little emphasis upon religious education was by a dissenter, Daniel Defoe. Lettice Cary was an early exponent of the Anglican pedagogical trend. Wife of the royalist 'martyr', Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland, she was a woman of considerable learning and deeply interested in theology.
In a memorial written in , two years after her death, John Duncon described how 'this elect. According to Duncon, Cary also hoped to establish 'places for the education of young Gentlewomen, and for Retirement of Widows as Colle,ees.. Indeed, when Clement Barksdale compiled his collection of biographies of immortal Anglicans, Memorials of worth persons , Cary was the only woman whom he included. Barksdale, a royalist. David L. And exemplijed in the holy life and death ofthe said honorable lady London, , pp.
Others were much more explicitly didactic and alarmist, such as Edward Chamberlayne and George Hickes, who also proposed the foundation of colleges for young women. In An academj or colledge: wherein young ladies and gentlewomen mag at a uery moderate expence be dub instructed in the true Protestant religion , Chamberlayne harked back to the English civil war.
But 'during our late unnatural MJar, not only all kind of sects, and with them Irreligion, Atheism, and Debauchery, were introduced'. However, women had participated substantially in sectarian churches. Some had prophesied, a few had preached, and others had even publicly demonstrated in defence of their forms of worship. In response,. IrB, 'Edward Charnberlayne'. Mid-seventeenth-century female sectarians were indelibly memorialized as licentious, hysterical, ungovernable, spiritual, usurpers. He argued that it was 'very expedient' to educate women, 'so by their Godly Conversation This threatened 'the final overthrow of the present established Church and State'.
Hickes's concerns over the education of women were as closely linked to Anglicanism as Chamberlayne's, and took a similar form. Although, in a sermon on almsgiving preached before the lord mayor of London in April I , he advocated the establishment for women of 'Colleges' like those at Oxford and Cambridge, later Hickes actually censured female erudition. The work concentrated on teaching religion and morality. He was actively involved in attempting to reconvert doctrinally fallen ladies who had lapsed into papistry, publishing the resulting theological correspondence to persuade females 'who are so unsetled' into the spiritual merits of the Church 0fEng1and.
It was because the Church was in danger that Hickes propounded the idea of women's colleges in For such institutions would root out 'Enthusiasm, with her Daughter Schism'. These, he believed, were maintained by women 'who are so silly and deceivable for want of Ingenious and Orthodox. Bridget on Easter-Tuesday, being the 1st of April, Fenelon, archbishop of Cambray ; Dublin, , pp.
Education, and not for want of Parts'. The timing of Hickes's sermon of gives his remarks on 'Enthusiasm' and 'Schism' a sharper meaning. By April I , Charles I1 had conquered the whigs. The tory reaction against them was in full cry. Hickes had been a royal chaplain since I, and for some years had preachcd furiously against the 'Poyson oi'Enthusiasm'.
For Hickes, writing in the aftermath of the 'Exclusion Crisis', female education, along with a loyalist London government, bvas part of a campaign to purge the nation ol'political and religious dissent. Not all Anglican educationalists propounded a coilventional curriculum. Bathsua Makill's An essq to reaiae the antient education of gentlewomen j championed female erudition by assembling a formidable gerlealogy of intellectually brilliant women from 'Zenobia, Queen of Palmeria' to Makin's correspondent, Anna Maria van Schurman.
For a major argument of Makin's was a spiritual one. She argued that women had been indispensable to thc dissemination of the gospel. Jub, II I,ondon, I See also J. Overton, 7 he nonlurol-s: thelr 1iui.
François Poullain de la Barre
Douglas, English tcholal-s L3ondon. Bridget', dedication. An esiajl to 1-eclce the anlzent educatzon oJ'gentleaomen zn 1-ellgzon, mannels, afts, auil tongue.! To teach them just to 'frisk and dance' ruined their Even worse, their ignorance and lack of intellectual training left them open to spiritual ruin from non-Protestant influences.
It is here that Makin revealed her openly Protestant agenda. She argued that under-educating women 'is practised amongst degenerate and Apostate Christians'. Thus it would be in the spirit of the Reformation to remedy this fault. For education is 'a hedge against heresies.. It cannot be imagined so many Persons of Quality would be easily carried aside When making these remarks, Makin undoubtedly had in mind the example of the duke and duchess of York. In Anne, duchess of York had converted to Catholicism, as did her husband, the heir presumptive, James.
York's apostasy was confirmed to the public in , the year in which Makin published her work, when he resigned his official offices rather than take the Test Act, thus precipitating the lengthy dilemma for those Anglican royalists, as Makin's background and works show her to be, whose creed also insisted upon absolute loyalty to the crown and its direct heirs. In November York married the Catholic Maria d'Este of Modena, despite vocal public and parliamentary disapproval. The Protestant hope of the nation now resided with York's two surviving children, Mary and Anne, and it was to the former that Makin dedicated her work.
Like her intellectual forebears, Astell was a fervent Anglican, and her projected institution scrupulously followed the Anglican liturgy and calendar. Astell attacked dissenters' schools, arguing the necessity of laying 'the Seeds of Dissention as much out of their Childrens way as possible'. VIav Astell, pp I A 'Religious Retirement' was Astell's prime intention, the promotion of godliness being her establishment's 'main, I may say its only design'. For, inquire into the grounds and Motives of religion.. In contrast to her espousal ofrational Anglicanism, Astell condemned religious 'raptures', and she was opposed to permitting women to teach in churches, and 'usurp Authority where it is not allow'd them'.
Before discussing Judith Drake's E,rsay in defence in relation to the preceding Anglican genre, it is important briefly to note that Anglican 'feminism' was not the only type of pro-woman writing to engage with contemporary political debate.
Poulain De La Barre Francois, First Edition
Likewise, the 'illustrious ladies ' genre could carry political overtones. But, in contrast to the toryism of the educationalists, their agendas were often whiggish.
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It has been suggested that the several pro-woman 'illustrious ladies' writings which datc ii-om the period of the 'Exclusion Crisis' were published to highlight the capability of women to rule a kingdom, and thus to endorse the suitability of the duke ofYork's daughter, Mary, as a queen regnant. After their relationship broke up, hell having no fury like a male feminist scorned, he threatened to expose her conduct by publishing their. Astrll, Political zeritings, p. Lois G. In Anne's reign he became a whig MP, and held the office of gentleman of the horse to the queen. Through identifying differing manifestations of these myths and legends originating from an identical source, both feminist theorists emphasize the importance of their own theoretical conceptions on dismantling embedded societal prejudices, and set up a platform to discuss education and prospects for future gender equality.
De la Barre systematically beats back the prejudices of mythical figures of the Scholastic age, tearing down their prejudices with clear and distinct ideas. For his contemporaries, the authoritative perspective on all thins rested upon the shoulders of the great thinkers of previous centuries. Their word on any and all subjects was taken as gospel, irrefutable truth about the state of the world and God.
He counters that all thinkers are fallible and susceptible to the times in which they live, capable of easily falling into error without the Cartesian method to lay out clear and distinct ideas. De la Barre takes them to task for adhering unquestioningly to inherited beliefs that have no empirical or rational standing: "most philosophers have no other rule than public opinion, and their pronouncements are not based on scientific laws, especially on the subject under discussion They are not taught to understand man through the body or the mind.
De la Barre accuses his epoch's most revered scholars of falling prey to historical shortsightedness from a lack of understanding. Even further, he goes on to accuse them as a group for inciting unjust treatment and pernicious prejudices against women as the acceptable, educated model of behavior: "Men we regard as fonts of wisdom have never said anything good about women. In fact, men's 51 De la Barre, Bane 41 behavior towards women in all places and at all times is so uniform that it seems to be part of an organized movement.
In this way, the historical precedent of thought and behavior set by preceding generations becomes compounded, mythologized, concretized in the beliefs of even those that society reveres as its founders and the most knowledgable to have ever lived. For de la Barre, this demonstrates an egregious error that the Cartesian method of understanding alleviates,namely that one must have knowledge of oneself and the formulation of one's own ideas and foundations in understanding before commenting on the world at large.
Without such a grounding, false legacies of pernicious behavior and thought cannot but continue as before, gaining even more apparent authority: "But since most of the Ancients and the Moderns have based their philosophy on popular prejudice, and since they were completely ignorant about themselves, it is no wonder that they were so badly informed about others. The de-mythologizing of the Ancients and Moderns that continued and reinforced falsely prejudicial standards against women can only be understood in the light of such clear and distinct ideas.
De la Barre would not have us do away with these scholars altogether, but rather distinguish those subjects where they hold true authority from those informed only through cultural bias 52 Ibid. Bane 42 and historical prejudice. By untangling the true contributions of wisdom from those false beliefs that have gone unchallenged and thus have become concretized as a great legacy, de la Barre works to de-mythologize the figures of canonized Scholasticism, and open the door to new formulations of true thought and practice that rightfully give opportunities for women to participate and flourish.
De Beauvoir, in her phenomenological perspective, turns to the subconscious as a continuation of prejudices. Herein, we have the realization that deep-seeded beliefs are harder to uproot than mere habit and clear and distinct ideas can muster. Contemporary intersectional feminist thinkers recognize the role and entrenchment of the subconscious, and readily admit that the dismantling of such beliefs is a lifelong endeavor and constant struggle much like the overall fight for female equality.
This is the stance that de Beauvoir reveals within her segment entitled "Myth", unraveling the psychoanalytic, totemic, legendary prejudices surrounding the woman as Other, which linger to this day. Although woman is both body and autonomous agent, such status is stripped from her within hegemonic masculine perceptions: "Man feminizes the ideal that he posits before him as the essential Other, because woman is the tangible figure of alterity; this is why almost all the allegories in language and in iconography are women.
Even from the imagination, to be a woman takes on predetermined connotations, able to be object and force. Although this entrenchment of gendered valuation goes far back enough to be incorporated linguistically without any thought at all, it has its origins within human activity, and is therefore fallible. She asserts, "symbolism did not fall out of heaven or 54 De Beauvoir, Bane 43 rise out of subterranean depths: it was elaborated like language, by the human reality that it as once Mitsein and separation; and this explains that singular invention also has its place.
The Other that lives among us, the Mother that brings new life, and therefore attaches us continually to our mortality, is continually subjected to the symbolic inheritance that such a form of being has come to indicate. These subconscious shadows, de Beauvoir argues, are the battlefield where the fight for true gender equality must be fought. For her, the only way to accomplish this destabilization of mythological prejudices is to take up the masculine model of subjectivity.
The Other must become an autonomous Subject in the eyes of society. There is an insistence present within this perspective that the only way to envision liberation for women is through the assimilation of the masculine model: "The future can only bring greater and greater assimilation of women in a hitherto masculine society. Both feminist theorists reveal mythologies about women inherent to sources of authority and forms of behavior at the time of their writings.
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However, what factor that each pinpoints as the continuation of prejudicial myth and what must be done to 55 Ibid. Bane 44 destabilize such beliefs vary greatly. Each resulting critique is a direct manifestation of the theoretical framework chosen: de la Barre must tackle inherited beliefs from authority as a Cartesian dualist, and de Beauvoir must unravel the embodied behavior and norms of womanhood through psychoanalysis to do her phenomenology justice in light of the woman's lived experience.
For intersectional thinkers, this is an important comparative exercise on where the so-called authorities of prejudicial thinking originate. De la Barre's conception of sexualized behavior and expectation still needs to be dismantled within scholarship to a great degree, as even contemporary writers fall prey to normative patriarchal tropes within their argumentation.
De Beauvoir's description of a psychoanalytic battle, an internalized struggle wherein the educated person must constantly combat the omnipresent normative structure of sexism, is all too real for contemporary feminists, and can be applied to other forms of oppression as well. These critiques of the myths, legends, and legacies of women's expected behavior and ability should not be considered mutually exclusive, but rather both occur and must be taken under consideration when doing feminist theory.
Their bifurcation into these separate thinkers serves its purpose, however. For the citing of a particular source for each major critique leads directly to conceptions of education for both thinkers. Indeed, further understanding and the practicing of that new understanding is imperative to the dismantling and destabilization of the normative framework put in place by mythologized beliefs and preconceptions of sexual difference. We now turn, in the final section, to a comparison of these educational techniques and goals specific to each thinker, and what it means for society's potential to change.
Bane 45 Envisioning a Brighter Feminist Future De la Barre and de Beauvoir both envision a possible future where false beliefs of gender will be eradicated, or at the very least, obsolete within feminist discourse. The key to both of these visions rests in the attainment of self-knowledge and education. In this final section , the second part of both feminists treatises are compared with one another to glean which potential method may be best for continuing contemporary feminist education.
Both of these texts work their way through the character tropes and observed behaviors of women, neither one ever losing sight of the grand importance of education and lived experience upon behavior patterns and expectations. Although they hold this structure and methodological critique in common, each feminist theorist posits a different vision for women's education, and what end that education is meant to have in regards to impacting societal norms.
As was true for both de la Barre and de Beauvoir, our society is inherently gendered, and thus most if not all terms of equality already posit the female in the negative, desiring to strive for the access that the man has readily available to him. She only has his language To this glaring problematic, each feminist theorist posits her or his own answer in accordance with the accepted theoretical framework already established.
Bane 46 dependency, they share the male point of view. The male point of view, as we have seen, is inherently flawed, and must be altered to accommodate the truth of gender difference. For Cartesian dualism, it applies to the body alone. De Beauvoir is adamant that the divide continue to exist and be recognized, as such recognition is necessary to shift as yet entrenched phenomenological understanding: "to grasp the Eternal Feminine in her economic, social, and historical conditioning as a whole.
The Eternal Feminine must end, abandon its tenants, and link itself up to what the male embodied individual has, namely recognition as Subject. Here, we begin to see the division of goals. While both find self-knowledge and education in that vein as imperative, de la Barre posits a radical shift in all discourses to dismantle sexual difference, while de Beauvoir focuses her energy on methods of articulation and understanding akin to assimilation within a masculine frame of subjectivity.
It is at this point that their theoretical differences cause a rift within the methodological approach to the problem of gender inequality in a way that was never apparent before. Contemporary intersectional feminist thinkers are still confronted with the same basic dilemmas of education, inclusion, and strategy for action. A more thorough investigation of where each foundational thinker decides to go with this enacting critique may uncover more reflective, better-informed ways to approach these questions within the current feminist discourse.
As has already been hinted at, the first step towards any form of proper education is true self-recognition. It is only through the self- knowledge that the mind is not sexed and the body is perfectly formed to perform its given tasks of biological functioning: [Women] had to overcome the indolence in which their sex is raised, to give up the pleasures and idleness to which they had been reduced, to surmount various public obstacles that keep them from study, and to rise above the unfortunate opprobrium in which male scholars are generally held, in addition to the normal prejudice against their sex.
Indeed, at this point in the first treatise, he highlights that women have indeed been able to accomplish this on their own. What is needed further in his view is an expansion of this form of education to both men and women, which will go a long way to diminish those "public obstacles" and eliminate those "prejudice[s] against their sex.
Bane 48 between the false prejudices and mythologized expectations and the clear and distinct ideas based on reason and observation. With this confidence in her own mental faculties despite what society claims about her sex, there can be no doubt that the only method to improvement is that of education and further study. But even more than just the question of access is challenged on de la Barre's view. He is also determined to re-write the syllabus, as it were: The reasons for the belief that it is so arduous to acquire knowledge is that most people seeking it are forced to learn all kinds of useless things.
Since learning up till now has been exclusively geared to transmitting the views of our predecessors, with people being overly given to relying on the traditions and beliefs of their masters, very few have been lucky enough to find the natural method. To alleviate the burden of repetitive, noxious, false information predicated on prejudice, de la Barre advocates for the streamlining of the education process that focuses on bringing about the heightened capabilities of the mental faculties instead of filling the brain with inane facts and figures.
This radical shift in focus and the encouraging of women to participate in education is a highly radical stance for his time. Anticipating the many arguments against women being able to learn, de la Barre points to the variety of aptitudes demonstrated by men: "diversity seems in no way to prevent minds from receiving the same instruction. Bane 49 do not discriminate the education of men based on their perceived aptitude in childhood or adolescence, then why should we deprive all women from receiving instruction?
Clearly, society accepts the diversity within men, and has no true un-prejudicial reason to deprive women of the same opportunity. Although his ideas may be radical for his time, he himself is not the pioneering political activist of later generations of feminists that followed him. De la Barre, however, does confront the obvious paranoia that comes with the equality of a traditionally disenfranchised group: What if they should subordinate us in the same manner that we subordinated them?
English 'Feminist' Writings and Judith Drake's "An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex" (1696)
There is no room for this kind of thinking within a Cartesian framework. The Cartesian dualism model of feminism holds promise for the particular individual, citing each mind as a separate instance and accruement of experiences and opportunities to seek the truth. Thus, the primacy of education and intersubjective recognition is desirous for all, and must in this conception be extended to all peoples. Bane 50 pressures have on embodied individuals within all cultures.
Any broad-reaching educational effort inevitably fails without these considerations. Limited by classicist perceptions, the Cartesian model of education, although promising to contemporary feminist conceptions, lacks crucial insights that recognize the power of the status quo upon individuals. In turning to de Beauvoir, feminist theories of education search for a phenomenological method towards education. This theoretical framework reveals a very different question of gaining subjectivity, and to what extent the female autonomy is limited in that endeavor.
On this formulation, de Beauvoir is faced with two differing options: does the Other gain subjectivity on the male model alone, or can the repressed subject reach an exercise of true autonomous will through education? The first step— like her predecessor de la Barre—is to establish the role of women within society and her own embodiment with an understanding that this position has great impact upon the possibilities of her education: Many of the faults for which [women] are reproached—mediocrity, meanness, shyness, pettiness, laziness, frivolity, and servility—simply express the fact that the horizon is blocked for them.
Woman, it is said, is sensual, she wallows in immanence; but first she was enclosed in it. If this is the case, then the question becomes how to disentangle oneself from such an omnipresent situation. The individual endeavor is still restricted by the normative realities and prejudices that 65 De Beauvoir, Bane 51 the woman undergoes: "From the moment the woman is free, her only destiny is one she freely creates for herself.
So the relation between the two sexes is a relation of struggle. Through the formulation of a competitive discourse, a competitive way of knowing, acting and being, de Beauvoir argues that such a dualism within society creates inherent conflict between the groups. For her, the Hegelian master-slave dialectic is inescapable through such revolutionary acts of individual transgression. Yet the recognition of a woman as whole subject, not merely the Other of alterity, is a necessary condition if the striving for sexual equality is to continue: "To recognize a human being in a woman is not to impoverish man's experience: that experience would lose none of its diversity, its richness, or its intensity if it was taken intersubjectively.
Thus, the desired course of action for education and advocacy on an individual level is the adherence to the masculine model of subjectivity already lain forth. Othering can only end through a joining with existing subjective frameworks on this view, lending all education to the acquisition of the power and perspective necessary to gain the individual equality already set forth by the masculine model.
On top of the personal aspects of this journey are layered the ambiguous matrix of the relation of the body to the 66 Ibid. Bane 52 larger societal expectations made manifest through embodiment, restricting action and creating or inhibiting possibilities for the subject.
The implications and demands of the historic and socio-economic moment must never be lost track of when discussing possible actions for equality. On this view, de Beauvoir advocates for a greater scope of subversive understanding and manifestation: "Women's actions have never been more than symbolic agitation; they have won only what men have been willing to concede to them; they have taken nothing; they have received.
Once again, the need for equal recognition as autonomous subjects is imperative for the feminist cause. The phenomenological relation of the individual woman to her world is imperative in determining what actions she has, what she can demand, what she can advocate for, and her possibilities for action within a society that she did not choose. Women must gain the status of subject on the male model to avoid a transgressive master-slave dialectic and to empower themselves to function within the world on equal footing to them. Firstly, her insistence that all forms of joining the labor force are liberating negates the long history of 68 Ibid.
Bane 53 impoverished women and women of color who have had no choice in the matter historically. If, as she stated earlier, we are all both enchained to the body and autonomous agents, why not search for a more inclusive formulation of subjectivity for both sexes, respecting the inherent sexual difference that she finds necessary and avoiding a continual master-slave dialectic of competing desires to dominate the power matrix?
De Beauvoir continues to adhere to a Cartesian dualism inherited from de la Barre, but maps it on to societal conditions in patters that the Enlightenment theorist would find baffling. De la Barre and de Beauvoir each present different routes to self-empowerment for women. But the question lingers: is mere self-empowerment enough? It is evident that education is not self-empowering enough for de Beauvoir, as she argues that true freedom for women can only through economic independence and the adoption of the existing, masculine model of subjectivity.
Conclusion: The Intersectionalist Turn Through this discourse, I desired to present the historical development of mainstream Western feminist theory. Whether acknowledged or not, his first treatise on female equality at the dawn of the Enlightenment set the stage for all of feminist theory to come, outlining the parameters of discussion, formulating the common targets and methodology of critique, and revealing the great power of theoretical argumentation against societal prejudices. One thing inherited from both thinkers that contemporary feminist theories need to diligently maintain is the recognition of social impacts on embodiment and therefore how the lived experience gets interpreted, internalized, and practiced to influence the next generation.
The body must be recognized as an important factor that has the potential to contribute to behavior and interpretations of the world. But there is a fine balance that must be struck between preserving this potential and carrying over to the real of accusation, excuse, and exclusion. Intersectional feminists are responsible for the theoretical legwork that will make such derogatory and dehumanizing commentary unfounded. Another vital quandary brought about by the emphasis on education as key to liberation is the questioning of possible action against the status quo. More specifically, is transgression a possible, viable option, or is there only the possibility of enacting subversive critiques theoretically?
He presents drastically different perspectives on not just all of society, but also on gender. Transgression easily slips into performative emptiness if the end goal is to effect concrete societal change. By positing the masculine model of subjectivity as the only tenable approach to equality, she encourages subtle shifts from within the existing framework to assure the eventual recognition of women as subjects themselves.
François Poulain de la Barre (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
This perception does not do enough to recognize, advocate, and preserve the unique embodiment and phenomenological modes of knowing that come with being a member of the female sex. It is as if the only way to gain equality is through assimilation, not mutual change or growth.
While subversion is the key to making progress towards gender equality, it must not conform to the given status quo. The power within subversion is the recognition of the boundaries set by society, and utilizing those parameters in creative ways in order to shift or expand them. Contemporary intersectional feminists have two examples of problematic theoretical conceptions for advocating change within society within this genealogical analysis.
Where one is too far out to be constructively implemented, the other falls too close to existing harmful norms to be constructive for gender equality. One key element missing from both perspectives was the recognition that while hegemonic power relations place men as a gender in control of the situation, it fails to acknowledge the pervasive and continual harm that upholding such a hyper-patriarchal normative ideal is for both sexes.
Both theoretical frameworks lend well to this argument, although it is not taken up. De la Barre places such a great influence on rationality as necessary for reaching the truth—and therefore the divine influence of God—that any form of bias or prejudice held by men impedes not only the development of their own intellectual potential, but also hinders them from access to eternal salvation. De Beauvoir spends much time within the second volume of her work distinguishing all of the ways that such a phenomenological inheritance prevents the development of healthy, flourishing relationships with other people of both sexes.
For while socially he has all of the cards, men and women do need each other, and he is irreparably severed from enjoying the intersubjective bond with an entire population of human beings forced to cohabitate in the same shared spaces, leading to resentment of the other sex and a lack of healthy psychoanalytic development on both sides.
There must be a move towards the recognition of each sexed individual as a whole human being, and both de la Barre and de Beauvoir begin to tentatively push for that recognition by society overall. While society is too deeply entrenched into normative frames of sexual identification, that element of personhood may someday soon become secondary, a relief to women, trans, and non-identified intersex individuals everywhere.
We, as rigorous feminist theorists, must be wary of the dangers of universal inclusivity as well. To put it another way, we must show caution and discernment towards insights brought to our attention. Theoretical frameworks are by their very principles exclusionary. We also must recognize the diversity of our social conditions, and avoid any forms of feminist discourse that claim hegemonic application.
The genealogy of Western feminist thought keeps us mindful of our own temptations into theoretical shortcomings, and allows contemporary thinkers to have a better understanding of present circumstances and power relations both within the current discourses of feminist theory and in the wider realm of everyday feminist praxis.
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