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The politics of reality essays in feminist theory summary
To the extent that the above two types of feminist theory arepinpointing some kind of specific difference between the sexes,difference feminisms have raised concerns about essentialism oridentifying distinct values that women have as women. Such concernsare part of a larger set of criticisms that have run through feministtheorizing since the 1970s, with non-white, non-middle-class, andnon-western women questioning the very category of“woman” and the notion that this title could be aboundary-spanning category that could unite women of various walks oflife. (See the entries on and .) Criticisms of a unitary identity of“woman” have been motivated by worries that much feministtheory has originated from the standpoint of a particular class ofwomen who mistake their own particular standpoint for a universalone. In her 1981 book, Ain't I a Woman?: Black women andfeminism, bell hooks notes that the feminist movement pretends tospeak for all women but was made up of primarily white, middle classwomen who, because of their narrow perspective, did not represent theneeds of poor women and women of color and ended up reinforcing classstereotypes (hooks 1981). What is so damning about this kind ofcritique is that it mirrors the one that feminists have leveledagainst mainstream political theorists who have taken the particularcategory of men to be a universal category of mankind, a schema thatdoes not in fact include women under the category of mankind but marksthem as other (Lloyd 1993).
Social Difference Feministm: The new generation of radical feministsbriefly described above could be considered a part of socialdifference feminism, at least to the extent that these theorists take seriouslythe category of woman and want to develop an ethics and politics uponit. Another good example of social-difference feminism is care ethics,which was originally developed as an alternative to mainstream ethicaltheory, has been harnessed to counter liberal political theory(Gilligan 1982; Held 1995). (See the discussion in the entryon .) Drawing onfeminist research in moral psychology (Gilligan 1982; Held 1995), thisfield explores the ways in which the virtues that society andmothering cultivate in women can provide an alternative to thetraditional emphases in moral and political philosophy onuniversality, reason, and justice. Some care ethicists have sought totake the virtues that had long been relegated to the private realm,such as paying particular attention to those who are vulnerable ortaking into consideration circumstances and not just abstractprinciples, and use them as well in the public realm. This approachhas led to intense debates between liberals who advocated universalideals of justice and care ethicists who advocated attention to theparticular, to relationships, to care. By the 1990s, though, many careethicists had revised their views. Rather than seeing care and justiceas mutually exclusive alternatives, they began to recognize thatattention to care should be accompanied by attention to fairness(justice) in order to attend to the plight of those with whom we haveno immediate relation (Koggel 1998).
The politics of reality: essays in feminist theory
Current feminist political philosophy is indebted to the work ofearlier generations of feminist scholarship and activism, including thefirst wave of feminism in the English-speaking world, which took placefrom the 1840s to the 1920s and focused on improving the political,educational, and economic system primarily for middle-class women. Itsgreatest achievements were to develop a language of equal rights forwomen and to garner women the right to vote. It is also indebted to thesecond wave of feminism, which, beginning in the 1960s, drew on thelanguage of the civil rights movements (e.g., the language ofliberation) and on a new feminist consciousness that emerged throughwomen's solidarity movements and new forms of reflection thatuncovered sexist attitudes and impediments throughout the whole ofsociety. As the entry on notes, by 1970 feminism had expanded from activism to scholarship withthe publication of Shulamith Firestone's The Dialectic ofSex (Firestone 1971); Kate Millett's SexualPolitics (Millett 1970); and Robin Morgan'sSisterhood is Powerful (Morgan 1970).
Although any general definition of feminism would no doubt becontroversial, it seems undeniable that much work in feminist theoryis devoted to the tasks of critiquing women’s subordination, analyzingthe intersections between sexism and other forms of subordination suchas racism, heterosexism, and class oppression, and envisioning thepossibilities for both individual and collective resistance to suchsubordination. Insofar as the concept of power is central to each ofthese theoretical tasks, power is clearly a central concept forfeminist theory as well. And yet, curiously, it is one that is notoften explicitly discussed in feminist work (exceptions include Allen1998, 1999, Caputi 2013, Hartsock 1983 and 1996, Yeatmann 1997, andYoung 1992). This poses a challenge for assessing feministperspectives on power, as those perspectives must first bereconstructed from discussions of other topics. Nevertheless, it ispossible to identify three main ways in which feminists haveconceptualized power: as a resource to be (re)distributed, asdomination, and as empowerment. After a brief discussion oftheoretical debates amongst social and political theorists over how todefine the concept of power, this entry will survey each of thesefeminist conceptions.
The Politics of Reality - Wikipedia
Peformative feminist political philosophy shares liberal feminism'sappreciation for Enlightenment ideals but in a way that is skepticalabout foundations. Just as Zerilli performatively reconstitutes theconcept of freedom, Drucilla Cornell recuperates ideas of autonomy,dignity, and personhood, in a new performative capacity, as idealsthat people aspire to rather than as moral facts waiting to bediscovered, applied, or realized.
This view recuperates many of the ideals of theEnlightenment—such as freedom, autonomy, and justice—but ina way that drops the Enlightenment's metaphysical assumptionsabout reason, progress, and human nature. Instead of seeing theseideals as grounded in some metaphysical facts, this new view sees themas ideals that people hold and try to instantiate through practice andimagination. Where many ancient and modern ideals of politics werebased on suppositions about the nature of reality or of human beings,contemporary political philosophies generally operate withoutsupposing that there are any universal or eternal truths. Some mightsee this situation as ripe for nihilism, arbitrariness, or the exerciseof brute power. The performative alternative is to imagine and try tocreate a better world by anticipating, claiming, and appealing toothers that it should be so. Even if there is no metaphysicaltruth that human beings have dignity and infinite worth, people can actas if it were true in order to create a world in which it is seen to beso.
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If the diversity feminists, from multiculuturalists to postcolonialand intersectional thinkers, are right, then there is no reliablecategory of woman on which to base feminist politics. By the end ofthe 1990s some saw this as a radical danger of relativism, and thefield seemed to be at an impasse. But then another approach began toemerge. As Mary Dietz writes in her 2003 essay on currentcontroversies in feminist theory,
Frye is the author of The Politics of Reality (1983), ..
Hence, one of the most vexing issues facing feminist theory ingeneral and feminist political philosophy in particular is the matterof identity (see the entry on ).Identity politics in general is a political practice ofmobilizing for change on the basis of a political identity (women,black, chicana, etc.). The philosophical debate is whether suchidentities are based on some real difference or history of oppression,and also whether people should embrace identities that havehistorically been used to oppress them. Identity politics in feministpractice is fraught along at least two axes: whether there is any realessence or identity of woman in general and even if so whether thecategory of woman could be used to represent all women. People at theintersection of multiple marginalized identities (e.g, black women) have raisedquestions about which identity is foremost or whether either identityis apt. Such questions play out with the question of —what aspects of identity are politically salient and trulyrepresentative, whether race, class, or gender (Phillips 1995; Young1997, 2000). The ontological question of women's identitygets played out on the political stage when it comes to matters ofpolitical representation, group rights, and affirmative action. The2008 U.S. Democratic Party primary battle between Senators Barack Obamaand Hillary Clinton turned this philosophical question into a very realand heated one from black women throughout the United States. Was ablack woman who supported Clinton a traitor to her race, or a blackwoman who supported Obama a traitor to her sex? Or did it makeany sense to talk about identity in a way that would lead to charges oftreason? Of the approaches discussed above, radical and maternalfeminism seem particularly wedded to feminist identity politics.
Trumansburg, New York: Crossing Press.
Since different theories of international relations view political events in vastly different ways, the standard schools of thought (realist, liberalist, and feminist) regarding these international organizat...
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