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    Feminist Philosophy Powerpoint Feminist Philosophy Powerpoint Presentation Transcript

    • Feminist Philosophy Unit 12
    • Sources
      • Freedman, Estelle, ed. The Essential Feminist Reader . Modern Library: , 2007.
      • Kourany, Janet A., James P. Sterba, and Rosemarie Tong. Feminist Philosophies: Problems, Theories, and Applications. 2 nd edition. Prentice Hall: Saddle River, N.J., 1998
      • Stone, Allison. An Introduction to Feminist Philosophy. Polity Press: Cambridge, 2007.
    • Feminist Philosophy – An Introduction
      • Feminist philosophy arose in the early 1970s, and has been most prevalent in Western Europe, North America, and Australia
          • In the US, the feminist philosophy movement followed only a decade behind the feminism movement – often rallying around Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex , published in 1953.
    • Feminist Philosophy – An Introduction
      • What is Feminism?
        • Feminism is not just the belief that women are equal to men and should be (but currently are not) treated accordingly
          • Some feminists argue that we should not be treated the same, but instead should be respected for our differences
          • Other feminists believe women need actual liberation from the patriarchal oppression of our man-oriented society
    • Feminist Philosophy – An Introduction
      • Feminist philosophy remains a controversial field within philosophy
          • Some reject it because they reject feminism as valid altogether
          • Some reject it because they question whether it is truly a philosophy
              • This critique in particular, calls to mind questions regarding the meaning of ‘philosophy.” How one defines the parameters of what philosophy is or is not will depend on whether or not one determines feminist philosophy to be a valid area of study
              • Food for thought: How might you define philosophy? Would you include feminism as an area of study?
    • Feminist Philosophy – An Introduction
      • There are three main aspects:
          • Investigation of biases against women and how they are embodied in past and present philosophy. New theories are then created that take into account the feminist perspective (Carol Gilligan, Nel Noddings, feminist ethics)
          • Drawing on philosophical concepts to articulate different feminist claims and political positions, such as those pertaining to topics such as pornography and rape
          • Introducing a range of new concepts not addressed by other fields, such as sex and gender, sexuality, and sexual difference ( Baby X , Luce Irigaray, Julie Kristeva)
      • We will be looking at articles that exemplify each of these three aspects
    • Feminist Ethics Nel Noddings, “Women and Caring,” from Feminist Philosophies: Problems, Theories, and Applications.
    • Feminine Ethics – Nel Noddings
      • Nel Noddings argues that there is a difference in the way men and women relate to others.
          • At this point, I think few of us would argue with her.
      • But Noddings takes it one step further – not only do they relate in different ways, they actually have different perceptions of what is right or wrong in relation to their relationships.
      • Men and women have different ethics in their various relationships.
          • To illustrate this concept, she examines the stories of Ceres, the Roman goddess who cared for the Earth, and Abraham and Isaac, from Genesis 22
    • Ceres – The Feminine Ethic
      • What principles of the Feminine Ethic does Noddings find in the legend of Ceres?
          • The “One-caring” (Ceres) needs the active response of the “cared-for”
          • Feminine ethics strives for an attainable ideal – often that of usefulness
          • The “one-caring” is vulnerable because of her caring
          • A commitment to care is the ultimate ethical ideal
      • “ Like Ceres, the one-caring will not turn from the real human beings who address her. Her caring is the foundation of – and not a mere manifestation of – her morality (400).”
    • Abraham – The Masculine Ethic
      • According to Kierkegaard, Abraham’s action was “supra-ethical” – despite it appearing to be unethical (killing is wrong, and killing your child is especially wrong), it was actually ethical because of Abraham’s devotion to God
          • The relation to God is absolute, meaning that all other relationships must be submitted to this greater authority
      • This masculine ethic isn’t always a devotion to a higher power. Rather, it is sometimes seen as a devotion to principle, as in the story of Manlius, the Roman commander.
          • Manlius held to the rule he had set: “If anyone leaves the camp to fight the enemy on his own, that person shall be put to death.” His commitment to this rule did not waver, even when “anyone” was replaced with his own son.
    • Differences
      • Where can we see these differences exemplified?
          • The poetry of Robert Frost – “Home Burial”
          • Pearl Buck – her discussion of her parents
      • Differences between the feminine and masculine ethics:
          • The feminine emphasizes caring above all; the masculine emphasized devotion to a higher authority – be that a deity or a principle – above all
          • The feminine cares out of relatedness; the masculine cares because of a mandate to do so (“It is the right thing to do…”)
          • The feminine ethic is also frequently guided by such considerations as how we feel, what other’s expect of us, and what the situational relationship requires of us; the masculine ethic is less likely to be influenced by these periphery matters.
    • Food for Thought…
      • Do you believe one ethic is wrong and the other is right?
      • Is there room for multiple ethics in our understanding?
          • Are the male and female ethics meant to complement one another? Do they work best when balanced by the other?
      • Do you agree that the feminine ethic reflects an inferior stage in moral development, as Lawrence Kohlberg suggests? Or do you agree with Noddings, who suggest that it is a viable ethic in and of itself?
    • Topics in Feminism: Abortion Kay Castonguay, “Pro-Life Feminism” from Feminist Philosophies: Problems, Theories, and Applications.
    • Pro-Life Feminism
      • Abortion is a hot-button issue – not only among feminists
        • In the last several presidential elections, many individuals cast their vote based on a candidate’s pro-life or pro-choice stance.
        • Perhaps until you read this article, you were under the impression that all feminists were pro-choice. However, there is a small, but growing camp within feminism that is against abortion.
      • We see in Castonguay’s article, “Pro-Life Feminism” some of the arguments made against abortion
    • Pro-Life Feminism
      • Castonguay asserts that abortion is actually oppressive to women.
      • Why?
          • She claims that it is indicative of the patriarchal perspective – that of “ownership” over one’s progeny and dependents. This particular perspective is what many early feminists have fought against.
          • It distracts from the real issues for women: solutions for poverty-stricken women; solutions for working moms; better and more effective methods of birth control.
          • It devalues the institution of motherhood by devaluing the life of a fetus.
    • Pro-Life Feminism
          • It discourages males from taking a more active role in parenthood by making abortion solely about the woman.
          • It allows women to continue to be treated as sex objects (due to support from the pornography industry).
          • The physical dangers of abortion are not clearly communicated to women, such as dangers posed during the actual procedure, as well as changes in fertility and increased likelihood of ectopic pregnancies in post-abortion women.
    • Food for Thought…
      • Do you find Castonguay’s argument persuasive?
      • Is her message at odds with what the majority of feminists believe?
      • Can you find any weaknesses in her argument? Where might she be vulnerable to criticism?
    • Gender Socialization Lois Gould, “The Story of X” from Feminist Philosophies: Problems, Theories, and Applications.
    • Gender Socialization
      • Masculine and feminine gender characteristics are distinct from biological male and female sex characteristics
          • Masculine and feminine gender characteristics vary both in different cultures and also within a culture
          • In addition, studies of hermaphrodite babies (whose sex is difficult to determine at birth) also provide some evidence that sex and gender are separable phenomenon
      • The process by which female and male babies are turned into “feminine” and “masculine” adults is heavily social
    • Gender Socialization
      • The ways that adults teach children their gender identities are both subtle and blatant, as we will see in “The Story of X”
      • That gender socialization psychologically and socially under develops boys and girls in certain areas is undeniable
      • But would gender-free socialization be better?
    • “The Story of X”
      • This story describes the way in which society pressures boys and girls to conform to its gender roles
          • It also provides an idea of what it would take for us to try and depart from these roles – and all the difficulties it would entail, for both the parent and the student
      • While gender socialization is debilitating and destructive when it is imposed rigorously, but does that necessarily mean that all acknowledgements or appreciation of differences are inherently wrong?
    • Food for Thought…
      • What do you think about the story of Baby X? Would you raise your children that way?
      • Do you agree with the assumption that gender is mostly determined by society? Or do you believe there is a genetic factor at work as well in determining gender?
      • Do you believe there is a biblical perspective on gender? What might that be?