Language Philosophy

Feminist Theory and the Philosophies of Man

Feminist Theory and the
Philosophies of Man
Andrea NyeRoutledge1988

From the Introduction: If the language that women speak, in which they must speak, is tainted with sexism, a sexism deeper than a revisable lexicon, if the grammar of language is itself reflective of male thought, then nothing women can say or write in existing language can ever be truly feminist. […] Will these borrowed ideas ever work? Can feminists take the thread offered by the collaborating Athena and the male gods to whom she has pledges allegiance and make it into an escape?; or will such a thread always lead back to unreflective collaboration? Is it possible to discern among the complex patterns of feminist thought a re-occurring design of male supremacy which makes feminist theory ultimately self-defeating? […] What should I/we do now? What is the adequate understanding of women’s situation that will inform that practice? The point is not to make a catalogue of mistakes but to learn to own the past, to remember how we thought a certain way for the first time, and went on thinking that way, and the difficulty we had in acting on that thought. This, it seems to me, is the only way to learn to be the past and at the same time not to be it, as each new attempt at understanding what was thought and done creates a new past and a new future.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Designs of Feminist Theory
2. Libert√©, Egalit√© et Fraternit√©: Nineteenth-century Liberalism and Women’s Rights
… The philosophical inheritance
… An application of principle: the liberal feminism of Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill
… All men are created equal
3. A Community of Men: Marxism and Women
… A working woman’s feminism
… The attack on the bourgeois family
… Marxist feminists: Zetkin, Kollontai, Goldman
… The perimeters of Marxist theory
4. A World Without Women: The Existentialist Feminism of Simone de Beauvoir
… The existentialist critique of Marxism
… The existentialist nature of subjectivity
… The Second Sex: an existentialist feminism
… The ‘semblable’
… Radical feminism and the battle of the sexes
… The ‘nothingness’ of subjectivity
5. The Analysis of Patriarchy
… The feminist critique of Freud
… The engendering of a female self
… The primal father and the origins of society
… The limits of the thinkable: Lacan’s symbolic
… Kristeva and a maternal semiotics
… A feminine jouissance: Luce Ingaray
… Analysing analysis
6. A Woman’s Language
… Lexical discrimination
… The inequalities of semantic structure
… Derrida: the purveyor of hope
… The woman-text
… The history of the signifier
7. The Theory of Feminist Praxis