Skip to main content

The Feminist-Pragmatist Self

  • Chapter
  • 57 Accesses

Part of the Breaking Feminist Waves book series (BFW)

Abstract

Women’s paradoxical treatment in canonical expositions of change presents a difficulty for lovers of philosophy, as it highlights inconsistencies in theorizing.1 Through gendered (im)mutability, women have been ascribed change or stasis axiologically. Women are conflated with change when it is understood as threatening and destabilizing, on the one hand; on the other, stasis comes to be the preserve of women when change falls under the purview of the male, spirited agent. Thus, mutability and immutability are assessed with regard to their value in a specific context, and, in accordance with negative value, women are afforded their place. Gendered (im)mutability is not just philosophically problematic, though, as the persistent denial of agency to women has underwritten patriarchy and women’s oppression throughout the ages. While such a denial has been premised upon women’s diminished humanity, which in Aristotle’s philosophy arises from women’s supposedly inadequate reasoning capacities, its effect lies in rendering women passive beings, who are incapable of realizing change. Thus, a feminist reconstruction of change must focus on selfhood, and particularly gendered selves in their capacity for change. Having already debunked appeals to “nature,” essentialist classifications of beings, and hierarchical theorizing on change, I undertake such a reconstruction here.

Keywords

  • Feminist Theory
  • Reflective Thinking
  • Habitual Conservatism
  • Feminist Analysis
  • Oppressive System

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

To become a feminist is to develop a radically altered consciousness of oneself, of others, and of what, for lack of a better term, I shall call “social reality.” Feminists themselves have a name for the struggle to clarify and to hold fast to this way of apprehending things: They call it “consciousness-raising.”

—Bartky, “Toward a Phenomenology of Feminist Consciousness”

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1057/9781137342720_5
  • Chapter length: 33 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   69.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-1-137-34272-0
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   89.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. Parts of this chapter appear in condensed form in Fischer, C., “Consciousness and Conscience: Feminism, Pragmatism and the Potential for Radical Change,” Studies in Social Justice, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2010, pp. 67–85.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Holmes, R. L., “John Dewey’s Social Ethics” in Critical Assessments, Vol. 3, Tiles, J. E. (ed.), Routledge, London, 1992, p. 132.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Hollis, M., “The Self in Action” in Critical Assessments, Vol. 1, Tiles, J. E. (ed.), Routledge, London, 1992, p. 147. Emphasis added.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Altman, A., “John Dewey and Contemporary Normative Ethics” in Critical Assessments, Vol. 3, Tiles, J. E. (ed.), Routledge, London, 1992, p. 126.

    Google Scholar 

  5. See Freire, P., Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Penguin, London, 1996;

    Google Scholar 

  6. Weiler, K., “Freire and a Feminist Pedagogy of Difference” in Politics of Liberation: Paths from Freire, McLaren, P. and Lankshear, C. (eds.), Routledge, London, 1994;

    Google Scholar 

  7. and Hughes, K. P., “Liberation? Domestication? Freire and Feminism in the University,” Convergence, Vol. 31, No. 1/2, 1998, pp. 137–146.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Segal, L., Making Trouble: Life and Politics, Serpent’s Tail, London, 2007, pp. 64–67.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Quoted in Klatch, R., “The Formation of Feminist Consciousness Among Left- and Right-Wing Activists of the 1960s,” Gender & Society, Vol. 15, No. 6, Dec. 2001, pp. 791–815.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  10. Waterford Women’s Centre, “Acting in Solidarity,” International Women’s Day Conference—Inspiring Women: Challenging Voices, Changing Times, National Women’s Council of Ireland and Banúlacht, Croke, Park, 2009.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Sullivan, S., “Reconfiguring Gender with John Dewey: Habit, Bodies, and Cultural Change,” Hypatia, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2000, pp. 23–42.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  12. For more on feminist “naming” see Daly, M., Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation, Beacon Press, Boston, 1985.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Bartky, S. L., “Toward a Phenomenology of Feminist Consciousness” in Femininity and Domination: Studies in the Phenomenology of Oppression, Bartky, S. L. (ed.), Routledge, London, 1990, p. 17.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Erika Summers-Effler also finds belonging to a new group, and the attendant experience of solidarity, to be an integral part of coming to feminist consciousness. For more on this see Summers-Effler, E., “The Micro Potential for Social Change: Emotion, Consciousness, and Social Movement Formation,” Sociological Theory, Vol. 20, No. 1, March 2002, pp. 41–60.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  15. Frye, M., “Some Reflections on Separatism and Power” in Feminist Philosophies: Problems, Theories & Applications, Kourany, J. A., Sterba, J. P., and Tong, R. (eds.), Harvester Wheatsheaf, Hemel Hempstead, 1992, p. 289.

    Google Scholar 

  16. see Rooney, P., “Feminist-Pragmatist Revisionings of Reason, Knowledge, and Philosophy,” Hypatia, Vol. 8, No. 2, Spring 1993, pp. 15–37, p. 21.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  17. see Friedan, B., The Feminine Mystique, Penguin, London, 1965

    Google Scholar 

  18. McKenna, E., “The Need for a Pragmatist Feminist Self” in Feminist Interpretations of John Dewey, Seigfried, C. H. (ed.), The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 2002, p. 147.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Copyright information

© 2014 Clara Fischer

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Fischer, C. (2014). The Feminist-Pragmatist Self. In: Gendered Readings of Change. Breaking Feminist Waves. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137342720_5

Download citation