Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing. Return to Book Page. Jaggar — Google Books If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Jaggar does an excellent job of reviewing the histories and main points of various brands of feminism while intelligently philosophizing their purposes as well as their positive and negative traits. Selected pages Title Page. Contents Feminism as Political Philosophy.

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Rolwrt I:. Machan cd. Jaggar All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.

Feminist politics and human nature. Philosophy and society Includes bibliographical references and index. Feminism-Political aspects. Women and socialism. Series HQI J33 Political science I. Acknowledgments hcry book is in some sense a social product, but this book is a social product in a sense that is especially obvious. Not only does it draw directly on the writings of many authors, but parts of it have been heard or read by many people, from all of whose comments I have benefited.

I am particularly grateful to the members of the Society for Women in Philosophy, without whose support I might not have dared to devote so much of my energy to feminist philosophy. Sandra Bartky carefully read both of the first two drafts and part of the final revision.

She contributed incisive philosophical criticisms and innumerable suggestions for stylistic improvements, as well as much practical wisdom and humor to help me find a way through the daily contradictions that confront us all.

My family has been encouraging throughout, even though my work on this book has usurped much time I might otherwise have spent with them. Elaine Stapleton, with help from Cindy Curtis, typed the last draft of the manuscript with great speed and good humor, identifying and correcting a number of my mistakes. Finally, Jane Horine, with generous help from Rebecca Hanscom, worked with dedication and creativity to produce a systematic and comprehensive index. My work has been supported financially by the Dorothy Bridgman Atkinson Endowed Fellowship, granted by the American Association ofUniversity Women, by a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, by two Taft summer grants-in-aid of research and by a grant for typing from the University of Cincinnati Research Council.

I gratefully acknowledge this assistance. Certainly, as long as women have been subordinated, they have resisted that subordination. Sometimes the resistance has been collective and conscious; at other times it has been solitary and only half-conscious, as when women have sought escape from their socially prescribed roles through illness, drug and alcohol addiction, and even madness. The first unmistakably feminist voices were heard in England in the 17th century.

In the next years, more voices began to speak together and were heard also in France and the United States. Organized feminism emerged in a period of economic and political transformation: industrial capitalism was beginning to develop, and Britain, France and the United States were adopting political systems of representative democracy. Much of this alteration was a result of the transformation in the economic and political significance of the family.

In the early modern period, production was organized through the household and noble families still had substantial political influence, even though the feudal system had been replaced by the centralized nation-state. In virtue of their family membership, women were guaranteed a certain status both in production and in government, although this status was always lower than that of men.

Noblewomen enjoyed considerable political power through the influence of their families, and married women who were not of noble rank had substantial economic power within their families because production was organized through the household.

In addition to these tasks, most women made a 4 Feminism as Political Philosophy substantial contribution to food production through keeping poultry and bees, making dairy products and cultivating vegetables; they were responsible for food processing and preservation; they spun cotton and wool and then sewed or knitted the results of their work into clothes; they made soap and candles, accumulated considerable empirical medical knowledge and produced efficacious herbal remedies.

The impact of industrialization, together with the rise of the democratic state, undermined and finally transformed the traditional relationships that had defined preindustrial society. Women of the upper classes lost political power with the decline of aristocratic families and the rise of the democratic state. Similarly women of the lower classes had the basis of their economic power undermined as industrialization removed much of their traditional work out of the home and into the factory.

For instance, the factory system and the opportunity for wage labor opened to women for the first time the prospect of economic independence outside the household and apart from husbands.

Instead, women became what Marxists called "a question. In the two or three centuries of its existence, organized feminism has not spoken with a single voice. Just as feminism first arose in response to the changing conditions of 17th-century England, so changing circumstances since that time have altered the focus of feminist demands.

For instance, suffrage, temperance and birth control have all been, at one time or another, the object of organized feminist campaigns. This movement surpassed all earlier waves of feminism in the breadth of its concerns and the depth of its critiques. Through a critical examination of four major conceptions of feminism that this movement has appropriated or generated, I hope to strengthen the movement by contributing to the development of a theory and a practice that ultimately will liberate women.

Ehrenreich and English call this trend in the woman movement "sexual romanticism" and contrast it with the more dominant tendency of "sexual rationalism.

In contemporary usage, the 19th-century restriction on the meaning of "feminism" has again been lost. That is how I shall use the term in this book. This inclusive definition of feminism is opposed to the usage of some speakers who employ "feminism" as what Linda Gordon calls "an imprimatur to bestow upon those we agree with. For some, it is a pejorative term; for others, it is honorific. Consequently, some people deny the title "feminist" to those who would claim it, and some seek to bestow it on those who would reject it.

Like Gordon, I think that this practice is not only sectarian but misleads us about history. My goal is not the discovery of a Platonic ideal form of feminism and the exposure of rival theories as pretenders.

Instead, I want to contribute to formulating a conception of feminism that is more adequate than previous conceptions in that it will help women to achieve the fullest possible liberation. The very name of the movement reflects the political context from which it emerged and provides a clue to some of the ways in which it differs from earlier forms of feminism. In the proliferation of "liberation movements" black liberation, gay liberation, third world liberation, etc.

The etymological origin of the word "oppression" lies in the Latin for "press down" or "press against. People are not oppressed by simple natural phenomena, such as gravitational forces, blizzards or droughts. Oppression must also be unjust. Suppose you are in the proverbial lifeboat with nine other people, that there is sufficient food only for six but that those in the lifeboat decide democratically to divide the food into ten equal parts.

Here you would be prevented from eating your fill as the result of some human action but you could not complain that this restriction on your freedom was oppressive as long as you accepted that distribution as just. Thus, oppression is the imposition of unjust constraints on the freedom of individuals or groups. Liberation is the correlate of oppression. It is release from oppressive constraints. It is clear from these definitions that there are conceptual connections between oppression and liberation, on the one hand, and the traditional political ideals of freedom and justice, on the other.

To speak of oppression and liberation, however, is not simply to introduce new words for old ideas. While the concepts of oppression and liberation are linked conceptually to the familiar philosophical concepts of freedom, justice and equality, they cannot be reduced without loss to those concepts.

Talk of oppression and liberation introduces not just a new political terminology but a new perspective on political phenomena.

It is a perspective that presupposes a dynamic rather than a static view of society and that is influenced by Marxist ideas of class struggle. Oppression is the imposition of constraints; it suggests that the problem is not the result of bad luck, ignorance or prejudice but is caused rather by one group actively subordinating another group to its own interest. Thus, to talk of oppression seems to commit feminists to a world view that includes at least two groups with conflicting interests: the oppressors and the oppressed.

It weakens the temptation to plan utopias by the recognition that our conception of what it is to be liberated must be subject to constant revision. As human knowledge of nature, including human nature, develops, we gain more insight into possible human goods and learn how they may be achieved through the increasing control both of ourselves and our world.

Through this process, the sphere of human agency is constantly increased. Drought is no longer an act of God but the result of failure to practice suitable water conservation measures; disease and malnutrition are no longer inevitabilities but the results of social policy.

In principle, therefore, liberation is not some finally achievable situation; instead, it is the process of eliminating forms of oppression as long as these continue to arise. In seeking liberation, contemporary feminists necessarily take over the interest of their predecessors in freedom, Feminism as Political Philosophy 7 and equality.

Their concern with the traditional concepts of political philosophy means that feminists cannot avoid the familiar philosophical conIt ovnsies over the proper interpretation of these concepts. Partly because of their traditional training and partly in an attempt to "kgitimate" the philosophy of feminism, academic philosophers have tended to discuss feminist issues in terms of the older and more familiar concepts.

By contrast, the grass-roots discussions of non-academic feminists have revolved around questions of oppression. This new language has raised new philosophical questions relating to the concepts of oppression and liberation. Can individual women escape oppression? If women are oppressed, who are their oppressors?

Can one be an unknowing or unintentional oppressor? May oppressors themselves be oppressed? Can individual members of the oppressor group refrain from oppressing women so long as the group, as such, continues to exist? To each of these questions, contemporary feminists have provided a range of competing answers. In either rase, they often raise issues that may seem foreign to political philosophy as it is currently conceived.

For instance, they ask questions about conceptions of love, friendship or sexuality. They wonder what it would mean to democratize housework or childcare. They even challenge entrenched views about the naturalness of sexual intercourse and childbearing.

Their demands or slogans arc unfamiliar and may appear non-political. They demand "control of their bodies," "an end to sexual objectification," and "reproductive rights. Thus, feminist reflections on equality for women consider not only the questions of equal opportunity and preferential treatment for women in the market but whether equality requires paid maternity leave or even so-called test-tube babies.

In raising such issues, contemporary feminists are giving a new focus to political philosophy. Rather than simply providing new answers to old problems, they seek to demonstrate that the problems themselves have been conceived too narrowly. In reconceptualizing old problems or in raising new ones, contemporary feminism is providing novel tests for the adequacy of existing political theories and, where traditional political theory seems inadequate, it is beginning to suggest alternative ways of conceptualizing social reality and political possibility.

By seeking to extend the traditional domain of political philosophy, contemporary feminism challenges both existing political theories and our conception of political philosophy itself. But the very breadth of contemporary feminist concerns means that there is a "division of feminist labor," so that some feminists are preoccupied with some political struggles, some with others.

Some feminists work in universities, some are active in left groups or in community organizing, some are black, some are lesbian. Earlier waves of feminism sometimes have been charged with reflecting primarily the experience of white middleand upper-class women. It is not always obvious, however, how the new insights and perspectives should be translated into feminist theory.

For instance, some feminists have no hesitation in declaring unambiguously that women are oppressed by men.


Feminist politics and human nature

Her analysis was not completely new; the varieties of feminism had begun to emerge as early as the s. Goals of Liberal Feminism Jagger described liberal feminism as theory and work that concentrates more on issues such as equality in the workplace, in education, and in political rights. Liberal feminism also focuses on how private life impedes or enhances public equality. Thus, liberal feminists tend to support marriage as an equal partnership, and more male involvement in child care. Ending domestic violence and sexual harassment remove obstacles to women achieving on an equal level with men. From this standpoint, legal changes would make these goals possible.


Alison Jaggar

I hold a joint appointment between Philosophy and Women and Gender Studies. I am also affiliated with the Department of Ethnic Studies. Qualifications B. In , she taught what she thinks was the first-ever course in feminist philosophy. Jaggar was also a founder of the discipline of feminist studies and published several texts that helped define the field. Postgraduate supervision Professor Jaggar will co-supervise PhD students working on political philosophy, moral epistemology and feminism together with the staff from Birmingham.

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