How can the objectified know their objectification?

Phelan, K 2016, How can the objectified know their objectification?, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title How can the objectified know their objectification?
Author(s) Phelan, K
Year 2016
Abstract Some decades ago, Heidi Hartmann lamented that “[t]he ‘marriage’ between marxism and feminism has been like the marriage of husband and wife depicted in English common law: marxism and feminism are one, and that one is marxism.”[1] By this, she meant that attempts at a feminist theory had ultimately collapsed into marxism, and so succeeded only in rendering sex inequality derivative of, hence, secondary to class inequality, and as such to be overcome only by ending class inequality. These attempts were in a sense self-defeating, negating the need from which they had emerged, the need for feminism as such. In 1982, Catharine MacKinnon confronted and attempted to remedy this. She developed a theory of sexuality as to feminism what work is to marxism, and thereby elevated feminism to a theory of the kind that marxism is, parallel rather than subordinate to it. She thus made sex inequality finally the issue. But, paradoxically, at the very same time, MacKinnon paralysed feminism, for she revealed men’s oppression of women as unknowable. If men’s oppression of women is unknowable, then feminism, as the movement to end that oppression, is impossible. Susan Bernick recognised this, saying, “MacKinnon’s legacy to feminism is the impossibility of any future feminism. Her account makes feminism theoretically impossible.”[2] This makes the most urgent task for feminism that of explaining how women can know men’s oppression of them. In this thesis, I attempt such an explanation.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Subjects Feminist Theory
Keyword(s) Feminism
Catharine MacKinnon
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Created: Fri, 25 Nov 2016, 14:27:11 EST by Keely Chapman
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