Feminism Three Topics on Sexuality Examine Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1195 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

Feminism

Three Topics on Sexuality

Examine how Two Feminist Thinkers Recast the Self as Subject?

Since its initiation as a theoretical discourse, feminist theory has been tasked with revising traditional theories of the self. Specifically, the traditional, essentialist, humanistic theory of the self had been predicated on the notion that subjectivity is subsumed with an instinct toward procreation, and feminism versed this view. Moreover, the universalist theory of subjectivity has an inherent bias toward the male, who is viewed as the passive agent while the female is subordinated within a position of submission. In order to advance the project of improving female agency -- one of the central motives of feminism -- it was necessary to formulate some framework of female subjectivity that did not position women as subject to male domination. Two thinkers who recast the self as subject were Eve Sedgwick and Judith Butler, each of whom situate subjectivity as socially constructed rather than biologically defined.

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In "Axiomatic," Eve Sedgwick accepts Foucault's central premise that sexuality is invented when it is socially constructed. In this regard, sexuality is socially constructed rather than biologically determined. Sedgwick's theory differs from that of Simone de Beauvoir, for example, who asserts that women are inherently positioned as the other on the basis of their genitalia. Meanwhile, Sedgwick destabilizes sexuality to a greater extent than Foucault, arguing that subjectivity cannot be totalized on the basis of gender. While society is integral in shaping subjectivity, it does not have a totalizing effect. Borrowing from Derrida, Sedgwick argues that there is difference even between those who exist within the same cultural group. To this end, Sedgwick destabilizes the bond between each person and their cultural group. Instead of defining subjectivity on the basis of procreation, Sedgwick sees it as the result of the interaction between the person, their cultural group, and society.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Feminism Three Topics on Sexuality Examine How Assignment

Butler is similar to Sedgwick in that she sees subjectivity as culturally determined rather than biological. However, she considers subjectivity to be less individualistic, arguing that people can never be truly autonomous but instead are inextricably tied to the worldview of their cultural group. In this regard, a lesbian or feminist cannot conceive of themselves as distinct from how lesbians and feminists are defined by society. Both Butler and Sedgwick demonstrate the way in which the self is a social being, rather than one that is driven by a procreative instinct.

Discuss Eve Sedgwick's Ideas of Minoritizng and Universalizing

In "Axiomatic," Eve Sedgwick offers an outline of minoritizing and universalizing the question of hetero and homosexuality that contrasts with the traditional constructivist vs. essentialist framework. The minoritizing framework is predicated on the notion that homosexuality only pertains to a minority of people who identify themselves as being homosexuals. This approach is characterized by the perception that one's sexual orientation can exist in a wholly autonomous manner, distinct from the opposite orientation. Meanwhile, the universalizing approach involves the belief that homosexuality is of "determinative importance" for everyone (244). Sedgwick's use of the term "determinative" is important in this context as it reflects the crucial impact that homo and heterosexuality has in defining the subjectivity of members of both sexual orientations. The subjectivity of a homosexual is shaped in large part through the way in which heterosexuality is constituted in society, and vice versa -- heterosexuality is shaped through the privilege it enjoys in relation to homosexuality. In this regard, sexuality is relational and can only be defined through its relation with the opposite sexual orientation.

One of Sedgwick's central beliefs is that it is necessary to do away with concepts of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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