By Denise Riley
Writing approximately adjustments within the suggestion of womanhood, Denise Riley examines, within the demeanour of Foucault, moving historic structures of the class of "women" relating to different different types important to techniques of personhood: the soul, the brain, the physique, nature, the social. Feminist events, Riley argues, have had no selection yet to play out this indeterminacy of ladies. this can be made undeniable of their oscillations, because the 1790s, among suggestions of equality and of distinction. to completely realize the paradox of the class of "women" is, she contends, an important for a good feminist political philosophy.
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Additional info for ‘Am I That Name?’: Feminism and the Category of ‘Women’ in History
Not nature, but culture, is the cause of the apparent deficiencies of women. The female subject is what she is made. What she is, is not known. As Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle wrote, 'we are as Ignorant of our Selves, as Men are of us'. Or, as the Cartesian reformer, Poulain de la Barre, had suggested in 1673, no innate Progresses of the Soul 31 inferiority could sensibly be deduced from the past performances of women who lacked education. Successive nineteenth-century feminisms made similar propositions - John Stuart Mill would echo them in his The Subjection of Women of 1869.
20 To this the former speaker retorts that such sentiments do unnecessary violence, in that they perswade us out of our Selves, as to be That, which Nature never Intended us to be, to wit Masculine, since our own Sex and Condition is for the Better. 21 For the dangers and travails of men would damage women, and 'Destroy their Tender Women possess their own natural gifts which desire of men, and thence their enslavement: serve to age and Lives' needlessly. '. 22 Here are the polarities of the mid-seventeenth-century arguments; their familiarity is conspicuous and their repetitions need no emphasis.
How can we set aside what we feel, when we trace what we think? how impose silence on those sentiments which live in us, without losing any of the ideas which those sentiments have inspired? What kinds of writings would result from these continual combats? Had we not better yield to all the faults which arise from the irregularities of nature? 71 Madame de Stael's burst of despair is indeed comprehensible; while passion and emotion must fight it out within the language of the woman writer who was caught in the grip of conventions which stressed an apposite femininity, there could be little hope for any progressive resolution.
‘Am I That Name?’: Feminism and the Category of ‘Women’ in History by Denise Riley