Feminism and Personhood

9 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2010 Last revised: 17 Aug 2010

See all articles by Emily A. Wilsdon

Emily A. Wilsdon

Downing College, Cambridge University; New York University - School of Law

Date Written: May 15, 2010


What does feminist theory give us, when we think about politics and justice? Far from merely acting as a reminder that half the population is female, and focusing attention on 'women's issues,' considerably varied strands of feminist theory radically undermine the standard conception of the person as an autonomous, individual unit that underpins mainstream theories of justice, from social contractarianism to libertarianism.

A 'feminist politics' is one which takes into account the nature of 'identity' at two conceptual levels. Firstly, it does so when formulating a theory of politics which accommodates the experience of having particular identities in its conception of the person. Secondly, it does so in concrete action using that theory to understand the position of feminists, taking an identity such as 'woman' as a tool, a reference for political action that is sensitive to, and makes the most effective use of, the multiplicities and interdependencies of existence.

Keywords: Feminism, Rawls, John Rawls, Judith Butler, Catherine MacKinnon, Carol Gilligan, Personhood, Identity, Gender, Rational Person, Liberalism, Indvidual

Suggested Citation

Wilsdon, Emily Alexandra, Feminism and Personhood (May 15, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1632926 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1632926

Emily Alexandra Wilsdon (Contact Author)

Downing College, Cambridge University ( email )

Regent St
Cambridge, CB2 1DQ
United Kingdom

New York University - School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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