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Banerjee, Pompi, Raj Merchant, Jaya Sharma. Kink and Feminism – Breaking the Binaries
2018, Sociology and Anthropology 6(3): 313-320
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Rosa Vince

Abstract: This paper seeks to share what Bondage-Domination-Sado-Masochism/Kink might offer to feminist understandings of sexuality, gender and power. It has been written by members of the Kinky Collective, a group that seeks to raise awareness about BDSM in India. The paper addresses four key themes. The first theme relates to the subversion of gender and sexual norms in kink from a feminist lens. It challenges popular notions of BDSM which seem to reflect heteropatriarchy, evoking images of, typically, a cisman dominating a ciswoman, making her submit to his desires. The paper argues that this assumption invisibilises male submissiveness with female dominants as well as queer/same sex kink. Even if a seemingly ‘mainstream’ submissive role is chosen by a woman, it has the capacity to be feminist as roles and dynamics are intentional, discussed, negotiated and consented to by all involved unlike in ‘real life’ where power dynamics are rarely acknowledged. Since kink is solidly in the area of playfulness and experimentation, it also makes for a safe space for gender transgressive persons. The second theme addressed by the paper related to Kink, Feminism and Desire. It argues that kink enables a paradigm shift from consent for harm reduction to consent for enabling pleasure and the exploration of desires. It offers another paradigm shift, away from false consciousness to one that brings to focus on the unconscious. In this third theme of the unconscious, the paper challenges the false binary of sexual fantasies being ‘OK’ vs. ‘not OK’. The unconscious allows for a link between the personal and political such that our politics is less judgmental. Being in that space where our desires seem to collide with our politics might help challenge the overly rational framework of feminism and help us move perhaps from a politics of certainty to a politics of doubt. The fourth theme of the paper relates to the question of Power in Kink. It argues that kink challenges binary notions of powerful and powerfulness because submission is powerful and that it is precisely because the submissive submits that the Dominant can dominate. Using these four subthemes, we argue that kink can contribute to feminist thought and praxis in India.

Comment: In courses on feminism and philosophy of sex this text will be extremely useful as it offers some key responses to the arguments that feminism and sadomasochism are incompatible.

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Bauer, Nancy, , . How to Do Things With Pornography
2015, Harvard Univeristy Press.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Rosa Vince

Publisher’s Note: Feminist philosophers have made important strides in altering the overwhelmingly male-centric discipline of philosophy. Yet, in Nancy Bauer’s view, most are still content to work within theoretical frameworks that are fundamentally false to human beings’ everyday experiences. This is particularly intolerable for a species of philosophy whose central aspiration is to make the world a less sexist place. How to Do Things with Pornography models a new way to write philosophically about pornography, women’s self-objectification, hook-up culture, and other contemporary phenomena. Unafraid to ask what philosophy contributes to our lives, Bauer argues that the profession’s lack of interest in this question threatens to make its enterprise irrelevant.

Bauer criticizes two paradigmatic models of Western philosophizing: the Great Man model, according to which philosophy is the product of rare genius; and the scientistic model, according to which a community of researchers works together to discover once-and-for-all truths. The philosopher’s job is neither to perpetuate the inevitably sexist trope of the philosopher-genius nor to “get things right.” Rather, it is to compete with the Zeitgeist and attract people to the endeavor of reflecting on their settled ways of perceiving and understanding the world.

How to Do Things with Pornography boldly enlists J. L. Austin’s How to Do Things with Words, showing that it should be read not as a theory of speech acts but as a revolutionary conception of what philosophers can do in the world with their words.

Comment: This book has chapters that will be useful for feminism modules, including critiques of the pornography and silencing literature, and on objectification, and self-objectification. It also contains plenty of witty critiques of white male dominated western philosophy.

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Mikkola, Mari, , . Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender
2016, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Introduction: Feminism is the movement to end women’s oppression. One possible way to understand ‘woman’ in this claim is to take it as a sex term: ‘woman’ picks out human females and being a human female depends on various anatomical features (like genitalia). Historically many feminists have understood ‘woman’ differently: not as a sex term, but as a gender term that depends on social and cultural factors (like social position). In so doing, they distinguished sex (being female or male) from gender (being a woman or a man), although most ordinary language users appear to treat the two interchangeably. More recently this distinction has come under sustained attack and many view it nowadays with (at least some) suspicion. This entry (around 12 000 words in length) outlines and discusses distinctly feminist debates on sex and gender.

Comment: A great first core text for any feminist philosophy, philosophy of sex and gender (or similar) module. Would also be very good to include on a social metaphysics course. Gives a clear and detailed overview of the main rival conceptions of gender, as well as of the relationship between the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’.

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