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Alcoff, Linda Martin, , . Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self
2006, Oxford University Press.
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Publisher’s Note: Visible Identities critiques the critiques of identity and of identity politics and argues that identities are real but not necessarily a political problem. Moreover, the book explores the material infrastructure of gendered identity, the experimental aspects of racial subjectivity for both whites and non-whites, and in several chapters looks specifically at Latio identity.

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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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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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Butler, Judith, , . Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity
1999, Routledge.
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Publisher’s note: Arguing that traditional feminism is wrong to look to a natural, ‘essential’ notion of the female, or indeed of sex or gender, Butler starts by questioning the category ‘woman’ and continues in this vein with examinations of ‘the masculine’ and ‘the feminine’. Best known however, but also most often misinterpreted, is Butler’s concept of gender as a reiterated social performance rather than the expression of a prior reality.

Comment: All of this book would be very useful for a feminist philosophy course, but chapter 1 in particular would be great to use for a unit on the metaphysics of gender, by considering Butler’s account of gender being performative, and how this links in with the social constructivist account of gender.

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Collins, Patricia Hill, , . It’s All in the Family: Intersections of Gender, Race, and Nation
1998, Hypatia 13 (3):62 – 82.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington

Abstract: Intersectionality has attracted substantial scholarly attention in the 1990s. Rather than examining gender, race, class, and nation as distinctive social hierarchies, intersectionality examines how they mutually construct one another. I explore how the traditional family ideal functions as a privileged exemplar of intersectionality in the United States. Each of its six dimensions demonstrates specific connections between family as a gendered system of social organization, racial ideas and practices, and constructions of U.S. national identity

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Collins, Patricia Hill, , . Learning from the outsider within: The sociological significance of black feminist thought
2004, In Sandra G. Harding (ed.), The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies. Routledge.
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Abstract: Black women have long occupied marginal positions in academic settings. I argue that many Black female intellectuals have made creative use of their marginality their “outsider within ” status-to produce Black feminist thought that reflects a special standpoint on self family, and society. I describe and explore the sociological significance of three characteristic themes in such thought: (1) Black women’s self-definition and self-valuation; (2) the interlocking nature of oppression; and (3) the importance of Afro-American women’s culture. After considering how Black women might draw upon these key themes as outsiders within to generate a distinctive standpoint on existing sociological paradigms, I conclude by suggesting that other sociologists would also benefit by placing greater trust in the creative potential of their own personal and cultural biographies.

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Collins, Patricia Hill, , . Some group matters: Intersectionality, situated standpoints, and Black feminist thought
2003, In Tommy Lee Lott & John P. Pittman (eds.), A Companion to African-American Philosophy. Blackwell.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington

Abstract: In developing a Black feminist praxis, standpoint theory has provided one important source of analytical guidance and intellectual legitimation for African-American women. Standpoint theory argues that group location in hierarchical power relations produces shared challenges for individuals in those groups. These common challenges can foster similar angles of vision leading to a group knowledge or standpoint that in turn can influence the group’s political action. Stated differently, group standpoints are situated in unjust power relations, reflect those power relations, and help shape them. I suspect that one reason that the ideas of standpoint theory (in contrast to the vocabulary deployed by standpoint theorists, including the term standpoint theory itself ) resonate with African-American women’s experiences lies in the resemblance of stand- point theory to the norm of racial solidarity. Created in response to institutionalized racism and associated with Black nationalist responses to such oppression (see, e.g., Franklin 1992; Van Deburg 1992), racial solidarity within Black civil society requires that African-Americans stick together at all costs. The civil rights and Black Power movements certainly demonstrated the effectiveness of Black politics grounded in racial solidarity. In the former, racial solidarity among African-Americans lay at the center of a multiracial civil rights effort. In the latter, racial solidarity was expressed primarily through all-Black organizations. Collectively, these movements delivered tangible politi- cal and economic gains for African-Americans as a group (but not for all members within the group). Differences could be expressed within the boundaries of Blackness but not across those same boundaries. In this sense, the notion of a Black women’s standpoint gains meaning in the context of a shared Black consciousness dedicated to sustaining racial solidarity. Notions of racial solidarity and a shared Black women’s standpoint both invoke explicitly political objectives. Just as adhering to racial solidar- ity was important for Black emancipation in the United States, so might a collective Black women’s standpoint be seen as essential for Black feminist praxis. Since Black women, like African-Americans overall, are oppressed as a group, collective as com- pared to individualized strategies remain important. Much has happened since the 1970s. Depending on their placement in hierarchies of age, gender, economic class, region of the country, and sexuality, African-American women encounter new challenges associated with the new politics of containment in the United States. These changes require fresh ideas that analyze the complexities of contemporary lived Black experience and suggest adequate political responses to them. The intellectual climate currently housing Black feminist thought has also changed. In academic contexts influenced by postmodern rubrics of decentering, deconstruction, and difference, the norm of racial solidarity itself has come under increasing attack. Within Black cultural studies in particular, critiques now stress how racial solidarity has far too often been constructed on the bedrock of racial authenticity and essential- ism (see, e.g., Dyson 1993; West 1993; and Collins 1998c, 83), leading some to empha- size the pitfalls of unquestioned racial solidarity for African-American women (Grant 1982; Terrelonge 1984; Richie 1996). Academic feminism in North America takes aim at similar targets. Whereas Black academics question the utility of racial solidarity in addressing social issues of lived Black experience, feminist theorists increasingly criticize standpoint theory on theoretical grounds (Hekman 1997). Collectively, many Black and/or feminist academics question the assumptions that underlie solidarities of all sorts. This has great implication for Black feminist praxis generally, and a Black women’s standpoint situated in unjust power relations in particular. Given these shifting patterns, the situated standpoints that Black women collectively construct, and even the question of whether African-American women self-define as a group, become vitally important. In historical contexts in which racial segregation more visibly organized geographic, symbolic, and political space assigned to African- Americans, the links between a group’s common positionality in power relations, the shared experiences that accompanied this commonality, the mechanisms for con- structing group standpoints, and the significance of group standpoints for political activism were fairly straightforward. Under the changed conditions that accompany the new politics of containment, however, these links are neither clear nor assumed. Despite the historical significance of the ideas of standpoint theory to African- American women, questions remain concerning the efficacy of group-based identities of this sort for contemporary political struggles. In situations in which increasingly sophisticated practices, such as controlling populations through constant surveillance (Foucault 1979), as well as strategies of everyday racism (Essed 1991) and symbolic racism (Jhally and Lewis 1992), obscure the continued effects of institutionalized injus- tices of all sorts, political theories that seem to advocate pulling together and storming the factory gates can seem simplistic. Moreover, the decreasing effectiveness of an identity politics currently associated with standpoint theory raises questions of its continued relevance (see Collins 1998c, 44-76). Are group-based identities that emerge from standpoint theory and the politics they generate still empowering for African-American women? Do group-based identities such as those advocated by stand- point theory ultimately disempower African-American women because they unduly suppress differences and heterogeneity among Black women? Quite simply, in what ways, if any, does standpoint theory remain relevant for Black feminist thought?

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Crenshaw, Kimberlé, , . Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color
1991, Stanford Law Review 43(6): 1241-1299.
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Summary: The concept of intersectionality is Crenshaw’s rich contribution to our embattled understanding of identity politics. To illustrate the danger of traditional identity groupings, Crenshaw turns our attention to the complexity of inhabiting two such distinct categories at the same time as a black woman. While it is true that a black woman can hardly be considered essentially black (on account of the primacy of men of color over women of color) or essentially a woman (on account of the primacy of white women over non-white ones), intersectionality does not aim to dismantle these general categories altogether. Instead, it seeks to introduce an ethical and political pragmatics of identity. The way Crenshaw proposes this should be done in the case of black women is by treating the two inherent identity categories – black and female – conjunctively rather than disjunctively as it has always been done. The resulting approach promises to improve our sense of the reality of “social location” and is thus of great value to all agents and processes of social health and justice.

Comment: Assigning this text is best in classes on women’s rights and identity politics. It will be particularly useful in inspiring discussions on different types of discrimination affecting different groups, and the relations between them.

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Curtis, Annaleigh, , . Feminism Part 2: The Difference Approach
2014, 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology
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Abstract: Different strands of thought that arise out of political movements are often difficult to categorize and also often answer to many names. The ‘difference approach’ to feminism is discussed here, following Haslanger and Hackett. This approach is sometimes also called radical, cultural, or gynocentric feminism.

Comment: An introduction to feminism, focusing on ‘the Difference Approach’ to feminism.
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Demaria, Christina, , . The Performative Body of Marina Abramović Rerelating (in) Time and Space
2004, The European Journal of Women’s Studies 1(3): 295-307.
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Abstract: Can a performance be analysed as a textual practice? Starting from this question, the article tries to describe the effets du sens (meaning effects) of some of the work of Marina Abramović, a Serbian performer and visual artist. From the 1970s, when the so-called body art emerged as a visual genre, offering the artist’s body as a naked site of inscription, up to the present, when performing has become a more playful and direct transmission of energy between the doer and the viewer, the work of Abramović represents an effective and powerful example of the body-as-a-text in which subjectivity can be re-expressed and reinvented through the transformations of the relation between time and space. In the strong relationship created between the performer and the audience, what is enacted is a translation–transduction of material and cognitive meanings that results in a redefinition of a subjective and, simultaneously, collective experience of identity.

Comment: This is a prime example of feminist aesthetics and its treatment of the human body. Demaria’s main contention is that performance art can be understood textually and representationally even if it does not lay an explicit claim to either type of content. She agrees with Judith Butler’s notion of citationality as a perpetual re-inscription of power norms and codes onto the human body. Since bodily presence plays such an important part in most performance art, the question of the possibility of embodied meaning arises naturally. Demaria uses the art of Marina Abramović to show that the question should be answered in the affirmative. Abramović’s body exercises discursive transgressions (of language and code) in ways that, according to Demaria, establish a new language of dissent.

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Dembroff, Robin, , Wodak, Daniel. He/She/They/Ze
2018, Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy, 5(14): 371 – 406.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Rory Wilson

Abstract: In this paper, we defend two main claims. The first is a moderate claim: we have a negative duty to not use binary gender-specific pronouns he or she to refer to genderqueer individuals. We defend this with an argument by analogy. It was gravely wrong for Mark Latham to refer to Catherine McGregor, a transgender woman, using the pronoun he; we argue that such cases of misgendering are morally analogous to referring to Angel Haze, who identifies as genderqueer, as he or she. The second is a radical claim: we have a negative duty to not use any gender-specific pronouns to refer to anyone, regardless of their gender identity. We offer three arguments in favor of this claim (which appeal to concerns about inegalitarianism and risk, invasions of privacy, and reinforcing essentialist ideologies). We also show why the radical claim is compatible with the moderate claim. Before concluding, we examine common concerns about incorporating either they or a neologism such as ze as a third-person singular gender-neutral pronoun. These concerns, we argue, do not provide sufficient reason to reject either the moderate or radical claim.

Comment: This text can be used as a companion piece to other texts on the metaphysics of gender or to introduce students to transgender / nonbinary identities. Dembroff and Wodak give a good overview of the importance of pronouns as well as the contemporary pronoun debate between they and ze for those with little to no prior background. This paper is good for debate over its radical claim.

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Eva Kit Wah Man, , . Issues of Contemporary Art and Aesthetics in Chinese Context
2015, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: This book discusses how China’s transformations in the last century have shaped its arts and its philosophical aesthetics. For instance, how have political, economic and cultural changes shaped its aesthetic developments? Further, how have its long-standing beliefs and traditions clashed with modernizing desires and forces, and how have these changes materialized in artistic manifestations? In addition to answering these questions, this book also brings Chinese philosophical concepts on aesthetics into dialogue with those of the West, making an important contribution to the fields of art, comparative aesthetics and philosophy.

Comment: A timely discussion of the influence of the last century’s political, economic, and cultural changes in China upon its philosophical aesthetics. Man’s book addresses a number of key neglected topics of comparative aesthetics between China and the West, contemporary aesthetics and art in Hong Kong, the relation of gender and art in the politics of identity, and the role of tradition in new creative practices. Chapter 4 introduces the leaders of the major schools of aesthetics in new China, including Li Zehou. This text is best used in a comparative aesthetics context, especially in discussions of contemporary aesthetic mediums.

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Haslanger, Sally, , . Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?
2000, Nous 34(1): 31-55.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Abstract: This paper proposes social constructionist accounts of gender and race. The focus of the inquiry–inquiry aiming to provide resources for feminist and antiracist projects–are the social positions of those marked for privilege or subordination by observed or imagined features assumed to be relevant to reproductive function, or geographical origins. I develop these ideas and propose that other gendered and racialized phenomena are usefully demarcated and explained by reference to these social positions. In doing so, I address the concern that attempts to define race or gender are misguided because they either assume a false commonality or marginalize some members of the group in question.

Comment: Seminal reading for modules on gender or race.
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Little, Margaret Olivia, , . Why a feminist approach to bioethics?
1996, Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 6 (1):1-18.
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Abstract: Many have asked how and why feminist theory makes a distinctive contribution to bioethics. In this essay, I outline two ways in which feminist reflection can enrich bioethical studies. First, feminist theory may expose certain themes of androcentric reasoning that can affect, in sometimes crude but often subtle ways, the substantive analysis of topics in bioethics; second, it can unearth the gendered nature of certain basic philosophical concepts that form the working tools of ethical theory.

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Longino, Helen, , . Science as Social Knowledge: Values and Objectivity in Scientific Inquiry
1990, Princeton University Press.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Conventional wisdom has it that the sciences, properly pursued, constitute a pure, value-free method of obtaining knowledge about the natural world. In light of the social and normative dimensions of many scientific debates, Helen Longino finds that general accounts of scientific methodology cannot support this common belief. Focusing on the notion of evidence, the author argues that a methodology powerful enough to account for theories of any scope and depth is incapable of ruling out the influence of social and cultural values in the very structuring of knowledge. The objectivity of scientific inquiry can nevertheless be maintained, she proposes, by understanding scientific inquiry as a social rather than an individual process. Seeking to open a dialogue between methodologists and social critics of the sciences, Longino develops this concept of “contextual empiricism” in an analysis of research programs that have drawn criticism from feminists. Examining theories of human evolution and of prenatal hormonal determination of “gender-role” behavior, of sex differences in cognition, and of sexual orientation, the author shows how assumptions laden with social values affect the description, presentation, and interpretation of data. In particular, Longino argues that research on the hormonal basis of “sex-differentiated behavior” involves assumptions not only about gender relations but also about human action and agency. She concludes with a discussion of the relation between science, values, and ideology, based on the work of Habermas, Foucault, Keller, and Haraway.

Comment: Longino offers a way to accomodate critiques of science as being socially constructed with the claim that science is objective. This contextual empiricism is an interesting solution, and would provide a useful point of discussion in an exploration of these issues in a course that discusses scientific objectivity.

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Lovibond, Sabina, , Scheman, Naomi. Engenderings: Constructions of Knowledge, Authority and Privilege
1993, Routledge
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Abstract: Naomi Scheman argues that the concerns of philosophy emerge not from the universal human condition but from conditions of privilege. Her books represents a powerful challenge to the notion that gender makes no difference in the construction of philosophical reasoning. At the same time, it criticizes the narrow focus of most feminist theorizing and calls for a more inclusive form of inquiry.

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