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By Bonnie Mann

Womens Liberation and the elegant is a passionate file at the country of feminist pondering and perform after the linguistic flip. A severe overview of masculinist notions of the elegant in glossy and postmodern bills grounds the author's confident and positive recovery of chic adventure in a feminist voice.

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Extra info for Women's Liberation and the Sublime: Feminism, Postmodernism, Environment (Studies in Feminist Philosophy)

Sample text

The word essentialism has been endowed within the context of feminism with the power to reduce to silence, to excommunicate, to consign to oblivion. Essentialism in modern-day feminism is anathema. (Schor and Weed 1994, 42) What I am very suspicious of is how anti-essentialism, really more than essentialism, is allowing women to call names and congratulate themselves. (Spivak 1994, 71) Only knowledge of the male body and male thought is considered essential, the female is unessential, the female is essentialist.

The only way to avoid the abuse of power is to make sure that the many predominate over the one, that particularity is elevated to a status over and above the general. Critics of anti-essentialism have tended to define the problem in much the same way as anti-essentialist feminists, as a problem of the one and the many. Both Susan Bordo (1993) and Cressida Heyes (2000) argue the necessity of generalizing, and the disjuncture between generalization and essentialism, in their critiques of anti-essentialism.

Feminist engagement with this tradition is consistent in its criticism on several points. It is criticized for its masculinism, for adhering to the same sort of false universalism that plagues philosophy in general, for claiming that aesthetic judgments are disinterested, and for relying on the notion of ‘‘genius’’ and a distinction between ‘‘high’’ and ‘‘low’’ art, both of which tend to legitimize the kinds of hierarchy that feminists generally oppose. Feminist criticism of the masculinism of aesthetic philosophy has taken a number of forms.

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