Feminisms and the Self: The Web of Identity

Feminisms and the Self: The Web of Identity

Feminisms and the Self: The Web of Identity

Feminisms and the Self: The Web of Identity


What does the politics of the self mean for a politics of liberation? Morwenna Griffiths argues that mainstream philosophy, particularly the anglo-analytic tradition, needs to tackle the issues of the self, identity, autonomy and self creation. Although identity has been a central concern of feminist thought it has in the main been excluded from philosophical analysis. Feminisms and the Self is both a critique and a construction of feminist philosophy. After the powerful challenges that postmodernism and poststructuralism posed to liberation movements like feminism, Griffiths book is an original and timely contribution to current debate surrounding the notion of identity and subjectivity.


The self I am—the identity I have—is affected by the politics of gender, race, class, sexuality, disability and world justice. in other words, the feelings I have, the reasons I recognise, the wants I act upon—they are all deeply political. Feminist theory and feminist politics have been responsible for my coming to understand that my individuality is shaped by political forces and that what I feel as deeply personal is affected by public systems of control. Equally, I know that such shaping and control are not absolute, fixed or deterministic. the individual I am and the identity I have is mine, and I shape and control it in so far as I am capable of doing so.

So how did I come to be myself? and is what I take to be myself my real self? These questions matter, because the answers affect what I do, and how I react to the circumstances in which I find myself. the answers also affect how I think I should associate justly with others in cooperative actions with political consequences. This book is a re-assessment of identity and the politics of identity through exploring the self.

Recently there has been an explosion of interest in self, identity, narratives of self, autobiography, and the politics related to all of these. As a result the politics of identity has come of age. There was a time when identity politics was based on the simple-minded assumption that personal identity could just be read off from the fact of being a woman, or a black person, or a black woman, or a white, working-class man: the divisions soon became unmanageable. Such politics are regularly the butt of jokes in newspapers, fiction and party politics. However, identity politics served a very useful function. It is now comparatively rare to meet people who think that gender, race, class, or sexuality are irrelevant to an individual’s beliefs and attitudes.

The issues of identity politics remain unresolved. Still in question is exactly how politics and self-identity are linked. But it is clear that a discussion of self and identity must be both highly political and highly personal. This book is both. It draws on personal experience—both mine

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