Women and Evil

Women and Evil

Women and Evil

Women and Evil

Synopsis

Human beings love to fictionalize evil--to terrorize each other with stories of defilement, horror, excruciating pain, and divine retribution. Beneath the surface of bewitchment and half-sick amusement, however, lies the realization that evil is real and that people must find a way to face and overcome it. What we require, Carl Jung suggested, is a morality of evil--a carefully thought out plan by which to manage the evil in ourselves, in others, and in whatever deities we posit. This book is not written from a Jungian perspective, but it is nonetheless an attempt to describe a morality of evil. One suspects that descriptions of evil and the so-called problem of evil have been thoroughly suffused with male interests and conditioned by masculine experience. This result could hardly have been avoided in a sexist culture, and recognizing the truth of such a claim does not commit us to condemn every male philosopher and theologian who has written on the problem. It suggests, rather, that we may get a clearer view of evil if we take a different standpoint. The standpoint I take here will be that of women; that is, I will attempt to describe evil from the perspective of women's experience.

Excerpt

Human beings love to fictionalize evil—to terrorize each other with stories of defilement, horror, excruciating pain, and divine retribution. Beneath the surface of bewitchment and half-sick amusement, however, lies the realization that evil is real and that people must find a way to face and overcome it. What we require, Carl Jung suggested, is a morality of evil—a carefully thought out plan by which to manage the evil in ourselves, in others, and in whatever deities we posit. This book is not written from a Jungian perspective, but it is nonetheless an attempt to describe a morality of evil.

One suspects that descriptions of evil and the so-called problem of evil have been thoroughly suffused with male interests and conditioned by masculine experience. This result could hardly have been avoided in a sexist culture, and recognizing the truth of such a claim does not commit us to condemn every male philosopher and theologian who has written on the problem. It suggests, rather, that we may get a clearer view of evil if we take a different standpoint. The standpoint I take here will be that of women; that is, I will attempt to describe evil from the perspective of women’s experience.

Two serious questions arise immediately. First, if our initial complaint is that moral philosophy has been written unconsciously from a male standpoint, should we now consciously write from a female standpoint? Isn’t this a perverse repetition of error? Second, can there be such a thing as “women’s experience”? Doesn’t such an attempt risk reducing all women to some stereotypical Woman?

An answer to the first question is that a standpoint morality is not in and of itself an error. Indeed, we might defend the thesis that all actual epistemologies and moralities are created from and represent standpoints. Such an admission does not commit us to relativism, for one standpoint may be better than another, and the recognition of standpoints allows us to consider moving about to get clearer views on all aspects of a problem. The notion that one standpoint may be . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.