Durkheim and Women

Durkheim and Women

Durkheim and Women

Durkheim and Women

Synopsis

Durkheim and Women is the first book-length work to present a feminist analysis of the theoretical writings of Emile Durkheim. Through a close textual reading of Durkheim's widely scattered statements about women, Jennifer M. Lehmann reconstructs a coherent Durkheimian theory of women. She places Durkheim squarely in the swirling modernist controversies of his time and the equally bedeviling postmodernist controversies of ours.

Excerpt

Durkheim rejects feminism as "an unconscious movement." Feminism, he says, "deceives itself when it formulates the details of its demands." This is because feminism and its demands are premised on a belief in sexual equality, which Durkheim does not share. For example, he dismisses as "personal ideas" and "generalities" an author's contention that women are equal to men. "He has not examined or discussed in detail the reasons why certain thinkers -- among them some women ... -- have argued against the feminist movement" (1980, 253). The reason Durkheim argues against the feminist movement is that he deems sexual equality to be primitive, unnatural, and dysfunctional.

A different version of this chapter appeared as Durkheim's Response to Feminism: Prescriptions for Women, Sociological Theory 8, no. 2 (1990): 163-87.

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