Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Simone De Beauvoir's Philosophical Sexism: Implications for the Philosophy of Posterity

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Simone De Beauvoir's Philosophical Sexism: Implications for the Philosophy of Posterity

Article excerpt

Introduction

In reflecting on the broad theme of the conference, WOMEN IN HISTORY, restructured as TRAITS OF WOMEN IN POWER: A VIEW FROM HISTORY (demanding specifically an articulation of the myriad aspects that enable women rise to leadership positions of eminence and authority in Europe or America), some of us with a background in the discipline of philosophy readily identify philosophical sexism--the thought concerning "the unfair treatment of people, especially women, because of their sex" (Hornby, 2000: p.1080)--as one of the appropriate approaches to the discourse. This reflection strongly brings to mind the historical struggle of women for freedom from what they perceive as the aggressive, male-dominating, unfair, oppressive, exploitative, alienating, patriarchal value system prevalent in our societies. It brings to the front burner the intrigues of such struggle, and the necessity to re-evaluate its problems and prospects. An aspect of that necessity is, especially animated in our ever-pressing obligation to posterity. We are concerned about the legacies of such struggle, and how it shapes the life and development of our future society.

Given this approach Simone de Beauvoir's revolutionary magnum opus, The Second Sex (1949; 1953)--perhaps the greatest contribution to gender philosophy and a quondam literature in feminism and woman studies--forms the most apposite basis of our reflection. Beauvoir's feminist representations (her personality and lived experiences, her other works, et cetera) provide us with a formidable platform to reflect on this historical account of women's struggle for mutual equality with men in the society. Using existentialist phenomenological methodology, Beauvoir proceeded to rid women's condition of the cultural and traditional biases; to disclose the true nature of the woman; the true nature of the problem of patriarchy, with respect to the unfair treatment of women; the true involvements of a sincere feminist struggle; and the true prospects of the liberated woman.

Every activity; every struggle, arguably, has target objective(s), which is usually futuristic in temporal terms. The women's struggle here is not an exception. Indeed, its objective of securing freedom for women has always been a futurai target activity. Consequently, it is on this same account of temporality that we can, today, reflect on the history of the women's struggle itself; it is on the same note that we can attempt a reflection on its legacies for posterity. In what follows, we should first concern ourselves presently with a reflection on Beauvoir's bequeathable values to posterity, given her radical feminist struggle. The leading questions here, to mention a few, are: Is there really such a phenomenon as philosophical sexism in our society as conceived by de Beauvoir? Is the male gender not also oppressed and exploited by social (cultural and traditional roles) institutions like marriage, given the demands of "provision" compulsorily foisted on him? Is the question of gender equality not already treated by the arduous responsibilities attached to social roles of both sexes? In other words, have social roles for both sexes not counterbalanced inequalities already? What value has the historical struggle of women for equality, especially as championed by de Beauvoir's philosophical sexism, added to posterity? Has posterity been affected in any significant way by the philosophy of equality of the sexes? Has posterity appreciated this struggle, as intended by the activists, like de Beauvoir?

In philosophy of posterity, just like any area of discourse, there are basic debates. There are the questions of the moral status of the future people; the meaning and implications of the moral responsibility of the forebears; the possible definition of the needs of posterity, the duty/right debacle; the question of reciprocity, et cetera. Depending on the position of the debater, some of these questions attempt to object against or truncate any posterity-bound project. …

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.