21 Oct

The Search for the True Feminist Subject

Posted By Politybooks

HekmanBBI started writing feminist theory several decades ago. Although I have dealt with many different topics – method, psychoanalysis, epistemology – everything I wrote eventually came down to the subject. I have been, in a sense, circling around this topic since the beginning. So I decided, finally, to make it the focus of a book.

In The Feminine Subject I trace the feminine subject back to its beginnings in Beauvoir and through its evolution to the present. It has been a fascinating trip. What I discovered is that feminists are doing something completely unique to Western thought. And incredibly valuable. This is the thesis of the book.

Even though many feminists over the years have paid tribute to Beauvoir and her contribution to feminist theory, I don’t think that the full impact of her work on the subject has been appreciated. By connecting Beauvoir’s theory to the various iterations of feminism I attempt to remedy this. We are all daughters of Beauvoir in the sense that she has defined the uniqueness of the feminist subject from its inception.

I don’t think we will ever “get it right” and finally define the true feminist subject. Although material feminism has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the feminist subject, it is not the last word. We will continue to explore the question in the future, and this is as it should be.

Susan Hekman is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Graduate Humanities Program at the University of Texas at Arlington.  She has authored many books including  Gender and Knowledge: Elements of a Postmodern Feminism and The Future of Differences: Truth and Method in Feminist Theory.

Her new book The Feminine Subject published in September 2014