Grande biog

Benoît Peeters, Derrida: A Biography, trans. Andrew Brown, Polity Press, Cambridge and Malden MA, 2012. 603 pp., £25.00 hb., 978 0 74565 615 1. ‘What matter who’s speaking, someone said, what matter who’s speaking?’ Despite post-structuralist philosophies’ association with Beckettian questions such as these, they remain surprisingly bound to what Foucault called that ‘singular relationship […]

Shulamith Firestone, 1945–2012

Shulamith Firestone was perhaps the most infamous radical feminist theorist of the twentieth century. As a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, she became an early activist in the women’s movement, founding (with Jo Freeman) the Westside Group in 1967, in large part in response to the patronizing sexism of left politics at the […]

The gender apparatus

The gender apparatus Torture and national manhood in the US ‘war on terror’ Bonnie mann Feminist protest against US torture practices, including outcries over the use of sex, sexuality and sexual identity in the torture of prisoners at US detention sites from Guantánamo to Abu Ghraib, have understandably tended to focus on what the abuse […]

Drucilla Cornell

INTERVIEW Drucilla Cornell Feminism, deconstruction and the law RP: Perhaps you could begin by saying something about the Critical Legal Studies movement in the USA. What is its relationship to feminism? And where do you see your own work as fitting in? Cornell: Regrettably there’s very little organized presence of either Critical Legal Studies or […]

Judith Butler

Gender as Performance An Interview with Judith Butler ludithButlerteaches in the Rhetoric Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Her first book, Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France ( J987) traced the dialectic ofpro- and anti-Hegelian currents in French theory across the writings ofa wide range ofthinkers. She is best known, however, for […]

Mary Wollstonecraft and the Tensions in Feminist Philosophy

Mary Wollstonecraft and the Tensions in Feminist Philosophy Jean Grimshaw The history of the reception and interpretation of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman is a complex and fascinating one. 1 It was praised by many of her radical contemporaries, including Tom Paine and Mary’s husband, the radical anarchist philosopher and social theorist, […]

Do We Need a Sex/Gender Distinction?

Do We Need a Sex/Gender Distinction? Val Plumwood We live an embodied life; we live with those genital and reproductive organs and capacities, those hormones and chromosomes, that locate us physiologically as male or female …. We cannot know what children would make of their bodies in a nongender or non sexually organized world, what […]

Luce Irigaray and the Female Imaginary

Luce Irigaray and the Female Imaginary: Speaking as a Woman Margaret Whitford Although Luce Irigaray’s name is beginning to become more familiar in England, her work has not, for the most part, been translated, so that non-French-speaking readers have had to confine themselves to the odd bits and pieces – the translation of an interview […]

Masculinity in Philosophy

Masculinity in Philosophy Russell Keat 1. Feminism and philosophy One important concern of contemporary feminism has been to identify and challenge (what might roughly be called) the ‘sexism’ of various academic disciplines; and this kind of critical work is now increasingly evident in the case of philosophy. For example Susan Okin, in Women in Western […]

Writing as a man

In the philosophical works of Emmanuel Levinasʼs early career, it is in a phenomenology of Eros that he claims to have uncovered the site of what he calls ʻtranscendenceʼ. This is no small claim. According to the argument of the later Totality and Infinity (1961),1 the history of Western philosophy is to be thought as […]

Doing the Viagra tango

Commentary Doing the Viagra tango Sex pill as symbol and substance Leonore tiefer A four-page full-colour advertisement for Viagra tablets has appeared in the latest issues of the American Psychologist, the flagship scientific journal of the American Psychological Association (APA). The ad shows a healthy, welldressed couple dancing and smiling into each otherʼs eyes. They […]

Contingent ontologies

Contingent ontologies Sex, gender and ‘woman’ in Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Butler Stella sandford a concerted critique of the sex/gender distinction has not mitigated this sense of historical importance, or even historical necessity. But developments in feminist theory – in particular the claims being made on behalf of various feminisms of difference – and […]

Jean Laplanche

Interview Jean LaplancheThe other within Rethinking psychoanalysis RP: howdid you come to psychoanalysis? what made you want to be an analyst?laplanche: Itʼs a long story. I was studying philosophy in the 1940s and psychoanalysis was not as well known as it is now. It was something new and revolutionary. But I had two professors who […]

Psychoanalysis and politics

ʻWell, Iʼll think about women thenʼ, Juliet Mitchell proposed in 1963, suggesting a topic to research as she sat, the lone woman, on the editorial board of New Left Review – alongside her husband, Perry Anderson, the freshly minted editor of the journal. The inevitable response greeted Mitchellʼs startling proposal in such circles at that […]

Wishful theory and sexual politics

Across the last two or three decades identity and desire have been ʻtheorizedʼ relentlessly. Influences have been diverse: I remember especially the impact, for gay writing, of Barthesʼ dream, or plea, in 1975, for a radical sexual diversity wherein there would no longer be homosexuality (singular) but homosexualities, a plural so radical it ʻwill baffle […]

Feminism against ‘the feminine’

Whilst the distinction between French and AngloAmerican feminism was always rather dubious (failing to be accurate, consistent or inclusive at the level of either national origin, language of choice or theoretical commitment; seeming to parcel feminist theory – or at least the feminist theory that mattered – out into two Western blocks from which the […]

The sword and the bridge

Although texts dating from antiquity, particularly those of Aristotle, see the issue of sexual difference as one of a set of themes relating to sovereignty – domination of the other or self-control – it is generally recognized today that these domains are relatively separate. Questions concerning the differences between men and women have been left, […]

De Beauvoir’s Hegelianism

The Ethics of Ambiguity is well known as de Beauvoirʼs attempt to formulate an existentialist ethics; that is to say, an ethics premissed on the account of the lack at the heart of any human existence (ʻthe being whose being is not to beʼ) given by Sartre in Being and Nothingness. [1] The ʻambiguityʼ of […]

Homosexual politics in the wake of AIDS

The emergency that was and is the AIDS epidemic produced a radical, almost geological reconstruction of the terrain of (homo)sexual politics, a reconstruction that we are only hesitantly coming to terms with. The social trajectory described by the emergent sexual communities in the West, from dubious toleration to the threat of imminent annihilation, was already […]