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The making and unmaking of the feminine self

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dc.contributor.author Du Toit, H. Louise
dc.date.accessioned 2008-10-27T10:01:49Z
dc.date.available 2008-10-27T10:01:49Z
dc.date.issued 2008-10-27T10:01:49Z
dc.date.submitted 2005-04
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/1357
dc.description D. Litt. et Phil en
dc.description.abstract My dissertation represents an attempt to relate the phenomenon of rape with a feminist philosophical discourse concerning women’s or ‘feminine’ subjectivity and selfhood, which in turn is contextualised within the history of western philosophical metaphysics. Rape as a phenomenon is analysed through various lenses, including a power-political lens, a historicaletymological lens, and a phenomenological-existentialist lens. This is done in order to philosophically illuminate the phenomenon that is rape – a phenomenon, moreover, which in general tends to evade meaningful analysis – and to provide a background and context that can facilitate the convincing integration of the themes of rape and women’s subjectivity. I show in particular that there exists a dominant symbolic order and frame for the interpretation of rape, based on a hierarchical dichotomy of male active versus female passive sexuality, which obscures the true nature of rape. This hierarchical dichotomy is moreover embedded in the dominant western symbolic frame which is also responsible for the suppression of full female subjectivity, and of the sexual differentiation of the public-political and sociosymbolic domains themselves. Having made this claim, I try, through a Hegelian and phenomenological reading of first-person accounts by rape victims, to unearth or excavate a contestatory understanding of rape, and in particular one that may do justice to the sense of a total annihilation of the self reported by rape victims. In order to start opening up a way out of the denial and destruction of female sexual subjectivity which I detect in rape as well as in the order of western metaphysics, I look with particular interest at the strategies employed by rape victims to re-assemble or create a female self after the experience of rape. In the second part of the dissertation I consider the recent ‘feminine turn’ in continental philosophy as a possible ‘way out’ of the impasse in which the philosophical tradition has placed female subjectivity. Although this movement contains some promising moves, I finally draw the conclusion that it does not really provide much of an answer to the specific question about the status or possibility of women’s subjectivity within western symbolic and political constellations. I then turn to attempts by feminist philosophers to write and otherwise labour a ‘way out’ of this impasse, and in particular do I find Luce Irigaray’s work helpful for the ways in which she proposes that we work to restore the silenced maternal voice. Much of what she says is shown to resonate with the practical strategies of rape victims to rediscover or remake themselves after rape, which on my interpretation is the paradigm case of the type of unmaking or undoing of the female self of which women experience many examples on an everyday level. I show also that, since the female and the male derive their identities from each other, a (new) relationship between the sexes is as much called for as the emergence of full female subjectivity. Finally, I look at some concrete ideas about creating the material conditions for the emergence of female subjectivity, including the idea of the mother as goddess and the idea of loving solidarity amongst women. I return in the very last section of the dissertation to the issue of rape in the light of this provisional, utopian vision, and suggest that in a situation where women are empowered to live in a women’s world, rape would become a pathetic act which would shame only the man who attempts it. en
dc.description.sponsorship Prof. J.J. Snyman en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Rape philosophy en
dc.subject Feminist theory en
dc.title The making and unmaking of the feminine self en
dc.type Thesis en


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