The Gendered Subject of Violence: Towards a Feminist Account of Ethical Freedom Open Access

Knisely, Lisa Catherine (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/xg94hp76f?locale=en
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Abstract


Abstract
The Gendered Subject of Violence:
Towards a Feminist Account of Ethical Freedom
In this dissertation, the author employs the ethical writings of Simone de Beauvoir (1944,
1945a, 1946a, 1948, 1949) to argue for the importance of the concept of ethical freedom
as a critical intervention in contemporary feminist theories of violence and vulnerability.
A feminist ethics of freedom, in the tradition of Beauvoir, situates social actors as
ethically and politically responsible while simultaneously acknowledging how oppression
circumscribes concrete possibilities for ethical thought and action. Although Judith Butler
(2004, 2005, 2009), among others, has recently argued that the ethical difficulty arising
out of human inter-relationality and intersubjectivity should lead to an ethics of non-
violence, the author maintains that such an ethics of non-violence fails to consider the
significance of oppression for ethical thought. The author suggests that in order to
consider the relevance of oppression for ethics, feminist ethicists need to acknowledge
the ambiguity of ethics instead of arguing for the ethicality of non-violence in all lived
situations. The conceptualization of oppression within a variety of philosophical and
feminist theoretical traditions is critically evaluated in this dissertation in order to
understand how these intellectual traditions construe the ethical relationship between
violence and oppression. Specifically addressed are classical and modern liberalism, post-
Hegelian Marxist and post-colonial thought, and liberal, radical, and poststructuralist
feminisms.


Table of Contents




Table of Contents


Introduction: Thinking the Relation Between Violence and Oppression................................... 1
Chapter One: Liberal and Revolutionary Ethics of Violence and the Absence of
Gendered Oppression.............................................................................................................. 7

Chapter Two: "Without Recourse to Force": Feminist Critiques of the Violence
Against Women Paradigm ...................................................................................................... 29

Chapter Three: The Ambiguity of Oppression: Simone de Beauvoir's Ethics of
Violence .................................................................................................................................. 65

Chapter Four: Oppression, Normative Violence, and Vulnerability: The Beauvoirian
Legacy of Butler's Ethics......................................................................................................... 100

Conclusion: Affirming Feminist Ethical Freedom..................................................................... 135
Works Cited............................................................................................................................ 142

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