chapter  5
36 Pages

Feminist theory and postmodernism

Earlier in my analysis I identified the problematic for a postmodernist feminist ethics as encompassing issues of sexual difference and differences, universalism and relativism, embodiment, and subjectivity; and I have shown already how the difficulties surrounding some of these have led to a widespread reluctance to engage with postmodernism. A number of feminist theorists, notably Nancy Hartsock and Naomi Schor (1989), have gone so far as to suggest that the promotion of postmodernism by certain male writers represents in part a defensive response to the political and social advances made by women over the last few decades.1 With this in mind I shall turn now to the issue of subjectivity, of which Nancy Hartsock, for example, has written:

Why is it that just at the moment when so many of us who have been silenced begin to demand the right to name ourselves, to act as subjects rather than objects of history, that just then the concept of subjecthood becomes problematic? . . . I contend that these intellectual moves are no accident . . . . They represent the transcendental voice of the Enlightenment attempting to come to grips with the social and historical changes of the middle-to-late twentieth century.