chapter  3
14 Pages

Treating Objects Like Women

Feminist Ontology and the Question of Essence
WithTimothy Morton

The rather provocative title comes from that great philosopher, The Dude (played by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski). In a drunken stupor The Dude tells a police officer that the pornographer Jack Treehorn “treats objects like women.” What if we took this observation seriously? In an essay on feminism, no less, in which such an inversion of “treating women like objects” seems not a little suspect? Yet this is indeed what I shall argue. What I shall be proposing here is an object-oriented feminist ecology. We shall of course need to revise what we mean by “object.” In this essay, the term “object” will not stand for objectification or reification. It is evident that in the latter sense, nonhumans are “treated like women” all the time (think of the gendering of cars and ships), and vice versa. What I propose is that ecocriticism revisit the supposed biological essentialism of French and 1970s American ecofeminism. I shall be making a case for this form of feminism, which I will now call weird essentialism.