Desire, consent and liberal theory
DOI link for Desire, consent and liberal theory
Desire, consent and liberal theory book
That the personal is political has become much more than a slogan for feminist activists in liberal democracies: this is the rubric of new feminist theory, in which the perspective of inquiry is extended by women’s knowledge. In treating the personal as political, esteem is accorded women’s reality and legitimacy sought for appropriate methods of explanation of this reality. That ‘the personal is political’ challenges the claim to universality in philosophy, poetry, language and all scholarly inquiry. It is a challenge which is seriously made, and must be seriously met, in public and in private. The separation of the public and private spheres, and the identification of the former as male and the latter as female, is fundamental to liberal democratic life. So are the lower status and actual confinements of the private sphere and so too are the emancipationist demands for a progress of women into the public sphere. If the actual source of women’s lower status is not the public/private division but the sex-specific nature of the categories, a ‘gender-neutral, gender-equal public/private’ division is a haven from a heartless world without the ‘pedestalisation’ of women. Another is the ambisexual world of Le Guin’s Left Hand o f Darkness: in these constructs the private realm might still be considered sub ordinate to the public, but not women to men as a consequence of the division (Nicholson, 1981; Simms, 1981; Lasch, 1977).