Intro To Ethics
Take Home Test on Feminist Ethics Theory
1. How have male philosophers ‘short-changed’ the lives of women? Explain these mistakes.
How? Wantonly (to turn a phrase), and with consistency. That is to say, by historically paying no attention to the ‘rights, feelings, or safety,’ let alone perspectives or experiences of women. There are two ways Landau show this to have been done; making ‘false and damaging claims’ is one traditional avenue (see, Rousseau), while ignoring the perspectives and experiences of female contemporaries is another. Explain? For generations backwards to the nth degree, religion has not implied but implemented patriarchial discrimination, subordination and subjugation. That Aquinas and Kant and Aristotle, et al, are taught without the addition of clearly mentioning their lack of feminist perspective (we cannot let the times ALWAYS be the excuse for misogyny) seems inexcusable.
2. Why does Landau claim that traditionally male and female traits are not innate? What is his explanation regarding these traits?
Landau makes this claim because ‘stereotypes often fail to have any basis in fact.’ While tradition and history have both been written from a distinctly male perspective, no man is immune from emotion and no woman is incapable of competition. He explains that even when there are facts behind stereotypes, this is often the result of a lack in opportunities or incredibly difficult circumstances. Innate implies that nature created a thing in a certain way to be used or treated a certain way…but we know now that schizophrenia (for example) is genetic, not Satan. What I’m saying is, adding feminist perspective to our societies has only made available to humankind to a more genuine existence. Sticking with the old, seemingly ‘innate-to-philosophy’ male-dominated route will serve only old and moneyed interests. Just a thought.
3. What are some ‘distinctly female experiences’?
Landau makes the case that rape, along with pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood, are ‘distinctly female experiences.’ I cannot argue with this; I must point out that more men are raped every year in America’s military than are women…perhaps the use of rape to ‘feminize’ men, whether in war or on our street, is the larger point. That until recently the largest segment of American society looked down with derision on LGBT individuals is indicative of both the old and the new avenues I spoke of earlier. In today’s America, women have picked up the additional burden of being the CFO (Chief Financial Officers) of their families as well as…looking for quality affordable health and day care for the child (this, if done by a man, is assumed a short term task. In my experience.) etc. I want to add that being excluded because of gender from professional license is ‘distinctly female.’
4. What are some of the short-comings in traditional ethics theories we studied that attention to women’s experiences points out?
Kant and his imperatives leave out the idea of birth control as a woman’s choice, or the idea of abortion. What is child-rearing…or what has it been historically except the use of another person to reach an end? Think of Margaret Atwood and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ This ancient idea that women are by their nature irrational or otherwise emotionally-bound is just more ‘well-entrenched and long-standing’ prejudice. Irksome and immoral. Paying attention to the rise of women’s participation in politics, both domestic and international, provides example of how TETs lack, at least in a feminist sense, modernity. That Americans can be rallied to a decade or more of war ostensibly on the idea of ‘freeing Afhgani women’ shows the power modern feminist thinking can have. As for Natural Law Theory, which I nearly cannot stand the taste in my mouth to say it aloud: Bull’s Methane. Left out of traditional ethical theory are the four central claims that Landau discusses: women are the moral equals of men; philosophers ignoring the experiences of women are disrespectful, inaccurate, and incomplete; what is traditionally seen as innate to women (‘empathy, sympathy, caring, etc.’) is ‘at least’ the moral equivalent of those seen as traditionally male (justice, readiness to resort to violence, etc); and the fact that ways seen as ‘traditionally female’ reasoning (cooperation, flexibility) are seen in the modern world as equal if not superior to male ‘reasoning’ ( impartiality, abstraction).