Todd’s Challenge: Answer Key

Hello, hello! Are you ready to check your answers to yesterday’s challenge? Let’s see how well you did did this time!
(If you missed the challenge, you can see it here)

  1. According to paragraph 1 of this above text, determine if the following statements are true or false.

A) ‘Feminine theory’ is a constructionist view of the gender power relations that have stemmed from human sexual wonts and yearning. – False (mixture of unconnected ideas here)

B) Freud’s work in psychoanalysis serves as a solid underpinning for the construction of feminist thought. – False

C) The essential biological existence of the women and her role in society works to build the underlying principles of the philosophy of ‘femininity’.False

D) Gender power relations are crucial to the comprehension of feminism from a psychoanalytical outlook.False

‘Feminine’ theory in its simplest definition would mean theories concerned with the construction of femininity. From a feminist perspective the problem with this kind of thought is that it is particularly prone to attacks of biologism and often unwittingly turns into theories about female essences instead. (1c) At the same time, even the most determinedly ‘constructionist’ of theories may very well not be feminist ones. The works of Sigmund Freud for example offers a splendid illustration of a theory formation which, while in no way feminist, provides a crucial foundation for a non-essentialist analysis of sexual difference. (1b) The alternative, a theory of essential female qualities, would, as we have seen, simply play the patriarchal game. Although psychoanalysis still needs to be creatively transformed for feminist purposes, the fact remains that feminism needs a non-essentialist theory of human sexuality and desire in order to understand the power relations between the sexes. (1d)

  1. Determine if the following statements can be inferred from paragraph 2 of the text above.

A) The very concepts of ‘feminine theory’ can be identified within both feminist theory and feminist interpretations of psychoanalysis. – True

B) ‘Femininity’, according to French feminists, is a chaotic and irrational concept that defies the rational impositions of male-dominated principles of reason, order, unity, and lucidity.- True

C) The author poses the claim that dismantling of traditional definitions of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ serve only to undermine the political savvy of feminist theory. False

D) Traditional, hardliner French theorists defend that any and all attempts to categorize the female condition within an “ism” privileges the ‘masculine’ in the attempt to define theoretical feminism.False

Much of French feminist theory, as well as various feminist re-readings of psychoanalysis may be considered ‘feminine theories’ in this sense. (2a) But there is a paradox involved in my arguments here. Many French feminists, for example, would strongly take issue with my attempt to define ‘femininity’ at all. If they reject labels and names and ‘isms’ in particular – even ‘feminism’ and ‘sexism’ – it is because they see such labelling activity as betraying a phallogocentric* drive to stabilize, organize and rationalize our conceptual universe. (2d) They argue that it is masculine rationality that has always privileged reason, order, unity and lucidity, and that it has done so by silencing and excluding the irrationality, chaos and fragmentation that has come to represent femininity. (2b) My own view is that such conceptual terms are at once politically crucial and ultimately metaphysical; it is necessary at once to deconstruct the opposition between traditionally ‘masculine’ and traditionally ‘feminine’ values and to confront the full political force and reality of such categories. (2c) We must aim for a society in which we have ceased to categorize logic, conceptualization and rationality as ‘masculine’, not for one from which these virtues have been expelled altogether as ‘unfeminine’.

PS*: In critical theory and deconstruction, phallogocentrism is a neologism coined by Jacques Derrida to refer to the privileging of the masculine (phallus) in the construction of meaning. It is a portmanteau of the older terms phallocentrism, putting the masculine point of view central, and logocentrism, giving a central place to spoken language in assigning meaning to the world.

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