Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Interesting Times...

I've been completely crap at blogging lately - don't give up on me - I will return to regularity as soon as my exams both start and finish!

Anyway, all this extra time has allowed me to ruminate about feminism in a way that is probably deeply detrimental to all my revision. I was reading a book the other day that was talking about prudential morality - i.e. moralities that are based on the premise that we should act according to what it is in our interest to do.

This got me thinking. If it were a woman who happened to be deciding what it was to act according to her interests, what kind of behaviour/needs would she have? Immediately, I thought of security. What women doesn't think that security is in her interests? Dworkin (Andrea) asked us to imagine a day without rape and that kind of world needs security, above anything.

But then I thought - what am I thinking? My whole conceptual understanding of what is in a woman's natural interest, what her basic self interest would be, is based on a framework of a world dominated by men. The only way we can think about the self interest of women is to think of what their interest is *now*. Naturally, would a woman's first interest be security? I don't think it would be, but I have no way of finding out. The whole concept of women and what is in their interest has been created by men. My linguistic framework has been developed in a male-oriented society. My conceptual understanding of these issues is distorted.

In light of this, I think we need to find a new theory of human nature for women. And figure out what *would* be in a woman's self-interest. Assuming she is in fact self-interested, which let's face it, she may not be. Perhaps I shall devote my final week of revision to that...

7 comments:

abelard said...

I'm a bit puzzled about the idea of what "naturally" could mean in the absence of the social structures which give it an everyday (if false) meaning. Can there be a sentence like "women naturally are X" which isn't either really boring and biological ("women naturally are mammals")or basically a restatement of social structures? Oughtn't it be an aim of feminism to leave "naturally" behind?

Heloise said...

Hm, yes, naturally does seem to be a bad choice of word and is actually not really serving any purpose in that sentence...

What I wanted to convey was the idea that when people talk about self-interest, especially in terms of prudential morality, they do so assuming that the interest they claim is one that is 'natural'. Perhaps what I did not make clear was that I do think interests are socially constructed, and that ideas of what is 'natural' should be left behind.

Maybe I just didn't do it that well. Fallibility, however, is possibly an entirely 'natural' characteristic!

abelard said...

Just another disproof of prudential morality disguised as a post about feminism!

Heloise said...

*Everything* is about feminism, if you think about it the right way.

(Abelard my friend, you are like the ultimate anti-troll!)

asdgasdfaserwe said...

I want to know more about prudential morality. Can you recommend a good book?

This isn't something I have given a lot of thought, but it occurs to me that between women's self-interest being looked at as either natural or socially constructed the possibility of that self-interest being individual gets lost

Heloise said...

Sure, let me have a think and I'll email you a couple of titles!

That's a really interesting point but I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'individual'. Do you mean that the *individual* is neither biological nor socially constructed, but just *is*? Or are you thinking about the actual self interest itself being individual and not natural or socially constructed?

(I warn you, I can ramble about this kind of stuff forever, so please stop me if I get boring!)

asdgasdfaserwe said...

Must admit that I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this, so if you can teach me something that'd be great. I think I'm talking about my feeling that as soon as we start exploring the self-interest in terms of either natural or social, we are saying that it can be defined as either of the two. What I mean is that saying "self-interest is..." is to take the power of naming away from the individual and taking away a sizeable number of degrees of freedom. Surely there must be as many variations on the theme as there are individuals.

Do e-mail me a book tip!