Relativism in Feminist Political Theory

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This chapter explores the issue of relativism in feminist political theory as it manifests in debates around choice and gendered cultural practices. Choice is thought to be a key indicator of feminist liberation, so when women appear to choose things that reinforce rather than resist their own subordination, we must ask whether such choices should be respected, or whether they should be challenged on feminist grounds. The debate is split between those who are committed to universal values of gender justice, which they believe can and should be applied cross-culturally; and those who take a more relativist position, and argue that judgments about women’s choices must be made relative to their individual, social, cultural and historical context. The chapter begins with a brief overview of the tension between cultural relativism and feminism, before moving on to explore the issue of relativism within feminist political theory, focussing on feminist critiques and defences of gendered cultural practices such as FGM (female genital mutilation) and ‘veiling’. It then examines broader issues these debates raise in feminist theory around questions of agency and adaptive preference. Concluding with a brief discussion of ‘complicity’ as a productive avenue for future research in this field.
Originele taal-2English
TitelThe Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Relativism
RedacteurenMartin Kusch
ISBN van elektronische versie9781351052306
ISBN van geprinte versie781138484283
StatusPublished - dec-2019

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