Feminism and Power

Feminism and Power : The Need for Critical Theory

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This book offers a critique of power feminism using the critical theories of Theodor Adorno and Jacques Derrida. It counters a triumphalist reading of female empowerment using the negative, parergonal philosophies of these two authors and advocates listening to the sufferer rather than celebrating the triumphalism of the reigning neoliberal order.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 218 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 22.86mm | 408.23g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739175793
  • 9780739175798
  • 903,180

Review quote

In this rich and engaging work, Caputi takes "power feminism" to task for its unreflective acceptance of neo-liberalist conceptualizations of choice and power. Drawing effectively on German and French critical theories, Caputi offers a critique of certain aspects of third wave feminism that is intellectually breathtaking, politically engaged and thought provoking. -- Judith Grant, Professor and Chair of Department of Political Science, Director of Center for Law, Justice, and Culture, Ohio University Caputi (California State Univ., Long Beach) uses critical theory as a lens through which to assess third-wave feminism. Where second-wave feminism emphasized ways that women are victimized, what Caputi terms 'power feminism' celebrates women's victories and newfound status. Simultaneously, however, it is often characterized by a triumphal self-aggrandizement and toughness that ignores the importance of care and the needs of those who are neither listened to nor understood. Although empowerment is positive, its uncritical endorsement reveals a masculinist will to power that is congruent with traditional American cultural icons of rugged individualism. The ethic of care, as developed by Joan Tronto, could serve as a partial antidote and the gender-neutral basis of a society that confronts the damage of neoliberalism and global capital. The critical theory of Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse, as well as the work of Jacques Derrida, Gayatri Spivak, Julia Kristeva, Morton Schoolman, and others all posit forms of immanent criticism and ways of thinking that recognize 'the other.' Like Odysseus, readers must listen to the Sirens, even while restrained, if they are to replace instrumental rationality with an aesthetic rationality that could restore a hidden ethical dimension of human existence. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections. CHOICEshow more

About Professor Mary Caputi

Mary Caputi is professor of political theory at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), where she has taught since 1995. Her research interests are in the areas of contemporary political thought, feminism, critical theory, postcolonial scholarship, and cultural studies. Her books include A Kinder, Gentler America: Melancholia and the Mythical 1950s (University of Minnesota Press, 2005) and Voluptuous Yearnings: A Feminist Theory of the Obscene (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1994). She is also the author of numerous articles. In addition to the current book project addressing empowerment in Third Wave feminism, she is also a co-editor and contributor to a forthcoming volume, Derrida and the Future of the Liberal Arts (Continuum, 2013), that analyzes the philosophy of Jacques Derrida in light of the crisis in higher education. In 2009, Professor Caputi spent a sabbatical in Venice, Italy, where she taught a course at the University of Venice, Ca' Foscari. In 2010, she received the Outstanding Professor Award from CSULB.show more

Table of contents

Acknowledgments Forward Chapter One: Women's Empowerment and the Need for Critical Theory Chapter Two: Instrumental Rationality and the "Brave New Girl" Chapter Three: American Rugged Individualism And "New Girl" Toughness Chapter Four: "Now Fight!" Violence and Vulgarity Chapter Five: Feel-Good Feminism and the Power Of Aesthetic Reasoning Chapter Six: Listening, A Feminist Practice Bibliographyshow more

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