The Metaphysics of Sex: How French Feminism Deconstructs the Fraternal Order

By Department of Modern Languages and Cultures

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 5:00pm

755 Library Road, Rochester, NY 14626

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Drawing on Cixous and Irigaray, this presentation explores how millennia-old structures of women’s oppression are upheld by a metaphysics of sex, a series of hierarchical binaries that privilege reason over passion, mind over body, and culture over nature, all the while assigning the feminine to the negative pole.  As a result of this metaphysics of sex, women are trapped in the riddle of being creatures whose essence is mere matter, but their matter has no essence. Hence it is no accident that the term “man” parades as standing for all of humanity; in fact it is exclusively meant for men alone. Grab and go refreshments provided.

Noëlle McAfee is a Professor of Philosophy at Emory University, with a secondary appointment as Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She is also a faculty member of the Emory University Psychoanalytic Institute and an affiliated faculty member in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She works in the tradition of the Frankfurt School, drawing on feminist philosophy, psychoanalysis, and political theory. She is the author of over 80 articles and five books, including, most recently, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis (Columbia UP, 2019), which won the American Psychoanalytic Association’s 2020 Courage to Dream Book award. Her other books include Feminism: A Quick Immersion (Tibidabo Publishing, 2021), Democracy and the Political Unconscious (Columbia UP, 2008), Julia Kristeva (Routledge, 2004), and Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship (Cornell UP, 2000).

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