A Genealogy of Women’s (Un)Ethical Bodies

  • Gail Weiss
Part of the Breaking Feminist Waves book series (BFW)


This chapter offers a brief historical overview of the gendered mind/body dualism associated with the rationalist tradition, according to which women’s bodies have been viewed as a threat to reason and to ethics. Taking up critiques of this model offered by Beauvoir and Fanon, I maintain that the body of the Other makes an ethical claim upon us in the form of “bodily imperatives.” I conclude with a critical analysis of contemporary feminist ethics that seeks to move beyond the false dichotomies of mind/body, reason/emotions, transcendence/immanence, and male/female dualisms. Assuming as their starting point the universality of human dependency and the debilitating reality of embodied oppression, contemporary feminist ethicists seek to overturn the sexist, racist, and ableist effects of a philosophical tradition that has always privileged some minds and bodies over others.


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Further Readings

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gail Weiss
    • 1
  1. 1.George Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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