By Diana Fuss
Utilizing a feminist, poststructuralist standpoint, Diana Fuss addresses the 'nature v. tradition' debate, asking no matter if femininity, race, or homosexuality have 'essential natures'. She severely examines either positions within the debate. This e-book may be of curiosity to complex scholars of philosophy and feminist conception.
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Extra resources for Essentially Speaking: Feminism, Nature & Difference
It is poststructuralist feminists who seem most intrigued by this call to risk essence. " in Jardine and Smith 1987, 58). But not all poststructuralist feminists are as comfortable with the prospect of re-opening theory's Pandora's box of essentialism. Peggy Kamuf warns that calls to risk essentialism may in the end be no more than veiled defenses against the unsettling operations of deconstruction: How is one supposed to understand essence as a risk to be run when it is by definition the non-accidental and therefore hardly the apt term to represent danger or risk?
In both cases, politics operates as the privileged, self-evident category. The slippage in the above paragraph from "class" to "coalition" is not merely accidental. I intend to suggest by this shift an anti-essentialist reading of "class" as a product of coalition. Coalition precedes class and determines its limits and boundaries; we cannot identify a group of women until various social, historical, political coalitions construct the conditions and possibilities for membership. Many anti-essentialists fear that positing a political coalition of women risks presuming that there must first be a natural class of women; but this belief only masks the fact that it is coalition politics which constructs the category of women (and men) in the first place.
Derrida holds a mirror up to his detractors and reflects their charges of "monolithic thinking" and "homogeneity" back to them, unwilling to recognize any possible contradictions within his own discourse, willing only (in surprisingly unDerridean fashion) to treat contradiction on a thematic level and not on a deeper textual level. "The risk of essence may have to be taken" Despite the uncertainty and confusion surrounding the sign "essence," more than one influential theorist has advocated that perhaps we cannot do without recourse to irreducibilities.