Women’s Freedom and Gender-Based Oppression Essay

2005 Words 9 Pages
As well-known feminist theorists, both Catherine Mackinnon and Simone Beauvoir dissect the nature of gender-based oppression as well as how it plays into women’s liberation from male supremacy in their published writings. While Mackinnon’s vision of liberation, in her book “Feminism Unmodified,” differentiates from Beauvoir’s vision in “the Second Sex,” in that it focuses on the political sphere rather than the social sphere, there is still an element of commonality between the two written pieces. Sex, as the major element of commonality, is intertwined throughout each of their works for the reason that it is fundamental to discovering the ontological status of men and women and the ontological shifts that are necessary for liberating …show more content…
“The Other”, as the ontological status of women, is seen in both the works of Mackinnon and Beauvoir. In her essay “The Second Sex”, Beauvoir expands on the idea that women inhabit reality in a completely different way than men do in current conditions that exist on an ontological level in women by saying:
Otherness is a fundamental category of human thought. Thus it is that no group ever sets up as the One without at once setting up the Other over against itself…. We find in consciousness itself a fundamental hostility towards every other consciousness; the subject can be posed only in being opposed – he sets himself up as the essential, as opposed to the other, the inessential, the object…. No subject will readily volunteer to become the object, the inessential; it is not the Other who, in defining himself as the Other, established the One. The Other is posed as such by the One in defining himself as the One. But if the Other is not to regain the status of being the One, he must be submissive enough to accept this alien point of view. Whence comes this submission in the case of woman?” (14).
Her description of women’s ontological status as “the Other” directly relates to the question she asks in the beginning of her essay, “What is a woman?” There is no real way to answer that because women are defined only in relation to men. Is it even possible to articulate women’s nature of being when men have been the ones for so long to giving meaning

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