Can Women Think? A Contemplation and an Invitation

Listen to my talk on the role of women – in society, in philosophy. How can we allow for female thought to have a voice? With an introduction by Professor Hoda Mahmoudi of the University of Maryland. I’m looking forward to your responses, your questions, your support. As the Dutch poet Lucebert once said… all that is valuable is defenseless…

Can women think? What kind of a ridiculous question is that? It is a stupid question, specially if a woman is going to ask it and give an answer, right? Either she cannot think – and whatever she says needs to be dismissed as nonsense. And you don’t even need to listen to me. Or she can think, but then you already know the answer, so why are you reading this? 

No, actually it is a ridiculous question for a different reason. For if we ask the honorable white men that make up the history of philosophy, they would all say the same thing: no, women cannot think. Obviously. Time and again they have decided that this is what is true, and we will look at some of them.

It is not just philosophy giving this answer, but it is society that thinks and knows the same thing. Although it will deny this, and it will point to feminists who have paved the way for women to become men, to take on men’s jobs and men’s roles and men’s position in society. It’s great that women can fill men’s shoes and be asked to perform the same jobs. But I think it is about time that women are allowed to say they are women in who they are, without having to apologize for that. They should be women not based on a comparison with men. As Luce Irigaray said:

“To demand equality as women is, it seems to me, a mistaken expression of a real objective. The demand to be equal presupposes a point of comparison. To whom or what do women want to be equalized? To men? To a salary? To a public office? To what standard? Why not to themselves?”

So no, this is not a ridiculous question. It is ridiculous that we don’t even dare ask ourselves this question, that it is strange and mad to make a connection between something that has to do with a the capacity of reason and a link to the body. How can we dare say these things are linked, because Descartes has split these two, mind and body are different things, end of the story.

But I will show today why this question is far from ridiculous, and actually very important. Philosophy has developed in such a way that it has excluded women from the beginning, and it is time for that to change.

Want more?

Listen to the full talk on this topic, send me your questions, engage in thinking, or support me through subscribing to my project on Steady to allow independent thinking to continue. In this time of the commercialization of thinking, let’s find a way in which the female can be thought, and a woman can be shown to think, without being judged on the basis of the male norm.

As long as we frame everything through exclusion, no thought of unity is going to bring about something that is strong and inclusive enough to hold all the different manifestations of that what is coexisting together. As long as we understand with unity a denial of the difference, the paradigm in power is going to crush the voices that are made powerless by it. As long as the idea of the one is contrasted with the idea of the plural, we have not truly understood. ~ Nicole des Bouvrie

Photo by Jeanne des Bouvrie
Photo by Jeanne des Bouvrie

Ps. It’s really difficult to hear oneself talk, search for words, and fail…

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