New Philosophy

Feminist Philosophy

What is French feminism?

French feminism is a school of thought named by feminists outside France to refer to work mainly proffered by Luce Irigaray (1932–), Hélène Cixous (1937–), and Julia Kristeva (1941–). But none of these three is originally from France, and from time to time each has denied being a feminist. What Irigary, Cixous, and Kristeva all share is that their work is based on considerations of philosophical and psychoanalytic texts. They all assume that to improve the situation of women, fundamental psychological structures need to be revised. That is, they are working within the tradition of structuralism.

By comparison, there is another group of French feminists whose work is more sociological and activist than theoretical. Known as French materialist feminists, they address the situation of women by attempting to change society through political activism and work in the social sciences. Key figures are: Simon de Beauvoir (1908–1986), Christine Delphy (1941–), Monique Wittig (1935–2003), and Colette Guillaumin (1934–). Some of their theoretical work, which has been especially influential in the Communist Revolutionary League, describes the ways in which the free labor of women in the family supports capitalism.


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