The Rock Ethics Institute

Initiatives

Ethics & Pedagogy

Overcoming Objectification: A Carnal Ethics

Ann J. Cahill
Routledge (2012)

Objectification is a foundational concept in feminist theory, used to analyze such disparate social phenomena as sex work, representation of women's bodies, and sexual harassment. However, there has been an increasing trend among scholars of rejecting and re-evaluating the philosophical assumptions which underpin it. In this work, Cahill suggests an abandonment of the notion of objectification, on the basis of its dependence on a Kantian ideal of personhood. Such an ideal fails to recognize sufficiently the role the body plays in personhood, and thus results in an implicit vilification of the body and sexuality. The problem with the phenomena associated with objectification is not that they render women objects, and therefore not-persons, but rather that they construct feminine subjectivity and sexuality as wholly derivative of masculine subjectivity and sexuality. Women, in other words, are not objectified as much as they are derivatized, turned into a mere reflection or projection of the other. Cahill argues for an ethics of materiality based upon a recognition of difference, thus working toward an ethics of sexuality that is decidedly ­and simultaneously ­incarnate and intersubjective. Abstract retrieved from Psychology Press.

Cahill, Ann J. (2012). Overcoming objectification: A carnal ethics. New York, NY: Routledge.

 “Our Hearts Are Collectively Breaking”: Teaching Survivors of Violence

Janet Lee
Gender and Society, 3 (4): 541-548 (1989)

This article discusses teaching survivors of violence in an introductory women's studies course and addresses the pedagogical question of whether we are able to promote individual agency and empowerment effectively and, if so, how might we best go about it. Survivors spoke out in their journals and in the classroom about their experiences, shared feelings about empowerment, and assessed the ways and extent to which the course helped them to heal. I found that survivors benefited from being able to talk about their experiences and from being encouraged to place their personal experiences in a broader political context, but that a crucial component was the affirmation, validation, and solidarity they felt with each other in the classroom. Abstract retrieved from Sage Journals.

Lee, Janet (1989). “Our hearts are collectively breaking”: Teaching survivors of violence. Gender and Society, 3 (4): 541-548.

“Pleasure Has No Passport”: Re-visiting the Potential of Pleasure in Sexuality Education

Louisa Allen and Moira Carmody
Sex Education, 12 (4): 455-468 (2012)

The idea that pleasure might form a part of sexuality education is no longer a ‘new’ idea in the field of sexuality studies. In this paper we examine how originally conceived notions of pleasure have been ‘put to work’ and theoretically ‘taken up’ in relation to sexuality and education. It is our contention that because of the nature of discourse and varying cultural and political contexts, pleasure has been operationalised in ways we did not intend or foresee. Throughout this discussion we seek to discern the discursive limits of visions of pleasure to illuminate their normalising potential. Drawing on Foucault's thoughts about pleasure as having ‘no passport’ and queer theoretical understandings of this concept, we argue for a re-conceptualisation of the potential of pleasure in sexuality education. In particular we identify the need for wedging open spaces for the possibility of ethical pleasures, in forms that are not heteronormatively pre-conceived or mandatory. Abstract retrieved from ERIC Institute of Education Services.

Allen, Louisa and Carmody, Moira (2012). ‘Pleasure has no passport’: Re-visiting the potential of pleasure in sexuality education. Sex Education, 12 (4): 455-468. 

Teaching about Violence Against Women

Mona Eliasson
Feminist Press at CUNY (1999)

Violence against women is one of the most debated and challenging subjects in women's studies today. This special issue of Women's Studies Quarterly encapsulates recent debates and offers an invaluable framework for exploring its global context and for conveying these ideas to others. With contributions from distinguished scholars around the world, this volume considers not only the different cultural and political contexts of violence, but also the progress that has been made by women throughout the world in identifying and organizing against various forms of violence. By offering an increased understanding of violence in an international context and by celebrating successful instances of resistance, Teaching About Violence Against Women suggests innovative ways for teachers, students, activists, and crisis intervention specialists to think and to teach about this difficult, often painful, but crucial topic. Abstract retrieved from Google Books.

Eliasson, Mona (1999). Teaching about violence against women. New York: Feminist Press at CUNY.