Many women have pushed back against these accusations and misogynistic views, sparking an intellectual revolution in the process. For a long time, philosophy was seen as a boy’s club, but with Simone de Beauvoir’s views, Harriet Taylor Mill, Hypatia of Alexandria, and others, that prejudice has been dispelled. A diverse perspective is sometimes required to make progress, and a fabulous idea can originate from anybody, anywhere.
Males have definitely controlled the philosophical discourse, Marjorie, especially in terms of whose voices were taken seriously. Men have long defined women as different. often, less than. Are female philosophers caught within a “Catch 22”? Are they marginalized as long as their gender is highlighted, as long as they continue to be called “female philosophers” instead of just philosophers? Do we ever append male to the philosopher, or do we see that as the default?
Of course, this raises some very big issues about sex and gender, with sex being defined as biological differences between males and females and gender being described as the cultural constructs that the culture attaches to sex. And we often mistake one for the other, mistake cultural constructions for biological differences.
Ursula Le Guin’s classic, award-winning science fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness imagines a world without gender. That world’s inhabitants are not just genderless, but sexless for most of the time (on a regular cycle they become one gender or the other, not always the same gender each cycle, during which they can have sex and even reproduce). What is particularly interesting is that the story is told from the perspective of a man from Earth. And he repeatedly misreads people on this planet (sometimes to his great detriment) because he cannot get past his own assumptions about gender.
This brings us back to the issue of universality here on Earth. Do we often mistake the male experience as the universal experience?