Decolonizing Sex: Ranjana Khanna, Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Butler

Marina De Chiara


According to scholar Ranjana Khanna, the metaphor of the dark continent reveals that modern psychoanalysis has interpreted the ‘woman’ in the light of categories produced in the colonial context (Khanna 2003, ix). It is exactly the insistence on the idea of subjectivity, meant as an ‘effect’ of specific social-historical contexts, namely the ethical imperative to configure subjectivity as the expression of a fairer society, that situates Simone de Beauvoir’s thought within the ethical question raised by decolonisation and anti-colonialist efforts. In the wake of de Beauvoir, and in more recent times, a remarkable number of feminist philosophers within Western thought, ranging from Hélène Cixous to Luce Irigaray, from Julia Kristeva to Sarah Kofman, up to Judith Butler have pointed their finger at that phallocentric system that has stressed, for ages, the relationship between woman and body, and the non-transcendence of woman. The woman is not included in the universality that defines the masculine subject. And if such universal masculine subject is culturally constituted as mind, spirit, reason, namely as something incorporeal, at the same time it has confined the others, among them the woman, to the status of ‘body’ and corporeality (Smith 1993, 1-17).

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