Feminism and Postmodernism

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Postmodernism is the North American movement based on the intellectual inspirations from French poststructuralists including Foucault, Derrida, Irigaray and others.


In particular, the so-called postmodernist feminism has challenged the claims that observed differences between men and women are necessary and that women have an essence that justifies their subordinating position in society.

Central to the postmodernist understanding of society is the belief that the grand or totalizing principles of modernity and the Enlightenment - including appeals to rationality, progress, humanity, and justice - have been completely undermined. This line of reasoning emerges from poststructuralist critiques of language, subjectivity, and representation. In other words, where poststructuralists criticized the foundations of modernism, postmodernists read these critiques as mandates for rejecting foundations altogether (Stabile 1995). European postmodernists, like Jean-Francois Lyotard, have expressed the belief that Marxism, like the Enlightenment in general, culminated in Stalinism because of its totalizing impulses.

Some postmodernists have gone much further than this identification of Marxism with Soviet-style systems, holding Marxism responsible for all kinds of oppression. Twentieth-century Marxism has used the generalizing categories of production and class to delegitimize demands of women, black people, gays, lesbians, and others whose oppression cannot be reduced to economics. This kind of judgment dramatically displays yet another feature of postmodernism: its historical amnesia. ...
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