A criticism of Young's "Throwing like a girl" through Scheler's understanding of motor action

Cinzia Ruggeri

pp. 335-359

This paper is concerned with the nature of feminine bodily comportment described by Iris Marion Young in "Throwing Like a Girl." According to Young, the style of movement of women, who undergo patriarchal oppression, reveals their existential status as a socio-historically oppressed group. Her claim is that patriarchal oppression acts upon women's bodily functions, thus causing feminine motility to exhibit an inhibited intentionality, an ambiguous transcendence and a discontinuous unity. In this paper I take issue with these three modalities of feminine comportment. Firstly, I resort to Max Scheler's phenomenological description of the different stages leading to motor action to show that the bodily functionality of oppressed women is intact when considered from the motor-intentional perspective. Secondly, I advocate, via Scheler's phenomenology, a different mode through which to interpret the bodily expressivity of oppressed women. My claim is that feminine motility expresses the negative impact that sexism has upon the oppressed women's emotional pre-theoretical and pre-non-motor level. My (Schelerian) thesis is that patriarchal society negatively influences, and thereby compromises, the constitution of women's axiological apparatus by inhibiting their preferences of values. Finally, I argue that the axiological apparatus of oppressive men is likewise compromised, and hence needs to be re-educated as much as that of the oppressed women. The main aim of this paper is to suggest a correct reading of the hampered motility of oppressed women, which keeps into consideration the phenomenon of "oppression" in its entirety, and which can thus lead to adequate axiological therapies.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-019-09475-8

Full citation:

Ruggeri, C. (2019). A criticism of Young's "Throwing like a girl" through Scheler's understanding of motor action. Continental Philosophy Review 52 (4), pp. 335-359.

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