After all what's a woman?: Simone de Beauvoir and "the question of the subject" in feminist critical theory

Ingrid Cyfer About the author

Judith Butler, in her reflection on the subject of feminism, denounced the exclusions that derive from the "universal woman". On the other hand, Seyla Benhabib formulates another conception of the subject in order to find a way of contextualizing the subject while preserving what she considers fully committed in Butler's argument: the possibility of justifying a normative conception of gender equality and political agency. However, it seems that Benhabib has not been completely successful in her formulation because the core of the self in her model is neutral regarding gender. In order to try to resolve the "deficit of contextualization" in Benhabib's account of the subject, Simone de Beauvoir's conception on subjectivity is introduced into this debate. The main claim of this article is that the conception of subjectivity that Beauvoir sets in The Second Sex could complement Benhabib's conception of the subject with a more embodied self that would be compatible with both, the demand of contextualizing the subject and the theoretical and political commitments of feminist critique to gender equality.

Feminism; Conceptions of the Self; Subjectivity; Seyla Benhabib; Judith Butler; Simone de Beauvoir; Gender Equality


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