Iris Marion Young | On Female Body Experience: “Throwing Like a Girl” and Other Essays
Written over a span of more than two decades, the essays by Iris Marion Young collected in this volume describe diverse aspects of women’s lived body experience in modern Western societies. Drawing on the ideas of several twentieth century continental philosophers–including Simone de Beauvoir, Martin Heidegger, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty–Young constructs rigorous analytic categories for interpreting embodied subjectivity. The essays combine theoretical description of experience with normative evaluation of the unjust constraints on their freedom and opportunity that continue to burden many women. The lead essay rethinks the purpose of the category of “gender” for feminist theory, after important debates have questioned its usefulness. Other essays include reflection on the meaning of being at home and the need for privacy in old age residences as well as essays that analyze aspects of the experience of women and girls that have received little attention even in feminist theory–such as the sexuality of breasts, or menstruation as punctuation in a woman’s life story. Young describes the phenomenology of moving in a pregnant body and the tactile pleasures of clothing. While academically rigorous, the essays are also written with engaging style, incorporating vivid imagery and autobiographical narrative. On Female Body Experience raises issues and takes positions that speak to scholars and students in philosophy, sociology, geography, medicine, nursing, and education.