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Sandra Lee Bartky quotes Showing 1-8 of 8

“Under the current ‘tyranny of slenderness’ women are forbidden to become large or massive; they must take up as little space as possible. The very contours of a woman’s body takes on as she matures - the fuller breasts and rounded hips - have become distateful. The body by which a woman feels herself judged and which by rigorous discipline she must try to assume is the body of early adolescence, slight and unformed, a body lacking flesh or substance, a body in whose very contours the image of immaturity has been inscribed. The requirement that a woman maintain a smooth and hairless skin carries further the theme of inexperience, for an infantilized face must accompany her infantilized body, a face that never ages or furrows its brow in thought. The face of the ideally feminine woman must never display the marks of character, wisdom, and experience that we so admire in men.”
Sandra Lee Bartky
“Those who claim that any woman can reprogram her consciousness if only she is sufficiently determined hold a shallow view of the nature of patriarchal oppression. Anything done can be undone, it is implied; nothing has been permanently damaged, nothing irretrievably lost. But this is tragically false. One of the evils of a system of oppression is that it may damage people in ways that cannot always be undone. Patriarchy invades the intimate recesses of personality where it may maim and cripple the spirit forever.”
Sandra Lee Bartky, Femininity And Domination: Studies In The Phenomenology Of Oppression
“Existentialist literature provides a more satisfactory account of the persistence of feminine narcissism. Simone de Beauvoir makes use of the existentialist conception of 'situation' in order to account for the persistence of narcissism in the feminine personality. A woman's situation, i.e., those meanings derived from the total context in which she comes to maturity, disposes her to apprehend her body not as the instrument of her transcendence, but as 'an object destined for another.'

Knowing that she is to be subjected to the cold appraisal of the male connoisseur and that her life prospects may depend on how she is seen, a woman learns to appraise herself first. The sexual objectification of women produces a duality in feminine consciousness. The gaze of the Other is internalized so that I myself become at once seer and seen, appraiser and the thing appraised.”
Sandra Lee Bartky, Femininity And Domination: Studies In The Phenomenology Of Oppression
“Why isn't every woman a feminist? Feminism tells a tale of female injury, but the average woman in heterosexual intimacy knows that men are injured too, as indeed they are. She may be willing to grant, this average woman, that men in general have more power than women in general. This undoubted fact is merely a fact; it is abstract, while the man of flesh and blood who stands before her is concrete: His hurts are real, his fears palpable. And like those heroic doctors on the late show who work tirelessly through the epidemic even though they may be fainting from fatigue, the woman in intimacy may set her own needs to one side in order better to attend to his. She does this not because she is "chauvinized" or has "false consciousness," but because this is what the work requires. Indeed, she may even excuse the man's abuse of her, having glimpsed the great reservoir of pain and rage from which it issues. Here is a further gloss on the ethical disempowerment attendant upon women's caregiving: in such a situation, a woman may be tempted to collude in her own ill-treatment.”
Sandra Lee Bartky, Femininity And Domination: Studies In The Phenomenology Of Oppression
“While women suffer from our relative lack of power in the world and often resent it, certain dimensions of this powerlessness may seem abstract and remote. We know, for example, that we rarely get to make the laws or direct the major financial institutions. But Wall Street and the U.S. Congress seem very far away. The power a woman feels in herself to heal and sustain, on the other hand--"the power of love"--is, once again, concrete and very near: It is like a field of force emanating from within herself, a great river flowing outward from her very person.

Thus, a complex and contradictory female subjectivity is constructed within the relations of caregiving. Here, as elsewhere, women are affirmed in some way and diminished in others, this within the unity of a single act. The woman who provides a man with largely unreciprocated emotional sustenance accords him status and pays him homage; she agrees to the unspoken proposition that his doings are important enough to deserve substantially more attention than her own. But even as the man's supremacy in the relationship is tacitly assumed by both parties to the transaction, the man reveals himself to his caregiver as vulnerable and insecure. And while she may well be ethically and epistemically disempowered by the care she gives, this caregiving affords her a feeling that a mighty power resides within her being.

The situation of those men in the hierarchy of gender who avail themselves of female tenderness is not thereby altered: Their superordinate position is neither abandoned, nor their male privilege relinquished. The vulnerability these men exhibit is not a prelude in any way to their loss of male privilege or to an elevation in the status of women. Similarly, the feeling that one's love is a mighty force for the good in the life of the beloved doesn't make it so, as Milena Jesenka found, to her sorrow. The feeling of out-flowing personal power so characteristic of the caregiving woman is quite different from the having of any actual power in the world. There is no doubt that this sense of personal efficacy provides some compensation for the extra-domestic power women are typically denied: If one cannot be a king oneself, being a confidante of kings may be the next best thing. But just as we make a bad bargain in accepting an occasional Valentine in lieu of the sustained attention we deserve, we are ill advised to settle for a mere feeling of power, however heady and intoxicating it may be, in place of the effective power we have every right to exercise in the world.”
Sandra Lee Bartky, Femininity And Domination: Studies In The Phenomenology Of Oppression
“Indeed, the exigencies of female tenderness are such as virtually to guarantee the man's absolution by the woman--not on her terms, but on his. Moreover, the man's confession of fear or failure tends to mystify the woman's understanding not only of the power dimensions of the relationship between herself and this particular man, but of the relations of power between men and women in general.”
Sandra Lee Bartky, Femininity And Domination: Studies In The Phenomenology Of Oppression
“The situation of those men in the hierarchy of gender who avail themselves of female tenderness is not thereby altered: Their superordinate position is neither abandoned, nor their male privilege relinquished. The vulnerability these men exhibit is not a prelude in any way to their loss of male privilege or to an elevation in the status of women.”
Sandra Lee Bartky, Femininity and Domination: Studies in the Phenomenology of Oppression
“The experience of shame may tend to lend legitimacy to the structure of authority that occasions it, for the majesty of judgment is affirmed in its very capacity to injure.”
Sandra Lee Bartky, Femininity and Domination: Studies in the Phenomenology of Oppression


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