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Feminist aesthetics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-M043-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Feminist perspectives in aesthetics and philosophy of art have emerged not only from the discipline of philosophy but also from cognate fields such as literary theory, film studies and art history. Like other feminist philosophy, feminist aesthetics is founded upon critiques of fundamental assumptions that have traditionally governed this area of study. Such staple concepts as aesthetic value, disinterested attention, aesthetic perception and fine art have been analysed for biased perspectives that explicitly or covertly favour masculine gender.

Gender bias has been located, for example, in theories of aesthetic attention and appreciation. Feminist analyses have speculated that the traditional, ideal, ‘disinterested’ aesthetic perceiver covertly stands in a position of masculine privilege encouraging desire and control of the object of contemplation. Calling attention to the masculine position of the perceiver goes hand in hand with analyses of visual arts and literature that focus on their representations of gender – formalist interpretive methods that ignore the portrayal of women and sexuality have been especially criticized. The paucity of female artists on lists of acknowledged geniuses and the relative absence of their work from canons of art has occasioned speculation that the concept of art itself is biased in so far as it excludes the creations of most women.

Feminist analyses stress the social contexts within which theories develop. Not only do concepts basic to aesthetics manifest ideas about gender that derive from formative traditions, but notions of beauty and art are themselves influential components of culture and contribute to the shape and perpetuation of gender roles.

Citing this article:
Korsmeyer, Carolyn. Feminist aesthetics, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-M043-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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