Marilyn Frye

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The forces of men’s material and perceptual violence mold Woman to dependence upon Man, in every meaning of 'dependence': contingent upon; conditional upon; necessitated by; defined in terms of; incomplete or unreal without; requiring the support or assistance of; being a subordinate part of; being an appurtenance to.

Marilyn Frye (born 1941 in Tulsa, Oklahoma) is a retired philosophy professor and feminist theorist.

Quotes[edit]

The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory (1983)[edit]

  • Cages. Consider a birdcage. If you look very closely at just one wire in the cage, you cannot see the other wires. If your conception of what is before you is determined by this myopic focus, you could look at that one wire, up and down the length of it, and be unable to see why a bird would not just fly around the wire any time it wanted to go somewhere. Furthermore, even if, one day at a time, you myopically inspected each wire, you still could not see why a bird would have trouble going past the wires to get anywhere. There is no physical property of any one wire, nothing that the closest scrutiny could discover, that will reveal how a bird could be inhibited or harmed by it except in the most accidental way. It is only when you step back, stop looking at the wires one by one, microscopically, and take a macroscopic view of the whole cage, that you can see why the bird does not go anywhere; and then you will see it in a moment. It will require no great subtlety of mental powers. It is perfectly obvious that the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, no one of which would be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a dungeon.
    • p. 5
  • Efficient exploitation requires that those exploited be relatively mobile, self-animating and self-maintaining—the more so as the work in question requires greater intelligence, attention or ingenuity. But it also requires that they not be free enough, strong enough or willful enough to resist, escape or significantly misfit the situation of exploitation.
    • p. 59
  • Efficient exploitation of “human resources” requires that the structures that refer the others’ actions to the exploiter’s ends must extend beneath the victim’s skin. The exploiter has to bring about the partial disintegration and re(mis)integration of the others’ matter, parts and properties so that as organized systems the exploited are oriented to some degree by habits, skills, schedules, values and tastes to the exploiter’s ends rather than, as they would otherwise be, to ends of their own. In particular, the manipulations which adapt the exploited to a niche in another’s economy must accomplish a great reduction of the victim’s intolerance of coercion.
    • p. 60
  • What the exploiter needs is that the will and intelligence of the victim be disengaged from the projects of resistance and escape but that they not be simply broken or destroyed. Ideally, the dis-integration and mis-integration of the victim should accomplish the detachment of the victim's will and intelligence from the victim’s own interests and their attachment to the interests of the exploiter. This will effect a displacement or dissolution of self-respect and will undermine the victim’s intolerance of coercion. With that, the situation transcends the initial paradigmatic form or structure of coercion; for if people don’t mind doing what you want them to do, then, in a sense, you can’t really be making them do it. In the limiting case, the victim’s will and intelligence are wholly transferred to a full engagement in the pursuit of the dominating person’s interests. The “problem” had been that there were two parties with divergent interests; this sort of solution (which is very elegant, as that word is used in logic) is to erase the conflict by reducing the number of interested parties to one. This radical solution can properly be called “enslavement.”
    • p. 60
  • Men see with arrogant eyes which organize everything seen with reference to themselves and their own interests.
    • p. 67
  • Western philosophy and science have for the most part been committed to the Simplicity Theory of Truth: the simplest theory that accounts for the data is the true theory. (Theories are simplest which postulate the fewest entities, require the fewest hypotheses, generate predictions by the fewest calculations, etc.) ...

    If someone believes that the world is made for him to have dominion over and he is made to exploit it, he must believe that he and the world are so made that he can, at least in principle, achieve and maintain dominion over everything. But you can’t put things to use if you don’t know how they work. So he must believe that he can, at least in principle, understand everything. If the world exists for man, it must be usably intelligible, which means it must be simple enough for him to understand. A usable universe is an intelligible universe is a simple universe. ...

    And so it goes with the philosophy and the science of The Arrogant Eye.

    • p. 71
  • The forces of men’s material and perceptual violence mold Woman to dependence upon Man, in every meaning of 'dependence': contingent upon; conditional upon; necessitated by; defined in terms of; incomplete or unreal without; requiring the support or assistance of; being a subordinate part of; being an appurtenance to.
    • p. 77
  • If we have no intuition of ourselves as independent, unmediated beings in the world, then we cannot conceive ourselves surviving our liberation; for what our liberation will do is dissolve the structures and dismantle the mechanisms by which Woman is mediated by Man. If we cannot imagine ourselves surviving this, we certainly will not make it happen.
    • p. 80

External links[edit]

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