I first got into philosophy while preparing for Lincoln Douglas Debate. My arsenal consisted of mainly men: Kant, Rousseau, Schopenhauer and many other men. There were no women to call on. This was because I was still getting my footing in the debate world as well as this material was the most relied on by my competitors. This brings up the question: Is gender an important category in reading Philosophy? Even though these arguments can vary from person to person, yes, I think gender plays a huge role in the reading of philosophy because the reader holds a great deal of weight regarding certain issues, especially empirical issues, the writer's gender can lead to the possibility of being sexist and the lack of women in philosophy sends a message to future female philosophers.
The first argument deals with the female reader. Depending on the gender, there are bound to be different interpretations regarding certain subjects. However, in the case of Philosophy women’s opinions are rarely given any notice. We are often separated by gender. We are in a male dominated society and by separating philosopher by genders as well as dictating what is to be read; mainly white male philosophers, this lead to more harm than good. It’s understandable to put men and women separately, but in the category of philosophy women have been painted with a dark brush for lack of a better term. A prime example is character traits.
According to Witt “The negative and oppressive characterization of women and the feminine in traditional philosophy presents a second, unique challenge to feminist philosopher’s intent on re-reading the canon in search of our philosophical origins. Our tradition tells us, either implicitly through images and metaphors, or explicitly in so many words, that philosophy itself and its norms of reason and objectivity exclude everything that is feminine or associated with women. In response, feminist philosophers criticize both the historical exclusion of women from the philosophical tradition, and the negative characterization of women or the feminine in it.”
By characterizing females in a negative light you ultimately dictate what has merit and doesn’t based on personal preference and that in turn ultimately can affect the readers judgment as it relates to pursuing Philosophy as we see in our next argument.
This leads to my second point regarding the gender of the writer. The writer ultimately sets the precedence in regard to...