Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

Joan of Arc, Machiavelli

Describing Joan of Arc, Dworkin writes that her “story is not female until the end, when she died, like nine million other women, in flames.”1 To be female, that is, is to be subjected, indeed to be killed. For Dworkin, Joan of Arc is a hero because of her refusal to accept this subjection, a refusal to accept subjection that makes Joan a subject in her own right, autonomous and self-determining. But for Dworkin, these two sides, of subject and subjection, never seem to connect to one another. She endorses a particular conception of subjectivity, a form of subjectivity traditionally associated with men but denied to women, but does not consider that this model of subjectivity might depend on subjection (the subjection of somebody: in particular, women) for its coherence. “To want freedom is to want not only what men have, but what men are,”2 Dworkin writes, and I will contend that this is true in a more fundamental sense than Dworkin herself realizes: this construal of freedom is not something merely appropriated by men, but is fundamentally masculinist, implicated in systems of male dominance. Thus, “feminist revolution” requires a rethinking of the notion of subjectivity. Read more↴