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  • Writer's pictureDon Landes

“Introduction: Throwing Like a Girl 40 Years Later," Symposium 21.2 (2017)

“Introduction: Throwing Like a Girl 40 Years Later / Introduction: Lancer comme une fille 40 ans plus tard.” Symposium: The Canadian Journal for Continental Philosophy 21, no. 2 (2017).

In October 1977, Iris Marion Young presented for the first time the research paper that would shortly thereafter be published as “Throwing Like a Girl: A Phenomenology of Feminine Body Comportment, Motility, and Spatiality.” This foundational essay in feminist phenomenology shows Young to be a philosopher capable of deploying the very best of existential phenomenological descriptions of lived and embodied subjectivity while simultaneously keeping in play the inescapable influence of social forces that constitute that very object of study. As Young herself later writes, the essay “theorizes socially constructed habits of feminine body comportment in male-dominated society, and their implications for the sense of agency and power of persons who inhabit these body modalities.” In short, “Throwing Like a Girl” is a model for responsible and engaged phenomenology in the tradition of Simone de Beauvoir and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Moreover, the essay sets the tone for much of Young’s later work, which regularly seeks this balance between descriptions of lived experience and the social construction of that experience, and this always with a normative urgency in the face of the ongoing influence of lived oppressions.

This special bilingual section of Symposium, devoted to Young’s groundbreaking essay “Throwing Like a Girl,” offers the chance to celebrate and to extend her remarkable contribution to feminist phenomenology. Although Young’s work has been highly influential in Anglo-American phenomenology and political philosophy, not to mention a number of interdisciplinary fields of research, it has rarely been the focus of francophone scholarship. This special section offers the first French translation of “Throwing Like a Girl,” a scholarly bibliography of writings by and about Young and her work, and four fascinating original articles that demonstrate the potential research directions her thought inspires.

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