Gendered Reason: Sex Metaphor and Conceptions of Reason


  • Phyllis Rooney


Reason has regularly been portrayed and understood in terms of images and metaphors that involve the exclusion or denigration of some element—body, passion, nature, instinct—that is cast as “feminine.” Drawing upon philosophical insight into metaphor, I examine the impact of this gendering of reason. I argue that our conceptions of mind, reason, unreason, female, and male have been distorted. The politics of “rational” discourse has been set up in ways that still subtly but powerfully inhibit the voice and agency of women.