Resisting the Subject: A Feminist-Foucauldian Approach to Countering Sexual Violence


  • Dianna Taylor John Carroll University



This essay makes a case for the relevance of Foucault’s critique of modern Western subjectivity for feminist efforts toward countering sexual violence against women.  In his last four Collège de France courses, Foucault shows that subjectivity produces a normalizing relation of the self to itself, the effects of which extend beyond the self in equally harmful ways.  As I see it, this harm is especially damaging to women who have experienced sexual violence; moreover, it inhibits effective feminist resistance to such violence.  Through analyzing a particular instance of feminist activism, I argue for the anti-normalizing potential of a contemporary mode of self-relation that functions in a way analogous to that fostered by the ancient practice of parrhēsia.

Author Biography

Dianna Taylor, John Carroll University

Dianna Taylor is Associate Professor of Philosophy and current Shula Chair in Philosophy at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. Her research focuses on twentieth-century continental philosophy, especially the work of Michel Foucault, and contemporary feminist theory.  She is co-editor of Feminism and the Final Foucault (University of Illinois Press, 2004) and Feminist Politics: Identity, Difference, Agency (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007) and editor of Michel Foucault: Key Concepts (Acumen Publishers, 2010).




How to Cite

Taylor, D. (2013). Resisting the Subject: A Feminist-Foucauldian Approach to Countering Sexual Violence. Foucault Studies, (16), 88–103.



Special Issue on Foucault and Feminism