Contingency, Feminism, and Politics
Contingency implies that something did not have to be as it is or it could have been otherwise. If something is contingent, it does not only mean that it is not obligatory, but it also means that its foreseen objectives cannot be achieved or it can produce unexpected consequences. Contingency thus has two constraints largely due to the nature of political action as Hannah Arendt points out: irreversibility and unpredictability of action. Feminism offers both a political theory and a political practice based on contingency against male dominated politics whose intention is to tame the contingency of action. First of all, feminism is contingent by its fundamental argument: even though patriarchy has taken different cultural forms and has been articulated with different modes of production, it is not either natural or obligatory. Second, feminism is contingent by its form of action: every struggle against patriarchy in everyday life has an effect on the structural transformation. As a transformative force, feminism is directly and deeply related to politics in terms of collective action. It is not only a struggle against patriarchy, but it also presents a treasure of experience concerning the meaning of contemporary political action. It does not only theorize patriarchal societies, but it also produces the means to theorize politics in a broader sense. This article discusses, with reference to Arendt, the possibilities of thinking the principles of contingent political action through feminism, and its contributions to political action in a broader sense.
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