Feminist methodology vs. feminist content
exogenous preference - Google Search
Here's a nice article by Ingrid Robeyns posing the question of whether there is a distinctively feminist economic methodology. It also poses the question, at a higher level of abstraction, of whether for any academic enterprise "Feminist X," what we are, or should, be talking about is the X study of issues that concern women or a peculiarly feminist (non-androcentric or womanly) way of doing X.
I'm inclined to go for the former. I don't know that much about econ (when I created this blog I subtitled it to reflect my hope to make it a group blog that included economists) but when it comes to my field I'm firmly committed to the idea that there is no distinctively feminist (or non-androcentric or womanly) way of doing philosophy. Feminist philosophy means (1) picking up philosophically interesting issues that have been ignored because they were "women's issues" and (2) arguing against biased, sexist views.
The paradigm of feminist philosophy is Judith Jarvis Thompson's classic article "In Defense of Abortion." Here is a very philosophically interesting issue, one that hits central areas in metaphysics like the problem of personal identity and in ethics, that didn't get much attention earlier because it was a woman's issue. Thompson, an excellent, mainline analytic philosopher write the classic article--so classic that if you google you won't even be able to find it because it's buried under secondary literature and links to student plagiarism services that produce term papers on it.
There is an even more abstract issue: for any disadvantaged group, X, does fairness to x people mean changing the system to operate in a way that's more conducive to (what are taken to be) x people's culture, interests, values, ways of thinking or does it mean fixing the system so that (1) we recognize the disadvantages x people are at, the discrimination they face, etc. and (2) working to fix things so that x's can plug into the niches formerly reserved for white males.
Here again, I go with the latter interpretation. When I was in SDS as an undergraduate we had a discussion about this and I was booed off the floor by someone who asked rhetorically, "Would you just want them to have color TV sets?" Of course I would--because that's what "they" and most other people want. I hit the same wall later when I was involved in the movement to promote women's ordination in the Episcopal Church and comrades in arms asserted that the aim was not to "plug women into the same roles men had occupied" but to work for structural change.
Well, structural change is all very well but when it comes to improving the situation of members of disadantaged groups per se that is just a matter of removing the disadvantages that prevent them from getting what members of advantaged groups get, i.e. leveling the playing field so that women and members of racial minorities, can occupy the same roles that white males do--however good or bad those roles might be.