Sandra Lee Bartky, at the Vanguard of Feminist Philosophy, Dies at 81
By Sam Roberts, New York Times 23 October 2016
Sandra Lee Bartky, an influential feminist philosopher who argued that women were subconsciously submitting to men by accepting an unnatural cultural standard for the ideal female body — what she called the “tyranny of slenderness” — died on Oct. 17 at her home in Saugatuck, Mich. She was 81.
Professor Bartky, who taught philosophy and gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, contended that women suffered from self-loathing, shame and guilt — internalized oppression, she called it — fostered by cultural cues about their bodies that devalue them if they do not meet the prescribed standard.
Through the diminishment of dieting and by being undemonstrative, she said, women are encouraged “to take up as little space as possible.”
“The body by which a woman feels herself judged and which by rigorous discipline she must try to assume is the body of early adolescence, slight and unformed, a body lacking flesh or substance, a body in whose very contours the image of immaturity has been inscribed,” Professor Bartky wrote in an essay published in an anthology, “Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance,” in 1988.