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Sandra Lee Bartky taught philosophy and gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. (Roberta Dupuis-Devlin)

"Great Thinker"

Sandra Lee Bartky, influential feminist philosopher, dead at 81

By WITW Staff on October 25, 2016

Sandra Lee Bartky, a pioneer of feminist philosophy has passed away at her home in Michigan at the age of 81, due to complications of intestinal surgery. She was known, among other things for describing women’s “internalized oppression” and what she dubbed the “tyranny of slenderness” — a theory holding that women who accept unnatural female beauty standards are subconsciously submitting to men. “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,” she wrote in an essay published in 1988.

According to Judith Kegan Gardiner, a former colleague at the University of Illinois, Bartky has “inspired generations of feminist philosophers to understand oppression, femininity and domination.” As a part of the so-called Second Wave of feminism, Bartky founded the Gender and Women’s Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and was a founding member of the Society for Women in Philosophy in 1971. Three decades later, she lamented the fact that the field of feminist philosophy remained largely marginalized. “There is still a good number of mainstream philosophers for whom feminist philosophy has no authentic philosophic content,” she wrote in 2002, “and this judgment gave rise, for some in my generation of feminist philosophers, to a kind of self-doubt that I hope will die out with my generation, the advance-guard of the Second Wave.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.