13.1.5 Civic Republican Intersectional Feminism

Dr. Jackie F. Steele

Through a cross-pollination of diversity feminisms, intersectional feminisms, and civic republican understandings of liberty and the role of law and representative democratic institutions this variant of feminist contestation aims to reconstruct the normative value of representative democracy itself (Steele, 2009; 2014a). In allegiance with the civic republican revival (Pettit, 1997; Pocock, 1975; Skinner, 1998; Viroli, 2002), this variant of democratizing intersectional feminism aims to recentre the very praxis of liberty as it is materially institutionalized through political representation as a public-facing, ethical speech-act of power-sharing. These speech-acts constitute and reconstitute the conditions of personal and public liberty of all intersectionally diverse corporealities sharing a fate of togetherness within the political community.

Our current practices of political and parliamentary representation are not in fact unleashing and supporting the ongoing work of self-determination for all peoples, nations, social groups, bodies, and corporealities. Rather, the anti-egalitarian power relations constitutive of pre-democratic status-based distinctions are still informally regulating the inner workings of who gains access to political representation. In Machiavellian terms, this ongoing “corruption” of our representative democratic institutions is what must be displaced, deconstructed, and then reconstructed using the democratizing power of the law and representative democratic institutions. In its place, we would seek the ethical and political legitimate, democratic reconstruction of personal and public liberty as a relational praxis and political good that is constituted in and through the very praxis of political power-sharing through collective and co-authoritative self-representation (Steele, 2009; 2014b).

The end goal of this last iteration of a civic republican intersectional feminism is to displace the hyper-individualist reading of political liberty qua self-government as the aggregate output of abstract individuals devoid of any pre-democratic relational power differentials. Rather, by restoring and reconstructing a collectively-practiced concept and iteration of democratic liberty as a system of collective self-government and self-determination of all of the intersectional diversities constitutive of the population, the primary aim is to displace liberal individualism’s reductive view of liberty as merely an “absence of government interference” (Pettit, 1997), and to restore the ethical power-distributing and power-sharing role of representative democratic institutions as the co-authoritative praxis dynamically constituting an intersectionally diverse yet co-equal citizenry. This reframes political representation and all representative institutions as the constitutive symbols of the collective freedom of the self-determining peoples, nations, social groups and individuals regulated by the democratic rules of the political community and who are structurally positioned under its jurisdiction of care.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Political Ideologies and Worldviews: An Introduction Copyright © 2021 by Dr. Jackie F. Steele is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book