Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




In writing this essay I am keenly aware of the diversity of feminist thought. There are Marist-Leninist feminist, radical feminists, sex-role theorists, socialist feminists, and many others. While there may be as many feminist perspectives as there are feminists, the perspective of this essay is perhaps best described by the term religious feminism. This simply means that the initiative and root metaphor for understanding feminist movement is to be found in an experience of Presence. The word Presence is very rich in its Latin root - praesentia - having connotations there of efficacy, influence, power, propitiousness. I use the word to speak of that which cannot be defined, of experience which is more primary than reflection and cannot be recaptured completely be reflection. But the experience of Presence is definitive, efficacious, powerful, propitious. Once touched by Presence we cannot turn away and remain true to ourselves. The word then, speaks of the divine, but hopes to avoid the historical ~ conditioning, sexist overtones, and unfortunate banality of the word God. The word also speaks of the human, of that experience which is most fundamentally and transcendently human.

Throughout the paper, then I am speaking of feminist ethics in response to this experience of Presence. Though this may more properly be called religious feminist ethics I have not used this title in hopes of speaking to a broader audience, since I believe this experience of Presence to be a basic human one.

It is important to note that I use the term feminist ethics normatively and not descriptively. It may well be impossible to speak of feminist ethics descriptively without adding a slew of delimiting adjectives. I do rely upon and quote the work of specific feminist authors, however the thrust of the essay is reflective, and perhaps inspirational. I speak of what ethics should be if genuinely informed by feminist movement.