Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 October 2009
Iris Marion Young's book Throwing like a Girl and Other Essays in Feminist Philosophy and Social Theory represented one of the most notable efforts to apply Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of the body to explicitly feminist issues. The essay ‘Throwing like a Girl’ traces some of the basic modalities of feminine comportment, manner of moving and relation in space. With the help of these modalities Young seeks to make understandable the ways in which women in our society typically comport themselves and move differently from the ways in which men do. She argues, with the help of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of the body, that the modalities of feminine comportment, motility and spatiality are restricted modes of embodiment. According to Young, Merleau-Ponty describes the lived body as a transcendence that moves out from the body in its immanence in an open and unbroken directness upon the world in action. The lived body as transcendence is pure fluid action, the continuous calling forth of capacities that are applied to the world. In the case of feminine movement the most primordial intentional act – the motion of the body orienting itself with respect to and moving within its surroundings – is inhibited (Young 1990,148). A woman ‘lives her body as a thing, she remains rooted in immanence, is inhibited, and retains a distance from her body as transcending movement and from engagement in the world's possibilities’ (150).