WOMEN AND EVIL by Nel Noddings


Email this review


Author of Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (1984), Noddings (Education/Stanford) offers here a provocative definition of evil from women's perspective, contrasts it with our society's traditional male-oriented view, and points out ways in which an acceptance of the presence of evil in all of us could help correct some pervasive injustices. Noddings claims that Western civilization's separation of good and evil into two entities (God and Satan), the result of men's need to explain the presence of evil in the face of an all-powerful, loving Father, marked the beginning of an erroneous and inevitably destructive life-view in our culture. Denial of the presence of evil in God led to parallel separations of pure, ""spiritual"" man from wicked, ""natural"" woman, ""good"" societal classes from ""evil"" ones, and ""virtuous"" nations from ""corrupt"" ones. These false concepts are still with us today--e.g., Reagan's ""Evil Empire."" Noddings maintains that women--with their particularized, sustenance-centered experience as mothers--tend to see evil and good as inextricably intertwined, and would define evil simply as anything that causes an individual pain, helplessness, and/or a sense of separation. Since the historical emphasis on submission to a ""good"" authority in order to defeat an ""evil"" enemy has so often led to war and oppression (and thus to pain, helplessness, and separation), Noddings recommends the addition of a more holistic, female perspective when considering societal aims. Her promised future work on specific changes that could introduce a more androgynous view of good and evil into our educational system will be welcome. Thought provoking as this work is, its dry, academic style may well prevent it from attracting the wide readership it deserves.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
ISBN: 0520074130
Publisher: Univ. of California Press