Hobbes on Power and Gender Relations

In Marcus P. Adams (ed.), A Companion to Hobbes. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 139–155 (2021)
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In this chapter, the author articulates two Hobbesian models of interpersonal power relations that can be used to understand gender relations: what he will call the dominion model and the deference model. Hobbes himself analyses the relation between men and women through the dominion model. The author lays out Hobbes's model of interpersonal power relations as dominion, including his application of the model to the case of gender relations. The centerpiece of Hobbes's method is his “state of nature” thought experiment. Hobbes's analysis is radical insofar as he understands familial relations according to the general model of interpersonal relations just outlined, without any reference to sui generis principles. The author indicates some shortcomings of the dominion model for grasping contemporary social life. The much‐celebrated social contract between equal male citizens is quietly underpinned by the sexual contract, a contract of domination between men and women.

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Sandra Leonie Field
Monash University


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