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Elaine Showalter describes the development of feminist theory as having a number of phases.The first she calls "feminist critique" – where the feminist reader examines the ideologies behind literary phenomena.Susan Bordo, a modern feminist philosopher, in her writings elaborates the dualistic nature of the mind/body connection by examining the early philosophies of Aristotle, Hegel and Descartes, revealing how such distinguishing binaries such as spirit/matter and male activity/female passivity have worked to solidify gender characteristics and categorization.Bordo goes on to point out that while men have historically been associated with the intellect and the mind or spirit, women have long been associated with the body, the subordinated, negatively imbued term in the mind/body dichotomy.
The resurgence of feminist activism in the late 1960s was accompanied by an emerging literature of concerns for the earth and spirituality, and environmentalism.
Politically this represented a shift from an ideological alignment comfortable with the right, to one more radically associated with the left.
In the immediate postwar period, Simone de Beauvoir stood in opposition to an image of "the woman in the home".
She raised the question of why women are accountable to be punished under law but they cannot use the law for their own protection (women could not vote, own property, nor themselves in marriage).
She also critiqued the constitution for its male gendered language and questioned why women should have to abide by laws that do not specify women.