Limits of the Appeal to Women's Experience Reconsidered

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2006


Arts and Humanities | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Religion | Women's Studies


In the light of what appears to be a growing consensus that historicist and postmodern thought undermines the credibility of appeals to women's experience as a source of theological and moral knowledge, I assess whether these criticisms do indeed discredit appeals to experience as a legitimate source of knowledge and norm for feminist theology. While such critiques pose insightful challenges to assumptions underlying the appeal to experience, I argue that they do not definitively discredit the appeal to experience itself. Drawing on trauma theory and the work of Margaret Farley and Martha Nussbaum, I seek to show how women's experiences can be defended as a credible source of knowledge and a norm for feminist theology.